Western Scientific Explanation

Currently, there is not one western scientific theory that collaboratively explains all of the physiological mechanisms underlying the effects of Acupuncture. This is because Acupuncture has a variety of therapeutic effects on the body thus the action must vary depending on the type of pathology. However it is proposed that acupuncture primarily produces its effects through regulating the nervous system. Regulation of the nervous system aids the activity of pain-killing biochemicals such as endorphins and immune system cells at specific sites in the body. In addition, studies have shown that acupuncture may alter brain chemistry by changing the release of neurotransmitters and neurohormones. These affect the parts of the central nervous system related to sensation and involuntary body functions, such as immune reactions and processes that regulate a person’s blood pressure, blood flow, and body temperature.

In summary, scientists have deduced a number of theories from observing a number of individual clinical effects of acupuncture treatment. These theories and the observed clinical effects on which the theories are based can be summarised as the following:

Augmentation of Immunity Theory – Increased Immune Function & Resistance to Disease

Endorphin Theory – Reduction of Pain

Neurotransmitter Theory – Inflammation Reduction & Promotion of Feelings of Well Being

Circulatory Theory – Improved Circulation & Smooth Muscle Relaxation

Gate Control Theory – Increased Pain Tolerance

Motor Gate Theory – Hasten Motor Recovery from Paralysis

Homeostatic or Regulatory Effect – Regulation of Body’s Homeostasis to Disease or Abnormal Conditions

Bioelectric Theory – Stimulation of cells of tissue growth & repair

Nervous System Theories – Central nervous system, spinal & peripheral nerve stimulation, resulting in some of the above-mentioned effects.