Acupuncture works by:
- Increasing blood flow – This is significant because everything the body needs to heal is in the blood, including oxygen, nutrients we absorb from food, immune substances, hormones, analgesics (painkillers) and anti-inflammatories. Restoring proper blood flow is vital to promoting and maintaining health. Blood flow decreases as we age and can be impacted by trauma, injuries and certain diseases.
- Stimulating the body’s built-in healing mechanisms – Acupuncture creates “micro traumas” that stimulate the body’s ability to spontaneously heal injuries to the tissue through nervous, immune and endocrine system activation. As the body heals the micro traumas induced by acupuncture, it also heals any surrounding tissue damage left over from old injuries.
- Releasing natural painkillers – Inserting a needle sends a signal through the nervous system to the brain, where chemicals such as endorphins, norepinephrine and enkephalin are released. Some of these substances are 10-200 times more potent than morphine!
- Reducing both the intensity and perception of chronic pain. – It does this through a process called “descending control normalization”, which involves the serotonergic nervous system.
- Relaxing shortened muscles – This in turn releases pressure on joint structures and nerves, and promotes blood flow.
- Reducing stress – This is perhaps the most important systemic effect of acupuncture. Recent research suggests that acupuncture stimulates the release of oxytocin, a hormone and signaling substance that regulates the parasympathetic nervous system. You’ve probably heard of the “fight-or-flight” response that is governed by the sympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system has been called the “rest-and-digest” or “calm-and-connect” system, and in many ways is the opposite of the sympathetic system. Recent research has implicated impaired parasympathetic function in a wide range of autoimmune diseases, including arthritis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.
Acupuncture is a system of medicine that has stood the test of time for over 2,500 years, and has successfully passed the scrutiny of modern scientific research. In 2003, the World Health Organization (WHO) published a review of clinical trials of acupuncture, Acupuncture: Review and Analysis of Reports on Controlled Clinical Trials. As a result of this publication, the WHO recognizes 28 diseases, symptoms, or conditions for which acupuncture has been proven to be an effective form of treatment. Some of these conditions or symptoms include:
- Digestive Disorders
- Musculoskeletal Pain
- Respiratory Disorders
- Addiction (Tobacco, Alcohol)
- Weight Loss
- Nausea/Vomiting/Morning Sickness
- Menopausal Syndrome
- Menstrual Irregularities
- Auto-Immune Disorders
- Adverse reactions to Radiotherapy and/or Chemotherapy
The World Health Organization (WHO) serves as the authority for health and healthcare within the United Nations system and is the leader on global health matters. In addition to playing a key role in medical research, establishing healthcare standards and policy, the WHO also monitors and assesses emerging trends in global health.