Stick a pin in me. Or a needle. Acupuncture: how and why it works


You’ve never liked needles. You don’t believe they could help you in any way, yet you know someone who swears by them. Maybe it’s time to put that fear aside and look at acupuncture as a form of treatment. Something everyone including you could benefit from. So here’s everything you need to know about acupuncture. How it works, how it’s used, and how can it help you.

Acupuncture can be used in the treatment of many conditions, including:

• Colds and Flu
• Migraine Headache
• Allergies
• Infertility
• Insomnia
• Fibromyalgia
• Depression and Anxiety
• Low Back Pain
• Acid Reflux
• PMS and Menstrual Disorders
• Menopausal SyndromeAcupuncture keeps the body in balance and preserves youth. Some people even use acupuncture for the reduction of facial wrinkles and restoration of a more youthful appearance!

What I have found in my own acupuncture practice is that people are most likely to give acupuncture a try after hearing about how it helped a friend or family member. Here is some information to help you understand how acupuncture works and what it treats so that you will know what to look for when seeking acupuncture treatment.

Acupuncture has been practiced in China for thousands of years. The first written documentation is over 2000 years old. Compare this with modern western medicine which is roughly 100 years old in its current form. Today in China, where western medicine has been incorporated, acupuncture and western medicine are both utilized in hospitals for the treatment of disease.

The practice has been shown to cause changes in the nervous system resulting in release of neurotransmitters, chemicals that influence functions throughout the body and the brain, and this is one of the main scientific theories to explain how it works at present. Acupuncture is effective in treating many forms of pain, and is used as a form of anesthesia in some circumstances. The release of endorphins, known as pain-killing substances naturally produced in the body, is promoted by acupuncture, and is suggested as a possible mechanism by which acupuncture relieves pain. It may also be the release of endorphins that helps explain the deep states of relaxation and well-being commonly experienced in acupuncture treatment.

In the simplest terms, acupuncture works by promoting the body’s ability to regulate and heal itself. It is understood that there are pathways of communication within the body, known as “meridians” in Chinese Medicine. These meridians encompass but are not limited to the circulatory, nervous, and musculoskeletal systems. It is said that vital energy, known as Qi (pronounced “chi”) flows through the meridians. This Qi is the energy that enlivens the body, in yoga it is known as “prana.” It is like the electricity that illuminates a light bulb: the Qi keeps the body alive and functioning. At this point science hasn’t ascertained exactly what Qi correlates to in terms of western anatomy and physiology. Perhaps we will one day find that it includes elements of all the major systems of the body.

Acupuncture works. By stimulating specific points along the meridian system, acupuncture regulates the vital functions of the body, promoting homeostasis, or the restoration of healthy physiological balance. When a symptom arises, for example headache, low back pain, or a digestive disturbance, it indicates that there is an underlying imbalance in the body. Through Chinese Medical diagnosis, an acupuncturist is able to discern where there are blockages in energy flow, where there is insufficiency of energy, and where there may be excesses of energy. Then the acupuncture needles are placed in locations chosen to regulate the diagnosed imbalance.

Think about it: You don’t need to live with that chronic tension in the neck and shoulders that you’ve become so accustomed to, and you don’t need to go on suffering from acid reflux, headaches, insomnia, anxiety, depression or fatigue. So many of these conditions become part of the background of our lives and we fail to identify them as problems anymore. We think it’s just something we have to live with. Many of these common conditions have no specific cure in western medicine, and even those that do often require taking regular medication, which is costly and usually doesn’t address the underlying disorder. As we age, we expect more and more to “go wrong” with the body, but this doesn’t have to be the case if we just find out how to keep it in balance and in health as we go along.

Because acupuncture supports the body to heal and regulate itself, it is applicable to almost any health condition.

Janet Humphrey is a Licensed Acupuncturist. From acupuncture to body talk, Janet heals New Yorkers from a variety of conditions every day. For more information, go to

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