Li et al, proposed a new model to understand why acupuncture works​[1]​


Acupuncture has been used to treat multiple medical conditions, but whether the diverse effects of acupuncture are intrinsically linked and how they might be connected have yet to be determined. More and more researches have shown that acupuncture is a kind of nociceptive stimulus, which can cause inflammatory reaction in the sites of acupuncture and then further activate the nerve-endocrine-immune systems to cause the cascade amplification of the acupuncture effect. This review seeks to provide a comprehensive summary of the existing literature concerning the role of “acupoint-meridian-disease network” in various effects of acupuncture and suggest a novel notion that acupuncture may restore homeostasis under different pathological conditions by regulating this network, resulting in the activation of different reaction cascades in response to pathological injury. We think that acupuncture acts on acupoints, first activating the small network of acupoints (Acupoint Network). The information of acupuncture is amplified by cascade, and the nerve endocrine immune system (NEI) is activated through the large network of meridians (Meridian Network) of the body itself. The nerve-endocrine-immune system (NEI) further outputs the effect information to the target organ through multilevel and multisystems and finally acts on the disease network (Disease Network) to produce acupuncture effect.


  1. 1.
    Li N, Li M, Chen B, Guo Y. A New Perspective of Acupuncture: The Interaction among Three Networks Leads to Neutralization. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine [Internet]. 2019 Feb 24;1–10. Available from: