Why does acupuncture work?
Decades of scientific research has concluded that acupuncture does indeed have physiological effects on the body based upon several different theories. Acupuncture has been proven to stimulate the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland and as a result affects neurotransmitters, neurohormones, stimulates blood flow and increases immune functions.
Some current theories of the mechanism of acupuncture from the National Institution of Health:
Neurotransmitter Theory: Acupuncture affects higher brain areas, stimulating secretion of beta-endorphins and enkephalins in the brain and spinal cord. The release of neurotransmitters influences the immune system and reduces sensitivity to painful stimuli.
Autonomic Nervous System Theory: Acupuncture stimulated the release of norepinephrine, acetylcholine and several types of opioids, affecting changes in their turnover rate, normalizing the autonomic nervous system and reducing pain.
Gate Control Theory: Acupuncture activates non-nociceptive receptors that inhibit the transmission of nociceptive signals in the dorsal horn, “gating out” painful stimuli.
Vascular-Interstitial Theory: Acupuncture affects the electrical system of the body be creating or enhancing closed-circuit transport on tissues. This facilitates healing by allowing the transfer of material and electrical energy between normal and injured tissues.
Blood Chemistry Theory: Acupuncture affects the blood concentration or triglyceridies, cholesterol, and phospholipids, suggesting that acupuncture can both raise and diminish peripheral blood components, thereby regulating the body toward homeostasis.
Simply put, acupuncture has been scientifically proven to boost the immune system, reduce pain, calm the nervous system, and facilitate healing, as well as affecting blood chemistry.