Scientists Seek Clues for Acupuncture's Success
Learn how acupuncture might help when Western medicine doesn't have an answer.
What Acupuncture Can Do for You continued...
The treatment "has a calming, restorative effect that increases a sense
of well-being and ultimately helps the body to accept the creation of
life," said acupuncturist Ifeoma Okoronkwo, MD, a professor of medicine at
New York University School of Medicine, in an earlier interview. Studies have
shown a clear link between acupuncture and the body's natural "feel
good" brain chemicals.
Acupuncture also appears to affect three areas critical to egg production
and ovulation: two areas of the brain that control hormone production (the
hypothalamus and pituitary glands) as well as the ovaries. "My guess is
that acupuncture is changing the blood supply to the ovaries, possibly dilating
the arteries and increasing blood flow, so that ultimately, the ovaries are
receiving greater amounts of hormonal stimulation," Sandra Emmons, MD,
professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Oregon Health Sciences University,
told WebMD in a previous interview.
Acupuncture may also "boost" the uterine lining when it is too weak
to sustain a pregnancy, a problem known to increase the risk of
The Science Behind Acupuncture
According to Chinese traditional medicine, acupuncture affects the life
force called "chi." More than 2000 acupuncture points in the body are
connected by meridians, or pathways, through which energy must pass freely for
optimal wellness. Disturbances in this flow result in illness or
Over the years, research has shown that acupuncture affects a variety of
biological systems -- releasing hormones, disabling receptors, and activating
anti-inflammatory chemicals. It has been suggested that the
healing power of acupuncture comes from its effect on the nervous system. It
might aid the pain-killing effect of chemicals called endorphins or help cells
from the immune system fight infection, according to the NIH.
Intricate networks of connective tissue -- which extend throughout the body
-- may be at the crux of acupuncture, according to other studies. It's evident
when an acupuncture needle is inserted into the body. Like a fork in a plate of
spaghetti, the needle grabs up tiny bits of connective tissue and nerve bundles