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  Portland (503) 227-7900
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  Wai Tak Cheung: How Does Acupuncture Work?  
  Over the years, many theories have been developed to explain how acupuncture works. Research discussed in the next section explains some of the physiological responses to acupuncture. Whether these are primary or secondary to the effect of acupuncture remains to be seen. Our science is founded on the belief that healthy human beings can heal themselves, but sometimes the body is overwhelmed and the body or brain becomes "lazy" and needs a "wake-up call." Acupuncture treatment provides this stimulation.

Traditional yet clinically useful theories state that the body has a bio-energy of electromagnetic current running through it. This current, divided into two basic types: "yang," or positive, and "yin," or negative, flows through a system of pathways called meridians, which connect the internal organs to hundreds of points on the outside layers of the body, often far from the organ itself. Acupuncturists do not have to treat the area directly involved. By stimulating certain meridian points, a positive effect is carried to the affected area.

If a meridian or organ has too much or too little positive or negative energy, disease will set in. The insertion of needles, at certain acupuncture points on the meridians that come closest to the surface of the body, produce a regulating effect on that meridian's energy. This allows the organ and meridian to return to a healthy state, thereby repelling disease. For example, the lung is an internal organ, but we do not penetrate the body wall to needle the lung itself. Instead, we needle some of the acupuncture points along the meridian that affects the lung. There are 22 possible points, 11 in each arm, which influence the lungs. Asthma, for example, is often treated by using a point called L7 (lung 7) located in the wrist, although many other points could be used instead. Our ancient ancestors made these important findings using the lower part of the extremities, from the knees to the toes and from the elbows to the fingers.
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