According to the Evidence-Based Acupuncture, there are four major biochemical hypotheses for explaining the mechanisms for acupuncture. Since modern medicine uses reductionist or purely physical explanations behind it's healing mechanisms, these explanations are all biochemical in nature.
- Local Reaction: In medicine, a local reaction is a biochemical response to a stimulus at or near point of entrance. In this explanation, acupuncture is thought to work by triggering a variety of hormones, endorphins, and other therapeutic biochemicals whenever needles are inserted at the acupoints.
- Reflex or Nociceptive Reaction: A reflex reaction is an automatic biochemical response to a stimulus.
A nociceptive reaction is a reflex reaction that occurs to stop further pain or injury from happening to the body. An example of a nociceptive reaction is the hot stove hand jerk that occurs upon sensing the pain from touching a dangerously hot object.
In this explanation, acupuncture needle stimulation causes a nociceptive reaction in the brain’s pathways that control pain, causing particular nerves to “jerk” away from pain.
- Neurotransmission: Neurotransmission is the neurochemical process by which the brain’s nerve cells (neurons) communicate. According to this explanation, acupuncture works by triggering a variety of chemical activities in various regions the brain, including the Hypothalamus, Medulla Oblongata, Midbrain, and Prefrontal Cortex.
- Mechanical Signaling through Connective Tissue: While neuro-explanations of acupuncture are the most popular among convinced scientists, new Neurological studies suggest that an acupuncture signal is, at least partially, transmitted by the nervous system and along connective tissue planes. Acupuncture then produces micro-tears in the body's cells, which causes them to naturally heal.
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