Acupuncture needles are solid, filiform, wires that have a thin handle and come in many lengths and widths. They are sterile, single use, stainless steel disposable needles. Many people think they are similar to a hypodermic needle but this is far from the truth. The acupuncture needle is an actual wire, approximately 40 gauge, as thin as the tip of a cat’s whisker. It is amazing that something this thin can make such drastic changes in the body systems when used correctly.
The needle size depends on:
- The area of the body where the needle is to be used
- The health and age of the patient as well as the
- Proposed health outcome required of the acupuncture point in the body
For example, thinner or shorter needles are typically used to strengthen the body and longer thicker needles are used to decrease an “excess” condition in the body.
The needles are inserted at various depths within these strategic points in the body to affect change within the body and allow healing to begin. The body has an innate ability to heal once it is shown the way.
Traditional Chinese medicine describes the use of acupuncture to make certain changes within the body in order to regain or maintain health. Some changes include:
- Moving the flow of blood and Qi or energy within certain channels in the body (channels that have recently been detected using MRI technology)
- Managing the use of fluids or decreasing excess fluids retained in the body
- Increasing the breakdown and absorption of nutrients from food
- Increasing blood components and Qi or energy
- Decreasing “cold-damp”, what we call the inflammatory process
… as well as many other processes to ultimately help the body heal itself.
A Western minded explanation of how acupuncture works is that the needles stimulate the electrical conductivity within the fascia, muscles and nervous system networks. This allows certain hormones, cytokines and chemicals within the body to be released. These chemicals initiate and regulate the healing of the body.
Since the Chinese, at the time of acupuncture discovery, did not have knowledge of the body’s anatomy or physiology because they did not perform autopsies nor anatomy di-sections, the Western model of explanation is more understandable to most.