Traditional Chinese medicine explains that health is the result of a harmonious balance of the complementary extremes of yin and yang of the life force known as gi or chi. Qi is said to flow through meridians (pathways) in the human body. Through 350 acupuncture points in the body, these meridians and energy flows may be accessed. Illness is said to be the consequence of an imbalance of the forces. If needles are inserted into these points, with appropriate combinations, it is said that the energy flow can be brought back into proper balance.
In Western societies and several other parts of the world, acupuncture is explained, including concepts of neuroscience. Acupuncture points are seen by Western practitioners as places where nerves, muscles and connective tissue can be stimulated. Acupuncture practitioners say that the stimulation increases blood flow while at the same time triggering the activity of our own body's natural painkillers.