According to traditional Chinese medicine, the body has more than 2,000 points that are connected by pathways or meridians, which create a flow of energy called Qi (“chee”). Stimulating these points is said to correct the imbalance of qi and improve the flow of energy which ultimately helps relieve pain and improve health.
It’s thought the effects come from stimulating the central nervous system. This may trigger the release of chemicals into the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These chemicals either alter the experience of pain or produce bodily changes that promote a sense of well-being.
Other theories suggest acupuncture works by speeding the relay of electromagnetic signals which begins the flow of pain-killing chemicals such as endorphins or it may release immune system cells in the body. Acupuncture triggers the release of natural opioids, the chemicals in the brain that may lessen pain or promote sleep. Acupuncture also changes brain chemistry by altering the release of neurotransmitters (which stimulate or dampen nerve impulses) and neurohormones (that affect the function or activity of an organ in the body).