Acupuncture and Stress Reduction

Acupuncture and Stress Reduction

Our modern society has become a stressful environment different in many from our ancestors. Today we are bombarded with the technological world. Instant everything at our fingertips, times of silence and contemplation are scarce. If you don’t answer you phone right away, people wonder where you are. Gone is the time to go for a walk without your phone in your hand at the ready. This is one of many things that cause stress in our lives.

What has all this done to us as human beings? I believe without a doubt it has affected our nervous systems. More and more people are relying on Western pharmacological drugs to help them cope with this modern environment.

Researchers from Georgetown University Medical Center implemented a study on rats and found that acupuncture has a similar mode of action to psychiatric drugs. This research study along with several other studies demonstrates how acupuncture works in the body to reduce stress , pain and potentially alleviate depression.

Reducing Stress with Acupuncture

The research team applied electro-acupuncture to a famous acupuncture point St36. They found it directly affect hypothalamus pituitary adrenal axis (HPA). This is the chronic stress pathway associated with chronic pain, immunity, mood and emotions.

What is exciting about this research is that now what the Chinese developed thousands of years ago can be measured and qualified, therefore becoming more accepted in mainstream medical practices. My favorite Acupuncture Reference book, A Manual of Acupuncture by Peter Deadman devotes 4 pages to this one important acupuncture point! He points out that it was included by Ma Dan-Yang, a master physician in the Jin dynasty (1115-1234), as among the ‘eleven heavenly star points’ and another master Qin Cheng-zu of the Song dynasty made a heroic remark that, ‘ all diseases can be treated’ by this one acupuncture point

This controlled study had four arms:

  1. A group of rats getting acupuncture- via electro-acupuncture.
  2. A group receiving sham acupuncture
  3. A group with no acupuncture
  4. And a control group getting neither the stress or acupuncture.

The rats were exposed to chronic painful cold. Minutes after the exposure they were given acupuncture at St36 and it proven to be effective in preventing the elevation of stress hormones.
The main researcher of this study quotes, “This is the first report linking the effects of electro-acupuncture at ST36 to chronic stress-induced depressive and anxious behavior in animals.”