How Acupuncture Works

Acupuncture works via many mechanisms, and those most easily understood can be separated into local and systemic reactions. At a local level, such as with the treatment of musculoskeletal and painful conditions, acupuncture is thought to stimulate the nerves in the local tissue, reduce inflammation, reduce pain, improve local circulation which reduces muscle stiffness and improves joint mobility1

On a systemic level, the stimulation of the needle at certain acupoints sends signals from the peripheral nervous system to the central nervous system, which can lead to a range of systemic reactions, such as the regulation of blood flow, the secretion of hormones and endorphins, and the inhibition of pain signals2. The resulting biochemical changes activate the body's self-regulating systems, stimulating its natural healing abilities and promoting physical and emotional well-being1.

  1. British Acupuncture Council (2011). Research resources fact sheets: Acupuncture and chronic pain.
  2. NIH Consensus Development Conference Statement. (1997). Acupuncture [Electronic version]. Available from the National Institute of Health website (PDF file)