I can't tell you how many times I have been asked how acupuncture works. I usually respond by joking it's magic, followed by a chuckle and a we-honestly-don't-know-yet. Recently a couple of scientific studies (gasp!) have made my news collator and there's this one idea I find very compelling: let's talk about fascia!
What Is Fascia?
Ever heard of it? From the Latin word meaning band or door frame, fascia is a type of connective tissue found all over the body. It connects different tissues together (skin to muscle, muscle to bone), compartmentalizes muscles and organs, and holds our organs in place. You can choose any two points on the body and find a pathway connecting them by looking at fascia, giving the term "connective" tissue a whole new layer of meaning. Made primarily of collagen, fascia is more or less impenetrable to biological substances such as water, blood and air. It also just happens to generate and transmit electricity.
How Does Fascia Relate to Acupuncture?
Pathways in the body that conduct energy sound an awful lot like acupuncture channels. Could this electrical energy be what the ancient Chinese described as Qi? Ever have an acupuncture point at your knee stimulated only to feel a sensation down the leg and into the foot? I'd describe this as the movement of Qi along the channel, or meridian, but it very well could be that the acupuncture needle is creating a surge in electrical energy, and that current is traveling down the fascia. It has been shown (by scientists!) that rotation of the acupuncture needle causes connective tissue to attach to the pin, like spagetti on a fork, and the entire time the needle is in place there is increased electrical conductivity on a cellular level. Wow!
Of course there is much still to be understood about the mechanism(s) of acupuncture but I find this to be very promising!