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What is the Science of Acupuncture?

We live in an amazing time, as Western science has shown alternative modalities such as acupuncture be effective. What was previously looked at as “woo woo” has in fact lasted for over 2,500, and now the science is here to show the medicine is truly working. The needles help to move fascia – or connective tissue that is the net covering all of your muscles. Needles are placed on specific acupuncture points to elicit immediate release of the painful muscle tension. We can actually feel the muscles relax immediately, giving true confirmation that the treatment is in fact working. Acupuncture affects the modulation of molecules related to analgesia within the brain, spinal cord and peripheral nervous system, including cAMP and glutamate. Acupuncture also affects the immune system, as evidenced by upregulation of immune markers including interleukin and nerve growth factors. Functional MRI studies have shown that acupuncture enhances connectivity between different areas of the brain, and this wholebrain integration helps with pain modulation. We have much evidence that primary to our overall healing and our ability to adapt to stress and painful situations – either physically or emotionally – is neuroplasticity, or the ability to the nervous system to reorganize synaptic connections. We used to think that if I have injured myself, if I have cut my nerves, they will never grow back. Now science has shown that nerves can reorganize and adapt – and so we can tap into this natural process with a very simple tool.

Reference: Yin, Changshik, et al. “Acupuncture for chronic pain: an update and critical overview.” Curr Opin Anesthesiol 2017, 30:583–592.

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