Acupuncture and Stress
We all experience stress at one time or another it is a healthy response to events in our lives that may feel beyond our control. In good health where the stress is short-lived, we are usually able to recover without impact to our overall health but when the stress is extreme, or prolonged, our emotional health and ultimately, our physical health begin to suffer.
We are hardwired to help us react to stressful events. At the first sign of a threat, whether real or perceived, our sympathetic nervous system kicks responds with a “fight or flight” response. This in turn leads to a cascade of events that affects all our vital systems, respiratory, circulatory, digestive, immune and hormonal.
Unfortunately, the “fight or flight” response, which worked well in the days of cavemen, does not serve us as well to the “threats” of modern society. Commonly, the stress in our lives tends to be over a longer term, resulting in a constant state of “fight or flight”, or stress. With time, the constant state of stress takes has a significant impact on the physical body. Cortisol, the body’s stress hormone elevates, blood pressure increases, and our immune function is suppressed, these symptoms can worsen and develop into anxiety, depression, fatigue, insomnia, digestive problems, and tension headaches (to name a few). The extra stress hormones over an extended period of time may wear out the body's reserves.
Acupuncture and Stress
In Chinese medicine, stress, anxiety, depression or any strong emotion has the potential to interrupt the smooth flow of energy throughout the body. Simply put the energy flows through our body via a network much like a spider’s web and any disruption in the network can lead to physical symptoms due to blocking the free flow of energy, causing pain, tightness, and often leading to headaches.
Through acupuncture treatment, theses energy blockages are released and help re-establish a smooth energetic flow, to alleviate not only the symptoms of stress and anxiety, but the stress and anxiety itself.
From a Western viewpoint, acupuncture works to alleviate stress by releasing natural pain-killing chemicals in the brain, called endorphins. In addition, acupuncture improves circulation of blood throughout the body, which oxygenates the tissues and cycles out cortisol and other waste chemicals. The calming nature of acupuncture also decreases heart rate, lowers blood pressure and relaxes the muscles.
Common signs of stress include:
- Panic attacks
- Agitated feeling
- Digestive problems
- Chest pain
- Insomnia or disturbed sleep
- Overindulgence in food, alcohol, smoking, or drugs