Where can I find some good clinical research articles on acupuncture and explanations of acupuncture from a western scientific approach?
The vast majority of the clinical research related to acupuncture, herbal medicine, etc. will be found in pubmed.gov. There is a page on our site that collects many of the latest news and research stories for various topics - so you may find that useful. It is, "Latest News and Research".
In 1-2 months we will begin publishing a monthly research snapshot of relevant research and news stories that have happened over the past month. As you are listed as a practitioner on our site, you will get the first issue automatically. We are hoping that this helps to keep everyone up to date.
As for trying to explain acupuncture from a western scientific approach - you have to be somewhat careful doing this. The truth is that nobody knows all of the functions of acupuncture and they only really make sense within the Chinese Medicine pattern differentiation that we use to diagnose and treat. Unfortunately, that system doesn't quickly make sense to people unfamiliar with it. Accordingly, I usually give a very short explanation, something like this:
"To be honest, nobody really knows exactly how it works. The truth is, that each acupuncture point has some specific functions, all of them have some general reactions, and some together perform differently than alone - so it is in some ways an endless labyrinth. Points in general seem to reduce inflammation locally which can have an effect on the function of nerves and circulation in an area. There is also the endorphin effect - which explains why acupuncture helps with pain but doesn't explain many of the other effects. There have also been studies on certain points where you can put someone into a PET scan, for example, which shows colors for brain activity, needle a point known for increasing focus/concentation and it lights up related brain areas while they are in the scan - you take the needle out and it goes away (and this point is on the ankle, so a direct nerve relationship is hard to distinguish). Another point known to help with stomach issues (on the leg) has been shown in clinical studies to release a very specific enzyme in the stomach when needled. And there are many other studies along these lines.
All of the points probably have multiple effects, but in general they appear to reduce inflammation, decrease pain, and naturally stimulate body functions on every level of the body."