Needling Away at Stress

Needling Away at Stress

Do the idea of needles stress you out? You might change your tune after an acupuncture treatment. Acupuncture is already a well known therapy to relieve stress, as many of our patients can attest to. There is also biological proof that acupuncture can reduce stress, even chronic cases, as demonstrated by a 2010 study published online in Experimental Biology and Medicine. 

We have written previously about the powerful impact that stress can have on the immune system. Stress has also been shown in studies to strongly affect the functioning of just about every other system in the body, including the endocrine, reproductive, digestive, and cardiovascular systems. The important link between stress and pain levels is also well documented, and is often reported by most chronic pain patients.

By studying the blood levels of neuropeptide Y (NPY), a protein that is secreted by the sympathetic nervous system, scientists now have biological proof that acupuncture can relieve stress. Eshkevari, who led the study, conducted two experiments to test these peptide levels. After rats were stressed, they were then stimulated with the Zuslani acupuncture point (ST 36 on the stomach meridian).

In the first trial those that were stressed and not treated with the Zuslani point were found to have had high levels of the stress protein, NPY. The experimental group (those treated with Zuslani) had similar levels of NPY to the control group (who were not stressed at all).

In the second experiment, researchers continued to stress the rats for an additional four days, but stopped giving them acupuncture treatments. The NPY levels remained low, demonstrating that acupuncture may have a lasting effect days after treatment. This protective effect is likely why so many of our patients who come for regular monthly maintenance treatments report that they feel so much better overall!

Minimizing stress not only helps mental well being, it also has biological and physical benefits, including reduced pain. To protect your body from the harmful effects of stress and assist you in coping with future stress, consider acupuncture as a safe and effective therapy.

Author
Adam Learner, L Ac. Adam Learner, LAc, provides functional medicine and acupuncture for the residents of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, at Family Acupuncture & Wellness. In his practice, he uses a holistic approach to medicine and emphasizes addressing causes, not symptoms.

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