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There are several theories about how acupuncture works, according to both traditional theory and modern science.


Traditionally, acupuncture is said to stimulate Qi (pronounced "chee") which is a kind of life-energy that flows everywhere in the body, through channels or meridians. When Qi becomes blocked or diminished, illness and pain follow. By inserting needles at specific acupoints, a traditional acupuncturist affects the flow of Qi in your channels, restoring it to a normal, balanced condition and therefore a state of health.


Modern science theories range from explaining the effects of acupuncture through several various mechanisms:

  • affecting the nervous system and releasing endorphins and enkephalins that modulate pain

  • encouraging the body to enter a parasympathetic state, or "rest-and-digest" state conducive to healing (as opposed to a sympathetic "fight-or-flight" state)

  • releasing muscle fibers that are in a state of spasm, often referred to as "trigger points"

  • changing the behaviour of cells that generate fascia and connective tissue

  • hypothesizing that acupuncture needles can communicate with stem cell function to regenerate needed tissues.

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