Acupuncture for Stress and Anxiety
An increasing weight of evidence from Western scientific research demonstrates the effectiveness of acupuncture. From a biomedical viewpoint, acupuncture stimulates the nervous system, influencing the production of the body’s communication substances – hormones and neurotransmitters. The resulting biochemical changes activate the body’s self-regulating homeostatic systems, stimulating its natural healing abilities and promoting physical and emotional well-being. Most patients report a feeling of deep relaxation after a session.
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How does Acupuncture help stress?
Research has shown that acupuncture treatment may specifically benefit anxiety disorders and symptoms of anxiety by:
- Acting on areas of the brain known to reduce sensitivity to pain and stress, as well as promoting relaxation and deactivating the ‘analytical’ brain, which is responsible for anxiety and worry (Hui 2010; Hui 2009);
- Improving stress induced memory impairment and an increasing AchE reactivity in the hippocampus (Kim 2011);
- Reducing serum levels of corticosterone and the number of tyrosine hydroxylase-immunoreactive cells (Park 2010);
- Regulating levels of neurotransmitters (or their modulators) and hormones such as serotonin, noradrenaline, dopamine, GABA, neuropeptide Y and ACTH; hence altering the brain’s mood chemistry to help to combat negative affective states (Lee 2009; Cheng 2009; Zhou 2008);
- Stimulating production of endogenous opioids that affect the autonomic nervous system (Arranz 2007). Stress activates the sympathetic nervous system, while acupuncture can activate the opposing parasympathetic nervous system, which initiates the relaxation response;
- Reversing pathological changes in levels of inflammatory cytokines that are associated with stress reactions (Arranz 2007);
- Reducing inflammation, by promoting release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors (Kavoussi 2007, Zijlstra 2003);
- Reversing stress-induced changes in behaviour and biochemistry (Kim 2009).