Anxiety is one of the worst feelings ever. The symptoms can range from a feeling of tightness and heaviness in your chest to a full-blown panic attack complete with a racing heartbeat, hyperventilation, a wave of fear rushing through your body, and feeling as though you’re literally going to die.
Regardless of the extent of the anxiety you experience, it’s definitely not easy to deal with. It can feel like an endless trial and error process, trying everything from meditation and breathing exercises to CBD oil. While medication does offer relief for many, others hope to find the answer through natural treatments such as fitness, magnesium supplements, or dietary changes.
Another buzzed about natural treatment for anxiety is acupuncture. The ancient practice of inserting small needles into pressure points is said to help with a host of different ailments including a low libido, trouble conceiving, and even allergies. And research has shown that acupuncture could be effective in improving symptoms of anxiety, too.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: how can you possibly relax when you’re laying there with a bunch of needles all over your body? The thought alone might induce a panic attack. But, acupuncture is actually a pretty painless experience. The needles are super thin—like a strand of hair thin—and most people don’t even feel them, says Calley Williams, licensed acupuncturist and owner of Seed of Life Acupuncture in Los Angeles.
- Below, she answers all the top questions about acupuncture for anxiety, including the benefits of it and what exactly happens during a session.
- What is acupuncture and how does it work?
- What are the benefits of doing acupuncture for anxiety?
- What are the side effects?
- How soon will you feel results?
- What can you expect during an acupuncture session?
- Why Acupuncture Works for Anxiety Relief
- How Acupuncture for Anxiety Works
- The Mechanics of Acupuncture for Anxiety Management
- Getting Started With Acupuncture
- Signs that acupuncture is working:
- Acupuncture at work
- Have questions? Want to chat before booking?
- Acupuncture for stress and anxiety
- Acupuncture Is the Natural Anxiety Remedy You Might Want to Try
- Acupuncture For Anxiety: How Often Should You Be Going?
- Acupuncture Treatments For Your Anxiety
- Achieve Results With Personalized Anxiety Treatments
- Schedule Multiple Appointments For Best Results
- Find Relief From Your Anxiety With Stolman Acupuncture
- Acupuncture for Anxiety
- Acupuncture for Stress and Anxiety
- Naturopaths, Massage, Nutritionists, Acupuncturists & Osteopaths in Brisbane
- Brisbane Acupuncture treatment for stress
- How does Acupuncture work to relieve stress?
- Book your Acupuncture appointment for stress
- Keep reading to find out whether acupuncture might work for you.
- Is acupuncture an effective treatment for my health issue?
- What do you need to know before having acupuncture?
- You Asked: Does Acupuncture Work?
- Thank you!
- Acupuncture. Does it really work?
- Feeling Stressed or Anxious? Try Acupuncture. Our downtown Seattle team of acupuncturists
Below, she answers all the top questions about acupuncture for anxiety, including the benefits of it and what exactly happens during a session.
Photo: Getty Images/Hero Images
What is acupuncture and how does it work?
Williams explains that acupuncture is energy work, routed in Traditional Chinese Medicine. “Each organ has its own energetic channel that runs throughout the body and that’s where we can access the energy of those organs to figure out which systems are out of balance,” she says. By inserting needles in specific acupuncture points depending on the issue, you’re “telling the body where to focus its own innate healing energy.”
What are the benefits of doing acupuncture for anxiety?
1. It takes the body out of fight-or-flight mode. In today’s fast-paced world, we’ve become accustomed to operating from our sympathetic nervous system, meaning our fight-or flight-response. It’s intended to keep us safe, but it’s constantly getting activated, resulting in lots of anxiety. So the main benefit of doing acupuncture, Williams says, is to bring the body back to the parasympathetic state where everything slows down and stressful events don’t completely derail you.
2. It balances the body. Even if you pop in for acupuncture treatments with the intention to relieve your anxiety, you could experience other benefits as a byproduct. “You’re treating the entire body,” Williams says. “It’s going to be a ripple effect.” Things like your sleep, digestion, and energy levels can all improve.
What are the side effects?
Some people can feel a little sore after acupuncture, and it could leave a minor bruise. There could be a little bleeding too, but nothing that would require more than a Band-Aid.
How soon will you feel results?
According to Williams, the key to seeing success through acupuncture for anxiety is consistency. She says that most people feel much calmer after each session, but in order to see long lasting results, it’s best to get treatments regularly—it varies from person to person—for an extended period of time. People with deep rooted trauma or chronic anxiety may need to attend acupuncture sessions longer than someone with acute anxiety.
In the beginning, Williams recommends keeping your treatments closer together—once or twice a week—because you’re essentially retraining your body to operate in a new way and if you space your treatments out too much, you can easily slip back into the fight-or-flight way of being. Once you do start feeling the zen results, you can scale back on the number of sessions to once a week, then once a month, and so on.
What can you expect during an acupuncture session?
Every acupuncturist has their own style and way of treating patients. The key is to find an acupuncturist with credible training (make sure they’re licensed) who you feel comfortable with. The treatment, in and of itself, is going to be very different from person to person as well because the underlying issues of the anxiety vary.
Your first acupuncture session will likely kick off with a consultation, Williams says, where you’ll be asked lots of questions to get a good picture of what’s going on in your body; digestion, energy levels, and sleep quality are brought up.
Williams then has the patient lay down on a massage table and she’ll do Chinese medicine diagnostics to access which acupuncture points are needed to correct imbalances in different organs. This includes checking the pulse and taking a look at the tongue. “Each organ has its own position on the pulse,” she explains. And similarly, the tongue is split up into different organs. In Japanese-style acupuncture, which is what she practices, the treatment includes both a front and back treatment. “The front treatment is a bit shorter because it’s all about balancing the channels,” Williams says. The needles are usually in for five to seven minutes during this part.
Then she’ll do the needling on the back, which is “more about treating on a deeper level and nourishing all the symptoms of the body,” she says. “This is also where we can treat both physical symptoms and emotional symptoms.” This part lasts for about 15 to 20 minutes.
At the end, expect to feel totally blissed out. A common response after a first treatment is, “I didn’t know this state of calm was possible.” Although there isn’t anything that you can’t or shouldn’t do after an acupuncture appointment, Williams does recommend riding the chill vibes—so maybe forgoing the intense SoulCycle sesh and going for a brisk walk instead, for example. But really, it’s all about listening to your body and what it needs.
Since you’re not cured yet, here’s how to use your anxiety to your benefit. And this is why it’s so powerful that celebrities are speaking out about mental health.
Why Acupuncture Works for Anxiety Relief
You might think acupuncture is for hipsters who don’t believe in Western medicine or for your aging parent with chronic back pain, but a growing body of research shows that acupuncture can help treat a condition that affects everyone from time to time: anxiety.
Managing severe anxiety can be tricky because it generally includes therapy, which might not provide results for months, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. What’s more, it can require anxiety medication, which can have serious side effects, says Ladan Eshkevari, PhD, CRNA, LAc, a certified acupuncturist, a physiologist, and the assistant director of the Nurse Anesthesia Program at the School of Nursing & Health Studies at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Yet when acupuncture for anxiety is effective, symptoms lessen after the first few visits, and practitioners like Eshkevari are confident it attacks the problem at its roots.
How Acupuncture for Anxiety Works
Ancient Chinese medicine describes an energy force called Qi that regulates the body’s overall health, according to University of Chicago Medicine. Like blood in the circulatory system, Qi moves throughout the body via pathways called meridians. When factors like injury, stress, poor nutrition, or a change in environment disrupt the flow of Qi, health issues follow, according to the University of Miami Health System. By inserting needles at specific points in the body, acupuncturists restore the balance of Qi and the body’s overall health, University of Chicago Medicine reports.
This concept might seem outdated to some, but Daniel Hsu, DAOM (Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine), LAc, a practitioner at New York AcuHealth Acupuncture in New York City, says Qi is just a metaphor for metabolic function, or the chemical reactions constantly taking place in the body.
Acupuncturists insert each needle half a millimeter away from a nerve, Dr. Hsu explains. Depending on where the needles go, acupuncture can cause the nervous system to produce painkilling chemicals, jump-start the body’s natural ability to heal itself, or stimulate the part of the brain that controls emotions, including anxiety. All of these results, Hsu adds, can help people feel more balanced and treat a variety of illnesses.
RELATED: Hidden Signs of Stress and Anxiety
The Mechanics of Acupuncture for Anxiety Management
Hsu says acupuncture has increased in popularity since the 1970s simply because it works, and now there’s growing research supporting its effectiveness for anxiety and other mental conditions.
For instance, in a study published online in October 2013 in the Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies, students who underwent a 20-minute acupuncture session were found to have less anxiety and better memory immediately afterward than those who didn’t have acupuncture.
Why does it work? Eshkevari explains that external circumstances beyond your control can set off your anxiety and that acupuncture allows your body to take back control.
“We’re constantly under stress and pressure to perform, which can bring on disease and other serious health issues,” Hsu says. “Acupuncture is great for maintenance. It helps a long life become a better-quality life.”
How does it work? Led by Eshkevari, researchers at Georgetown University used lab studies to demonstrate that acupuncture slows the body’s production of stress hormones. Their findings were published in the April 2013 issue of the Journal of Endocrinology.
Few procedures work 100 percent of the time. That includes acupuncture, but it does have benefits that conventional treatments like psychotherapy and medication do not, Eshkevari says. She explains that side effects, such as bruising and dizziness, are minimal and uncommon, whereas some prescription drugs can have serious side effects and can lead to dependency.
Unlike with counseling, people treated with acupuncture often see results after one session, and the results improve with continued treatment. Hsu says acupuncture is particularly helpful for people who want to limit or stop drug use — prescription or otherwise. Because it regulates the body’s chemical balance naturally, acupuncture can even prevent people from needing medication at all, he says.
Getting Started With Acupuncture
When it comes to trying acupuncture, you have nothing to lose, Hsu says. With a certified acupuncturist, the risks are almost nonexistent and are far outweighed by the potential benefits. The majority of Eshkevari’s patients have told her they sleep better and have a stronger sense of overall well-being after just a few sessions.
If you’re already receiving treatment for anxiety, Eshkevari suggests adding acupuncture to your current regimen. If you decide it works for you, you can work with your doctor to wean off anxiety medication. First, though, contact your insurance provider to find out whether it covers any acupuncturists in your area. Then talk with a practitioner — ask questions and openly discuss a potential treatment plan.
Acupuncture isn’t a magic pill. There are times when it can produce almost miraculous results – I’ve seen it myself – but those are generally the exception, not the rule. You can’t expect a chronic condition of several years resolve in one or two sessions. Acupuncture works cumulatively – just like strength training or learning a new language. As I discuss in this blog post, the frequency and length of treatment varies from patient to patient. And while the primary symptoms might not abate in the first few treatments, there are other markers you can look for to know when acupuncture is working for you.
Signs that acupuncture is working:
You’re less stressed
Stress reeks havoc on our bodies. Research on the relationship between mental/emotional stress and physical health has shown that increased emotional stress can result in varying issues from poor surgical outcomes to a decrease in immune system functioning. (i)
Stress relief is one of the first noticeable side effects of acupuncture treatments. Patients often exclaim how relaxed they feel after a treatment, or how stress related ailments such as TMJ (jaw) pain or anxiety are greatly reduced after visiting my office. I can safely say that the majority of ailments I see in my clinic are exacerbated by stress. Therefore lowering the patient’s stress level often brings patient’s pain levels down drastically.
You’re sleeping better
This is a fan favorite sign that acupuncture is working. Often, new patients report that their sleep is “just fine” in their initial intake, only exclaiming a few treatments later that they’re “sleeping so much better!” They are so used to their poor sleeping pattern that they don’t even realize that a quality night’s rest is available to them.
Sleep plays an important role in your physical health. When we are sleeping our bodies regulate our hormones, repair damaged tissue, form new pathways in our brain, and trigger growth and development. Research has shown that persistent sleeplessness can lead to chronic disease later in life. (ii)
You’re more energetic
This one goes hand in hand with better sleep. When we spend more of our nighttime hours enjoying quality, restorative sleep, we wake feeling more refreshed and have more energy to go about our day. Fatigue is rarely a patient’s #1 reason for coming to my clinic, but it’s one of the most common complaints I hear from in new patients.
While acupuncture is naturally relaxing (many patients take a needle nap on the treatment table), it’s normal to feel a surge of energy in the days following treatment. This energy isn’t’ like a caffeine buzz, it’s more of an awareness in your body and increased motivation to complete tasks.
You’re digesting better
Acupuncture is all about creating movement. Illness arises when substances such as blood, lymph fluid, and qi (energy) become stagnant within the body. By increasing the circulation of those substances, the body has the ability to nourish all of its organs and tissues and can begin the process of healing.
So while acupuncture treatments are geared towards moving things within the body, things, well, tend to move. If your digestion tends to be a bit sluggish you might find that you bowel movements happen on a more regular basis (pun intended). Conversely, if your digestion tends to be on the more frequent or erratic side, you might find that acupuncture relaxes the smooth muscle in your colon, resulting in less spasms, pain, and frequent trips to the bathroom.
Acupuncture at work
Noticing these positive changes in your body means that acupuncture is working for you. Stay strong and stick with your treatment plan. Complying with any homework assignments such as dietary therapy, herbs, supplements, or lifestyle modifications that your acupuncturist has prescribed for you will help accelerate the healing process and get you back to optimal health before you know it.
Have questions? Want to chat before booking?
Shoot us a message from our contact page. We can discuss your questions, concerns, and goals, as well as our approach and the services we offer, to see if working together would be a good fit. We look forward to getting to know you!
Acupuncture for stress and anxiety
Symptoms of anxiety affect over 40 million Americans a year, with many finding relief through prescription medication and talk therapy.
Learn more about stress and anxiety.
Symptoms of anxiety include restlessness, rapid heartbeat, upset stomach, difficulty concentrating, headache, irritability, sleeplessness, fatigue, sweating, and muscle tension. It’s been said that nearly 30% of the world’s population will suffer from symptoms of anxiety at least once in their lifetime, regardless of their gender, age, or stage of life. It’s no wonder then that a Google search for anxiety treatments results in 415,000,000 web pages.
But some are turning to an ancient Eastern practice called acupuncture, which involves the insertion of needles into pressure points throughout the body. It works by assisting the nervous system achieve balance, alleviating stress and anxiety symptoms. It’s been reported that acupuncture can give individual rapid results, often working within only one to two sessions. However, like any treatment, results and the number of sessions will vary from person to person.
When Shin, a 28-year-old accountant of Chinese ancestry, admitted to feeling mounting symptoms of anxiety to her grandmother, she was encouraged to try acupuncture. Her family had been loyal patients of the practice for everything from bowel problems to knee pain, but she never considered acupuncture for stress or anxiety as a legitimate treatment. She wasn’t exactly an eager participant – or even a believer – at first.
“Even though I knew my parents and aunts and uncles believed in acupuncture, I’d never gotten a treatment myself,” admits Shin. “I didn’t know what to expect.
“I figured it would be some placebo thing, or some crazy unhygienic thing with no science behind it.”
While every acupuncture clinic will differ in style, size and operation protocol, Shin shares that the clinic she attended was small, bright and clean. Located in the back of a medical center, “it looked like a cross between a doctor’s office and a medical spa,” she comments. “It was sterile, but warm at the same time.”
Shin was put immediately at ease when she recognized how thorough the acupuncturist, Jun, was in researching her background and healthy history.
If someone you love is dealing with anxiety, read more about how to help them cope.
“It felt less like this mysterious, ancient practice where I might be asked to put my faith in voodoo,” says Shin, “and more like an authentic procedure, which, as it turns out, is exactly what acupuncture is.”
Jun asked Shin about her history with anxiety, as well as her diet, exercise regimen and even her personality – her likes, dislikes, and her phobias. Shin treated it like a talk therapy session, telling Jun about her struggles at work and in her personal relationships. Jun told her that many people were hesitant to share about anxiety; her willingness to share was actually leaving her more open to healing.
“(Jun) explained that when you have an open mind, your body is calmer.”
After the interview, Shin was led to a small room with a bed that resembled a massage table, with a thin pillow at the head. She was asked to breathe in and out, consciously and slowly. She was encouraged to relax while Jun went to work inserting a dozen long, thin needles into various pressure points on Shin’s body, starting from the crown of her head down to her ankles.
“I don’t like bees, I don’t like needles, I have a very low threshold of pain,” says Shin. “I felt absolutely nothing. I mean, I knew something was there, but it wasn’t painful.”
Jun left Shin to relax for about half an hour. When she returned to remove the needles, Shin says she felt tranquil, calm and rested.
“I didn’t feel like, ‘Whoa, that was life changing!’ after the first session,” says Shin. “But I have to admit I slept so well that night.
“But after the second session, that week really did feel different… things were more tolerable somehow.
“I went for two more sessions, so all in all I went once a week for a month. I think for anyone thinking of acupuncture, I have to say you can’t go into it thinking that after half an hour everything is going to be different. But what’s interesting is that it does change, gradually. It may not be noticeable at first. But when something happens that you typically have a panic attack over, and you don’t… well, I’ve discovered that acupuncture has a hand in that.”
Today, Shin says she makes an appointment once every six to eight weeks for maintenance.
How does acupuncture for stress and anxiety work?
In ancient Chinese medicine, an energy called Qi (or the chemical reactions that constantly fire throughout our bodies) is said to regulate the overall health of the body, moving through pathways called meridians. If Qi’s flow is disturbed or blocked in any way (for example due to injury, poor eating habits/nutrition, stress, or any other discomfort), that’s when we begin to suffer. The practice of acupuncture – the insertion of needles in specific points throughout the body – is the acupuncturist’s way of restoring Qi’s balance, therefore promoting better health and getting relief for the patient.
Needles are inserted half a millimeter away from nerves; there, they go to work. In addition to regulating those joy-making neurostransmitters in your brain, and decrease the markers of stress and lower blood pressure (which assists in overall anxiety treatment) they also do the following:
– Alleviate migraines or other headaches
– Decrease the severity of hot flashes in women going through menopause
– Alleviate seasonal allergy symptoms
– Treat acid reflux disease
– Soothe heartburn by regulating acid secretion and aiding digestion
– Boost the immune system
– Relieve lower back pain for up to six months
– Help obesity sufferers lose up to 10 lbs. over two weeks to four months
Overall, acupuncturists have been helping people feel more balanced for thousands of years. In the Western world, acupuncture has been growing in popularity because of the research that has been released that supports its efficacy and success rate, especially for anxiety and other mental illnesses.
A study at Georgetown University unveiled that acupuncture actually slows the body’s production of stress hormones, and that acupuncture has a protective effect against the body’s response to stress. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) reported that the evidence for the use of acupuncture to treat anxiety disorders is getting stronger. The University of York reported benefits from acupuncture lasting three months after the conclusion of treatment. Thanks to all of this clinical evidence, many more people are trusting acupuncture for anxiety treatment – and getting impressive, lasting results.
Exercise is also a great way to manage your stress and anxiety.
Are there risks or side effects to acupuncture for anxiety?
Antidepressant medications come with a list of potential side effects, and acupuncture too doesn’t come without risk. However, unlike some antidepressants which may make your anxiety worse, acupuncture will not.
The most common side effect of acupuncture is soreness at the needle site, immediately following the end of session. While most report feeling a pressure, some do feel the prick of the needle, although if inserted properly, should be mild. Bruising is another side effect, especially if you’re prone.
If you have any of the following conditions, see a doctor before visiting an acupuncturist:
– Bleeding disorders (or if you use anticoagulants)
– Immune disorders
– Metal allergies
– Skin disorders or infections
– Valvular heart disease
If you have a pacemaker, do not visit an acupuncturist who uses electric stimulation.
Is acupuncture for anxiety safe?
Acupuncture is considered a safe procedure. In 2001, the British Medical Journal gathered 34,000 treatment reports over one month and released that no serious problems were found. Another study revealed that only 671 minor issues were reported (including minor bleeding or pain at the needle site) in over 10,000 acupuncture treatments.
Acupuncture for anxiety is safe and trusted, but if you are suffering from moderate to severe depression, it’s best that you continue to see a medical or mental health professional before starting acupuncture. If you are currently in talk therapy and/or taking prescription medication to alleviate your symptoms of anxiety, it’s also beneficial that you seek the advice of your doctor before reducing or stopping your current treatment plan.
How often should you come in for acupuncture for anxiety treatments?
Because everyone’s symptoms and situations are different, your treatment plan won’t look like anyone else’s. It will depend on you and whether you require acute, transitional or maintenance care.
Acute here is for if you’ve suffered an injury recently, or if you’re having an acute flare-up of a condition you previously had that’s been in remission for a while. Acute care is generally more aggressive, meaning you should expect to come in once or twice a week for the first two weeks. While it’s common to feel relief in as few as one to two sessions, it doesn’t mean that all of your symptoms are guaranteed to go away this quickly.
Transitional care is when you’ve achieved comfort, but you find that your symptoms are coming back. That means you need to come in just before you start getting uncomfortable again.
Before long, you’ll find yourself in the maintenance phase. This is when you come in every eight weeks to three months to keep up your health and keep your symptoms at bay.
If you have questions about acupuncture for anxiety, visit www.hopetherapyandwellness.com and talk to one of our caring and knowledgeable staff members.
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Acupuncture Is the Natural Anxiety Remedy You Might Want to Try
When you’re stressed about everything from your workload to politics to why your jeans suddenly feel so tight, you’d think having a bunch of needles jammed into your skin would be the last thing to help you feel better. But acupuncture has anecdotal and scientific evidence backing up its powers.
For thousands of years, this Chinese practice has helped alleviate a host of physical and mental conditions, and modern medicine has warmed up to the idea that anxiety might be one of them. Here’s what we know (so far) about acupuncture to treat anxiety symptoms, and what you can expect if you try it.
RELATED: The Acupuncture Benefits You Should Know About Before Your First Session
How acupuncture for anxiety works
If you go for an acupuncture treatment, you’ll give a thorough medical history to your practitioner. Then, you’ll relax on a comfortable table, face up or down, while very fine needles—about the width of a hair—are carefully inserted under the surface of your skin. When done right, they shouldn’t hurt.
But the needles don’t just go in random places along your anatomy. They need to be inserted into very specific locations based on your physical or mental symptoms. Points for anxiety may include your breastbone, between your eyebrows, or the insides of your wrists.
The reason for these placements? According to Chinese medicine, energy, or “qi,” flows up and down pathways in the body. “Sometimes the energy is blocked, deficient, excessive, or unbalanced. This puts the body out of balance and in turn causes illness,” Elizabeth Trattner, a board-certified doctor of Chinese and integrative medicine who practices in Miami Beach, Florida, tells Health. “Acupuncture restores homeostasis and encourages healing.”
As a part of traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture uses a “whole system” approach to health. “We don’t separate the physical and mental aspects , as they’re both intimately tied together,” Trattner explains.
Here’s an example. Tell your acupuncturist you’re feeling anxious and also waking up sweaty in the middle of the night, and she won’t think you’re complaining about two totally different issues. You just described symptoms of one of the most common explanations for anxiety in Chinese medicine: “yin deficiency.”
If that sounds too far-out there for you, there is a more Western answer for how acupuncture can work its magic. “Acupuncture eases anxiety by regulating the nervous system, specifically by bringing the branches of the autonomic nervous system back into balance,” Ashley Flores, a licensed acupuncturist in Chicago who sees many women for anxiety, especially anxiety that has to do with fertility and pregnancy, tells Health.
When you’re anxious, your sympathetic nervous system—the one that controls your “fight or flight” system—takes over, Flores explains, whereas your parasympathetic (“rest and digest” system) is stifled. This explains why your heart hammers in your chest and you can feel short of breath as anxiety takes hold in you.
“Acupuncture treatment helps shift the body back into a relaxed state where the sympathetic system is more balanced and no longer dominating,” says Flores.
RELATED: How to Tell the Difference Between a Panic Attack and an Anxiety Attack
What the science says
Several studies done on both animals and humans show that “acupuncture needling has demonstrable physiological effects on and may modify the neural functioning believed to be implicated in…anxiety,” Rosa N. Schnyer, a clinical assistant professor of nursing at The University of Texas at Austin who researches acupuncture in the treatment of depression, tells Health.
And lest you think the placebo effect (“I believe it’ll work, therefore it will!”) is responsible, Schnyer says brain scans show that acupuncture normalizes the signals that reach your limbic system, which controls your body’s “fight or flight” response. Results from several clinical trials also show that acupuncture can be an effective way to manage anxiety, “but these findings are still preliminary and more research needs to be done,” says Schnyer.
Still, she estimates that 9 out of every 10 of her clients respond well to acupuncture. “Patients tell me all the time, ‘wow!’” acknowledges Schnyer. “As a practitioner, I see people transformed from being on edge to basically finding their Zen. It’s like completely resets the nervous system, and when that happens, a lot of other things begin to happen.”
RELATED: What is Panic Disorder—and How Do You Know if You Have It?
Should you treat your anxiety with acupuncture?
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (a division of the NIH), acupuncture is relatively risk-free, so long as you go to an accredited practitioner who uses sterile needles. (Single-use disposable needles are the industry standard.) And unlike some medications for anxiety—like antidepressants, which can take weeks to fully kick in—the effects of acupuncture are sometimes felt immediately.
“For some women, a treatment is all it takes,” says Trattner, “or a series of regular visits can get to the root cause of anxiety and help manage it.”
Flores says she often detects a swift change in her client’s breathing and pulse rate. “They might notice that their muscles feel looser, a headache goes away, or that their eyes start to water—all signs of the body shifting out of sympathetic dominance,” she explains.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed with anxiety, acupuncture may be worth a try. (Especially if your health insurance covers it; some plans do.) “What we’re doing here is resetting, just like you reset a computer,” says Schnyer. “Your body knows how to do this. All you have to do is get out of the way.”
RELATED: Do Essential Oils Work for Anxiety—and What Are the Best Ones?
Acupuncture For Anxiety: How Often Should You Be Going?
- Acupuncture is a proven method for easing anxiety
- Best results are reached with personalized treatments
- Multiple acupuncture appointments offer lasting results
Anxiety is one of the most common mental health issues in the United States. Rather than taking medication to cover-up symptoms, many have turned to acupuncture to reduce their symptoms and become more physically, emotionally and mentally healthy. Find relief from your anxiety with Stolman Acupuncture.
Acupuncture Treatments For Your Anxiety
Many have testified that they feel calmer and more at ease after regular acupuncture sessions. Using a variety of techniques, trained acupuncture professionals can battle the biological triggers that create anxiety. Acupuncture can relax your muscles, increase blood flow and restore balance to your body, leading to relief from feelings of anxiousness and unease.
RELATED: Natural Ways to Calm Your Anxiety at Home
Achieve Results With Personalized Anxiety Treatments
No two patients are alike. When seeking relief from your anxiety, be sure to look for treatments that are catered to your unique needs. A variety of acupuncture techniques can be used to alleviate your symptoms, including:
- Japanese Acupuncture
- Scalp Acupuncture, and more!
Schedule Multiple Appointments For Best Results
It is possible to feel better after one acupuncture session, but it is not recommended to stop then. Acupuncture can be highly effective against anxiety, however the best results require multiple treatments. Scheduling appointments over the course of several weeks can help you achieve lasting relief.
SEE: How to Avoid The Winter Blues With Acupuncture
Find Relief From Your Anxiety With Stolman Acupuncture
If you struggle with anxiety, Stolman Acupuncture is here to help. Dr. Sheldon Stolman offers convenient acupuncture services on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Schedule an appointment today, or contact us at (947) 222-4449 for more information.
Acupuncture for Anxiety
Animal and human studies suggest that the beneficial effects of acupuncture on health, including mental and emotional functioning, are related to different mechanisms of action, including changes in neurotransmitters involved in emotional regulation such as serotonin, modulation of the autonomic nervous system, and changes in immune function. Some researchers have argued that the placebo effect plays a significant role in clinical response to acupuncture; however, sham-controlled studies do not support this hypothesis.
Research findings support acupuncture as a treatment of anxiety.
Acupuncture and acupressure are widely used to treat anxiety in both Asia and Western countries. Extensive case reports from the Chinese medical literature suggest that different acupuncture protocols reduce the severity of generalized anxiety and panic attacks (Lake & Flaws 2001).
In a small double-blind sham-controlled study, 36 mildly depressed or anxious patients were randomized to either an acupuncture protocol traditionally used by Chinese medical practitioners to treat anxiety or to a sham acupuncture protocol (i.e. acupuncture points believed to have no beneficial effects). All patients received three treatments. Heart rate variability (HRV) and mean heart rate were measured at 5 and 15 minutes following treatment. Resting heart rate was significantly lower in the treatment group but not in the sham group, and changes in HRV measures suggested that acupuncture may have changed autonomic activity resulting in a reduction of overall anxiety. The significance of these findings is limited by the absence of measures of baseline anxiety before and after treatment.
In another double-blind study, 55 adults who had not been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder were randomized to either a sham acupuncture point or a bilateral auricular (involving points on the ears) acupuncture protocol called the “shenmen” point. That protocol is believed to be effective against anxiety. In all subjects, acupuncture needles remained in place for 48 hours. The “relaxation” group was significantly less anxious at 30 minutes, 24 hours, and 48 hours compared to the other two groups, however, there were no significant inter-group differences in blood pressure, heart rate, or electrodermal activity (Wang 2001).
Reviews report mainly positive findings.
An early narrative review of controlled studies, outcomes studies, and published case reports on acupuncture as a treatment of anxiety and depressed mood was published by the British Acupuncture Council. Sham-controlled studies yielded consistent improvements in anxiety using both regular (i.e. body) acupuncture and electro-acupuncture. The authors remarked that significant differences existed between protocols used in both regular and electro-acupuncture, suggesting that acupuncture may have general beneficial effects or possibly placebo effects. Although most controlled studies reviewed reported a general anxiety-reducing effect of acupuncture, the reviewers regarded these findings as inconclusive because of study design problems, including the absence of standardized symptom rating scales in most studies, limited follow-up, and poorly defined differences between protocols used in different studies.
A recently published systematic review (Amorim 2018) compared findings of studies on traditional (body) acupuncture, ear acupuncture (ariculotherapy), and electro-therapy in the treatment of anxiety. Some studies included in the review reported that acupuncture enhances response to prescription anti-anxiety medications and may also reduce medication side effects. The authors found good evidence that different styles of acupuncture reduce symptoms of anxiety in general, and recommended additional sham-controlled studies to help determine whether certain protocols are more beneficial than others.
For more information about complementary and alternative treatments of anxiety, read my e-book “Anxiety: The Integrative Mental Health Solution.”
Few mild adverse effects
Uncommon transient adverse effects associated with acupuncture include bruising, fatigue, and nausea. Very rare cases of pneumothorax (i.e. a potentially life-threatening condition caused when an acupuncture needle results in the collapse of a lung) have been reported.
Acupuncture for Stress and Anxiety
At one time or another, all of us experience stress. These feelings are a healthy response to events in our lives that may feel beyond our control. When we are healthy and the stress is short-lived, we are usually able to recover without too much wear and tear to our overall health. However, when the stress is extreme, or if it lasts a long time, our emotional health and ultimately, our physical health begin to suffer.
Our bodies 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 in and facilitates what is called the fight or flight response. Our heart rate increases, our pupils dilate, and our digestion temporarily shuts down, directing blood to our extremities, so that if need be, we can either fight what is threatening us, or turn and run if the threat is too formidable.
Unfortunately, the fight or flight response, which worked well in caveman days, does not serve us as well if the threat is a demanding boss, nasty co-worker or even a worrisome situation that is not being resolved. More often than not, the stress in our lives is long-term, and as a result, we find ourselves in a constant state of fight or flight, or stress. Over time, the constant state of stress takes its toll. Cortisol, the body™s stress hormone elevates, blood pressure increases, and our immune function is suppressed. Over time, these symptoms become worse and can develop into anxiety, depression, fatigue, digestive problems, and tension headaches.
Emotions from a Chinese Medical Perspective
In Chinese medicine, stress, anxiety, depression or any strong emotion interrupts the smooth flow of energy throughout the body. According to Chinese medical theory, energy flows through our body through a network of roads, almost like a highway system. Stress, anger, or any intense emotion acts like a traffic jam, blocking the free flow of energy in the body. For example, many people who are very stressed out complain of upper back, shoulder and neck pain. This is because stress is causing tension in those areas, blocking the free flow of energy, causing pain, tightness, and often leading to headaches.
In a highway system, when there is road construction or an accident, traffic may be also backed up on other secondary roads that feed into or out of the affected area. This is true in the body, too. Stress may affect many other parts of the body, most notably digestion, the ability to sleep, pain conditions, and blood pressure. Stress can also aggravate an already troublesome health condition.
Through acupuncture, theses energy blockages can be addressed. Acupuncture points serve as the on and off ramps to the energy highway, and can help energy flow smoothly, and 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.
About the Acupuncturist:
Lynn Jaffee, LAc, Dipl. OM, MaOM is a licensed acupuncturist. Her practice is located in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. Website: http://www.acupunctureinthepark.com
Naturopaths, Massage, Nutritionists, Acupuncturists & Osteopaths in Brisbane
Brisbane Acupuncture treatment for stress
If you’re going through a busy or high stress time where balance seems unachievable, acupuncture might be beneficial.
Sometimes, we can’t control the environment around us, so being exposed to stress is inevitable. However, we can work on creating a change within the body so you can better cope with that stress.
If you are suffering from symptoms such as stress, fatigue, poor sleep, worrying and anxious thoughts, or you’re just feeling overwhelmed with everyday life, an acupuncture treatment might be of benefit.
At Vibe Natural Health in Brisbane, our Acupuncturist Suzzanne Sunner knows that there are times where stress is unavoidable. She also understands the effects a stressful lifestyle can have on your body.
Her treatments are designed to relax your nervous system. Research suggests that acupuncture may reduce the fight or flight response and calm the nervous system, allowing you to react to life’s demands in a more balanced way.
A treatment with Suzzanne is tailored to your specific needs. She supports her stressed and overwhelmed patients using a combination of acupuncture, moxibustion, oriental massage, cupping, Chinese herbal medicine and Chinese dietary and lifestyle advice.
During your first appointment, Suzzanne will aim to provide you with some immediate symptomatic relief,. But she also focuses on addressing the factors contributing to your stress and overwhelm long-term. As such, lasting results are more likely to be achieved over three to six follow-up sessions.
The end goal is to balance your stress levels, leave you feeling more energised to face the day and able to create a healthier, more balanced life.
How does Acupuncture work to relieve stress?
Put simply, acupuncture relaxes the central nervous system, which can relax the muscles of the body and relieve the symptoms of mental stress.
In the classical acupuncture texts, which underpin Chinese medicine, stress, anxiety and depression are discussed as the signs and symptoms associated with mood disorders. Modern research is starting to uncover how acupuncture can relieve symptoms of stress.
When you’re busy, stressed or tired, hormones that control the nervous system can become unbalanced. This causes your body to become more sensitive to stress, leading to a cascade of hormonal and nervous system effects whenever you’re exposed to something stressful.
Acupuncture can help you achieve balance by influencing these hormones and relaxing the nervous system. Your acupuncturist will gently insert fine needles along the meridians or channels of the nervous system with the aim of inducing relaxation.
Note: Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine are generally considered to be safe when administered by a qualified practitioner. Occasionally, as with any form of health treatment, some individuals may experience an adverse reaction.
If you would like to discuss your treatment with Suzzanne before booking, please do not hesitate to call our friendly reception team on (07) 3366 7970 who would be happy to organise a time for Suzzanne to call you back.
Book your Acupuncture appointment for stress
If you’ve never tried acupuncture before, the whole concept can be hard to wrap your brain around. How, exactly, does sticking tiny needles into your body help promote healing, as so many of its devotees claim it does?
If you ask a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner to break it down, they’ll tell you that it all has to do with chi (also spelled qi)—an energy current that’s said to run through our bodies via energetic pathways referred to as meridians. TCM recognizes twenty meridians, 12 of which are linked to internal organs, and scholars have mapped out over 400 points on the body where these pathways can be manipulated.
This is where acupuncturists come in—if you have a health concern, they insert around a dozen thin needles into various meridian points, depending on your specific symptoms. The needles stay in place between 5 and 30 minutes, supposedly helping balance the flow of chi and making you feel better in the process.
While western medicine still hasn’t been able to definitively confirm how acupuncture works—chi and meridians are invisible, after all—it hasn’t stopped millions of Americans from turning to it as a complimentary therapy for pain, seasonal allergies, skin health, and more. The mainstream medical world, too, is recognizing its benefits, with more and more US hospitals adding it to their treatment protocols. But can it be helpful for whatever ails you, specifically?
Keep reading to find out whether acupuncture might work for you.
Photo: Getty Images/Ian Hooton/Science Photo Library
Is acupuncture an effective treatment for my health issue?
First off, it’s important to note that acupuncture isn’t a fad—it’s an ancient practice that originated in China around 100 BC, and then spread to Korea and Japan before finding its way west.
As such, the medical community’s had a lot of time to research it in depth. And a growing body of data indicates that it’s a promising treatment for a wide range of conditions, particularly those associated with pain. The most comprehensive study on the effects of acupuncture took place over six years and was completed in 2012. The study was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and published in Archives of Internal Medicine. Dr. Andrew J. Vickers, attending research methodologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, led the study and analyzed raw data from 25 international studies covering the results from 17,500 patients.
In the control groups studied, the results found that 30 percent of patients who suffered from chronic pain reported improvements from undergoing acupuncture treatments. This is considered solid evidence that acupuncture—either alone or combined with Western medical treatments—is helpful for alleviating pain, including migraines, arthritis, and other forms of chronic pain.
In the same study, it wasn’t proven or disproven in any meaningful way whether acupuncture is effective in treating other health conditions. But the World Health Organization lists several conditions for which acupuncture has been shown to have a positive impact. These include high and low blood pressure, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, painful periods, allergic rhinitis, and morning sickness, among many others. There’s also evidence that it can help improve libido, support fertility, reduce insomnia, balance the stress response, and more.
Clearly, all those little needles are doing something. And scientists are beginning to understand more about how they affect the body. “These days, acupuncture has achieved some legitimacy thanks to research linking it with the release of endorphins—which shows this modality can affect pain pathways in the brain and nervous system,” wrote Chinese medicine practitioner Jill Blakeway, DACM, in an article for Well+Good. “Neuroimaging studies demonstrate that acupuncture also calms areas of the brain that register physical discomfort and activates those involved in rest and recuperation. That’s not all: Doppler ultrasound shows that acupuncture increases blood flow in treated areas, and thermal imaging proves that it can make inflammation subside.”
But, again, the hows and whys aren’t yet totally clear. While many believers think acupuncture really does balance vital chi energy, others claim it’s the placebo effect at work, although that doesn’t make it any less effective. (You know, the phenomenon whereby someone takes a fake drug believing it’ll work—and their symptoms actually subside.)
Photo: Getty Images/Hero Images
What do you need to know before having acupuncture?
According to Medical News Today, there really aren’t any risks to trying acupuncture if you think it might help you—performed correctly, it can be safely combined with other treatments and has very few side effects. (The most common ones are soreness and minor bleeding or bruising where the needles were inserted.) Given that it can help control some types of pain, it may help patients who can’t (or don’t want to) take pain medications.
More serious side effects can occur if the practitioner isn’t properly trained, which is why Mayo Clinic suggests asking for recommendations and checking your practitioner’s credentials. To find a licensed practitioner, visit the website for the National Certification Commission in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). Most states require practitioners to be licensed by this board.
Before your treatment, Mayo Clinic also recommends interviewing the practitioner. Ask what’s involved in the treatment, how likely it is to help your condition, and how much it will cost. According to Costhelper Health, an acupuncture session and medical consultation should cost from $75 to $95, and a routine visit should cost between $50 and $70. (Your insurance may cover acupuncture—check with your provider to find out.) Expect to have several sessions, since experts say it often takes months before you start to see results.
And no, the needles don’t hurt—at least, not according to this Well+Good editor who tried acupuncture and reported back on what to expect from your first visit. In her case, she felt some anxiety relief after one session. But ultimately, the only way to know whether it’ll work for you is to give it a try.
Scared of needles? You could also experiment with essential oils or tai chi for minor aches and pains.
You Asked: Does Acupuncture Work?
You hear the term “acupuncture,” and visions of needles may dance in your head. But the 3 million Americans (and counting) who have tried it know there’s a lot more to the treatment than pokes and pricks.
A typical visit to an acupuncturist might begin with an examination of your tongue, the taking of your pulse at several points on each wrist and a probing of your abdomen. “They didn’t have MRIs or X-rays 2,500 years ago, so they had to use other means to assess what’s going on with you internally,” says Stephanie Tyiska, a Philadelphia-based acupuncture practitioner and instructor.
These diagnostic procedures inform the placement of the needles, Tyiska says. But a visit to an acupuncturist could also include a thoughtful discussion of your diet and personal habits, recommendations to avoid certain foods or to take herbal supplements and an array of additional in-office treatments—like skin brushing or a kind of skin suctioning known as “cupping”—that together fall under the wide umbrella of traditional Chinese medicine.
But does it work? Figuring out whether each one of these practices may be therapeutically viable is a challenge, and determining how all of them may work in concert is pretty much impossible. Combine them with acupuncturists’ frequent references to “qi,” or energy flow, and it’s easy for a lot of people to dismiss the practice as bunk.
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Not so fast, though. A recent meta-analysis, which examines existing research on a topic, compared acupuncture treatment to standard medical treatment (the kind involving a doctor’s exam and drugs) for musculoskeletal pain, chronic headaches, and osteoarthritis. It also compared real acupuncture to “sham” acupuncture, a procedure where needles are inserted at random to make patients believe they were receiving acupuncture when they were not. “There are many poorly designed acupuncture studies out there, so we tried to include only the best trials,” says Andrew Vickers, a biostatistician at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center who coauthored the meta-analysis.
When comparing legit acupuncture to standard care, there was a statistically significant benefit to acupuncture, Vickers says. “We saw a measurable effect there,” he explains. “If acupuncture were a drug, we’d say the drug works.”
When Vickers and his team compared legitimate acupuncture to sham acupuncture, that benefit persisted, but shrank. There are a lot of ways to interpret this, Vickers says. “It could be acupuncture has a large placebo effect, or it could be that pressure points”—the precise locations at which needles are inserted—“are less important than acupuncturists claim,” he explains.
Many people equate placebo effects with scams. “The term placebo has always had this very negative connotation,” says Vitaly Napadow, director of the Center for Integrative Pain Neuroimaging at Harvard Medical School. But Napadow says our poor opinion of placebo needs revising. The human body has built-in systems for stoking or calming pain and other subjective sensations. “If a placebo can target and modulate these endogenous systems, that’s a good and a real thing,” he says.
But acupuncture may have effects even more profound than placebo. Napadow has conducted dozens of brain imaging studies on acupuncture in an effort to determine just how the treatment may or may not calm pain or related conditions like headache or arthritis. He says there are lots of ways acupuncture might work, and the specific mechanism may depend on the type of condition you’re trying to treat.
One possibility is that being jabbed with a needle induces a tiny injury, causing your immune system to respond by sending inflammatory proteins and other infection-fighting, would-healing chemicals to the source of that injury. “There’s the idea that by inducing many of these very small injuries, you’re ramping up the immune system so that it can deal with bigger problems,” Napadow says.
It’s also possible that the increased flow of blood and immune system chemicals to the poke site could help clear away accumulated cellular byproducts that may trigger or worsen a condition like plantar fasciitis or tendonitis, he says. “Or the needles might activate nerve receptors in the skin, which then pass info up into your spinal cord and brain,” he says. “That information might trigger a change in brain physiology, like the release of endorphins or those sorts of neurotransmitters that could lessen the sensation of pain associated with something like fibromyalgia.”
His research has borne out some of these potential mechanisms. One of his studies showed that after traditional acupuncture, opioid receptors were more available, or receptive, to the body’s natural pain-quelling chemicals. There was no such change after sham acupuncture.
It basically means opioid receptors were more available or receptive to the types of body hormones and chemicals that help quell pain.
Napadow says that more research has looked into the effect of expectancy on acupuncture outcomes—or whether people who believe the treatment will work experience more benefit than those who don’t. The evidence suggests that expectancy doesn’t improve acupuncture’s effectiveness. “Often it’s the guy who says his wife made him try it who has the greatest benefit,” he says.
Couple these promising findings with the fact that acupuncture is a low-cost treatment option with very few side effects, and Napadow says it makes sense to consider it a helpful partner to Western medicine—especially when it comes to chronic pain-related ailments for which Western medicine often relies on painkillers. “It won’t cure cancer,” he says. “But it could be effective for managing side effects of radiation or chemotherapy—things like pain or neuropathy or nausea.”
Tyiska, the Philadelphia-based acupuncturist, makes a similar argument. “I don’t tell people to stop seeing their doctors,” she says. “But if you’re being prescribed opioids, or you’re considering surgery, you lose very little by trying acupuncture first.”
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Acupuncture. Does it really work?
Acupuncture (AP) has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for thousands of years for pain and other conditions. It is now popular in western society, but is it effective?
What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture involves stimulating specific points on the body (acupoints) with thin metal needles or low dose laser. According to TCM, pain and illness occur when the flow of qi (vital energy) along pathways (meridians) is blocked. AP is thought to unblock this flow of energy.
Modern scientists have now worked out many of the nerve pathways that acupuncture stimulates to bring about its effects on the body. The placebo effect may also play an important role in some cases.
Does acupuncture work?
There have been numerous studies on acupuncture in recent years. For some conditions, more research is needed before definite conclusions can be made. However, there is good evidence for the following disorders:
- Pain. Particularly chronic low back pain, acute and chronic neck pain and knee pain.
- Several types of headache, including migraine.
- Nausea and vomiting, for example from pregnancy, chemotherapy and surgery.
- Infertility. AP can increase the success of IVF.
Is it safe?
Acupuncture by an experienced medical practitioner is generally very safe. Serious side effects are rare and include the puncture of an organ (e.g. lung or kidney) or nerve.
Be sure to select a practitioner who is properly qualified (completed a 4–5 year degree) and is registered with a professional association.
Make sure single-use, disposable needles are used. Unclean needles can cause infections or transmit infectious diseases such as hepatitis B.
Do not rely on a diagnosis by a practitioner who does not have substantial medical training. See your GP for an assessment first.
- Please note this information was correct at time of publication.
- For up to date information, speak to your doctor.
Feeling Stressed or Anxious? Try Acupuncture. Our downtown Seattle team of acupuncturists
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