It's thought the effects come from stimulating the central nervous system. This may trigger the release of chemicals into the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These chemicals either alter the experience of pain or produce bodily changes that promote a sense of well-being.
Other theories suggest acupuncture works by:
- Speeding the relay of electromagnetic signals. This may begin the flow of pain-killing chemicals such as endorphins. Or it may release immune system cells in the body.
- Triggering the release of natural opioids. These are chemicals in thebrain that may lessen pain or promote sleep.
- Changing brain chemistry by altering the release of neurotransmitters and neurohormones. Neurotransmitters either stimulate or dampen nerve impulses. Neurohormones can affect the function or activity of an organ in the body.