Does Acupuncture Work? What is the Science Behind It?

Acupuncture is not a new technique, but the roots of this treatment fall back to China around 100BC. This is a traditional Chinese concept that involves qi, which is the life force energy. Also, it includes a path from where the qi flows. You can refer to this path as meridians. Even though scientific principles do not support any of these concepts, many people find this technique effective. Acupuncture is a procedure that includes the insertion of numerous needles into the skin. The locations of these pins depend on your symptoms. Many professional acupuncturists also twist the needles after inserting them into the body. This creates therapeutic effects to that location. According to Chinese tradition, acupuncture consists of many benefits, but in the Western world, a doctor will only recommend the technique for pain treatment.

What is Acupuncture?

According to ancient Chinese culture, acupuncture has a great impact on the body. It offers treatment from a variety of triggering points. An acupuncturist inserts the needles on the skin providing relief to the body. In other words, acupuncture as a minimally invasive method stimulates the nerves below the skin. It influences the organs, glands, tissues, and other body parts. When the needle enters inside the body, it causes slight discomfort. The intensity of the pain is enough to generate signals and respond. The response from the body will stimulate your immune system. It promotes circulation to the affected area, modulates the pain, and heals the wound. Modern research supports this theory about acupuncture.

How Does Acupuncture Work?

According to the traditional Chinese medical concept, your health is the balance between yin and yang. This balance is the life force, and you can refer to it as qi. This concept also suggests that the reason you become ill is the imbalance of both these forces. Qi is the energy that flows through the meridians. These meridians are the pathway inside the human body. You can access and control the flow of 350 your energy and meridians with the help of 350 acupuncture points.

When the needles enter your body following an appropriate combination, the energy starts to flow into a proper balance. There isn’t any proper scientific evidence supporting this concept. Also, proving this spiritual perception can be a difficult task. Also, the existence of meridians and acupuncture points does not have any proof. But, you will find numerous researches claiming the validity of this technique. These researches suggest that acupuncture is helpful for some conditions.

Many scientists used the thoughts and theories of neuroscience to explain the idea of acupuncture. They suggest that acupuncture points are simply the location in the muscles, nerves, and connective tissue that you can stimulate. Because of the stimulation the flow of the blood increases. The increase in blood circulation triggers the activity in those locations. As a result of these activities, your body activates its natural ability to treat pain.

Acupuncture is an invasive treatment making it hard to investigate the scientific reasons behind its benefits. In a study, the experts compare the results of the group of people. Half of them received acupuncture treatment, and others took a placebo or sham treatment. Some studies suggest that placebo and acupuncture have similar benefits. However, many researchers argue that acupuncture may have some real benefits.

How Does Acupuncture Help?

There are numerous reasons why someone decides to undergo acupuncture. For instance, you can visit acupuncturists for sinus pressure or chronic headaches. Other than these conditions, acupuncture also helps with:

According to some research studies, acupuncture also treats cancer and multiple sclerosis. But, you will find fewer studies regarding the benefits of this treatment for cancer.

Acupuncture and Body

A lot of people believe that acupuncture points stimulate the nervous system of the body. Your central nervous system secretes different chemicals and releases them into the brain, muscles, and spinal cord. With the changes in the biochemical state, your body starts to heal itself. When the body naturally heals it promotes emotional and physical well-being. According to different studies by the National Institute of Health (NIH), acupuncture helps treat different types of conditions. Here are some other benefits of acupuncture to the body:

  • Addiction
  • Tennis elbow
  • Low back pain
  • Nausea
  • Dental pain
  • Headaches
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Myofascial pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Asthma
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome

Furthermore, you can also seek help from this technique with stroke rehabilitation.

Benefits of Acupuncture

Here are some additional benefits of acupuncture that you might find interesting:

  • This is a safe technique if correctly performed.
  • You can combine it with other treatments.
  • There are only a few side effects.
  • It controls different types of pain.
  • If you do not feel like consuming pain medication, seek help from acupuncture.

What is the Science Behind Acupuncture? 

Acupuncture and Pain Relief

There is some evidence that supports the effectiveness of acupuncture to provide relief from pain. Furthermore, this evidence also suggests that it strengthens the immune system of the body. Because of the boost in the immune system, patients suffering from chronic illness can find relief from their condition. In cases where consuming medication can cause side effects, acupuncture can help reduce those side effects boosting the treatment process.

In 1997, the National Institute of Health gathered some evidence supporting the effectiveness of acupuncture. They suggested that the technique is beneficial to treat nausea related to chemotherapy and postoperative. They also claimed that even though acupuncture does not treat cancer, it reduces cancer’s side effects. As a result, patients will feel comfortable and reduce their dose of pain medication.

In 2012, a survey conducted by NIH suggests that only 55.3 respondents reported acupuncture as advantageous for their condition compared to 84.7 percent in 2002. However, the other participants were using the treatment for personal care. Therefore, the survey highlights that more people prefer this treatment for relaxation. A lot of people also use this treatment to enhance the ability of their conventional medicine while managing their pain and promoting their personal well-being.

What You Should Expect from the Treatment?

The traditional medical theory from the ancient Chinese civilization claims the existence of meridians. You can refer to these meridians as pressure points. They work as the pathway for the transportation of energy into the body. They refer to this energy as Qi.

When you visit the acupuncturist for the treatment, they will evaluate your body and identify the symptoms of the condition. While examining your body, they will insert one or two sterilized needles in the body. After evaluation of your body, they will suggest you self-care or other therapies including Chinese herbs.

Afterward, they will ask you to comfortably lie down. The position of your body depends on the location where the acupuncturist will insert the needles. For instance, if they will ask you to lie down on your front, they will insert the needles on your back. The acupuncturist will use disposable, sterile, and single-use needles. When they will insert the needles into the pressure points, you will feel a tingling and stinging sensation.

After they insert the needles inside the body, you might feel a bit of pain that will vanish after a while. Usually, acupuncture is a painless treatment. In some types of acupuncture treatment, a specialist will heat or stimulate the needles with electricity after they insert them inside the pressure points.

They will keep the needles inside your body for 5 to 30 minutes, depending on the combination and the condition. In some cases, you need to visit multiple times for different sessions. The number of your sessions depends on your health condition. For chronic diseases, you may require one or two treatments every week. You may undergo the treatment process for several months. If you are suffering from acute pain, you will find improvement after 8 to 12 sessions.


You might find it hard to measure all the benefits of acupuncture. However, pain management is the popular advantage of acupuncture. This treatment controls numerous painful conditions. Numerous studies are indicating the beneficial effect of some types of acupuncture on the body. Simulated acupuncture also works similarly for many people. Also, some studies suggest that this method is helpful for people who expect this technique to work. There are only a few side effects of acupuncture. For conditions related to pain, you can visit acupuncturists and check the benefit for yourself.