Rheumatology by Lynn Van Airsdale
A 2008 issue of Rheumatology published the article, Demystifying Acupuncture, which reviewed the different theories on acupuncture’s mechanism of action. There appear to be three main ideas. One involves acupuncture’s effects on pain inhibitory pathways of the peripheral and central nervous system. The second idea is acupuncture’s analgesic effects from opioid and serotonin release. The third idea is that there is a change in the muscle’s neuromatrix, or how the pain fibers respond and transmit messages. All three help our western understanding of how acupuncture works. There are several studies that show acupuncture’s effects on the nervous system, on endorphin and hormonal release and regulation, as well as on the combined effort of the muscle/fascia response to acupuncture needling. There is much more research to conduct, but in the meantime we can rely on the ancient perspective of TCM and acupuncture’s ability to illicit positive change on the body.