Acupuncture is a safe and gentle method of treating stress. There are lots of serious medical conditions that are caused by prolonged stress or stress-related ailments. Because of this, it’s extremely important that folks manage their stress as best they can. Acupuncture is one of the most effective ways of doing that.
Acupuncture has very few side effects. When done correctly, it provides instant and long-lasting stress relief. An acupuncturist uses several pressure points in the hands, ears, and feet to alleviate stress and related ailments. Other conditions that can be treated using acupuncture include excessive thoughts, headaches, anxiety, upset stomach, sleep disorders, pain, and smoking cessation. Temporary stress and anxiety are normal. The problem is when you end up with chronic stress. Chronic stress will eat away at your health, which is why it’s a dangerous health problem.
What Is Acupuncture?
Before diving into how acupuncture helps with stress, it’s important to ensure that you understand what acupuncture is all about and how it works. This practice has been used for thousands of years. It started in Chinese medicine, but it has spread and gained widespread acceptance worldwide. A lot of Western health professionals are now offering acupuncture and learning more about the health benefits it provides.
Organizations like WHO have recognized the use of acupuncture to enhance wellness, relieve stress, and improve performance. It is also listed on various credible websites as an effective way to treat chronic pain. In the 2008 Olympics, acupuncture was used to help overcome pain-related issues. It was also used to prevent injuries. This shows how this practice is now accepted as an alternative to conventional methods of dealing with pain. Unlike mainstream medications that can lead to several side effects, acupuncture has not been shown to compromise health.
Traditional Chinese acupuncture is performed by inserting very fine needles into the skin. The insertion of these needles is not random. Acupuncturists use specific acupoints. The traditional way of performing acupuncture also involved a bit of turning and twirling the needles slightly. In some instances, the practitioners also apply some heat and electrical stimulation. This enhances the effects of acupuncture. Some also believe in the burning of therapeutic herbs near the skin to enhance acupuncture benefits for stress. This practice is known as moxibustion.
Acupuncture and How it Changes the Body’s Neuro and Biochemistry
Many studies indicate how acupuncture has many benefits for both the mind and body. Generally, people spend a lot of time racing to work and chasing daily tasks like taking kids to school. These daily processes use the sympathetic nervous system responsible for fight or flight. Acupuncture, on the other hand, helps the body relax and switch to the parasympathetic, which is responsible for resting.
The important shift from the sympathetic to the parasympathetic nervous system changes the body’s neurochemistry and is responsible for the many acupuncture benefits for stress. This leads to the release of happy hormones like epinephrine and serotonin. It also leads to a decrease in cortisol, the main stress hormone. Apart from increasing serotonin, it was also shown that acupuncture could help treat depression and decrease suicidal ideation. This is linked to the release of various hormones and amino acids.
Acupuncture, Endorphins, and Stress
Depression, stress, and anxiety interrupt the flow of energy through the body. According to Chinese medicine, there is a highway system in the body that facilitates the flow of energy. This highway system is also referred to as the meridian pathway. Stress blocks this system and acts as a traffic jam. Unfortunately, the roadblock caused by stress affects other areas too. For instance, stress can lead to a variety of issues that include indigestion, high blood pressure, pain, and sleeping difficulties. The purpose of acupuncture is to address the blockages caused by stress. This mechanism is responsible for the acupuncture benefits for stress.
Once the blockages have been addressed, energy can start flowing freely in the body. This helps to alleviate stress and anxiety completely. Acupuncture is generally known to leave patients feeling relaxed. This makes it suitable for treating depression, chronic stress, and other mental health issues. When it comes to biology, this practice works mainly by triggering the release of endorphins. Endorphins are natural pain-killing chemicals that are released from the brain. These molecules also help the circulation of blood and lymphatic fluids. When circulation improves in the body as a result of acupuncture, the blood that is delivered to the tissues will be able to supply more oxygen and nutrients needed for proper function. This process also encourages the elimination of wastes from the body.
The calming nature of acupuncture also plays a significant role in the acupuncture benefits for stress. You will find that the experience of acupuncture is very relaxing. Once the acupuncturist has placed all the needles in the affected areas, you can lie quietly on the table with soft music and low lighting in the background. This type of environment and treatment helps decrease your heart rate, lower your blood pressure, and relaxes your muscles as well.
Chronic Pain and Acupuncture
For a long time, acupuncture has been used to treat chronic pain. This practice has been used to deal with several types of pain successfully. Scientists found that acupuncture was better than not treating at all for addressing several chronic pain conditions, including shoulder pain treatments, chronic headaches, back and neck pain, and degenerative joint disease. According to the National Institutes of Health, there is rigorous evidence to date that acupuncture is helpful in the treatment of chronic pain conditions.
Because of the increasing evidence that acupuncture helps treat chronic pain, doctors are eager to try a drug-free approach to pain treatment. The main driving factor behind this search is the danger presented by the use of opioids. This is a class of powerful medications that are used to treat pain. These medications in this class are codeine, OxyContin, morphine, Percocet, and Vicodin. There has been a rise in deaths related to overdoses of these drugs, which makes acupuncture even more interesting as an alternative.
At a time when the CDC is encouraging doctors to try new methods of treating pain, the light is shining on acupuncture benefits for stress and pain. Traditional Chinese acupuncture may relieve pain by triggering the release of endorphins. These are the body’s natural painkillers. Endorphins affect the area of the brain that regulates serotonin, the brain chemical associated with mood.
Acupuncture for Weight Loss
Aacupuncturists believe that the practice can stimulate the flow of energy in the body to impact various factors that can reverse obesity, making it a form of medical weight loss. The treatments are thought to increase metabolism, reduce appetite, and lower stress. They are also thought to impact the area of the brain that deals with hunger. According to acupuncture theories, excessive weight gain is caused by an imbalance in the body. This imbalance can be caused by a malfunctioning spleen, liver, thyroid gland, or kidney. The endocrine system is also thought to play a part. As such, acupuncture treatments for weight loss are targeted at these body areas.
One of the areas that practitioners target for weight loss is the ear. It’s believed that food cravings can be curbed by manipulating specific ear points. This treatment is similar to what is used to help smokers, and drug users end their habits. There is no universally agreed-upon treatment period when it comes to acupuncture for weight loss. Different practitioners recommend different lengths and levels of treatment. The length of treatment also depends on the amount of weight that you want to lose. For instance, if the goal is to lose 10 to 15 pounds, you can get several weekly treatments for six to eight weeks. This is a very common program.
When the program starts, you will be going for more frequent visits. However, the frequency decreases, and the number of visits begins to taper off towards the end of the treatment period. Again, how many visits you have per week is dependent on your acupuncturist’s recommendation. One of the things you need while receiving acupuncture for weight loss is a positive attitude. If you believe the treatments are beneficial, that positive attitude can contribute greatly to weight loss.
For instance, if you have been noticing an improvement in quality of life since you started acupuncture, you may be motivated by those feelings to exercise and make better food choices. Those choices can also contribute to your weight loss.
One thing to note when it comes to the results of acupuncture is that they are heavily dependent on the individual being treated. Other factors contributing to the differences in results are the technique used, number of sessions, number of acupoints, use of placebo, and sham intervention. Your personal beliefs also play a huge role when it comes to whether you will get good results or not. It’s essential to have good expectations and to have a good relationship with the practitioner.
Acupuncture for Headaches
Some acupuncturists use acupuncture to treat headaches. This works almost the same as acupuncture for stress and other related ailments. Acupuncture treats headaches by restoring the flow of positive energy throughout the body. The practitioners also claim that the practice eliminates negative energy that causes pain. From a medical perspective, acupuncture needles stimulate the different systems in your body in a way that triggers a healing response.
Acupuncture splits your body into several zones and pressure points. Depending on your symptoms, the acupuncturist will insert needles into specific points. These points, also known as acupoints, are usually near a nerve or group of nerves in your body. The insertion of the needle triggers the release of hormones like endorphins. It is these hormones that then trigger specific responses. Your immune and circulation systems will respond when your body releases hormones following acupuncture for headaches. This is what proponents of acupuncture claim helps with tension headaches and migraine relief.
How to Find an Acupuncturist for Pain and Stress Relief
There are several ways to find an acupuncturist. Like any other service, if you are stressed, experiencing pain, or any other related ailment, and you are thinking of trying out acupuncture, you can start by finding someone who has had a positive experience with the treatment. You can then ask that person for a referral, or they can even introduce you to their acupuncturist. This is usually the best way to find a good acupuncturist.
The most important thing when looking for an acupuncturist is to find someone licensed. You can spot licensed individuals by checking for LAc after their name. These practitioners must receive training and a certificate from the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. One can also complete a program offered by the NCCAOM that teaches the foundations of Oriental medicine, biomedicine, and acupuncture. It’s important to note that these certifications differ by state. As such, you may want to check your state’s requirements to find the right person. Always check credentials even when looking for certified acupuncturists in your area.
How Much Does Acupuncture Cost?
Going to an acupuncturist is no different from going to a hearing clinic or a sinus specialist. The only difference is that acupuncture is not that costly. Most acupuncturists use the same primary care billing system as a primary care clinic. The cost of an acupuncture session generally depends on where you live. Some centers charge as much as $124 for a session. According to Thumbtack, the average cost of an acupuncture session is around $85. This is probably cheaper than visiting a family dentist or physical therapists.
Acupuncture has been around for a very long time. Over time, the evidence that this therapy works to treat stress and related conditions keeps increasing. If you are interested in trying out acupuncture, all you have to do is to find a reliable practitioner and ask as many questions as possible.