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How acupuncture works

Christina Crawford
Posted 3/14/21

To many, acupuncture theory may seem abstract. This is a normal response since there is not an equivalent idea in the western medical paradigm. Acupuncture is not new; it is built upon thousands of …

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How acupuncture works


To many, acupuncture theory may seem abstract. This is a normal response since there is not an equivalent idea in the western medical paradigm. Acupuncture is not new; it is built upon thousands of years of clinical practice in multiple regions around the world. While acupuncture was brought to the United States in the 1800’s it did not gain popularity until the 1970’s when an American journalist published his story of receiving acupuncture to decrease pain after an appendectomy. Success stories have continued to be shared by word of mouth, and the growing use of acupuncture therapy by major sports teams, Veterans hospitals, and in conjunction with other modern health care modalities across the U.S. has increased its visibility.

But how does acupuncture work? The answer to this question is multifaceted. The body has an astounding variety of innate methods to heal itself depending on the pathology – the body’s systems are multifaceted. The fundamental principle of how acupuncture works is that it helps your body activate its own healing abilities. The body will heal a broken bone, a strained muscle, or even deeper problems with the various organs or neurological systems when it is healthy. But if the body is not functioning as well as it should, it may not heal very quickly or as effectively. Sometimes the body is so depleted, it cannot heal at all. Acupuncture can help by supporting the body, increasing your chances to obtain optimal health. By using specific acupuncture points which act as instructions to clear blockages and restore balance, acupuncture aids the body’s natural recuperative abilities.

Acupuncture studies have come a long way in the last several years. Some current scientific explanations for how acupuncture works include activating a biochemical release, balancing neurological responses, and increasing blood flow. Increased blood flow is important because the blood caries the substances that the body needs to heal such as oxygen, vital nutrients, hormones, and natural pain killers. 

Many people who have had acupuncture are familiar with the good feeling it elicits in conjunction with a deep yet restorative level of relaxation. This occurs because of the activation of hormones such as endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine. This is also why acupuncture helps decrease pain and stress, while assisting one to get a better night’s sleep.

Neurological MRI studies have shown changes in the regions of the brain associated with pain perception after acupuncture therapy. Additionally, acupuncture is frequently helpful to improve post stroke recovery due to its neuro restorative implications.

When injured, acupuncture can help decrease swelling, free restrictions in scar tissue and myofascial adhesions, correct motor point function, dissipate trigger points, relax muscles, and restore function.

Often, people ask me how acupuncture can possibly help with so many different conditions. The answer to that is simple: acupuncture aims to correct systemic imbalances. 

Acupuncturists understand that every aspect of your body is connected, they look at the whole person to help correct the imbalance at the root of your condition. Each person may be treated using different acupuncture points, even for the same ailment. This is because the system that requires rebalancing is unique to each person’s condition. There is no blanket diagnosis. It is about your body and your needs, to help you regain homeostasis and find health again.

Crawford is board certified by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine and licensed by the state of New York. Crawford Acupuncture is located at 111 E. Chestnut St. Suite 203 in Rome.

She may be reached via call or text at 315-225-1222 or online at Many insurance plans cover acupuncture.


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