Current Research Findings
Acupuncture stimulates the body's signaling systems. Signaling systems
release biochemicals (proteins, hormones and other chemicals that the
body produces) at various sites in the body. These biochemicals travel
to other sites via the bloodstream, across cell membranes and within
cells to stimulate a physiological activity such as growth, metabolism,
or tissue repair.
Acupuncture stimulates and balances the nervous system, as well as every
other system of the body (endocrine, circulatory, digestive, immune,
respiratory, musculoskeletal, etc.) But it's a misnomer that acupuncture
just treats the nerves.
(Click on image for larger view)
For example, the external ear, which has no important nerves
or blood vessels, has the highest density of acupuncture points on the
body. Here's why...
Acupoints are high electrical conductance points on the
body surface. They have a higher concentration of certain proteins, which
trigger intercellular communication. They have a higher temperature and
metabolic rate that can be detected and mapped using high-resolution
microscopes and other instruments that map electric currents and magnetic
Early in an embryo's development, the cells are less differentiated,
and the acupoints are evenly distributed throughout the organism. As
the fetus develops, the acupoints cluster at boundary areas of the body
such as limb buds (sites where the arms and legs begin to form). This
clustering of the acupoints precedes the development of the nervous and
Electrical changes in the acupoints and meridians
stimulate the embryo to grow and the systems and structures of the
body to develop & differentiate
Thus, the acupoint and meridian system appears very early in the embryo's
development and serves as a template for all the subsequent systems.
Boundary areas of the body are areas where the body
is divided into different domains. For example, the midline of the
body, various folds, concavities, convexities, the boundary line where
two different muscles come together, etc. Most acupuncture points are
located in these areas, as their traditional names (for example, "bountiful bulge", "sunken
valley", "back ravine" and "ravine divide")
describe. These boundary areas are major pathways of bioelectric currents.
They often correspond with acupuncture meridians.
The external ear, with its numerous concavities and
convexities, has the most complex surface morphology (form and shape)
of all the anatomical landmarks. As such, it contains many acupuncture
points. Interestingly, the external ear's morphology is one of the
most accurate indicators of hereditary disorders (for example: Turner
syndrome, Fragile X syndrome, Potter syndrome, maternal diabetes & atherosclerosis). Pediatrics
textbooks recommend that any anomaly of the external ear should initiate
a search for malformations in other parts of the body. According to Chinese
medicine, the ears pertain to the kidneys and store the "congenital
essence", which if insufficient, would manifest as congenital weaknesses
or birth defects.
In the fully formed human, acupoints nourish the tissues, maintain the
various systems of the body and integrate them so they work together
in a harmonious whole. For example, nervous, circulatory and immune processes,
wound healing and stress response are all regulated through the acupoints
and meridian system. Since change in the electric field precedes physiological
and structural change in the body, assessment and treatment of the acupoints
and meridians is an effective way to diagnose and treat many illnesses,
disorders and injuries, and can also be used preventatively to identify
and resolve subtle imbalances that can later manifest as disease.