How Does Acupuncture Really Work? Plus A Yoga Pose “Up The Wall”

Acupuncture Explained: Eastern & Western Theories

Eastern Theory of Acupuncture:

Acupuncture is a key component of the system of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). In the TCM system of medicine, the body is seen as a delicate balance of two opposing and inseparable forces: yin and yang. Yin represents the cold, slow, and passive principle, while yang represents the hot, excited, and active principle. Health is said to be achieved by maintaining the body in a “balanced state” and disease is due to an internal imbalance of yin and yang. This imbalance leads to blockage in the flow of qi (vital energy) along pathways known as meridians. There are 12 main meridians and 8 secondary meridians and there are more than 2,000 acupuncture points on the human body that connect with them.

Western Theory of Acupuncture:

Acupuncture benefits:

Releases painkilling biochemicals such as endorphins & enkephalins

Stimulates the immune system

Regulates the central nervous system which controls blood pressure, blood flow, and body temperature.

Counter irritation theory says that the insertion of needles into the skin irritates the nerves and causes the nervous system to decrease it’s sensitivity to pain.

FMRI (functional MRI) research has shown increased blood flow to the visual cortex areas of the brain while patients receive acupuncture related to sight. The effects were comparable to the changes in blood flow in the visual cortex producted by stimulation of the retina with flashing light. In contrast, no visual cortex stimulation occured while needling acupuncture points unrelated to vision. 

Yoga pose: Legs up the Wall


Lay with back flat and put legs up against the wall.

If this causes any discomfort to low back or legs, put pillows under back or put legs up on a couch/chair instead.


Physical: Helps venous return, releases lower back and sacrum

Emotional: Quiets and clears the mind, calming

Rx for: Tired legs and feet, vein trouble, lower back discomfort

1. Sit with knees bent, left side of body against a wall.

2. Place palms next to each hip.

3. Turn hips to the left and swing legs up the wall while lowering torso and head until they are flat on the floor, perpendicular to the wall, legs extended straight up and against the wall. Rest palms on belly.

4. Stretch arms out to left and right, palms up.

5. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths.

6. Place palms on belly, bend knees and lower legs to the right, roll to the right, press into ground with left hand and return to sitting.

(Please use discretion. If it looks like this pose may not be beneficial for your specific situation, do not attempt.)

Courtesy of Acupuncture Healthcare Associates of Michigan.  For more information visit

© 2011 Copyright   Allison Stuart Kaplan LLC

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