Gower Acupuncture Swansea

With Tim Wright

Understanding Modern Acupuncture

If you search for an explanation of acupuncture online you’ll typically be presented with a variation of the following explanation:

“Acupuncture is an ancient healing art practised for over 2,500 years. It works by stimulating a mystical energy called Qi to promote health and well-being”

Qi is a tricky thing to explain. It has no physical manifestation and cannot be measured. The concept of Qi or “vital energy” was proposed in acupuncture text books that are over 2000 years old. A time when knowledge of anatomy and physiology was basic. A lack of thorough knowledge of the vascular and nervous system led to acupuncture being explained away vaguely as a manipulation of Qi.

This was 2000 years ago. Now there is a much greater understanding of the mechanisms behind acupuncture. Research carried out over the past few decades shows that acupuncture both works and has demonstrable physical effects and results.

How Does It Work?

There are over 320 acupuncture points on the body. Each one of these points has a higher supply of nerves and blood vessels. These points influence the autonomic nervous system, the immune and endocrine system. This is why acupuncture has been successful in clinical trials for conditions varying from back pain to primary urge incontinence to migraine and nausea.

The way acupuncture works is complex and numerous. The three main methods are as folows:

Local Needling

When a needle enters body tissue close to the site of injury local nerves are stimulated and the patient feels a sensation of dull aching, cold, warmth or tingling, different from simply being pricked with a needle. Local blood flow increases and local tissue repair is promoted.

Distal Needling

Needles far from the site of disease can have profound healing effects. The reasons why go right back to our time in the womb. As the foetus grows in the womb it expands from a bundle of joined structures all tightly intertwined then develops out into the recognisable human form we know. This development stretches nerves far from their “original” starting point. This can explain why a needle in the leg helps with lower back pain.


Acupuncture first gained credibility in the scientific community when it was shown to release opioid peptides. Opioid peptides bind to opioid receptors in the brain, in much the same way that opioids based pain killers do. Differences in metabolism of opioid peptides can explain why some patients respond quickly and some need longer courses of treatment.

Acupuncture also releases serotonin which helps to regulate anxiety and depression, aids in wound healing, digestion and bowel movements.

Why Do Patients Need A Course of Treatment?

The application of acupuncture, over time, can increase metabolism of opioid peptides and thus increase its efficacy. It enhances gene expression. This effect, the increased gene expression, needs to be reinforced at short intervals before it becomes a more permanent change. Initial follow up treatments are needed within 5 days. A complete course of treatment typically runs from 8 to 12 weeks, at weekly intervals.

www.goweracupuncture.co.uk e: tim@goweracupuncture.co.uk Tel: 07764 254881


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