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Thursday, July 06, 2006

How Does Acupuncture Work(1)

According to the principles of TCM, qi flows through the body via 14 primary meridians or channels. To strengthen the flow of qi,or remove blockages in the meridians, an acupuncturist inserts a number of tiny, sterile, flexible needles just under the skin at certain specific points (called acupoints) along the channels. There are four to five hundred named acupoints along the meridians, some of which are associated with specific internal organs or organ systems. If you are suffering from nausea, for example, needles might be inserted into acupoints on your wrist, while a vision problem might be treated with needles in the foot. (Additional ear, scalp, and hand points are also commonly used by some practitioners.) Acupuncture practitioners believe that the therapy stimulates the body's internal regulatory system and nurtures a natural healing response.
Although Western science has neither proven nor accepted the notion of qi, a large body of evidence is accumulating indicating that acupuncture leads to real physiologic changes in the body. Numerous studies have shown, for example, that inserting needles into the skin stimulates nerves in the underlying muscles. This stimulation, researchers feel, sends impulses up the spinal cord to a relatively primitive part of the brain known as the limbic system, as well as to the midbrain and the pituitary gland. Somehow that signaling leads to the release of endorphins and monoamines, chemicals that block pain signals in the spinal chord and brain.

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