Many people know acupuncture only for its efficacy on pain relief, and acupuncture do is very much worthy of that fame, but that is just the very tip of the iceberg when it comes to describe the acupuncture’s true potential.
Science still struggles to fully understand the acupuncture’s healing mechanism, and the truth is, it may never be 100% clarified. TCM it’s an ancient medicine, with more than 2600 years old, but despite of its antiquity, its understanding of the human body goes beyond our current scientific comprehension of it.
We can describe acupuncture’s healing mechanism in a few very simple words. Acupuncture acts as trigger that stimulates the body to heal itself by breaking down disease-causing patterns. In any acupuncture treatment no medication is inserted along with the needle, only a stainless-steel needle is inserted, and its efficacy has very much to do with the location where the needle is inserted.
Figure 1 – Human Body Meridians
There are specific structures called “Meridians” that run down the whole body, acting as a “network” that keeps the body connected with all its structures. The acupuncture points are found across all those meridians, there are 12 main Meridians containing a total of 365 acupuncture points.
An imbalance in health occurs if one of those meridians gets “blocked”, as a meridian is blocked, it is unable to communicate with other meridians, which will therefore have repercussions in the whole body “network”. The body then reproduces acute symptoms to regain its homeostasis (balance). When that attempt is unsuccessful, the body adjusts itself to its present condition and a chronic disease is generated.
With acupuncture’s simplistic point of view, all it takes is a proper holistic diagnosis and the correct insertion of acupuncture needles in specific places (acupuncture points), where each acupuncture needle, after being inserted produces a specific self-healing reaction in the body.
For a long time, this Meridians and Acupuncture points where thought to be inexistent, but the truth is, around 50 years ago, the physical structure of Meridians and acupuncture points had already been proven to exist. It was in 1962, that Bong-Han Kim, a North Korean Scientist, first reported his study results, proving the existence of anatomical entities as acupuncture meridians. He coined the acupuncture points as Bong-Han Corpuscles (BHC), and the Meridians as Bong-Han Ducts (BHD), and both were parts of Kyungrak (Bong-Han) System (BHS). Many Bong-Han Systems (BHS) were find in various locations, superficially and deep. Today BHS’s can be found all over the body, such as in the brain, heart, liver, stomach, bones, veins, skin, lymph, etc. All of them coinciding with the ancient meridian descriptions and all the inter- connections that they share. ,
Bong-Han Kim achieved such results by injecting a blue dye into an acupuncture point and then observing its flow via the meridian, which led him to confirm the existence of the classical meridians system. But, for some mysterious reason, in October 1965, the institution where Bong-Han Kim was working got suddenly closed, his where about became unknown, and his research got forever forgotten in time. 
And it was only until 2002, that a new team of South Korean scientists picked up on Bong-Han Kim findings a took them to the next level. They re-investigated the BHS and were able to then again prove its existence. Kwang-Sup Soh, a member of the South Korean research team, re- named the BHS as Primo Vascular System (PVS), which contained the Primo Nodes (BHC) and Primo Vessels (BHD). But this time, the research findings went a little further than what they expected. ,
Figure 2 – Embryonic Stem Cells
“Meridians and acupuncture points form a system that is now called primo vascular system (PVS), which is claimed to contain various kinds of stem cells. The stem cell size is between 1-5 microns. The smallest is the primo microcells that have a putative role in regeneration. Other stem cells are adult pluripotent and hematopoietic stem cells that play a role in extra bone marrow hematopoiesis. The presence of PVS has been reproduced by many studies” 
The South Korean Scientists were able to prove not only the physical existence of meridians and acupuncture points, but also the presence of stem cells inside those. With further studies it was proven that the application of acupuncture stimulates the mobilization of those stem cells indulging the body into a self- repair state. 
To better realise the importance of this findings, we must first comprehend what stem cells are, so we are able to understand acupuncture’s true healing potential. Stem cells are “undifferentiated cells” this meaning that they have not yet assumed a role in the bodily functions, they are like neutral cells, they have no function until a new cell is needed. When they are needed, they can be differentiated into any kind of cell, allowing the body to regenerate targeted structures and repair itself from injuries.
There are many kinds of Stem cells, being the most famous ones the “embryo stem cells” which are responsible for the embryo development. As adults, we do still have Stem cells, being the Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSC) the most commonly found, MSC, more known as “Adult pluripotent stem cells”, they practically have the same function as the embryo stem cells with a slight less level of differentiation. This MSC are the ones who sustain our skeletal system as it grows old, they can differentiate into tissues such as bone, cartilage and fat.  Embryo stem cells are 100% undifferentiated cells, meaning that they can turn into any cell of the human body. And the Hematopoietic stem cells, also called the “blood stem cells”, they’re the ones responsible for all types of blood cells production, including red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. 
Since the 2002 South Korean Study, a better understanding of other acupuncture studies was obtained, and acupuncture is now off the esoteric table, gaining all the respect and recognition to play higher roles in the medical field. To better clarify all that has been said, acupuncture is not only of big assistance when it comes to pain management (as that is what makes it most famous), but it can assist the body self- healing mechanisms in a way that no other medicine can.
The human body is the perfect machine, and TCM the perfect medicine. And when both are combined, “miraculous” results seem to appear. As acupuncture stimulates the mobilisation of stem cells, it offers the perfect environment for the body to heal itself, a surgery and drug free environment, where all the metabolic and mechanic processes can develop with greater ease.
In many clinical cases, the patient is uninformed of acupunctures true efficacy, not knowing other options, many people undergo through harsh drugs and surgeries, which many times brings undesirable side-effects and complications that do not compensate the initial problem.
With this new acupuncture prestige, the patient should be given a wider awareness on his healing options. Not only ends up being more expensive undergoing through surgeries or having to take various medications for the rest of their lives. The patient will never reach a true comfort in health, as the body will keep “fighting” (side effects/complications) until it has reached balance by itself.
Nowadays, it is proven that acupuncture is more than just a pain relief procedure. One single acupuncture treatment sets the human body in a healing motion that lasts for days or even weeks (depending on the patient’s healing pace). Some impressive studies show acupuncture being highly successful in cartilage repair for patients with knee osteoarthritis . A highly common issue in the third age, where many times the only given option is surgery.
Other studies show acupuncture to be very effective in neurogenesis (generation of new neurons from stem cells), a process which was once thought to be impossible, now is proven that our neurons do have the ability to regenerate, and acupuncture is the best known method to stimulate neurogenesis. This acupuncture induced neurogenesis has shown very promising results regarding neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, spinal injuries, stroke, dementia and depression. ,
Following a simple chain of thought, acupuncture has shown us results that it can surpass any need for drugs, and many times it can prevent one from undergoing through surgeries. In a more serious medical condition, usually the patient already went through all kinds of medical procedures, some more debilitating than others, and acupuncture always finds its place as the last resource.
It is time to change paradigms, not only times are changing, but science is evolving too, and a new concept of health should evolve along. One should always consider a holistic approach to his health before undergoing any considerable medical process. Very recently, science has been discovering this “magical” stem cell healing abilities of the human body, and apparently, acupuncture has been its pioneer for thousands of years.
By following the words of a great master:
“The medicine of the past is the medicine of the future” – Bai Long
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