Study: Acupuncture’s Role in Relieving Stress and Anxiety

By Guest Contributor March 14, 2016 14:30

acupuncture needlesBy Richard A. Weissman, L.Ac.

Good news, acupuncture fans: It really does help relieve stress. And now, a new study is giving a closer look at why.

The study explores the biological mechanisms involved in acupuncture’s stress-relieving abilities, something science has yet to fully understand. The researchers discovered that stress hormones were lower in rats that had received electronic acupuncture. Results were published in the Journal of Endocrinology.

“Many practitioners of acupuncture have observed that this ancient practice can reduce stress in their patients, but there is a lack of biological proof of how or why this happens. We’re starting to understand what’s going on at the molecular level that helps explain acupuncture’s benefit,” researcher Dr. Ladan Eshkevari, an associate professor of nursing at Georgetown University School of Nursing and Health Studies, said in a statement.

For the study, Eshkevari and colleagues designed a series of tests with electronic acupuncture to ensure that each rat received the exact same dose of pressure. Eshevari targeted the spot below the knee, or the “Zusanli” point, with the needle. This area is the same in rats and humans and it is reported that stimulating it can alleviate stress and other conditions.

How does stress affect your overall health?

There are at least three different types of stress, all of which carry physical and mental health risks:

  • Routine stress related to the pressures of work, family and other daily responsibilities
  • Stress brought about by a sudden negative change, such as losing a job, divorce or illness
  • Traumatic stress, experienced in an event like a major accident, war, assault or a natural disaster where one may be seriously hurt or in danger of being killed.

The body responds to each type of stress in similar ways. Different people may feel it in different ways. For example, some people experience mainly digestive symptoms, while others may have headaches, sleeplessness, depressed mood, anger and irritability.

People under chronic stress are prone to more frequent and severe viral infections, such as the flu or common cold, and vaccines, such as the flu shot, are less effective for them.

Of all the types of stress, changes in health from routine stress may be hardest to notice at first. Because the source of stress tends to be more constant than in cases of acute or traumatic stress, the body gets no clear signal to return to normal functioning. Over time, continued strain on your body from routine stress may lead to serious health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, anxiety disorder, and other illnesses.


 

Richard's Picture from Picture People About the Author

Richard Weissman, L.Ac., has been an acupuncturist for 20 years. Before moving to Calaveras County in 2014, he spent 18 years in the East Bay, mostly in private practice. He currently practices at Acupuncture Wellness of Calaveras in Angels Camp, California. Contact him at (209) 736-9484, acupuncturecalaveras.com.

 

 

By Guest Contributor March 14, 2016 14:30
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