By Dr. Mercola
Acupuncture May Relieve Chronic StressAcupuncture, which has been valued as part of traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years, is now used by millions of Americans each year, often to treat chronic pain. But now researchers have revealed the healing technique may also be effective in treating one of the most widespread ailments facing US adults: chronic stress.
Acupuncture Also Confirmed to Help Treat Chronic PainA new animal study showed that rats pre-treated with acupuncture had no spike in stress-associated hormones after being exposed to chronic stress.1 On the contrary, rats that received no treatment or a sham acupuncture treatment had higher levels of corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) along with other stress hormones. It is the constant increase in stress hormones that is associated with many of the health problems linked to chronic stress, such as depression, insomnia and anxiety. In stressed animals that received acupuncture, stress hormone levels were similar to those in the control animals that were not under chronic stress, which suggests the ancient healing modality helps to normalize stress hormone levels. Interestingly, the acupuncture point used in the study was a point on the stomach, which may work by tapping into the gut-brain connection. Research is now being carried out to determine if acupuncture is also effective at relieving stress when applied after the fact, as a treatment instead of a preventive strategy.
In a recent analysis published in the Archives of Internal Medicine,2 researchers concluded that acupuncture has a definite effect in reducing chronic pain, such as back pain and headaches – more so than standard pain treatment. Real acupuncture also produced slightly better results than using sham needles, which suggests the benefits of needling are due to more than the placebo effect.
One of the World’s Oldest Medical PracticesThe study revealed a "clear and robust" effect of acupuncture in the treatment of:
On a scale of 0 to 100, participants who started out with a pain rating of 60 experienced:
- Back pain
- Neck pain
- Shoulder pain
- An average 30-point drop (a 50 percent reduction) in response to the real acupuncture treatments (using needles)
- A 25-point drop when receiving sham acupuncture
- A mere 17-point drop when receiving "standard pain care" that did not include acupuncture
With documented use dating back more than 2,500 years, acupuncture is based on the premise that there are more than 2,000 acupuncture points in the human body, which are connected by bioenergetic pathways known as meridians. It is through these pathways that Qi, or energy, flows, and when the pathway is blocked the disruptions can lead to imbalances and chronic disease.
The treatment itself, which involves the insertion of metallic hair-thin needles (typically three to 15) into specific acupuncture points, can be conducted by a physician or a trained acupuncturist. It generally involves little or no discomfort, and patients often report feeling energized or relaxed following the procedure.
WHO Reveals Dozens of Proven Uses for AcupunctureAcupuncture is proven to impact a number of chronic health conditions, and it’s thought that it stimulates the central nervous system to release natural chemicals that alter bodily systems, pain and other biological processes. Evidence, in fact, suggests that acupuncture impacts the body on multiple levels, including:3
- Stimulating the conduction of electromagnetic signals, which may release immune system cells or pain-killing chemicals
- Activation of your body’s natural opioid system, which may help reduce pain or induce sleep
- Stimulation of your hypothalamus and pituitary gland, which impact numerous body systems
- Change in the secretion of neurotransmitters and neurohormones, which may positively influence brain chemistry
Adverse reactions to radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy Allergic rhinitis (including hay fever) Biliary colic Depression (including depressive neurosis and depression following stroke) Dysentery, acute bacillary Dysmenorrhoea, primary Epigastralgia, acute (in peptic ulcer, acute and chronic gastritis, and gastrospasm) Facial pain (including craniomandibular disorders) Headache Hypertension, essential Hypotension, primary Induction of labor Knee pain Leukopenia Low back pain Malposition of fetus, correction of Morning sickness Nausea and vomiting Neck pain Pain in dentistry (including dental pain and temporomandibular dysfunction) Periarthritis of shoulder Postoperative pain Renal colic Rheumatoid arthritis Sciatica Sprain Stroke Tennis elbow
Additionally, acupuncture has also shown a therapeutic effect for treating the following diseases and conditions, which range from premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and addictions to whooping cough, although further research is needed:
Abdominal pain (in acute gastroenteritis or due to gastrointestinal spasm) Acne vulgaris Alcohol dependence and detoxification Bell’s palsy Bronchial asthma Cancer pain Cardiac neurosis Cholecystitis, chronic, with acute exacerbation Cholelithiasis Competition stress syndrome Craniocerebral injury, closed Diabetes mellitus, non-insulin-dependent Earache Epidemic haemorrhagic fever Epistaxis, simple (without generalized or local disease) Eye pain due to subconjunctival injection Female infertility Facial spasm Female urethral syndrome Fibromyalgia and fasciitis Gastrokinetic disturbance Gouty arthritis Hepatitis B virus carrier status Herpes zoster (human (alpha) herpesvirus 3) Hyperlipaemia Hypo-ovarianism Insomnia Labor pain Lactation, deficiency Male sexual dysfunction, non-organic Ménière disease Neuralgia, post-herpetic Neurodermatitis Obesity Opium, cocaine and heroin dependence Osteoarthritis Pain due to endoscopic examination Pain in thromboangiitis obliterans Polycystic ovary syndrome (Stein-Leventhal syndrome) Postextubation in children Postoperative convalescence Premenstrual syndrome Prostatitis, chronic Pruritus Radicular and pseudoradicular pain syndrome Raynaud syndrome, primary Recurrent lower urinary-tract infection Reflex sympathetic dystrophy Retention of urine, traumatic Schizophrenia Sialism, drug-induced Sjögren syndrome Sore throat (including tonsillitis) Spine pain, acute Stiff neck Temporomandibular joint dysfunction Tietze syndrome Tobacco dependence Tourette syndrome Ulcerative colitis, chronic Urolithiasis Vascular dementia Whooping cough (pertussis)
For more information on Acupuncture, visit our website: http://nhwc.ca/so_acupuncture.html