Dr. Daniel Hsu, a doctor of acupuncture and Chinese medicine at AcuHealth in New York, is breaking it all down.
"There are two main pillars of Chinese medicine," Dr. Hsu explains. "One of them is acupuncture and one of them is herbal medicine."
HOW DOES ACUPUNCTURE WORK?
Dr. Hsu explains that acupuncture works by stimulating specific points on or near the surface of the skin, called acupuncture points. "These points have high concentrations of nerve endings, mast cells, lymphatics and capillaries, all capable of triggering reactions in the body. When a needle is inserted into an acupuncture point, it stimulates the sensory receptor and sets off a chain reaction — the sensory receptor stimulates the nerve, which in turn transmits impulses to the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal system. This complex system of interactions between the brain, hormones and glands is a powerhouse, responsible for regulating a number of bodily processes." He says there are acupuncture points all over your body, but for example, in your hand you can find points connected to the heart, spleen, liver, intestines, etc.
"It makes the body release its own naturally occurring pain killers and naturally occurring feel-good chemicals. And it also helps to relax the nervous system," Dr. Hsu explains. "It calms that fight or flight response — that tightness in the body, it loosens it up for you and improves circulation. It helps with pain and healing."
"All the acupuncture points are in areas where there are a lot of nerves, a lot of mast cells, which are for the immune system — and also for the lymphatic system," he continues. "So when you do acupuncture, you're improving circulation."
"It's good for headaches and pain all over the body," Dr. Hsu says about the major acupuncture points in the hand. "It's also good for toothaches."