Stress and anxiety are the root of most chronic long term health problems. This is because long term stress and anxiety go against the body’s normal day to day functioning. Weight gain, insomnia, fatigue, and irritability are side effects of long term anxiety and stress that are not only undesired, but also deplete your body further from being healthy.
Acupuncture provides benefits to reducing stress and anxiety because its effects are almost immediate. Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine influence the body to physiologically get out of the anxiety and stress response so that you feel better right away. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine helps your body feel more relaxed which in turn addresses the other issues (mentioned above) that co-inside with long term stress and anxiety.
The body’s stress response is triggered by two main pathways, one of which involves the HPA (hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis) in which these areas of the brain are activated to release peptides and proteins which launch hormones that govern the stress response in the body (i.e., cortisol for example). Once these hormones are activated to cope with stress, the body gears up to defend itself against the stressor in a “stress-response” way that is called the “sympathetic response” or “fight or flight mode”. The heart beats faster, pupils dilate to see more clearly, and digestion is reduced because the body needs fuel to supply the muscles in a state of readiness. Your senses are alerted to enable your body and brain to cope with the demands.
Is stress bad?
First stress is not bad. We experience some sort of stress every day and we have certain physiological mechanisms, checks and balances, that are designed to meet those demands. IT is HOW OFTEN someone EXPERIENCES STRESS that matters.
When stress becomes long term, then it can eventually become pathological and or harmful. This is because when the body becomes conditioned to operating long term in a stress reactive response, this stress like response becomes the NORMAL STATE OF OPERATING. The hormones that are used to combat stress are now considered “normal” or baseline behavior by the body. This is because the checks and hormonal balances of the body are too depleted and or over stimulated; they do not receive adequate chemical messengers to override the “conditioned, “ “normal,” stress state.
Does this make sense? What ever state you are in eventually becomes the dominant mode eventually. We essentially become what we think and how we physically behave. It is important to remember: you may THINK that you are not stressed, but your BODY IS. You must shut off the stress-response and turn on the RELAXATION response. YOU do this with ACUPUNCTURE and CHINESE MEDICINE. It TELLS your body to WORK for YOU and NOT your STRESS because it “reboots” your entire body to go back to start position.
Modern Science is Just Beginning To Support Acupuncture and Its powerful role with regulating the Stress Response
In the Journal for Endocrinology, an animal study showed that when rats were pre-treated with Acupuncture and then were exposed to chronic long term stress, they had no spike stress-associated hormones. On the other hand, the rats that received no treatment and or “sham” Acupuncture had higher levels of corticotripin-releasing hormone (CRH) along with other stress hormones.
What does this mean? This means that Acupuncture when used correctly (i.e., not sham) according to Chinese Medicine, impacts and influences the nervous system positively. It influences your body (and brain) to “re-boot” itself by engaging the parasympathetic nervous system response. Benefits of activation of the parasympathetic nervous system response are increased immune system activity and recovery, improved digestion, enhanced athletic response and recovery, reduced stress, and a sense of overall well being. Many people report that Acupuncture makes them feel like they just had a massage, even though there were just acupuncture needles used.
Sources and References:
Mercola, Dr. “Study Hints at How Acupuncture Works to Relief Stress.” www.mercola.com 30 March, 2013. Web. 12 January 2014.
Eshkevari, Laden, Eva Permaul, and Susan Elizabeth Mulroney. “Acupuncture Blocks Cold Stress-Induced Increase in Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis in Rat.” Journal of Endocrinology. February 5, 2013 JOE-12-0404 Web. 12 Jan 2014.