The Science Behind Acupuncture

While many practices in alternative medicine are slowly but surely making their way into the mainstream, acupuncture is one that still produces skeptical eyebrow raises.

What's the Latest Development?


Acupuncture has been a popular medical treatment for 3,000 years but just how it works is difficult to explain using the Western medical lexicon. One idea called 'gate control theory' says acupuncture needles stimulate large nerve fibers to inhibit signals from smaller fibers that are responsible for feelings of pain. Another explanation has to do with the therapeutic benefits of acupuncture. "Just as a mother calms a child through her physical presence, having another human being exert a well-intentioned touch may also do a lot to alleviate pain."

What's the Big Idea?

As acupuncture is increasingly accepted as an alternative medical treatment, more people seek to articulate how the procedure reduces pain, which it has been documented to do over and over again. Dr. Josephine Briggs, director of the National Institute of Health's alternative medicine department says the Western medical lexicon may simply be ill-suited to explain how the procedure works. That many positive effects of acupuncture are felt in sham treatment, when toothpicks are used in place of needles, suggests the ritual of the treatment is as important as the treatment itself. 

Big Think
Sponsored by Lumina Foundation

Upvote/downvote each of the videos below!

As you vote, keep in mind that we are looking for a winner with the most engaging social venture pitch - an idea you would want to invest in.

Keep reading Show less

Why Lil Dicky made this star-studded Earth Day music video

"Earth" features about 30 of the biggest names in entertainment.

Culture & Religion
  • Lil Dicky is a rapper and comedian who released his debut album in 2015.
  • His new music video, "Earth," features artists such as Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Ed Sheehan, Kevin Hart, and Leonardo DiCaprio.
  • All proceeds of the music video will go to environmental causes, Dicky said.
Keep reading Show less

A bionic lens undergoing clinical trials could soon give you superhuman abilities

We're talking Ghost in the Shell type of stuff. 

popular

Maybe you watched Ghost in the Shell and maybe afterwards you and your friend had a conversation about whether or not you would opt in for some bionic upgrades if that was possible - like a liver that could let you drink unlimitedly or an eye that could give you superhuman vision. And maybe you had differing opinions but you concluded that it's irrelevant because the time to make such choices is far in the future. Well, it turns out, it's two years away.

Keep reading Show less

Behold, the face of a Neolithic dog

He was a very good boy.

Image source: Historic Environment Scotland
Surprising Science
  • A forensic artist in Scotland has made a hyper realistic model of an ancient dog.
  • It was based on the skull of a dog dug up in Orkney, Scotland, which lived and died 4,000 years ago.
  • The model gives us a glimpse of some of the first dogs humans befriended.
Keep reading Show less