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  • Dr. Adam Mohr DC, DACBSP

Scientific Perspective of Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture

Updated: Oct 9, 2019


by Shelley Ashford, LAc


The system of Chinese medicine is quite intricate, especially in the way that it relates together our internal organs and emotional symptoms. There are some interesting parallels between Western and traditional Chinese medicine. As an example, Western medicine has observed that when one suffers from severe heart problems, kidney failure is often quite close behind. Although, this is a relatively recent discovery in the West, this connection between the two organs was established many centuries ago in traditional Chinese medicine. There are several contemporary scientific theories that argue the case of acupuncture. Below are some scientific theories regarding the physical changes that occur in our bodies when acupuncture is performed:

  • Studies using radioactive tracers have shown that acupuncture channels or meridians are in fact distinct channels that are separate from blood vessels and lymph vessels.

  • Acupuncture points on the body generally have a higher electrical resistance than surrounding tissue.

  • The conduction of electricity through our bodies is faster through the meridians than it is through the rest of the body.

  • An electrical charge initiated at one acupoint can be received at a distant point on the same meridian.

  • The acupuncture needles act as an antenna and attract electromagnetic energy to pass it into tissue.

  • Acupuncture makes the brain release neuropeptides that are helpful in relieving pain.

  • Acupuncture blocks the pathways and prevent pain signals from reaching the brain.

Neuro-hormonal Theory

The blocking of pain is mediated by neuro-hormones that are attached to the receptors which are responsible for blocking pain. Studies have shown that the pain killing properties of acupuncture come about by stimulating the flow of natural pain killing endorphins in the brain. This can be scientifically proven by blocking the action of endorphins using a drug called naloxone. When naloxone is administered, the pain killing effect of the endorphin is nullified and the patient feels pain again. Further, the pain-relieving effects of acupuncture were also reversed when naloxone was given to a patient being actively treated by acupuncture. This means that the site where acupuncture is applied is subject to the natural release of endorphins by the brain.

Hologram Theory

The human body begins in the womb as a single cell. Therefore, every cell in the human body is connected directly to all the other cells in the body. Each cell therefore affects each of the other cells. This is what is sometimes known as the hologram theory of acupuncture. If one were to take apart a holographic image, then each fragment of the image will contain the whole image. Using this perspective, applying acupuncture to a given region of the body can affect a seemingly unrelated region of the body.

Fractal Theory

Fractals are patterns that remain the same at all sizes. In other words, the whole structure of the object is composed of many thousands of miniature versions of the object. It is believed that the stimulation of acupuncture points affects remote parts of the body due to fractal resonance. For example, the hand is often seen as ‘mini-body’ and treating the hand will therefore yield results for ailments in other parts of the body.

Chaos Theory

This theory is based on the idea that sometimes systems may seem random and often even chaotic. When they really follow a much deeper order that can only be explained by reference to complex formulae. Chaotic systems can be tamed by recognizing the multiple patterns that cause the appearance of chaos and then adjusting or modifying one or more of those patterns or symptoms with many small inputs. Acupuncture is exactly such a series of small inputs that influences the seemingly chaotic human body.

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