“How does acupuncture work?”
This is a very common question I get at the clinic and not one that has a quick & easy answer.
Many people tell me they want to try acupuncture but they don’t understand how it works.
I’ll get back to the question in a minute, but I want to gently challenge you with some other questions first…
Can you explain how wifi works?
How can you type a message, hit send, and it flies through the air and lands on another person’s phone?
Can you explain how television works?
How do all the little parts inside a TV make people magically appear on the screen?
Can you explain how electricity works?
Can you explain how plastic is made?
I could go on…
Some people know of course, but for most of us, we can’t really explain how these things work.
But the difference is that all of them – wifi, television, electricity, plastic – are familiar to us. We use them every day and don’t give them any thought.
Acupuncture, however, is unfamiliar to most of us.
So we have a natural curiosity and desire to understand how it works before we try it.
Why does a point at your pinky toe benefit your eyesight?
Why does a point by your big toe benefit a headache?
Why does a point by your thumb help your low back?
Sounds kooky. But it’s no kookier than an email typed in Morris landing in Germany a second later. That’s wild when you really think about it.
Here’s a helpful tip:
You don’t have to understand acupuncture to feel the benefits of it.
You certainly can dive into the details, just like you can read up on how television actually works, but you don’t have to.
For those who still really want to know, here’s the not-quite-satisfying answer: there is not just ONE easy, simple explanation to how it works.
To understand the channel connections and how points can influence other parts of the body, it goes all the way back to embryology – the study of how the embryo forms from the first cells, to the layers, to the neural tube, etc.
Acupuncture affects all of these:
Fascia, a layer of thin connective tissue that holds muscles, organs, vessels, bones, etc. together. It can transmit electrical signals very quickly across the whole body.
Nerves release neurotransmitters that regulate many functions in our body.
Muscles can be either activated or released of tension.
Hormone release, for example, endorphins, which are our natural pain-killers.
Increased blood flow – anytime blood flow is increased in an area, it brings more oxygen to the tissues and other needed hormones/nutrients, as well as clearing out unneeded/spent molecules.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. There is undoubtedly so much more we still don’t know yet.
In the end, whether you understand how it works or not, the best way to feel the effects is to try it out for yourself.
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