Acupuncture is the insertion of fine needles into the body to effect a change in the energetic state. In oriental medicine, these changes are considered to rebalance or restore normal function or flow of qi. Qi is the vital life force which provides function or motive force, and flows through a systemic network of meridians or pathways through the body. Qi can become blocked, stuck, or deficient for example due to imbalances or pathogenic influences which leads to dysfunction and thus disease. Acupuncture is based on balancing energetics or function in the body. The body would just be a blob of cells, tissues, and fluids without function if there were no qi.
Western scientific research supports acupuncture channel theory with the existence of high densities of nerves, tissues, blood vessels, and fluids which act as a systems network along the meridians. The reserach is indicating that biomolecular effects of acupuncture inlcude modulating the endocrine system such as the release of endorphins and NO which reduce pain and increase blood flow. It has been found to influence the immune system and inflammatory pathways such as the humoral and cell mediated systems and cytokines. It has been shown to stimulate the peripheryl and central nervous system regulating the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches of the autonomic nervous system which control internal organ function such as digestion, respiration, and heartrate.
The well trained acupuncturist selects the proper acupuncture points or locations on the body based on a diagnosis drawn from a series of inquiry, palpation, and observation. The combinations of selected points are designed to address both symptoms as well as root cause of the patients disorder or complaint. The mechanisms of action being uncovered by Western scientific research is helping to explain in a Western biomolecular model how acupuncture can help to releive pain, nausea, and stroke symptoms for instance.