Stress is one of the most common health issues and intense stress over a long period of time can influence the physical and emotional health of a person.
Acupuncture has always been used to treat emotional conditions as well as physical ones and Chinese medicine continually seeks to restore the balance between the mind and the body, in order to ensure good health.
Acupuncture decreases stress by releasing endorphins, which are the natural painkiller chemicals in the brain. Research has also found that whilst stress activates the sympathetic nervous system which prepares the body for a fight or flight response, acupuncture treatment activates the opposing, parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes the relaxation response and restores the body to a calm and composed state.
Acupuncture can therefore help with the body’s balancing mechanisms and helps to regulate stress hormones.
The signs of stress can vary from person to person and can arise for all sorts of reasons.
A course of acupuncture treatment can help with some of the key symptoms associated with stress and anxiety, such as:
- Overthinking and worry
- Tiredness and lethargy
- Difficulty in concentrating and feeling overwhelmed
- Sleep problems
- Overeating and digestive problems
- Skin conditions
- Headaches and neck pain
- Mood swings
- Palpitations and tightness in the chest
- Panic attacks
It has also been successfully used as a treatment to help with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Researchers conducting a randomized controlled study of active duty military service personnel concluded that acupuncture significantly improves patient outcomes for PTSD patients. They also found that the treatment induced secondary improvements, such as reduced depression and pain and improved mental and physical health functioning. (Health CMi 19.12.14)
Acupuncture can be safely combined with conventional treatments such as medication and talking therapies and there is some evidence that it can promote and enhance the benefit of these other treatments (Courbasson 2007), as well as further research that concludes acupuncture can help to reduce unwanted side effects of medication (Yuan 2007).