It's surprising how much modern medicine is derived from ancient tradition, and has a certain mysticism surrounding the myriad effects of traditional medicinal techniques from the Orient. Acupuncture is a therapeutic means of bringing the body's natural ability to heal itself back into balance, and its history can be traced back for thousands of years. The practice derives initially from a belief in the human body's natural ability to keep itself in check against negative external influences.
The ancient Chinese had great respect for what modern science would later refer to as the immune system, and believed that every person carried with them a permanent energy field that constituted the very essence of life. By keeping this field strong, the body stayed strong as well. Other cultures believed in this principle as well, and the energy has been called many different names throughout the course of history. The Chinese cited to this mysterious substance as “chi.”
Chi, according to ancient medicine, was thought to flow freely through the body along special pathways, also known as Meridians. Stress and other negative influences in a person's life can cause these passage, which coincide with many of the central pressure points of the human nervous system, to develop harmful blockages over time. This can inhibit the natural flow of Chi, and promote poor immunity against common diseases. Acupuncture, as its name suggests, is the practice of using extremely thin needles that are no thicker than a human hair to literately pierce strategic points of the human body.
Despite what these sounds like, the needles are remarkably small, and cause virtually no pain upon entry. The purpose of the needles is to strategically stimulate specific points along the meridians of the body, depending on the symptoms the patient happens to be suffering with. This, in turn, will treat blockages, and allow the body to return to a state in which it can begin its natural healing process.
The perceived experience on the part of the patient is typically one of a euphoric relieving of tension, similar to what one might expect from a deep tissue massage. Feeling a sudden rush of latent emotional energy is also not uncommon. While there may not be a lot of medical or scientific finding in the theory of re-balancing the flow of Chi in the body, per se, what is for certain is that the nervous system of the human body is very complicated, and stimulating certain clusters of nerves that are connected in not-so-obvious ways to areas of the body that may be experiencing ailments. Relaxing involuntary muscle tension as a result can relieve tension on specific internal organs, which often allows them to return to a more normal mode of function.
One of the most remarkable aspects of Acupuncture is that there are hardly ever any negative side effects after a session, which is not something that can be said for many of the more conventional medical treatments for a lot of conditions that Acupuncture has proven to be capable to ward off. Even the entry points of the Acupuncture needles are rarely visible after they've been removed. The lesson to be taken away from this is that sometimes the oldest, simplest solutions to a problem can continue to be the most effective even thousands of years later.