Most people have heard of acupuncture and know that it involves needles. But what is acupuncture and is there any scientific reason why it should work?
Acupuncture is an ancient art of healing from China. In its modern form, very fine and sterile needles are inserted through the skin in certain key locations, to have a desired effect.
Often the needles are moved or vibrated to increase their effect. Some research has been performed using small electric currents down the needles to try to increase the effect of further.
So how can acupuncture needles affect the body?
In the body, there are some natural very strong painkillers that work just like morphine. These are called endorphins and enkephalins.
In normal life, endorphins and enkephalins protect the body from pain where pain is not useful. For instance, if you are fighting for your life in an emergency and you injure yourself severely, stopping because of pain may well lead you to lose your life. Therefore the body produces enkephalins and endorphins in huge quantities so that you do not feel the injury and you continue to fight. It is only later that you feel the pain of injury.
It is thought that the insertion of the acupuncture needles in the correct areas, cause the release of endorphins and enkephalins within the body – whether locally, or in this central nervous system (brain or spinal cord).
By knowing where to insert the acupuncture needles, experts are able to either reduce pain locally in an area, reduce pain generally or even reduce cravings such as the cravings for cigarettes in smokers who are trying to give up.