“Does Acupuncture Work?”
Whether I’m at a cocktail party or conversing with a stranger on a plane, I hear this question all the time. My answer is a resounding “Yes!” with over 3000 years of anecdotal evidence and over 30 years of rigorous scientific evidence to support it. Still skeptical? Ask around! Chances are, if you ask anyone who has received acupuncture for any number of conditions, they have found it effective. Once you’ve tried it, I’m confident you will become a believer too. But the good news is you don’t even have to be a believer for it to work, because the secret to its effectiveness isn’t in the placebo effect, it’s in our physiology and anatomy!
The body is the most sophisticated technology we will ever know, yet it is also the most under-appreciated and underutilized.
We depend on modern technological devices for just about everything. Chances are you are reading this from your phone or laptop at this very moment. We have a tendency to over rely on technology and under rely on our own bodies, which is unfortunate because within our biology we possess a more advanced technology than any device Apple will ever devise.
Fascia is the connective tissue around all of our muscles which allows communication between all of the tissues and cells of the body. Within the fascia there is a crystalline matrix, like an information superhighway for cell communication, and it is this matrix that forms the physical basis of the Chinese meridians or energy pathways through which acupuncture works.
Our bodies, with this incredible crystalline matrix, give new meaning to smart technology.
If we depended on our bodies the way we depend on modern technology, like our iPhones and FitBits, we would find our bodies are vastly more capable of providing us with the information we need to achieve optimal wellness. Instead of asking Siri for directions or FitBit for our blood pressure, if we were more cued into our internal messages, we would instinctively know how to behave, what to eat, what not to eat, when to wake, when to rest, etc. Via the crystalline matrix of our fascia all the cells in our bodies interpret and interact with our experiences and thoughts producing either wellness or disease.
In this way the body acts like a thermostat—a smart thermostat, like a Nest— able to adjust itself based on its interactions with its environment.
Like a Nest, the body can also be adjusted manually. Stimulating acupuncture points throughout the body is like manually adjusting your smart thermostat. You input data that your cells then interpret and communicate to other cells in the body, responding by regulating systems as diverse as the nervous, endocrine, and immune systems simultaneously. This explains the systemic impact of acupuncture, and why stimulating an acupuncture point in the foot can address a variety of imbalances from headaches to depression. Meanwhile, local healing processes are also occurring.
Each needle creates a local micro-injury.
A micro-injury so minute that the sensory nerves don’t even perceive it as pain, yet it is perceptible to the more sensitive immune system, which mounts a healing response in the local area, including the promotion of circulation and the release of endorphins and other healing substances.
Left to their own devices our bodies are incredibly capable of maintaining functional health. It’s when we interfere that illness, pain, and other pesky symptoms emerge. Understanding how acupuncture works to facilitate the body’s natural healing potential brings a new appreciation and confidence in the body’s wisdom. Next time you use a smart phone or smart thermostat, take a moment to acknowledge the healing omnipotence of your body… and make an acupuncture appointment to access and optimize it!