acupuncture for anxiety

Why Acupuncture for Anxiety is a Promising Treatment

The use of acupuncture for anxiety is nothing new, but researchers are now discovering that this ancient art might be more effective than first thought in the treatment of mood disorders.

Why Anxiety is Difficult to Treat

Anxiety has always been a difficult condition to treat because of how many variations of it you can find. For example, some people only experience anxiety occasionally, under certain circumstances or caused by very specific triggers. Others live stressful lives and deal with anxiety on an almost daily basis. This is in addition to specific anxiety disorders such as social anxiety disorder, general anxiety disorder (GAD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and more.

Symptoms of Anxiety

Also, anxiety doesn’t present with the same symptoms for everyone. Some cases of anxiety are mild, causing just general discomfort, while others might lead to:

  • irregular heartbeat
  • restlessness
  • fear
  • negative thoughts

It’s also possible for people to also develop anxiety in conjunction with other mood disorders, such as depression.

While treating anxiety effectively presents many challenges to doctors, the use of acupuncture for anxiety might offer some general relief as an add-on treatment or when other forms of treatment have failed.

Studies and Research

Many studies have been conducted in the use of acupuncture for anxiety. One of the most recent ones, published in the Journal of Endocrinology in 2013, found that acupuncture decreased the release of stress hormone in the brain, helping fight chronic anxiety and stress. A study review, published in the CNSNeuroscience and Therapeutics journal, examined a number of research therapies and studies, and found that acupuncture can be just as effective as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) in the treatment of anxiety. This is an important conclusion, as CBT has long been considered one of the most effective non-drug treatments for chronic anxiety.

The Final Word

Acupuncture also relieves the symptoms of two other disorders connected to anxiety: depression and chronic stress. Because all three issues are closely connected, an acupuncturist might decide to address all of them during your sessions, hoping the relief of one of them will positively affect the others. One thing to keep in mind when using acupuncture for anxiety is that not every acupuncturist will necessarily target the same points. In addition, different people might require different forms of anxiety treatment depending on the root of the problem. It’s the job of the acupuncturist to figure out the underlying issues (from the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine) so that he or she can administer the most appropriate treatment.

Whatever the reason behind your anxiety, using different treatment strategies, including possibly acupuncture, is more likely to help than using a single strategy, or not seeking help at all.



acupuncture to induce labor, acupuncture in pregnancy

Using Acupuncture to Induce Labor

In Asia, traditional medicine practitioners have been using acupuncture to induce labor for centuries. In Western countries, however, it’s a relatively new experience for women – but one that deserves a closer look, especially if your due date has come and gone and you’re looking for ways to help the baby along.

What the Experts Say

One of the most comprehensive assessments of acupuncture to induce labor was conducted in 2008. A systematic review published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews looked into three different studies to determine whether acupuncture can indeed induce labor and/or lead to cervical opening in pregnant women. All of the women who participated in the studies were in their third trimester and either very close to or past their due date.

While the studies analyzed were small and more research is required to confirm the findings, the Cochrane study found that women using acupuncture required less medical help and less use of technical induction methods to start labor than women relying only on traditional care.

Even more important, perhaps, is the fact that the review found no adverse effects of the use of acupuncture to induce labor. This means even if it doesn’t benefit every patient who uses acupuncture, it might still be worth consideration.

Other Labor-Related Benefits

One of the studies reviewed by Cochrane was a German study that looked into the use of acupuncture for “cervical ripening and induction of labor at term.” The results were very clear: women who had acupuncture treatments delivered their babies in an average of 2.3 days after the appearance of pre-labor symptoms, but women who did not receive acupuncture averaged 4.2 days.

While women from both groups ended up receiving drugs to speed up cervical dilation and delivery, the women undergoing acupuncture treatments experienced cervical dilation and cervical ripening faster than those in the control group. They also delivered their babies faster than those not receiving acupuncture.

Some Things to Consider

In the Cochrane Review, experts also found that acupuncture is even more effective when used after women have started showing pre-labor signs, including abdominal tightening and lower back pain. In those women, acupuncture sessions were effective in speeding up labor. Some women experience an increase in abdominal tightening and a strong urge to urinate when using acupuncture at this stage, but experts believe these are just natural responses to the treatment and an indication that things are progressing positively.

There’s no such thing as “the perfect time” to start acupuncture sessions to induce labor, so this is something that must be discussed with your doctor. However, experts do agree that the effect of acupuncture on labor is almost immediate, so you should avoid having it done until you are ready to deliver. Women who are past their due date or are within a couple of days of their due date are good candidates.

Another thing to keep in mind: acupuncture has been shown to reduce labor pain. In fact, recent
studies show that women who use acupuncture experience less pain, request fewer pain-relieving drugs and have an overall more comfortable delivery experience than those who use no support treatment of any kind.



acupuncture for depression

Acupuncture For Depression Shows Good Results

Are you thinking of using acupuncture for depression? A number of new studies are showing the results might be a lot more impressive than you might expect.

The use of acupuncture to treat a number of conditions is nothing new. From pain to infertility to emotional disorders, acupuncture has become one of the most common methods of alternative medicine treatment in modern times – and with good reason.

Acupuncture and Depression

Perhaps one of the most telling studies in the subject is the one published in PLoS Medicine journal, where researchers looked at the effect of acupuncture in the treatment of depression – and found that it works slightly better than counseling to help patients.

In fact, after three months, 33 percent of people using acupuncture reported feeling better, while only 29 percent of those in therapy could say the same. About 70 percent of the 755 people in the study also took antidepressants showing that it’s possible to combine both traditional and alternative therapy for optimal results.

Even better, the beneficial effects of acupuncture lasted about three months after the study ended. This could indicate that continuing treatment could help provide long-term relief to those dealing with depression and other mood disorders.

When Nothing Else Works

In another small study, three women with severe depression who didn’t respond to traditional treatment (medication and psychotherapy) were treated with acupuncture. For all three, the addition of Acupuncture Electric Stimulation Therapy (Acu-EST) helped. This is a type of acupuncture where needles are stimulated by a small electrical current. The women experienced improvement in their symptoms after just a few sessions without any of the side effects associated with more invasive forms of treatment.

Another example of the power of acupuncture is the fact that it can be effectively used to treat endogenous depression, a less common form of depression that doesn’t respond well to treatment and is connected to thyroid hormones. This type of depression also presents additional symptoms that make life difficult for the patient – including insomnia, loss of appetite and even unusual body aches.

When treated with acupuncture, patients suffering from endogenous depression improved significantly.

Acupuncture has also been shown as very effective in treating anxiety, which many people with depression also experience. Anxiety often appears in the form of negative thoughts, irregular heartbeats, emotional unbalance and restlessness.

So How Does Acupuncture Work?

Although there’s speculation, scientists haven’t quite figure out how and why acupuncture works. The most accepted theory is that applying the needles at certain points in the body causes the release of endorphins and enkerphalins, two substances responsible for a number of things in the body, including mood and an overall feeling of health and wellbeing.

Other experts believe acupuncture also helps with the production and release of dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. These are the “feel good” hormones that are often in low supply in people with depression. Anti-depressant medications usually work by addressing the low level of these hormones as well, so it makes sense that acupuncture would be an effective treatment for depression.

It’s important to keep in mind that clinical depression is a very serious problem and you should not self-treat it without the guidance of a professional. If you’ve been prescribed medication to treat your depression, you should not discontinue its use without approval of your doctor. If you want to try acupuncture, you can do so in addition to any Western treatment you are currently using.