This article presents a novel model of acupuncture physiology based on cellular calcium activation by an acoustic shear wave (ASW) generated by the mechanical movement of the needle. An acupuncture needle was driven by a piezoelectric transducer at 100 Hz or below, and the ASW in human calf was imaged by magnetic resonance elastography. At the cell level, the ASW activated intracellular Ca(2+) transients and oscillations in fibroblasts and endothelial, ventricular myocytes and neuronal PC-12 cells along with frequency-amplitude tuning and memory capabilities. Monitoring in vivo mammalian experiments with ASW, enhancement of endorphin in blood plasma and blocking by Gd(3+) were observed; and increased Ca(2+) fluorescence in mouse hind leg muscle was imaged by two-photon microscopy. In contrast with traditional acupuncture models, the signal source is derived from the total acoustic energy. ASW signaling makes use of the anisotropy of elasticity of tissues as its waveguides for transmission and that cell activation is not based on the nervous system.