Acupuncture is the art of inserting sterile, single use disposable hair-thin needles into specific locations on the body to resolve pathology and help a person heal. An acupuncture point is place on the body where qi (pronounced "chee") gathers and may be accessed. Many of these points correspond to neurovascular nodes, areas that contain a high concentration of sensory fibers, fine blood vessels, fine lymphatic vessels and mast cells. These nodes are distributed along longitudinal pathways of the body where the collateral blood vessels supply the capillaries and fine vessels. The corneum stratum of the skin in these areas is slightly thinner with a lower electrical resistance. They also contain more sensory nerves and have more fine vessels with sequestered mast cells than non nodes.
Inserting the needles usually causes little in the way of discomfort. The number of needles and where they are placed varies depending on the patient's need, but the average treatment involves the insertion of fewer than 30 needles. Once the needles are in place, they are typically left for 20 minutes or so while you simply remain still.
Studies have shown acupuncture affects the nervous system by stimulating the hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal glands, which respond by releasing neurotransmitters such as endorphins and serotonin, the body's natural painkillers and "feel-good" chemicals. Other measurable physiological responses include enhanced blood circulation, decreased inflammation, and increased production of T-cells.
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