Acupuncture is the ancient art of inserting very fine needles into specific points along “meridians” or channels that run throughout our body. Acupuncture can be traced back to the Stone Age in China. The body functions as an integrated whole through 12 channels called “Meridians”, that distribute Qi. “Meridians” or channels are pathways of energy flow. Modern scientific enquiry has established the existence of the meridian system and is traceable and consistent with acupuncture theory.
Pain, numbness, soreness, sensations of heat or cold, and other sensations along the course of a meridian are very often important clues to problems in that particular system. Each meridian connects to an organ and affects the function of that organ. Meridians are the pathways through which the organs are nourished and stay in balance enabling proper function. There are also 8 extra vessels. These store energy and help regulate the flow of Qi in the meridians. In addition there are gates through which the inner Qi (energy) communicates with the environment, to help regulate the body. These are the acupuncture points.
Because of its success, acupuncture and Chinese medicine is under the microscope of modern scientific research.
There are three main explanations:
Conduction of electromagnetic signals: Western scientists have found evidence that acupuncture points are strategic conductors of electromagnetic signals. Stimulating points along these pathways through acupuncture enables electromagnetic signals to be relayed at a greater rate than under normal conditions.
These signals may start the flow of pain-killing biochemicals, such as endorphins, and of immune system cells to specific sites in the body that are injured or vulnerable to disease.
Activation of opioid systems: Research has found that several types of opioids may be released into the central nervous system during acupuncture treatment, thereby reducing pain.
Changes in brain chemistry, sensation, and involuntary body functions: Studies have shown that acupuncture may alter brain chemistry by changing the release of neurotransmitters and neuro-hormones in a good way. Acupuncture also has been documented to affect the parts of the central nervous system related to sensation and involuntary body functions, such as immune reactions and processes whereby a person’s blood pressure, blood flow, and body temperature are regulated.
The reality is that a western explanation for acupuncture probably encompasses all of these. The beauty, elegance and completeness of the Chinese medicine theories however are still the best way to diagnose an individual patient and to apply the amazing benefits of acupuncture and Chinese medicine.
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