Acupuncture Points: What Are They and How Do They Work?

At least 2,500 years old, acupuncture has met the mainstream in Western culture. It’s an ancient Chinese medicine practice that’s holistic, looking beyond treating the pain itself to find the source of imbalance.

You might be turned off by the idea of purposely putting needles in your skin — and we don’t blame you. The idea seems off-putting before you get to know more about it.

Here’s an opportunity to do just that. Keep reading to find out about acupuncture points, how they work, and how an acupuncture session may improve your health.

What Is Acupuncture?

To keep it extremely simple and understandable, you can think about acupuncture consisting of three parts.

The Five Fundamental Substances

The first part is the five fundamental substances. This consists of Qi (pronounced “chee”), also known as life force energy, Xue (blood), Jinye (body fluids), Jing (essence), and Shen (spirit).

These five fundamental substances flow throughout your body. When we become sick or unhealthy, acupuncturists believe it’s due to a blockage or imbalance in one or more of the substances.

The blockage could occur at one point or many.


Zang-fu are five pairs of yin-yang (opposite and balancing) organs.

They produce the fundamental substances. Thus, an imbalance or blockage in the substances may cause sickness or inefficiency in one or more of these pairs of organs.


The third and final area of concern is Jing-luo. 

These are the channels that connect the Zang-fu, or different organs. The Jing-luo controls the flow of the fundamental substances throughout the body.

These channels are also referred to as meridians. The number of meridians assessed depends on the lineage of acupuncture in question.

How Do The Acupuncture Points Work?

Again, it’s a complex system, but we’ll break it down as simply as possible.

An acupuncturist first identifies which Jing-luo is sick. This will be the location of the pain.

Many people associate acupuncture and migraines, but it may treat various types of acute and chronic pain.

After locating the problematic area, the practitioner identifies the meridian that balances the one in question. Think of it like complementary colors on a color wheel: when one meridian is sick, practitioners look towards the opposite one for treatment. 

This may seem counter-intuitive but in reality, the body is an interconnected system and each part affects the other. Treating the opposite area or system rather than the area of pain itself is holistic.

From there, the acupuncturist chooses acupoints. There are hundreds if not thousands in the entire body, so each meridian contains many. This is where specialization and intensive study helps the professional decide which points to choose.

From there, a tiny, hair-sized needle goes into your skin. It shouldn’t really be painful or uncomfortable. This may cause immediate relief of pain or a sensation of newfound energy throughout the body.

Take Your Health Into Your Own Hands

Keep learning about ancient healing practices, like acupuncture points. You’ll find supporting information from modern medicine for many of the old practices.

For instance, Western science thinks acupuncture helps the body by causing different sensations and reactions in the nervous system and brain, changing pain responses.

They don’t talk about qi flow or the spiritual beliefs of the practitioners but still affirm the validity of the practice through other quantitative observations.

Keep learning about ancient and modern health on our blog to enhance your life.