As a practice of Chinese medicine, acupuncture is based on the concept that a life force known as ‘Qi’ runs throughout the body on channels. These interconnected channels, or meridians, relate to all of the organs or systems of organs in the body. A healthy body, one that is free of pain or disease, is a body in which Qi is free to flow throughout the meridians. Any imbalance or disharmony in the flow of Qi can result in pain and illness. The goal of acupuncture is to stimulate specific points along the meridians in order to rebalance Qi.
The human body comes equipped with the ability to treat pain without the use of pharmaceutical intervention. Acupuncture helps the body by working with its own natural resources for alleviating suffering. For example, stimulation of certain points on the body can help with the release of endorphins, natural painkilling chemicals. Acupuncture can also suppress the stimulation of nerve signals that cause pain. This works by increasing serotonin levels; serotonin can interrupt pain signals before they are able to reach the brain.
Acupuncture is useful in improving the circulation of blood throughout the body, which assists with the healing process by oxygenating tissues and cycling out waste chemicals that can weaken the immune system (a weakened immune system can lead to further inflammation and pain). Acupuncture is also very calming, and can lower heart rate and blood pressure in all individuals, including those who have been under the stress of a painful condition such as sciatica.