How Does it Work?

I get asked this question all the time.  After all, the practice of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine is somewhat of an enigma, a vague medicine that people either swear by or disregard as snake oil.  In fact there is a reason it works so well, and it’s not just a placebo effect.  Only recently have we been able to put studies together that help us understand why and how Acupuncture is doing the job it’s doing.  Whether it is for pain relief, emotional support or hormone balance, there are a number of cellular and biochemical reactions taking place systemically (throughout the body) at the insertion of even just one needle.  Think of it as a sort of ripple effect, anytime you contact the surface of a body of still water you can’t help but cause a ripple that affects the entire body.  It’s the same way with Acupuncture.

Recently, new research has been published on the immune enhancing effects of Acupuncture and how that modifies your pain and swelling.  Published in Molecular Neurobiology this year, the researchers investigated the effects of needling just one point on the leg. The research team found a remarkable effect.

“Manual acupuncture stimulation downregulated M1 macrophages (pro-inflammatory cells) and upregulated M2 macrophages (anti-inflammatory cells). As a result, acupuncture reduced pain and swelling”. – See more at:

Looking further into the biochemistry of this reaction, we know that M1 Macrophages are an important source of Interleukin 10, a powerful anti-inflammatory.

“Acupuncture literally flips a switch wherein initial inflammatory responses are reduced and the secondary healing responses are promoted” 

Using acupuncture for muscle injury, and other tissue trauma is helpful in that it improves your healing response.  It is great for reducing pain, swelling and the duration of recovery.  In addition, if you are an athlete of any kind and deal with DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) as a result (a kind of muscle damage in itself), Acupuncture is useful in your recovery and furthermore your adaptation to training.

I hope you enjoyed this little informational article and I hope it helps you to understand even just a bit more about how Acupuncture works.


Till next time~ Come see how it works yourself!

Erin Resko L.Ac


da Silva, Morgana D., Franciane Bobinski, Karina L. Sato, Sandra J. Kolker, Kathleen A. Sluka, and Adair RS Santos. “IL-10 Cytokine Released from M2 Macrophages Is Crucial for Analgesic and Anti-inflammatory Effects of Acupuncture in a Model of Inflammatory Muscle Pain.” Molecular Neurobiology (2014): 1-13.

Rafael Torres-Rosas, Ghassan Yehia, Geber Peña, Priya Mishra, Maria del Rocio Thompson-Bonilla, Mario Adán Moreno-Eutimio, Lourdes Andrea Arriaga-Pizano, Armando Isibasi, Luis Ulloa. Dopamine mediates vagal modulation of the immune system by electroacupuncture. Nature Medicine, 2014; DOI: 10.1038/nm.3479.

Wang, Ying, Rebekka Gehringer, Shaaban A. Mousa, Dagmar Hackel, Alexander Brack, and Heike L. Rittner. “CXCL10 Controls Inflammatory Pain via Opioid Peptide-Containing Macrophages in Electroacupuncture.” PloS one 9, no. 4 (2014): e94696.

– See more at:

About eresko

I am a licensed Acupuncturist and NCCAOM Board certified Diplomat of Oriental Medicine. I live in Hailey, Idaho, where I have an Acupuncture practice, Erin Hill Acupuncture as well as a type of Integrative Wellness Care practice, Tune Up. I am also a Level I & II certified Kettlebell Instructor and teach private classes in the Wood River Valley, Idaho. I have been very active in sports and athletics since I can remember. I received my BS in Integrative Physiology at the University of Colorado @ Boulder. In my practice I utilize all modalities to help get you where you want to be, whether with Acupuncture, Nutrition, or Kettlebell training. I am well versed in treating Sports specific conditions; pain, injuries, strains & sprains and use my knowledge of the body both from a Chinese Medical standpoint and a traditional Western one; a concept that most of my patients are familiar with. In addition, I incorporate my knowledge of the physical body & how we move, where restrictions, pain, or tightness may reside and how that, in turn, affects the internal organs or vice versa. For each individual that walks through my door, I am able to assess what each person needs as far as therapy to achieve their goals. Each person is different, inside and out and treatments should reflect that. Among my modalities, I use Acupuncture, Chinese Herbs, Tuina (a type of Chinese bodywork), Japanese style Acupuncture, Moxibustion, Nutrition, and Lifestyle coaching as well as my Kettlebell training for rehab and for improving one's fitness level.
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