Acupuncture helps Stress by Regulating Hormones, New Study Shows
It’s finally proven: Acupuncture helps stress
I just got back from my regular acupuncture treatment with a colleague in town with whom I do trades.
As usual, about 10 minutes into the treatment I found myself riding on those notorious waves of euphoria that acupuncture is so well known for while the stress just dissolved.
As my body sunk deeper and deeper into the treatment table and I felt the relaxation that I can somehow only ever attain in deep meditation, shavasana after yoga, or acupuncture; I contemplated how grateful I am that I have this stress-reduction tool at my disposal at any time that I need it.
Minutes later, back at the office, I came across this article outlining a new study that shows once again that indeed acupuncture does have a biochemical action on the body that can explain its action on reducing stress.
Science tells us that there is something called the The HPAA (Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis), which controls our reactions to stress by regulating hormones. One particular hormone, CRH (corticotrophin releasing hormone), plays a huge role in initiating the stress response. It was found that acupuncture dramatically inhibited CRH response when exposed to stress. Other hormones related to stress were either up-regulated or down-regulated, in whichever direction reduced the stress response.
For more info on how I work with stress in my practice, see this page: Acupuncture and Anxiety/Depression
It is also interesting to note that the point combination which proved more effective included a point along the Liver channel, the channel which is classically treated when a person is stressed out, due to the Liver’s close relationship with stress.
In Chinese medicine, we know that liver “spreads the Qi”, and the first thing that happens when we’re under a lot of stress is that the liver gets out of balance, and is no longer able to do its job of keeping our Qi flowing smoothly. Then we become the opposite of “go with the flow”, and we feel tense, anxious, and bound up.
All manner of illnesses and discomfort stem from this one imbalance in our system. Often, it is not exposure to stress that creates this liver problem, but other health issues which create the Liver imbalance in the first place, which in turn creates the stress because the liver is then no longer able to do its job of relaxing us and regulating our stress response.
Then, the more stress we feel, the more impeded the Liver energy becomes, which makes things get more bound up, which creates more imbalance and therefore more stress and anxiety. It becomes a quick downward spiral. By getting at the root of the issue, we can resolve the Liver Qi stagnation and prevent it from becoming chronic.
While we have our own explanations and theories for how acupuncture works, using terms like “freeing stagnant Qi”, “nourishing the blood”, or “tonifying Yin”, etc. it is sometimes still hard for skeptics to accept these explanations.
So studies like this are concrete help in once again answering the common question, “how do we know that acupuncture isn’t just a placebo!?”. Results like this put that question to rest.