Studies Confirm that Acupuncture Relieves Stress

stressAcupuncture has been known to lower stress levels by regulating the production and subsequent release of hormones. Now, a new study gives us a closer look at how acupuncture could really relieve stress. The study conducted at the Georgetown University School of Nursing and Health Studies and published in the Journal of Endocrinology documented how stimulating pressure points with acupuncture can actually alter stress hormones, something I have observed in my patients.

“We’re starting to understand what’s going on at the molecular level that helps explain acupuncture’s benefit,” Dr. Ladan Eshkevari, the study researcher and an associate professor of nursing at Georgetown University School of Nursing and Health Studies, said in a statement.

Eshkevari, a nurse anesthetist, noticed that her patients who used acupuncture to treat pain reported sleeping better and feeling better able to cope with their pain, even if the treatment did not relieve the pain itself. So she wondered whether acupuncture might help to reduce stress. She designed her study on four groups of rats that were subjected to a series of tests, and discovered that “acupuncture blocks the chronic, stress-induced elevations of the HPA axis hormones and the sympathetic NPY pathway.”

Since the HPA axis works in similar ways for in all mammals, the study is a breakthrough to understanding how to treat and manage stress with acupuncture.

One interesting point in the study is how placing the needles in the stomach area helps with relieving stress and that the reason for its effectiveness is our strong brain-gut connection. We all know that we eat when we are stressed, develop digestive disorders like diarrhea and constipation when we are anxious and upset. Chinese medicine has known this for centuries and now traditional medicine is proving the validity of this ancient practice.

How Does Acupuncture Work?

Kelly Ripa acupunctureAcupuncture involves the placement of very thin, sterile, single-use needles to lightly penetrate the skin and stimulate various meridians of the body. The stimulation of these areas is believed to correct imbalances and blockages in the body by promoting the healthy  flow of energy know, at Qi. It feels nothing like getting a shot, by the way. In fact, most of the time the patients do not feel the needles. The actual needles are barely thicker than a hair. Acupuncture was developed in China thousands of years ago as a way of balancing out the patient’s Qi, or “life force.” Acupuncture is still in use today because it works.  It works by stimulating the relevant acupuncture points (referred to as acu-points) to balance out the body’s Qi.

When the body’s Qi is out of balance, this can lead to disorders and disease. This imbalance can manifest as physical symptoms such as headaches or stomach distress, or mental symptoms such as anxiety and stress. External stress can force the patient’s Qi into imbalance as well, so the cause of the anxiety or stress can be internal or external, or both. Acupuncture can help balance the patient’s Qi, moderate energy levels and improve mood to provide a lasting calming effect. Acupuncture of course has no side effects. For those reasons, some people think acupuncture is better than Xanax. Herbal formulas can also be given to support and reinforce the effect of the acupuncture treatments.

Los Angeles Acupuncture and Wellness

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