The classical explanation of Traditional Chinese Medicine is that meridians in the body are like rivers flowing through the body transporting the energy (Chi or Qi in Chinese) to irrigate and nourish the tissues. Disruption of the movement of these meridians (river of chi) is like a dam that backs up the flow in one part of the body and restricts it in others. Sickness of organ or pain over certain part of the body will then occur.
When the acupuncture needles sticks into the points of the meridians it can stir up the Chi and unblock the obstruction at the dams and re-establish the regular flow of Chi through the meridians. Acupuncture treatments therefore help the body’s internal organs to correct imbalances of productive activities and in the regular circulation of their energy through the meridians.
The explanation of modern science is that insertion of needle in an acupuncture point of the meridian (energy flowing path) sending signals to the nervous system stimulate the mid brain and muscular system; to the autonomic nervous system act on the vascular system and emits a variety of biochemical that influence cells and tissues of the body. Chemical substances, such as well-known morphine-like substance endorphin, will either change the experience of pain or they will trigger the release of other chemicals or hormones which influence the body’s own internal regulation system. Stimulation of the needle promotes the local circulation, usually a microcirculation, to eliminate inflammation.
Acupuncture initiates body’s effects included:
1. Neurological: Pain perception is altered through acupuncture’s effect on specific nerve fibers. The “gate theory” proposes that acupuncture stimulates peripheral nerves which sequentially turn off specific nerve fibers in the central nervous system to effectively cease the transmission of pain impulses to the brain and modulate disease.
2. Microcirculation: Microcirculation deals with the circulation of blood from the heart to arterioles (small arteries), to capillary, to venules (small veins) and back to the heart. The main functions of the microcirculation include the regulation of A. blood blow and tissue perfusion, B. blood pressure, C. tissue fluid (swelling), D. delivery of oxygen and other nutrients and removal of CO2 and other metabolic products, and E. body temperature. The microcirculation also has an important role in inflammation. Structure called precapillary sphincters control the blood flow between the arteriole and capillaries. The precapillary sphincters contain muscle fibers that allow them to contract. When the sphincters are open, blood flows freely to the capillary bed where fluid, nutrients, gasses, and wastes are exchanged between the blood and the body cells. When the sphincters are closed, blood is not allowed to flow through the capillary bed and must flow directly from the arteriole to the venule.
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Acupuncture had been extensive studied the effect on microcirculation and proved its effect of increasing microcirculation to the inserting area of the body by relaxing the precapillary sphincters. The result of microcirculation increasing, more nutrients and immunity cells bringing into the tissues and waste products draining out from the tissue, healing process for injury can be accelerated.
3. Neuroendocrine: Neurotransmitters such as β endorphin, met-enkephalin, serotonin, substance P, and calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) modulate the effects of acupuncture, resulting in physiologic effects on the body. This theory is the proposal that structures other than nerves are responsible for acupuncture’s effects. Studies have shown that vein and cerebral spinal fluid carry neurotransmitters and hormones that mediate effects such as pain control, diminishing inflammation, relief of edema, and increasing of white blood cells.
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4. Local Mediation: Due to the concentration of nerve endings, special cells and blood vessels at acupuncture points, a relatively large integrated response is created when acupoints are needled. This response launches an elaborate cascade of enzymatic, chemical and vasoactive changes that play an essential role in the proven results of acupuncture.
All these activities produced by acupuncture results in stimulating the body’s natural healing abilities and in promoting physical and emotional well-being.