The origins of acupuncture are lost to antiquity, but the practice appears to be at least 3,500 years old. It was a standard healing technique among ancient Chinese doctors, who believed that the body’s functions were sustained by a life force, or chi, that traveled along pathways known as meridians. When anything occurred to block the normal passage of chi in the body, pain and illness resulted. The strategic insertion of tiny needles at precise points on the body could correct the flow of chi and restore the patient to health. Over 2,000 different acupuncture points were painstakingly mapped out across the body’s meridians to treat a wide range of ailments.
The ancient healers’ practices might not sound terribly scientific — until you take into account how the body actually works. Researchers have observed that acupuncture needles appear to stimulate the release of endorphins and opioids, biochemical painkilling substances produced naturally by the body. It also appears that the insertion of the needles in or near neural structures stimulates impulses that bock the body’s “pain gates” to a specific area. When you substitute the concept of nerves and nerve signals for chi and meridians, you can see why modern practitioners see the massive appeal when it comes to relieving pain and other disease symptoms, accelerating the healing process, and enhancing wellness.