Acupuncture | How does Acupuncture work ?

Having acupuncture for the first time can be a distinctly strange experience. I personally wondered what is going on and why many times. My best guess theory at this time is acupuncture stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system through the release of fibroblasts following the insertion of the needles.

What is the parasympathetic nervous system? The parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS, or occasionally PNS) is one of the two main divisions of the autonomic nervous system (ANS). To be specific, the parasympathetic system is responsible for stimulation of "rest-and-digest" or "feed and breed" activities that occur when the body is at rest, especially after eating, including sexual arousal, salivation, lacrimation (tears), urination, digestion and defecation.

Acupuncture stimulates the body to rest, revive and repair. That's my view, here is the science.

Research in Acupuncture

How acupuncture works is still not fully understood at this time (and there have been alot of people putting in alot of time trying to find out). The main areas of research fall into two questions: what happens to the body in acupuncture and what do acupuncture points do and why are they in the place they are.

Firstly, most work covering the effect focuses on the disease relating to the enquiry, however there is a current general perception that acupuncture elicits a cell signalling response in a body-wide cellular network of fibroblasts (Langevin, Carson, Cornbrooks, & Taatjes, 2004), this has some as yet unknown effect on the neurological network, which lead to changes in the body mechanisms.

The reason acupuncture points are different to anywhere else on the body is that 80% of acupuncture points fall in intramuscular and intermuscular connective tissue, these points form the basis of the network and are rich in collagen (Langevin,& Yandow, 2002). The insertion of the needle in to the collagen causes the fibres to wrap around the needle (Julias, Edgar, Buettner, & Shreiber, 2008) and stimulate the process mechanism. This then has an effect on the body as a whole.


Julias, M., Lowell, E., Buettner, H., & Schreiber, D. (2008). An in vitro assay of collagen fiber alignment by acupuncture needle. Found at BioMedical Engineering Online
Langevin, H., & Yandow, J. (2002). Relationship of acupuncture points and meridians to connective tissue planes. The Anatomical Record, 269, 257-265.
Langevin, H., Cornbrooks, C., & Taatjes, D. (2002) Fibroblasts form a body-wide cellular network. Histochemical Cellular Biology, 122, 7-15