Acupuncture is a technique that uses the body's natural ability to return to normalcy.
The therapeutic effects of Acupuncture are obtained when, through the insertion of solid and extremely fine needles in the tissues (usually the skin and muscles), your doctor is able to modulate the functioning of the Nervous System, and through this, the Endocrine System, the Immune System and the exocrine glands.
The study of the mechanisms of action of Acupuncture has been investigated since the second half of the 20th century, and it is now a fact that Acupuncture exerts its effects by stimulating nerve endings in the punctured tissues. This local stimulation causes the release of a series of substances that have the final effect of increasing local circulation, improving oxygenation and the supply of nutrients to the tissues. At this level of local action, there is also stimulation of the activity of the Immune System.
The stimulation of nerve endings in the skin, muscle, joint capsules, periosteum, caused by manipulation or electrical stimulation of needles (called electro-acupuncture) will trigger a series of physiological processes in the spinal cord and brain, which will be responsible for the therapeutic action of Acupuncture. The area that has been the main object of study since the 1970s is the application of acupuncture to treat pain. The knowledge of the mechanisms by which Acupuncture exerts its effects in the treatment of pain has taken a huge step with the studies carried out in the 70s by Professor Ji-Sheng Han, a doctor at Peking University. It was he who first proved that the effect of electro-acupuncture is due to the stimulation of the production of opioids (substances produced by our body, which have an analgesic effect) in the Central Nervous System. These initial studies, carried out on rabbits, were later confirmed in humans in Sweden by Professor Lars Terennius, from the Karolinska Institute. Currently, it is known that acupuncture has profound effects on all levels of the nervous system, from the peripheral nerves, spinal cord and brain, namely at the level of the limbic system (a set of brain areas related to emotions), the hypothalamus and of the pituitary gland, as well as the cerebral cortex. The performance of a set of areas of the Central Nervous System has also been well established, which when activated, inhibit / influence the transmission of pain from the spinal cord to the brain.
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SPMA-Portuguese Medical Society of Acupuncture