What is Acupuncture?

Every time I talk to people about Acupuncture, I always get asked the same 3 questions: What is it? How does it work? And does it hurt?


Acupuncture is the gentle insertion of hair thin needles at very specific points, causing the body to release chemicals and hormones that help the body regulate itself and regain homeostasis. All needles are sterile, single-use and approved by the FDA. It is natural, safe and effective.


There are many different theories as to how Acupuncture works. One theory postulates that it stimulates the Central Nervous System (the brain and spinal cord) to enable the body to heal itself. This may happen in a myriad of ways including triggering a release of neurotransmitters, opioids and enhancing endocrine function.


Reduces Pain
Because Acupuncture points are designated areas of electrical sensitivity, inserting needles at these points stimulates sensory receptors. This in turn stimulates nerves that transmit impulses to the hypothalamic-pituitary system in the brain. This area is responsible for releasing endorphins (the body’s natural pain killer), along with other neurotransmitters (chemicals that modify nerve impulses), which block the message of pain from being delivered up to the brain. This reaction also provokes a cascade of other chemicals that invoke your body’s own healing abilities, boosts blood flow and helps bring the body into homeostasis. There are many scientific studies done in China on Acupuncture anesthesia.

Micro Trauma
Another theory suggests that once inserted, the needle creates micro trauma in the surrounding tissue initiating an inflammatory process. This triggers the body to heal itself. Fresh blood and nutriments are sent to the site along with a substance called prostaglandins which regulate inflammation and mobilize platelets for healing.


Releases Serotonin
Acupuncture affects certain neurotransmitter levels such as Serotonin and Noradrenalin. A neurotransmitters is a type of chemical that helps relay signals from one area of the brain to another. This is why people feel so good after a treatment or even fall asleep. There are many researchers who believe that an imbalance in serotonin levels may influence mood in a way that leads to depression. This is why Acupuncture is so effective at treating mood disorders and anxiety.


Many people are interested in Acupuncture and they hear it works, but they usually think of needles. Most people don’t like needles. However, Acupuncture is typically pain free. The needles used are much finer than a hypodermic needle, which is the needle you get when you have your blood drawn or receive a shot. In fact about 15 -20 Acupuncture needles fit into 1 hypodermic needle.

Typically a patient will feel a tingling, numbness or a slight sensation at the site of insertion. We call this obtaining a Patient’s Qi (pronounced ‘Chee’).

The most common response to Acupuncture is relaxation and a sense of well being.