What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture has been an essential part of medicine for thousands of years in the East. There are over 2,000 different acupuncture points. Stimulating certain combinations of these points with acupuncture needles stimulates the body’s healing mechanisms. There are many different theories as to why and how it works, it can be explained from a Western and Eastern standpoint.
I explain it to my patients as a manipulation of electromagnetic waves or impulses. Just like you can change your radio station to tune into a specific frequency, each acupuncture protocol is requesting a specific action from your body. Acupuncture requires patients to think about health in entirely different ways. It will remind you that your body is extremely intelligent. The driving idea behind acupuncture is that we’re already in possession of everything we need to be well. Acupuncture does not add or subtract anything, rather it prompts the body to do what it already knows how to do. It reminds you that you have the power to heal yourself.
In a Western view, acupuncture is explained by stimulating the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) to release chemicals called neurotransmitters and hormones into the blood. These chemicals dull pain, boost the immune system and regulate various body functions. This explains why acupuncture is effective for pain relief but not why different combinations of points can remedy specific aliments. Acupuncture from the Eastern perspective simplified is the manipulation of Qi, also known as Chi or Ki in other cultures. The definition of Qi is vast, even among the acupuncture community. Qi is described as embracing all manifestations of energy, from the most material aspects of energy such as the ground you walk on, the food you eat, your computer, and your skin, bones and blood to the most immaterial aspects; light, heat, thought, and emotions. Life itself is described in the Chinese medical classics as a gathering of Qi. Qi is in a state of continuous flux, transforming endlessly from one aspect of Qi into another. It is neither created nor destroyed, it purely just changes in its manifestation.
My belief is that acupuncture needles manipulate a patient’s electromagnetic field. (You have been warned, it’s about to get real nerdy.) First, what is an electromagnetic field? It is a field of force that consists of both electric and magnetic components, resulting from the motion of an electric charge and containing a definite amount of electromagnetic energy. Stay with me! Electromagnetic fields are present everywhere in our environment but are invisible to the human eye. Electric fields are produced by the local build-up of electric charges in the atmosphere like those associated with thunderstorms. The earth’s magnetic field causes a compass needle to orient in a North-South direction and is used by birds and fish for navigation. Besides natural sources the electromagnetic spectrum also includes fields generated by man-made sources: X-rays, radios and microwaves for example. And lastly and most importantly your body puts off an electromagnetic field. Nerve impulses are electrical energy signals; and they create energy-fields around the body and electro-magnetic energy waves that can travel away from the body. Your nerve impulses are like tiny thunderstorms creating electric fields in and around your body. Human electricity energy is generated by chemical processes in nerve cells. Billions of nerve impulses travel throughout the human brain and nervous system. A nerve impulse is a wave of electrical activity that passes from one end of nerve cell to another. When electricity passes through a metal wire it causes an electromagnetic field. In a similar way, human electricity in the brain and nervous system creates a human magnetic field. There are billions of nerve impulses in the body and these are constantly creating complex human magnetic fields. The human heart is a source of electro-magnetism that, even at a few meters away, is detectable by modern scientific instruments. So my point is, we know these electromagnetic waves exist in the body because they can be measured.
Electro-physiologists and physicists through research over the past 30 years have come to the conclusion that the electro-magnetic field that surrounds us not only is caused by our nervous activity but that it also has a large influence on structuring, signaling, rebuilding, and repairing our body on a molecular cellular level. Through the research of Albert Einstein and Nicola Tesla we understand that Energy equals Matter, and matter does not exist in the terms we think of, it is only resonating, interacting, vibrating energetic frequencies (think The Matrix.) So inserting an acupuncture needle into the body triggers a linear electron reaction through the meridian (a meridian is the path through the body that the acupuncture points follow) while simultaneously working on an electro-magnetic level (or through connecting channels in Traditional Chinese Medical terms,) to communicate to the body its desired response. According to Oschman’s New Evidence On The Nature Of Healing Energy, acupuncture points are connected not only throughout channel systems within the body but on a higher level following chaos fractal principles (think The Butterfly Effect.) So when one activates the energy field with acupuncture, subsequently it induces a natural healing signaling mechanisms, repairing the material body by influencing its organizing bioelectric field that comes from outside of the body as well.
This is an explanation of how an acupuncture needle can create so much change in the body. To answer the question of how the Chinese figured out which spots facilitate which reaction is a topic that is addressed in the Q&A section of this website.