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How Does Acupuncture Work?

by EVOLVE Acupuncture in Ferndale, Michigan

"So how does acupuncture work?" This is a common question from patients when they start to notice changes in their health from acupuncture. The mechanism of acupuncture has been researched and studied thoroughly from a biomedical perspective with some parts still not completely understood scientifically.  The short answer to this question is we know that there are both local and systemic changes that occur in the body that start after just one acupuncture treatment.  

  • Acupuncture promotes blood flow and vasodilation in the body. Restoring proper blood flow is vital to promoting and maintaining health. Blood flow decreases as we age and can be impacted by trauma, injuries, and certain diseases. We know that when blood flow is increased to an area it brings more oxygen and nutrients to the tissue which will decrease localized inflammation.  
  • Acupuncture stimulates the body’s built-in healing mechanisms. Acupuncture stimulate the body’s ability to spontaneously heal by creating "micro-traumas" to the tissue that activates the nervous, immune and endocrine systems. This stimulus can create a cascade of local and systemic changes in the body.
  • Acupuncture releases natural painkillers. Inserting a needle sends a signal through the nervous system to the brain, where chemicals such as endorphins, norepinephrine, and enkephalin are released.  Some of these substances can be 10x or more potent than morphine.  Acupuncture can help reduce dependence on opioid painkillers and provide a natural alternative. 
  • Acupuncture reduces both the intensity and perception of chronic pain. It does this through a process called “descending control normalization," which involves the serotonergic nervous system.
  • Acupuncture relaxes shortened muscles. This in turn releases pressure on joint structures and nerves, and promotes blood flow.
  • Acupuncture reduces stress. Acupuncture can turn off the “fight-or-flight” response that is governed by the sympathetic nervous system and switch to “rest-and-digest” or “calm-and-connect” that is governed by the parasympathetic nervous system. The body can start to restore homeostasis in this relaxed state.   

Here is a poster outlining some of the mechanisms of how acupuncture works.

Poster How Acupuncture Works with detailed description of mechanisms

It's easy to see why acupuncture works when you look at these key mechanisms and the impact they can have on the body.  There are powerful changes that can occur after just one session. 

The benefits of acupuncture are cumulative so when patients complete a series of treatments there can be profound changes with chronic health problems such as long-term pain and inflammation, digestive disorders, allergies and low immunity, auto-immune conditions and both female and male infertility.  

Contact EVOLVE Acupuncture at (248) 955-1215 with questions on how acupuncture can help you.  We are here to help get you scheduled so you can start feeling better.

Schedule Acupuncture Treatment at EVOLVE Acupuncture

Dr. Mike Tocco, DACM, Licensed Acupuncturist, Registered Nurse

EVOLVE Acupuncture is conveniently located in Ferndale, Michigan near Royal Oak and the Woodward Corridor serving the communities of Metro Detroit.