For many people, needles are associated with more anxiety—not less. However, when those needles are carefully placed at targeted points throughout the body, they can reduce stress and actually help you breathe a bit easier.
This is one of the benefits of acupuncture treatment in East Brunswick, a form of alternative therapy that has been recognized for its help in stress management for thousands of years. The ancient treatment has recently gained more attention after researchers at Georgetown University School of Nursing and Health Studies conducted an in vivo study of the effects of acupuncture using rats.
For centuries, acupuncture treatment focused on the flowing of energy pathways, or meridians. These channels were understood to impact how the body perceived and managed stress. By introducing pressure to these pathways one could redirect the flow of energy and restore balance. While this is a rather spiritual interpretation of the practice, the bottom line was that it worked. Following an acupuncture treatment session many people would feel more relaxed and better able to cope with the stressors in their lives.
How Does Acupuncture Help Stress?
The Georgetown University researchers found that while acupuncture treatment can’t readjust the flow of energy through the body, it can alter hormone production, and hormones affect many aspects of our health and lives—including our energy levels and ability to cope with stress.
Stress triggers a domino effect throughout the body. We experience the stressor and that stressor leads to a reaction from the hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal system, impacting brain and thyroid health and triggering negative health effects throughout the body. This in turn prompts an increase in the production of stress hormones like cortisol and norepinephrine, forcing the body to stay alert for danger and reducing our ability to focus on basic tasks like digestion or sleep.
Researchers at Georgetown University found evidence that acupuncture can interfere with these negative effects and actually alter the level of stress hormones in the body. The researchers tested this on rats, which means there is no guarantee that the effects will be identical in humans. However, since the HPA axis which controls the hypothalamus, pituitary gland and adrenals is similar in rats and humans, the researchers believe this may be valuable insight into how and why acupuncture has been so helpful in relieving stress among human populations for so long.
The exact way that acupuncture can benefit you is yet to be fully determined, but the fact is that acupuncture treatment has played a role in human wellness for several thousand years, and continues to remain a popular form of alternative therapy today.