The Chemistry of Acupuncture


The chemistry of acupuncture is very beneficial and influential in many people’s lives. Acupuncture is a technique to stimulate the body’s natural painkillers and to boost blood flow by inserting thin needles into certain pressure points in the skin. The body is made up of over 2,000 acupuncture points connected by the different pathways and located along the meridian system. The meridian system is a distribution network for the fundamental substances of Qi, the vital energy that exists in all of us. When pressure is applied by needle to an acupuncture point, the body releases endorphins and Adenosine Triphosphate that act as natural painkillers. Many people use acupuncture to relieve pain. It’s a natural way to boost your endorphins and help your body function. I chose to do my project on acupuncture because I have always been interested in the natural ways your body can relieve pain.

Composition of ...

Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP)

  • A nucleoside used in cells as a coenzyme
  • ATP transports chemical energy within cells for metabolism
  • ATP formula: C10H16N5O13P3
  • ATP Molar Mass: 507.18 g/mol


  • A shortened name for Endogenous Morphine
  • Neuropeptides that are produced from the body
  • Produced by the central nervous system and the Pituitary Gland
  • Morphine-like substance used as a natural painkiller
  • Similar structure to proteins although they are made up of 5-40+ amino acids in length
  • Not considered neurotransmitter molecules although they modify the actions of neurotransmitters through effects associated with pressure or pain, known as neuromodulatory molecules
  • A large number of psychological effects are produced by endorphins: relieving pain/pressure releasing hormones
  • People who exercise regularly are more likely to release a higher amount of beta endorphins than those who don’t
  • Going to an acupuncturist will help to release endorphins when your body won’t do it naturally
  • Five endorphins found in human body: beta-endorphin, a-endorphin, Y-endorphin, a-neoendorphin, Y-neoendorphin
  • Beta-endorphin (most common) formula: C158H251N39O46S
  • Beta-endorphin molar mass: 3,464.98 g/mol-1

Main Chemicals, Compounds, Components


      • C158H251N39O46S
      • molar mass: 3,464.98 g/mol-1
      • This compound is made up of Carbon, Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Oxygen, and Sulfur. It creates a natural pain killer that your brain releases to relieve pain/pressure.

Adenosine Triphosphate

      • C10H16N5O13P3
      • Molar Mass: 507.18 g/mol
    • This compound is made up of Carbon, Hydrogen, Nitrate, Oxygen, and Phosphorus. It transports chemical energy within cells for metabolism.

Chemistry's Role

When a needle is inserted into an acupuncture point located along the meridian system, it creates signals that cause the brain to release one of the five endorphins or ATP. When these natural painkillers react with the body, it relieves pain and pressure and helps cure symptoms of a variety of diseases.

Background Research

  • Acupuncture is one of the oldest yet most commonly used medical treatments in the world. It is believed that the body contains an energy flow that is responsible for overall health. The distribution of this energy flow can cause diseases but by using acupuncture you can restore the energy flow and treat symptoms of those diseases.
  • The meridian system explains how we live and why we get sick. It is made up of twelve principal meridians that relate to the Yin and Yang organs.
  • Yin organs: Those without an empty cavity
    • Heart, Spleen, Lungs, Kidneys, liver, Pericardium
  • Yang organs: those with an empty cavity
  • Small Intestine, Stomach, Large Intestine, Bladder, Gallbladder, Triple Energizer (Duodenum)

Stagg is a junior at Billings Senior High School. She is involved in the Philharmonic Orchestra, Senior Advocates, and Stem Club. She enjoys spending her time outside and loves hiking and camping. She hopes to attend college and study science and music.