How Acupuncture Works? By: Chris Kresser LAc
– National Institute of Health, 1997 Consensus on Acupuncture
Current Mechanism Of Acupuncture:
- Neurotransmitter Theory: Acupuncture affects higher brain areas, stimulating the secretion of beta-endorphins and enkephalins in the brain and spinal cord. The release of neurotransmitters influences the immune system and the antinociceptive system.7,8,9
- Autonomic Nervous System Theory: Acupuncture stimulates the release of norepinephrine, acetylcholine and several types of opioids, affecting changes in their turnover rate, normalizing the autonomic nervous system, and reducing pain.10,11
- Vascular-interstitial Theory: Acupuncture effects the electrical system of the body by creating or enhancing closed-circuit transport in tissues. This facilitates healing by allowing the transfer of material and electrical energy between normal and injured tissues.9
- Blood Chemistry Theory: Acupuncture affects the blood concentrations of triglycerides, cholesterol, and phospholipids, suggesting that acupuncture can both raise and diminish peripheral blood components, thereby regulating the body toward homeostasis.9
- Gate Control Theory: Acupuncture activates non-nociceptive receptors that inhibit the transmission of nociceptive signals in the dorsal horn, “gating out” painful stimuli.12
This ancient health care system is proving itself as an effective modality for a wide variety of problems. So much so that the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) awarded 8 grants that directly relate to acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine and traditional Chinese medical research, totaling more than $9.5 million dollars.
- “A review of the incorporation of complementary and alternative medicine by mainstream physicians”, Astin, JA., et. al., Arch Intern Med., 1998; (158).
- The Institute for Work & Health, “Massage for Lower Back Pain”, Spine, 2009, July 15: 34 (16).
- “German Acupuncture Trials (GERAC) for Chronic Lower Back Pain”, Archives of Internal Medicine, 2007; 167(17).
- Department of Medicine and Health Sciences, “Acupuncture Just as Effective Without Needle Puncture”, Science Daily, December 1, 2008, study conducted by the at Linkoping University and the Vardal Institute in Sweden.
- “Effects of Acupuncture of Pregnancy and Live Births Among Women Undergoing In Vitro Fertilization: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis”, British Medical Journal, 2008: 336: 545, published February 7, 2008.
- “Immunomodulatory Effects of Acupuncture in the Treatment of Allergic Asthma: A Randomized Controlled Study”, The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Vol 6, Issue 6, 2007.
- Neuro-acupuncture, “Scientific evidence of acupuncture revealed”, Cho, ZH., et al., 2001.
- Acupuncture – A scientific appraisal, Ernst, E., White, A., 1999, p. 74.
- Acupuncture Energetics, “A Clinical Approach for Physicians”, Helms, Dr. J., 1997, pgs 41-42, 66.
- Anatomy of Neuro-Anatomical Acupuncture, Volume 1, Wong, Dr. J., 1999, p. 34.
- National Institute of Health Consensus Conference on Acupuncture, “Acupuncture Activates Endogenous Systems of Analgesia.”, Han, J.S., 1997 (Bethesda, MD).
- Neuro-acupuncture, “Scientific Evidence of Acupuncture Revealed”, Cho, ZH., et al., p.116.