Hey Dr. Wayne! How Does Acupuncture Help To Minimize Stress?
Stress is a ubiquitous challenge in today’s fast-paced world, with numerous repercussions on mental and physical health. Acupuncture, a cornerstone of Traditional Chinese Medicine, has been used for thousands of years to treat a myriad of conditions, including stress. This article delves into the scientific and traditional explanations of how acupuncture can mitigate stress.
At the heart of acupuncture is the traditional belief in ‘qi’ (pronounced “chee”), a life energy that flows through the body. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, disruptions or imbalances in this flow can manifest as ailments, including stress[^1^].
Acupuncture sessions have been associated with the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers and mood enhancers. This endorphin release can bring about feelings of relaxation and well-being[^2^].
Studies have shown that acupuncture can influence the autonomic nervous system, which manages involuntary functions like heart rate and digestion. Proper modulation of this system can counteract the body’s stress response[^3^].
There’s evidence suggesting that acupuncture can lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol[^4^]. Prolonged elevated cortisol is linked to chronic stress, so its reduction can mitigate the adverse effects of stress.
Acupuncturists often adopt a holistic perspective, considering a patient’s overall health. This comprehensive approach can lead to recommendations for lifestyle changes or other treatments to address stress’s root causes[^5^].
While the precise mechanisms behind acupuncture’s stress-relieving properties aren’t entirely clear in Western medicine terms, a combination of empirical evidence and modern research underscores its potential benefits. Acupuncture provides a holistic, non-pharmacological option for those grappling with stress.
[^1^]: Maciocia, G. (2005). The foundations of Chinese medicine: A comprehensive text. Churchill Livingstone.
[^2^]: Han, J. S. (2004). Acupuncture and endorphins. Neuroscience letters, 361(1-3), 258-261.
[^3^]: Anderson, B., Nielsen, A., McKee, D., Jeffres, A., & Kligler, B. (2012). Acupuncture and heart rate variability: a systems level approach to understanding mechanism. Explore, 8(2), 99-106.
[^4^]: Eshkevari, L., Permaul, E., & Mulroney, S. E. (2013). Acupuncture blocks cold stress-induced increases in the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis in the rat. Journal of Endocrinology, 217(1), 95-104.
[^5^]: Cochrane, S., Jarvis, W., & Costello, C. T. (2017). The clinical effects of acupuncture: An overview of reviews. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 26, 17-25.