Acupuncture stimulates the body's natural feel-good hormones and reduces the level of stress hormones like cortisol, studies have proven that acupuncture is an effective to treat stress and anxiety with no side effects as common medications.
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Acupuncture and Stress
New research released this year suggests that a staggering one in six people suffer from stress*. There are many different causes of stress which are primarily related to a situation or event and how a person deals or responds to that situation.
The signs of stress can therefore differ from one person to the next and may manifest in the form of conditions such as IBS, anxiety, migraines, insomnia or depression, back pain and fatigue. Those suffering from stress symptoms use a number of coping mechanisms with many people finding traditional acupuncture effective in not only helping relieve symptoms but to also identify and treat the root cause of stress. Stress, or any intense emotion, acts like a traffic jam, blocking the free flow of energy (Qi) in the body - when under a lot of stress the body releases stress hormones which can have an adverse effect and can cause muscles to tighten which reduces blood flow and provision of nutrients and oxygen to the tissues**. Through traditional acupuncture, these energy blockages can be addressed
How Acupuncture Can Help
Many people have found that acupuncture can be effective in helping to treat stress and the various conditions that are symptomatic of stress. These include insomnia, back pain, migraines, anxiety and depression. Acupuncture aims to treat each person individually and an acupuncturist will recognise that each individual will have a unique experience of their problem. The practitioner will apply a number of different diagnostic processes to gain a picture of the health of your body such as feeling pulses and looking at your tongue to help identify imbalance in Qi, the body’s motivating energy. Any imbalances are addressed by inserting ultra fine needles into specific points in the body to restore the balance of Qi. With regards to stress an acupuncturist will aim to identify what imbalances are causing the symptoms of stress, rather than treating the condition in isolation. Acupuncture has been found to be effective in treating various stress related conditions: • Back Pain: One of the ways in which acupuncture can help back pain is by improving muscle stiffness and joint mobility. Acupuncture can increase local microcirculation (Komori 2009), which helps reduce swelling and bruising • IBS: Stress activates the sympathetic nervous system, which can stimulate colon spasms, resulting in abdominal discomfort. In people with IBS, the colon can be oversensitive to the smallest amount of conflict or stress. Acupuncture activates the opposing parasympathetic nervous system, which initiates the relaxation or ‘rest and digest’ response. Dr Nick Read from the Gut Trust says: “Complementary therapies treat the whole person, body and mind in the context of a person’s life. Acupuncture uses the stimulation of fine needles inserted into the skin to induce a feeling of relaxation and confidence that helps people cope with stress related illnesses such as IBS.” • Migraines: By stimulating nerves located in muscles and other tissues, acupuncture leads to release of endorphins and other neurochumoral factors and changes the processing of pain in the brain and spinal cord, promoting pain relief (Zhao 2008, Zijlstra 2003, Pomeranz,1987) Lee Tomkins, Director, Migraine Action says: “Traditional medication for managing migraine isn’t always the first choice for migraineurs, particularly for those people who have suffered for a number of years and tried many treatments without success. Some migraineurs prefer to look at complementary therapies, such as acupuncture, to manage their condition as part of an overall migraine management plan. Many of our members have reported that acupuncture can help provide short term pain relief and increases their overall sense of well-being, so they can stay healthy in-between migraine attacks, and it may even contribute to a quicker recovery period after the migraine has diminished.” • Chronic Fatigue: Reducing inflammation by promoting release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors (Kavoussi 2007, Zijlstra 2003). • Anxiety: Acupuncture can alter the brain’s mood chemistry, reducing serotonin levels (Zhou et al, 2008) and increasing endorphins (Han, 2004) and neuropeptide Y levels (Lee et al, 2009), which can help to combat negative anxiety • Depression: Acupuncture is believed to stimulate the nervous system and cause the release of neurochemical messenger molecules. The resulting biochemical changes influence the body's homeostatic mechanisms, thus promoting physical and emotional wellbeing • Insomnia: Acupuncture can alter the brain’s mood chemistry, reducing serotonin levels (Zhou et al, 2008) and increasing endorphins (Han, 2004) and neuropeptide Y levels (Lee et al, 2009), which can help to improve sleep
Relevant Case Study
Relevant Case studies Please see below for various patient case study examples: Insomnia Cathryn Hawker aged 62, from Birmingham suffered from severe insomnia for a number of years caused by excessive worry and anxiety. Symptoms included difficulty getting to sleep and waking as early as 3am and being unable to get back to sleep. She was treated by BAcC member Natalie Saunders who developed an acupuncture plan aimed at reducing feelings of stress and calming the mind as well as talking to her about her worries. Immediately after the first treatment she felt deeply relaxed and slept better that night. After four treatments she was regularly sleeping through till 5am and soon after that through till 9am, she now only returns for top up treatments. Stress and Depression Patient X has been under a great deal of stress because of her family situation, turning to acupuncture initially in order to have treatment for post viral shingles and depression. It was later agreed that she was being treated for stress and depression. She was seen once a week every three weeks which was then changed to once a week every two weeks. After about 5 treatments, she felt an immediate boost to her mood and after the first treatment her shingle pain no longer bothered her. Acupuncture has enabled her to feel energised and able to deal with daily tasks. Stress and Depression After working in a very pressurised job and an abusive environment patient X was very stressed and depressed. Bereavement after losing her father also added to her feelings of stress and depression, patient X turned to acupuncture in order to receive some release. The first treatment was a combination of acupuncture and counselling. After taking a case history the acupuncturist started by just chatting with her using counselling skills to better understand her mental and emotional state. After a course of treatment she was feeling much better and she certainly looked much more relaxed and happy. Stress and Depression Patient Mrs Kerry Dowd turned to acupuncture after suffering bereavement, her feelings of stress and depression were also a result of a lymphedema caused by mastectomy and work stress. The Patient reported huge improvement after one set of treatment but pulses were still not as relaxed as the acupuncturist would have liked. After two sessions however, the pulses were much more even and relaxed. The Patient felt very well and it was agreed that she didn’t need any more treatment at that time
About Traditional Acupuncture
Acupuncture is a tried and tested system of traditional medicine, which has been used in China and other eastern cultures for thousands of years to restore, promote and maintain good health. Its benefits are now widely acknowledged all over the world and in the past decade traditional acupuncture has begun to feature more prominently in mainstream healthcare in the UK. Traditional acupuncture takes a holistic approach to health and regards illness as a sign that the body is out of balance. The exact pattern and degree of imbalance is unique to each individual. The traditional acupuncturist’s skill lies in identifying the precise nature of the underlying disharmony and selecting the most effective treatment. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recognises that acupuncture can help resolve specific symptoms or conditions. Traditional acupuncture can also be used as a preventive measure to strengthen the constitution and promote general wellbeing. An increasing weight of evidence from Western scientific research (see below) is demonstrating the effectiveness of acupuncture for treating a wide variety of conditions and revealing the mechanisms by which it acts. From a biomedical viewpoint, acupuncture is believed to stimulate the nervous system, influencing the production of the body’s communication substances - hormones and neurotransmitters. The resulting biochemical changes encourage the process of homeostasis, activating the body's self-regulating systems, thus stimulating its natural healing abilities and promoting physical and emotional wellbeing.