Acupuncture and StressAcupuncture and Stress

Whether caused by relationships, work, family, or money, stress can have a significant impact on your physical and mental health. Stress can cause a variety of health problems over time if not managed effectively. Fortunately, acupuncture treatment is a natural therapy that can help balance your mind and body, managing your stress levels.

What is Stress?

Stress is a normal physiological response to the demands of life. Humans and other animals developed this mental and physical adaptation to deal with the impeding dangers of the natural world. The fight or flight response, as you may recall from High School biology, helped to improve your chances of survival by adjusting various systems of the body, such as hormonal levels, heart rate, breathing, and mental awareness. Stress can be a positive reaction in the modern world, helping you work and perform more effectively when needed for your jobs and personal life, hopefully creating grace under pressure.

The nervous system is designed to activate the fight or flight response when needed, and not remain in a constant state. Unfortunately, the less dangerous but constant demands of modern life have activated the stress response, but not allowed for the necessary relaxation.

Typical signs of chronic stress include tight shoulders, anxiety, depression, insomnia, fatigue, digestive issues, or feelings of being overwhelmed with life.This continual stressed state is detrimental to your health over time, depleting your natural reserves of energy and vitality. Modern medicine is beginning to understand the long-term effects of stress; disease development often accelerates when you are under increased stress as it depresses your immune system and weakens your ability to fight off disease.

Balancing Mind and Body

Stress is primarily a mental reaction to your perception of life. Often, the mind will amplify this condition as it constantly deliberates the many complicated aspects of life. You actually end up creating more stress than you truly experience by these mental reactions. This type of mental tension can be especially relieved by acupuncture. The deep unwinding that occurs during acupuncture treatment parallels the effects of meditation, allowing you to release the stress.

As acupuncture helps the mind relax, the body returns to a more balanced state.This can improve the functioning of your organ systems, and in turn help you to manage stress more effectively. Digestion is one system of the body that is easily disturbed by stress leading to common stress reactions of IBS, vomiting, and diarrhea. By supporting the digestive system, the entire body becomes stronger and better able to handle the next stressful situation.

Acupuncture can be a natural and healthier way to manage your stress than pharmaceutical medications. If you have been taking sleeping medications, anti-depressants, or tranquilizers to help manage stress, acupuncture treatments can help you decrease or eliminate the need for these medications, under your doctor’s supervision. You may even consider the addition of Chinese Herbal Medicine into the treatment program under the guidance of the acupuncturist.

How Can Acupuncture Help Relieve Stress?

Dealing with the complications of modern life requires some form of stress management. Acupuncture can be an ideal therapy to use in conjunction with lifestyle changes to help you combat stress and enter a more harmonious state.

When your body is subjected to constant stress, the Qi of the body becomes congested. This stagnation of the flow of Qi causes a variety of physical and mental symptoms, such as anger, depression, cold limbs, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), tight tendons and muscles, headaches, and pain. The most common Oriental Medicine diagnosis would be Liver Qi Stagnation, as it is the energetic function of the Liver to smooth the Qi of the body, allowing it to flow freely.

Acupuncture treatment for stress addresses the Liver Qi Stagnation by circulating the stagnate energy in your body. A common treatment is called the “Four Gates”, which includes the acupuncture points Large Intestine 4 and Liver 3. These pairs of bilateral points are needled in anatomically similar locations on the hand and foot. Additional points may be needled on the head and ears to strengthen the treatment. Patient’s typically feel very relaxed and often fall asleep during the 30-60 minute treatment.

Stress treatments may combine Acupuncture with Chinese Herbal Medicine, depending on the needs of the patient. Chinese Herbal Medicine includes the use of a large variety of herbs combined into formulations to help calm your mind. These prescriptions are taken on a daily basis between acupuncture visits to enhance the effects of the treatment.