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How Does Acupuncture Help Relieve Stress?

Stress is a silent killer. It can wreak havoc on physical and mental health and impacts our bodies in many ways. Stress can increase one’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes and having a stroke or heart attack.

Stress can also affect sexual health. Chronic stress can affect male reproductive organs such as the testes and prostate. It can interfere with a woman’s menstrual cycle, leading to irregular or more painful periods.

Stress is fast becoming a major health concern for many Americans. There are several other causes of stress, ranging from chronic illness to injury to traumatic events. Some common stress symptoms include high blood pressure, aches and pains, muscle tension, and sleeping disorders.

Though effective, stress medications can cause several side effects, including vision problems, dizziness, confusion, headaches, fatigue, and problems with balance, speech or coordination. Some medicines used for managing stress can be habit-forming and even addictive.

Many people in Contra Costa County who want to avoid adverse effects related to drugs for stress turn to acupuncture to manage their stress. The ancient Chinese practice involves inserting thin needles at strategic points in the body to clear energy blockages.

Various studies have concluded that acupuncture can help relieve stress and anxiety by stimulating the endocrine system to secrete feel-good hormones such as serotonin and endorphins, while reducing the levels of stress hormones such as cortisol.

Unlike many drugs and therapies for stress, acupuncture does not have any major side effects and is minimally invasive. Some people may feel slight pain or discomfort after an acupuncture treatment, but it’s generally nothing to worry about. Soreness, pain, or discomfort from acupuncture usually subsides after a few hours or days.

The sympathetic nervous system triggers the flight-or-fight response so the body can respond to perceived dangers. Acupuncture induces relaxation, activating the parasympathetic (or rest-and-digest) portion of the nervous system. The process increases the production of feel-good hormones.

A 2002 study concluded that acupuncture may help relieve stress among heart failure patients by inhibiting the activation of the sympathetic nervous system.

A 2017 randomized controlled trial compared the effects of sham acupuncture versus actual acupuncture for stress. Participants were divided into two groups. One group received sham acupuncture, whereas the other group received actual acupuncture.

Initially, participants in both groups reported a substantial decrease in stress levels. At 12 weeks post-treatment, researchers observed that participants in the traditional acupuncture group showed a significantly greater treatment effect than those in the sham acupuncture group. They also noted that treatment effects can persist for three months or more after completion of treatment.

The Monarch Acupuncture & Wellness team comprises certified, knowledgeable, and experienced Contra Costa County acupuncturists. Whether you are grappling with a health condition or want to improve your wellness, we can help. To schedule an appointment, click here.