Does acupuncture work? (Thinkstock)
Does acupuncture work?
Lexile

You asked us, does acupuncture work? At about 2,500 years old, acupuncture is not, in fact, a medieval form of torture. It's actually one of the world's oldest medical practices.

Here's how it works, according to traditional Chinese medicine.

Energy flows through our bodies along paths called meridians. When that energy gets blocked, we get sick. Acupuncture helps get rid of anything stopping the flow of energy, so the body can heal.

It gained credibility in the United States in the '80s and '90s, when research started to suggest acupuncture could be an effective treatment for some illnesses, especially chronic pain.

From a Western medical perspective, the mechanism at work isn't totally understood. But it's thought that acupuncture might stimulate the central nervous system our brain and our spinal cord - and cause them to release chemicals that dull pain and boost the immune system.

So the next time you find yourself in pain or sick, you might consider giving acupuncture a shot.

Just do me a favor and don't try this at home.

For more stories like this, check us out every day at smithsonian.com.

Critical thinking challenge: Why shouldn't you try acupuncture at home?


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COMMENTS (2)
  • william1108-yyca
    6/25/2015 - 05:06 p.m.

    It is cool how acupuncture works. I wish I could do that. What I hate about it is that you have to do the needles and how I like it is that it makes you feel not sick. SO next time I should do acupuncture.

  • dahianad-ver
    10/07/2016 - 12:11 p.m.

    It's really cool how such an old method is still used today. The fact that it can heal your body and make it release chemicals that make your immune system stronger is amazing, because you're not technically putting any medicine/ drugs inside you for that. Using needles is a little scary though!

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