New Study Shows how Acupuncture Helps Stress by Regulating Hormones

by Inger Giffin, L.Ac., Dipl. Ac.

Acupuncture helps Stress…but HOW?

Acupuncture regulates stress

Acupuncture regulating her stress and hormones

I’ve known since I started practicing acupuncture that it is amazing at helping people with their stress levels.  Not only do many patients report feeling “euphoria” during and right after acupuncture, but many also report that these feelings last for days after their treatments.  We have many explanations for how acupuncture helps stress from a Chinese perspective, but as more and more scientific studies are done, the research is revealing what is happening on a physiological or molecular/chemical level as well.

A new study reported in the Journal of Endocrinology says that acupuncture helps stress by regulating hormones, specifically the hormones that get activated during stress. The same areas of the brain that are responsible for triggering stress are also the areas that are related to other functions such as sexuality, digestion, energy, and immunity.

This study showed that among other things, acupuncture blocked the HPA pathway, which, as quoted in wikipedia, is “a major part of the neuroendocrine system that controls reactions to stress and regulates many body processes, including digestion, the immune system, mood and emotions, sexuality and energy storage and expenditure.”

And what a perfect time to get the results of this study, right in the middle of my article series on immunity, where I have stressed at times that the immune system is closely related to stress, and that stress is one of the lead causes of illness and immune dysfunction!  It makes sense that if the same areas of the brain relate to both functions, if one is impaired, so will the other be.

To read specifically about my specialty with stress/anxiety/depression, click here: acupuncture for anxiety/depression

Acupuncture helps stress by helping your liver and other organs related to emotions

In Chinese Medicine, we relate stress to the liver.  We also say that when someone is chronically stressed, or their liver is out of balance, then this easily flows over into the digestive system, causing issues such as IBS and low energy, since eventually our weak digestion keeps us from getting good nutrients from the food we eat, whether we are having digestive “symptoms” or not.  Often, the only symptom that we need to diagnose someone’s digestive organs as weak, is low energy.  We put that together with the signs from their tongue appearance, and work to build up their energy and digestive function again with acupuncture.  However, is stess and the liver is the culprit, unless we address that as well, we will be constantly chasing symptoms.

The results from this acupuncture study also shed light on why our sex drive and stress are also so closely connected, and why it is so difficult for many people to have a healthy desire when they are consumed with stress.

Are you currently under a lot of stress?  As we head into “liver season” (spring, related to the Wood element), we will all be more prone to increased impatience, agitation, and irritation.  Why not come in soon for some acupuncture and give your brain a chance to relax by blocking that HPA pathway, or in Chinese medical terms, getting your liver qi to flow smoothly.  Your entire body will thank you for it!

 To schedule an appointment to decrease your stress and try acupuncture for yourself, click here: online scheduling page

For more info on stress, Chinese medicine, acupuncture, and how I work with it, see these posts:

Acupuncture helps Stress: So I’m stressed, What’s the Big Deal?

Tips for Keeping Your Liver Happy

3 Tips for Turning Added Agitation and Agitation to Your Advantage

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