The Chinese have developed highly complex theory to guide the practitioner of acupuncture. This theory has been refined through careful observations of the patterns of disharmony in humans and animals over millennia.
In TCM acupuncture is believed to influence the flow of energy (Qi) throughout the body. TCM treatment is based on the concept that disease is caused by disruption to the flow of Qi; acupuncture stimulates points on or below the skin’s surface, which results in the release of Qi. By selecting certain combinations of acupuncture points the functions of the internal organs and structures along the meridians can be improved.
TCM describes the effect of acupuncture on the body in terms of Qi within acupuncture meridians, however the effects of acupuncture can also be explained in terms of Western medicine. Studies have used functional MRI (fMRI) to assess brain activity in response to acupuncture treatment, and from this the main concepts of acupuncture have been proven. Functional MRI has also demonstrated that stimulation of specific pain-relieving acupuncture points, results in the activation of pain-associated brainstem regions. Acupuncture treatment is used to stimulate nerves, increase blood circulation and relieve muscle spasm. It can also signal the brain to influence hormones levels and influence brain neurotransmitters.
Acupuncture needles have rounded ends instead of sharp points, which are designed to move between muscle fibres rather than puncture through them. This means that insertion of acupuncture needles is not particularly painful and the release of endorphins often makes the animal relax during treatment.