How does Acupuncture affect the body?

The entry of the Acupuncture needle into a specific point causes three different reactions to our body:

Local reaction of needle insertion:

acupuncture needle insertion.ent

Acupuncture needle insertion

The entry of the needle causes the production of a low intensity (10μA) current, which stimulates the cell membrane. This in turn causes intracellular and extracellular changes to occur. Consequently, the final result of these changes is the stimulation of the sensory receptors and the nerve endings of the area.

The entry of the needle into the skin leads to a small inflammatory reaction. This extends 1-3 centimeters from the point of entry and lasts 24-72 hours.

These mechanisms induce a continuous peripheral sensory stimulus, which is capable of activating endogenous mechanisms of analgesia and homeostasis.

As a result, the response of the nervous system is dependent on the therapist.

Since the response is affected by the:

  • point,
  • thickness of the needle used,
  • depth of acupuncture,
  • handling of the needle.

Regional reaction of acupuncture:

The insertion of the acupuncture needle causes the stimulation of a sensory receptor. The stimulus is then transferred to the spinal cord and from there a responsive reaction is produced involving an area larger than that of the area of irritation.

Actions and mechanisms of Acupuncture

The knowledge gained from neurophysiology allows us to distinguish the presence of various reflex arcs involved in the action of the acupuncture effect but also in the selection of acupuncture points.

In addition to the reflex arcs, there are other mechanisms that also contribute to the action of acupuncture. 

Generalized reaction:

The first scientifically documented evidence of the analgesic effect of acupuncture came with the discovery of endorphins and the demonstration of significantly increased levels after the needles were inserted.

Endorphins are produced in the brain, spinal cord and other parts of the body in response to painful or stressful stimuli.

However, in addition to the endogenous opioid peptides, neurotransmitters, which are produced as the body’s response to skin irritation after the needle is inserted, also play an important role in the analgesic effect of acupuncture.

Many modern drugs used in the treatment of chronic pain, such as serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) act by a mechanism analogous to acupuncture.

In addition to the analgesic endogenous substances secreted by acupuncture, it has been found to increase the levels of a number of other substances that indirectly participate in the therapeutic effect such as cortisol, ACTH and prostaglandins.