One of the most practiced components that make up Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is now accepted by the medical community. Many seek it to help with their health concerns in a more natural way, while others use it to compliment their western medicine treatments.
The quality and quantity now of research has grown tremendously, proving that acupuncture has a much broader application beyond pain relief.
While In Traditional Chinese medicine, it is linked to the believe that the vital energy, "Qi", that flows via pathways (known as meridians) that are distributed like a network throughout the body, has been disrupted.
A person's health is influenced by the quality, amount, and balance of this vital energy. Stress, poor diet, lack of excessive or overexertion are among the many factors that can have a negative effect on the free flow of Qi, thus causing the body's natural balance and one's health to become disrupted. Acupuncture engages this energy by the gentle insertion of very fine (hair-thin) needles at specific points on the body (acupuncture points) with the intention of restoring the proper flow, so that any dysfunction can be rectified, allowing natural healing to take place.
As for the western medicine's philosophy, acupuncture needles work as a physical stimulus. In western science, a stimulus is defined as a detectable change in either the external environment or within the body itself. When the body detects change, it produces a response. With modern technology scientists can now actually begin to "see" the body's response to acupuncture. For example, using an MRI, researchers have shown that when a needle is inserted at specific acupuncture point on the body, corresponding changes occur in the brain.
Acupuncture points are believed to stimulate the central nervous system and release pain-relieving chemicals into the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. It may also stimulate other chemicals to be released, including hormones that influence the self-regulating system of the body.
Acupuncture is known to have a cumulative affect, so when used regularly, it is a great preventative medicine approach which will help bring and maintain the body and mind in balance, thus avoiding illness.