How Acupuncture Works


Acupuncture is a traditional healing practice in Chinese medicine, which utilizes thin needles put at specific points in the body in the healing process. It has been developed and used for thousands of years. Though primarily employed to relieve pain, it is now also used to treat many other conditions. It has grown in popularity worldwide. More than three million American are reported to use acupuncture. It is even more popular in other Western countries. In France for example, twenty percent of their population have used acupuncture.

Some skeptics on the other hand, argue that the reason why users of acupuncture benefitted from this healing method is what they refer to as the placebo effect – they were healed because they believed that they will be.


Principles of Acupuncture

Acupuncture identifies fourteen energy pathways in the body. It is the points along these pathways that acupuncture tries to stimulate to allow the release of the body’s flow of vital energy, it calls “chi”. Scientists suggest that the needles trigger the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, which may also boost blood circulation and cause a change in the brain activity.

The needles used in acupuncture are very thin and cause very little or no pain at all when inserted in the points in the body. They can, however, cause temporary soreness. People who undergo acupuncture often feel relaxed or energized after the treatment.

Benefits of Acupuncture

The benefits of using acupuncture are well documented. It has been proven to be effective in the treatment of the following conditions and symptoms:

  • Headaches and migraines – Acupuncture helps relieve tension headaches and pain from migraines. Studies showed that people with tension headaches suffered fewer days with acupuncture treatment than those who received conventional care.
  • Low back pain – Studies showed that acupuncture worked more effectively than conventional treatments especially for chronic back pain.
  • Arthritis pain– A research showed that acupuncture eased the pain in cases involving knee arthritis. Acupuncture can also complement conventional osteoarthritis treatment methods.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome – A research comparing the effect of acupuncture in the the relief for hand and arm pain from carpal tunnel syndrome with steroid pills reported that acupuncture provided better relief for a longer period of time than with medications.
  • Pain from tooth extraction or surgery – One of the conditions where acupuncture is helpful in providing relief is dental pain.
  • Many other types of pain – People who avoid medications for muscle pain, neck pain, tennis elbow, and even menstrual cramps have been successful in using acupuncture as a treatment. The World Health Organization has listed 28 health conditions that may be treated with acupuncture.
  • Nausea – Studies comparing the effect of acupuncture to drugs developed to block nausea or vomiting found that acupuncture worked better.

Acupuncture is sometimes employed to let people cope with the symptoms of cancer or chemotherapy because it has been known to provide relief of pain and prevent nausea and vomiting.

Used in conjunction with fertility treatments, acupuncture can help boost women’s fertility. It is believed that acupuncture helps reduce stress and increase the flow of blood to the ovaries, in the process boosting fertility along with the fertility treatments.


Acupuncture is in general, very safe and there have been rare serious problems with it. Even children can benefit from acupuncture treatment. One of the few risks associated with it are infection from the use of non-sterile needles. Another is too deep insertion of needles that can puncture vital organs like the lungs or gallbladder or affect blood vessels. It is prudent to check that the practitioner you will choose is well-trained and and experienced in acupuncture.

Acupuncture is both an alternative medicine and complementary medicine. It is a good potential alternative to medications for pain management and steroid treatments. It can also be a complementary medicine to go along with other therapies that aim to improve the quality of life.


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