Acupuncture 101: How do Needles, Acupoints & Meridians Work?

Ever wonder why inserting a tiny needle between your thumb and index finger can help your headache?  Or putting needles in your ear can help your indigestion?

Many people wonder how acupuncture works.  Scientists and doctors are especially skeptical about acupuncture. With the advances in laboratory testing the mystery of acupuncture is being revealed. Research began in the 1980’s by the US government using blood tests and they discovered that acupuncture stimulated the release of endorphins, which results in pain relief. Today’s technology using MRI studies of the brain revealed one of the mechanism of pain relief. It has been confirmed that certain acupoints, when stimulated by an acupuncture needle, cause deactivation of brain activity in regions that recognize and process pain signals thus providing pain relief. Hence it ‘re-boots’ the autonomic nervous system. Also, studies have found that is can increase circulation and reduce high blood pressure. Hence it is possible for several mechanisms to be activated simultaneously providing a wide range of healing effects.

What anatomical structure is an acupoint? They vary – some are identified as trigger-points and others are a minute structure that is comprised of a nerve and blood vessel capillary surrounded by a net of fascia tissue. Hence acupoints can be stimulated by a needle insertion that activates a nerve that reports to a gland, organ or the brain’s endocrine system or the activation of the local immune system. Light can activate a photo sensor nerve. Essential oils can be absorbed in to the blood vessels and transported to specific structure or throughout the entire body. And there are many more.

There is continually growing body of scientific evidence that acupuncture is an effective treatment for many types of pain, injuries and diseases with no side effects.  For these reasons more and more hospitals, clinics and doctors worldwide are recommending it for their patients.

Research and clinical trials will continue. For the people who have not found relief from their pain,  disease symptoms or disorders by pharmacology or surgery there is hope using acupuncture and other complementary modalities and medicines.

Understanding Qi through Modern Science 

Acupuncture has a long history with a recorded history of 2500 years which is the same time period that western medicine began in Egypt and Greece. Just like in the west, neither had the technology to test blood, to look into microscopes at bacteria or viruses, They did not have EEC to measure the brain’s electrical activity, a Functional MRI to observe areas of the brain activated or CTScans to observe blood circulation. Hence, both had to theorize explanations for the function of the body and disease pathology.

The traditional eastern theory states that “Qi”, or life energy, flows through the body.  The Qi flows in channels called meridians and the meridians connect the organs together.  To remain healthy you need the free flow of Qi through the meridians, much like rivers flow in their riverbeds. It is a good theory because today we know from science that the human body is a self-energizing electrical battery and you can measure electrical conductance/resistance at the acupoints and along the channels (meridians).

What anatomical structure is the meridian? It has two forms. First, there is the fascia tissue combined with body fluids filled with electrolytes that connects every cell of the body to each other. It is a communication network of cellular activity. Second, the meridians have a non-anatomical form represented by the interactions of the neuro-endocrine and immune systems – biochemical pathways.

Sometimes the flow of Qi becomes imbalanced. In biomedicine, a Qi imbalance can be due to reduced neuro-endocrine activity, lack of electrolytes and/or due to a nutrient deficiency just to name a few. Minerals are electromagnetically charged thus they are magnets and responsible for trillions of biochemical reaction that produce Qi. Like a river, Qi can be blocked, it can be in an excessive or deficient state respectively thus there can be a electromagnetically polarized reaction or a lack of biochemical reactions. Since the meridians connect all of the body’s organs, sometimes you can stimulate an acupuncture point that seems completely unrelated to the organ you want to balance.

A disease or disorder in traditional theory is describe as a blockage, excess or deficiency of Qi causing an imbalance of Qi hence the treatment goal is to rebalance the Qi,  When you stimulate acupuncture points you seek to activate a free-flow of Qi and return it to a more balanced state. Hence, stimulation of the acusystem will activate the various biochemical processes and return the body to homeostasis.

Learn About AcuGraph Technology That Measures Qi

 

References:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704841304575137872667749264.html

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