Still in its infancy (in terms of correlation to Western methods of research), scientific studies on acupuncture only really takes off in the last 20 years, after National Centre for Complementary and Integrative Health was established by National Institute of Health (NIH). Of the 360 acu- points, only 36- 40 have been extensively studied to date and their proclaimed effects have been evidenced.
Methods used in studies include functional magnetic resonance imaging of the brain, molecular study of the tissue structures of the acu- points, measuring biochemical markers such as white blood cells and neurotransmitters in various circumstances. Evidence suggests that acu- points and meridians do have specific properties that differ them from other part of the skin. If the points were accurately located, the right methods, duration and frequency of stimulation provided, they can modulate our nervous, endocrine and immune systems, thus affecting physiological function necessary for our health.
NIH has considered acupuncture effective for pain associated with arthritis and musculoskeletal pain. There is evidence that it can helps with gastrointestinal, pulmonary, immunity and reproductive disorders. More scientific studies are underway before any definitive statement can be made.
Letting my imagination run wild…
We have all heard about babies can fail to thrive due to lack of early physical touches. Married couples (presumably with regular intimacy lol) are reported to have better health than singles. Hugging each other and massage therapy heighten our level of joy. In a way, when we partake in these activities and stimulate our body surface, some acu- points and meridian channels probably activated. Acu- points are just areas with more concentrated nerve fibers that communicate with the central nervous system in a more precise manner and acupuncture is just our way of of enhancing what nature bestowed upon us. Is it not fascinating?