Using acupuncture for pain relief
Harvard Health Publishing
The ancient art of acupuncture has been practiced for centuries in Asia and has more recently spread to the United States and other Western countries. According to traditional Chinese beliefs, acupuncture works by affecting the flow of energy (called qi or chi), through 12 channels, or meridians, that run lengthwise through the body.
Acupuncture involves the insertion of extremely fine needles into the skin at specific “acupoints” along the meridians. This action, some scientific evidence has shown, may result in pain relief by releasing endorphins, the body’s natural painkilling chemicals, and may affect the part of the brain that governs serotonin levels, the brain transmitter involved with mood.
During Chinese acupuncture, the acupuncturist may turn or twirl the needles slightly or apply heat or electrical stimulation to enhance the effects, or he or she may apply an herb called mugwort to the needle tips to further stimulate the designated acupoints; this is called moxibustion.