How Acupuncture for Stress Helps Patients Cope

Acupuncture has been used to treat depression and anxiety for years, so it makes sense that it would also work to help patients suffering from stress.

However, because “stress” is a much broader term than the either depression or anxiety and it’s sometimes hard to pinpoint triggers or causes, acupuncture for stress has not always been considered an effective method of reducing or relieving stress.

Recent studies and research show that not considering acupuncture as an effective treatment for stress might have been a mistake. In fact, there’s plenty of evidence to support the use of acupuncture to help with stress – especially in the case of those who are also suffering from anxiety or other mood conditions that might interact or trigger episodes of stress.

The Science Behind It

In a study published in the Journal of Endocrinology, researchers looked at the effects of acupuncture in the treatment of chronic stress. The study used electro-acupuncture (EA), a form of acupuncture where small electrical currents are sent through the needle into the body to help stimulate contact points. They found that EA is highly effective in reducing the release of stress hormones from the brain and into the nervous system.

The study—which was done in rats and not humans—found that certain acupuncture points directly affect the release of peptides and proteins, which in turn influence the production of hormones such as cortisol (the stress hormone). This could be significant because people with stress often have elevated levels of cortisol that can cause side effects like insomnia, irritability, mood swings, and more. By using acupuncture to affect the production of cortisol, practitioners can help patients lower their stress levels.

Similar results where obtained in other studies, such as the one published in the CNS Neuroscience and Therapeutics journal. Here, researchers looked at the effects of acupuncture to treat anxiety and found it just as effective as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is one of the most common forms of treatment used to deal with anxiety and stress.

Other Benefits of Acupuncture on Stress Levels

Acupuncture can help not only to lower levels of stress, but it can also help patients deal with the physical effect of stress on the body. For example, a study published in The American Journal of Chinese Medicine looked at the effects of stress on immune system impairment and whether acupuncture could help fight those effects.

Researchers found that women who used acupuncture for stress experienced fewer physical effects on the body. When a blood test was performed after acupuncture treatment, researchers also found that these women had stronger immune systems, while those in the control group (who didn’t use acupuncture) had a diminished or impaired immune system. The results remained the same for a month after each session of acupuncture.

One last thing to consider: acupuncture has been studied for a number of conditions and symptoms that might be connected to stress. For example, research has shown that one of the effects of acupuncture treatment is to stabilize the production and release of serotonin and dopamine, two hormones that regulate mood chemistry and can help ease the physical and mental effects of anxiety and stress.

Other studies have shown that acupuncture has a direct impact on the areas of the brain that control pain and stress. Because of this, acupuncture can be used to promote relaxation and to help ease feelings of worry or anxiety. When done regularly, this could help patients dealing with chronic stress.



acupuncture in raleigh nc

How Acupuncture Treatment Benefits a Range of Conditions

The credibility of using acupuncture in Raleigh NC has grown substantially over the past few years. Even if you had never considered trying acupuncture before, you might be weighing your options now.

Acupuncture has a long tradition of being a very effective, non-invasive treatment for issues like nausea and vomiting, especially in the case of chemotherapy patients.

Types of Conditions

Although results vary and there aren’t always reliable studies to back up anecdotal evidence, acupuncture is also widely used to treat:

  • headaches
  • fibromyalgia
  • carpal tunnel syndrome
  • addiction
  • weight loss

and even as part of stroke rehabilitation.

According to MedicineNet, acupuncture works by encouraging the body to release opioids into the central nervous system. This in turn eases pain, increases a feeling of well-being, and might explain the relief of a number of symptoms after a single visit to a practitioner.

Reliable Studies and Why the Experts Are Standing Behind Them

One of the main reasons people seek acupuncture in Raleigh NC is back pain – and with good reason. Numerous studies back up the use of acupuncture treatment for this condition, and many show it to be more effective than a number of conventional approaches.

For example, in an article published in Acupuncture Today, researchers pointed out that acupuncture actually works better than injectable drugs to relieve lower back pain. Other studies have shown that acupuncture treatment is superior to physical therapy and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to help relieve pain, tension and discomfort in the lower back area.

In addition, patients who receive acupuncture are more likely to experience long-term relief of pain and improvements in functional abilities as long as six months after the last session. These responses are not seen with the use of any other type of treatment.

How Else Acupuncture Can Help

Here’s an unexpected benefit of acupuncture: using it might actually improve the effectiveness of your prescription drugs. A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine showed that people who used acupuncture and a small dose of Prozac experienced similar results to those using a full dose of Prozac but no acupuncture to treat anxiety. In addition, the acupuncture treatment option was a lot more effective because it resulted in fewer side effects. On the other hand, those on a full dose of Prozac experienced more nausea, gained more weight, and reported a decrease in their sex drive.

Digestive Conditions

And while the use of acupuncture in Raleigh NC for nausea and vomiting has been practiced for years, it now appears that acupuncture can also help with digestive conditions. In fact, researchers found that acupuncture sessions can help pregnant women deal with indigestion and heartburn without the dangers or side effects associated with drugs. In a study conducted in Brazil, 75 % of the women using acupuncture reported improvements in their heartburn episodes, while only 44% of women using traditional drug treatment reported the same.

Weight Loss

Finally, acupuncture has been extensively used to help reduce appetite and improve weight loss results, but new studies show it might also help fight obesity. A systemic review of 31 studies showed that the use of acupuncture treatment in obese patients leads to better results than the use of medications or diet alone.

If you are curious about these findings and living in Raleigh NC, make the short drive over to Chapel Hill‘s Acupuncture Balanced Health to see one of our highly experienced practitioners. Give us a call to schedule your introductory consultation.



carpal tunnel acupuncture

Carpal Tunnel Acupuncture Stands Up to Traditional Treatments

Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when nerves on the wrist area are compressed and symptoms like tingling and numbness develop. Without treatment, carpal tunnel syndrome can lead to a chronic, dull ache in the wrist, fingers, and/or hand that makes it difficult to deal with common daily activities – from cooking to writing to typing on your computer.

Although there’s no specific cause behind the development of carpal tunnel syndrome, certain people are more predisposed to it. In some cases, people with rheumatoid arthritis can develop carpal tunnel syndrome as a side effect of their problem.

While the most common current treatment for CTS is a combination of corticosteroid injections directly in the affected area and splinting or physical therapy, carpal tunnel acupuncture treatment is can be a valid option for a number of reasons.

What the Experts Say

There have been numerous studies done on the effectiveness of acupuncture to treat CTS. A recent one, published in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences, compared the effectiveness of acupuncture against night splinting, sham acupuncture, and the use of vitamins B1 and B6 to reduce the symptoms of mild CTS. The results? Patients who received acupuncture experienced a reduction in symptoms and felt better after just a few sessions.

Another study published in the Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand compared electro-acupuncture against night splinting to reduce the symptoms of CTS. After five weeks, the patients receiving carpal tunnel acupuncture and the ones using a night splinter experienced similar results in terms of overall comfort and reduction of symptoms. However, the patients using electro-acupuncture reported a much more significant improvement in terms of pain reduction.

Finally, a study published in The Clinical Journal of Pain compared the use of 20 mg of prednisone (an anti-inflammatory) daily to eight sessions of electro-acupuncture administered twice a week for four weeks. At the end of the study, both groups reported similar levels of improvement in their levels of pain, weakness, night awakening and numbness. According to the researchers leading the study, the use of electro-acupuncture is at least as effective as oral prescription medication to treat CTS with fewer potential side effects.

Other Reasons Acupuncture Might Help

According to the British Acupuncture Council, carpal tunnel acupuncture can help with pain by stimulating the release of neurochemicals that improve both emotional and physical well-being. This in turn helps control pain and relaxes nerves and muscles. In people with CTS, this can lead to a reduction in stress and sensitivity, helping ease general symptoms of discomfort.

In addition, studies have shown that acupuncture also helps condition the brain to stop processing sensory nerve input. This means that the pain and discomfort you normally experience from carpal tunnel syndrome are greatly reduced because the brain processes those signals differently. The result? A much more comfortable experience when using your wrists, as well as an improvement in weakness and burning sensations in the area.

Finally, experts believe acupuncture provides additional benefits of stress reduction, which has a significant impact in the way people experience pain. As stress levels are reduced, so are the secondary effects stress has on the body. For example, people with lower levels of stress are able to handle discomfort and pain better, so acupuncture could also help people suffering from CTS indirectly.