How Acupuncture Works

How Acupuncture Works

Acupuncture is a versatile therapeutic treatment that involves penetrating the skin with tiny needles. It’s beneficial for a variety of conditions, including chronic headaches. Acupuncture is an age-old practice and part of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). 

Effectively relieving headaches often requires a multidisciplinary approach. Neurologist Ravinder Singh, MD, and our team at Premier Neurology Medical Group incorporate various therapies such as acupuncture, chiropractic care, and homeopathy to alleviate your headaches. At the Beverly Hills Headache Institute, we may recommend acupuncture, alone or with other therapies, to manage your head pain. 

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is based on the premise that the body has specific pathways (meridians) that create and maintain energy (Qi) flow through the body. Health is maintained when energy flows uninterrupted. 

It is thought that any disruption in the flow of these pathways can have a negative impact on your health. That goal of acupuncture is to improve the flow of Qi, thereby boosting healing and health.

How does acupuncture work?

During acupuncture treatment, tiny needles are inserted into points along the meridians. These points stimulate the central nervous system, which triggers the release of various chemicals, such as neurotransmitters and endorphins. These substances promote healing, reduce pain, and improve mood and emotional well-being. 

In the past, the exact mechanism by which acupuncture works remained unknown, and practitioners relied on theories to explain the benefits of acupuncture. Today, research provides some explanation for how acupuncture works. 

Pain-relieving properties

When it comes to pain, research shows that acupuncture disrupts nerves that send low-grade sensory information over long distances in the body. Bundles of nerves called C fibers branch at acupuncture points. The insertion of tiny acupuncture needles interferes with pain signals sent from various nerve bundles throughout the body. This explains how acupuncture can relieve a variety of chronic pain syndromes, including headaches. 

Stimulating the nerve bundles that branch at acupuncture points is also thought to stimulate the body’s release of natural pain-killing substances and to suppress certain pain receptors.

Healing properties

In addition to pain-relieving mechanisms, acupuncture jumpstarts the body’s natural healing process by stimulating nerve growth factor (NGF) and increasing brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). 

Anti-inflammatory properties

Research indicates that acupuncture exerts its anti-inflammatory effects by suppressing the following inflammatory substances such as iInterleukin-6 and interleukin-8. Acupuncture has also been reported to suppress COX-1 and COX-2. Inhibiting these two proteins is how nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications provide their pain-relieving effects. 

What does acupuncture feel like?

Practitioners use hair-thin needles that are carefully inserted into a point. It produces a sensation that may feel like a mild electric current. Many people report feeling energized following an acupuncture treatment session, while others feel enhanced relaxation. 

Your safety and comfort is our number one priority. During acupuncture you lie comfortably on the padded table and can communicate with your provider at any time. 

Acupuncture for headache relief

Acupuncture can be part of a comprehensive treatment plan to alleviate your headaches so that you feel better. If you’re struggling with chronic headaches, reach out to our team at Beverly Hills Headache Institute. Call 310-438-5268 to schedule a visit with Dr. Singh. 

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