Does Acupuncture Reduce Stress?

By Dr. Dongfeng Zhou, AP, DAOM

With the endless hustle and bustle in our world today, it is near impossible to live without stress. Funnily enough, many people believe that those who experience it do so because they add value to their local communities and the world in general. If you belong to that school of thought, you cannot sweeten the pill.

To call a spade a spade, the condition is not a good thing for reasons you will learn later. According to the American Institute of Stress, 77% of people experience physical health-related stress. Indeed, nobody is immune to it. To get a clear picture of how acupuncture affects stress, you need to grasp what stress is.

Understanding the Etiology of Stress

Stress is simply that feeling, thought or belief that signals your brain, alerting it that you are overwhelmed or unable to cope with your mental or emotional pressure. There are a number of circumstances or events that lead to the condition. When you come across a perceived threat, your hypothalamus triggers your system. In case you don’t know what it is, the hypothalamus is a tiny, cone-structured part of your brain that ends in the pituitary stalk. Due to the interaction between nerves and hormones, the body triggers the adrenal glands.

As the adrenaline raises your heartbeat, blood pressure increases too. The primary stress hormone, cortisol, revs up the blood pressure, sugar in the bloodstream, and energy level in the body. Cortisol also changes immune system responses. Noteworthy is that the lengthy activation of the body’s stress response system and the excessive exposure of cortisol can disrupt the entire body system.

Causes and Signs

So far, you have learned the physiological causes of stress. However, your day-to-day activities can also be contributory factors. When you subject yourself to certain circumstances, the etiology described above plays out, resulting in stress. That said, this segment will identify some of those factors that trigger it.

  • Dealing with uncertainty
  • Thinking and worrying about something
  • Inability to control a situation or an outcome
  • Facing major changes
  • Living with overwhelming situations or responsibilities
  • Not having adequate work or activities in your life
  • Being under enormous pressure from routine or everyday tasks

The outcome or effect is that you are at risk of mental problems, including anxiety, digestive issues, headache, depression, insomnia, muscle strain, heart diseases, etc. Hence, stress is often associated with those health issues. In other words, the effects reflect how your body reacts to it. With respect to its tell-tale signs, they include anxiety, anger, fear, sadness, frustration, depression, etc. In some cases, the signs could be worse. Therefore, you need to take steps to avoid or reduce your stress level.

Does Acupuncture Reduce Stress?

Again, does acupuncture reduce stress? Well, the simple answer is that acupuncturists apply the therapy to people as a way of helping them lower their stress and reverse its effects. Its practitioners believe that the Chinese healing remedy reduces stress by promoting the movement of Qi around the body. When something disrupts the flow of energy through the body, it leads to several disorders, including stress. At this juncture, it simply means that Qi is deficient in the body (as something has interrupted its flow). The common points to apply the treatment include PC6 (Pericardium 6), ear points, yin tang, and HT7.

Experts believe that when the age-long treatment is applied along the energy channels that don’t experience the flow of Qi, it improves the flow of the energy and resolves the issue. At this point, the body begins to return to normal. After extensive acupuncture and stress research, medical experts concluded that the therapy releases hormones like endorphin, a feel-good hormone produced in the central nervous system and pituitary gland. Because the hormone acts on the brain’s opiate receptor, the receiver is likely to get relieved and feel better. Once the body releases your “happy hormones” to your brain, it can now relax and rest because you are safe. The release also turns off your body’s stress response and lowers cortisol levels. The Chinese therapy serves as both preventative and curative treatments.

How Often Should You Get Acupuncture for Stress?

Well, the number of times you go for the session differs from one person to another. By and large, it depends on your personal goal and how much stress you have to deal with. However, if you just started receiving acupuncture therapy, the general guideline is to come once a week for the first month. Once you stick to this schedule, you will notice that your body’s natural healing defenses will be revived and ready to protect you. In the end, the traditional Chinese therapy slingshots you out of fight-or-flight mode into a rest-and-relax mode.

On the other hand, if you notice that you are beginning to gain weight due to stress, you need to increase your sessions. You should make it twice a week to balance your body and ensure that your digestive system is working optimally. Keep in mind, however, that this can only apply if you notice some stress-induced weight gain. Before long, you will be glad to have your stunning body back.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, you have learned the tried-and-tested technique for treating and reversing stress and its effects. For over 3000 years, acupuncture has been used to treat several ailments. In this article, you have learned how acupuncture reduces stress. Do you have reservations over its efficacy? If so, don’t sweat it because there are several clinical trials that prove its effectiveness. To reduce stress, the Eastern remedy turns off the sympathetic nervous system and activates the calming parasympathetic nervous system.

Remember, acupuncture:

  • Helps you relax and guarantees stress relief
  • Entails the use of needles but they don’t hurt
  • Has no side effects
  • Helps you normalize your weight.

Once again, if you are dealing with stress-induced weight gain, you have nothing to worry about. This is because the medieval treatment helps you regain your weight. But then, the frequency of sessions will be higher in this instance. Would you like to know more about it or receive the treatment? Please feel free to contact our certified acupuncturist.


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