Sarah Folwell is a Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner and Remedial Massage Therapist. One of the many services Sarah offers is Acupuncture. We asked Sarah to explain how Acupuncture can help with stress and anxiety. Take it away Sarah….
From the recent drought to bushfires and now the pandemic, it is understandable that we all may be feeling the stress and anxiety that has built up in our community and the world around us.
Whether you are intimately affected by these global events or if you have more personal issues, stress and anxiety can impact you (and your whole family) negatively.
What is stress/anxiety?
Symptoms you may be feeling can be physical or psychological.
Physical symptoms such as shortness of breath, variations in heart rate/palpitations, headaches, or digestive symptoms can be scary and uncomfortable. Psychological manifestations may include insomnia, persisting feelings of stress and distressing/worried thoughts which may interfere with normal life.
Many people can experience stress-induced anxiety that can lead to an interruption in quality of life.
If this sounds like you or someone you know, Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs may help.
Traditional Chinese medical theory sees illness as an imbalance within the body, and Traditional Chinese Medicine (Acupuncture, Herbal medicine, etc) aims to achieve health by restoring balance within the body.
How does it work?
Acupuncture has been found to have an effect on both our sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. For example, improving the body’s ability to cope with stress by improving heart rate variability.
The release of neurochemicals is also a key mechanism in our body’s response to stress. When the body is under stress, an area of the brain called the hypothalamus releases neurochemicals, and research shows that Acupuncture can calm this response.
Acupuncture has also been shown to increase the release of endorphins the body’s ‘feel-good’ chemicals, which play an important role in the regulation of physical and emotional stress responses such as pain, heart rate, blood pressure and digestive function.
All of these Acupuncture mechanisms have a direct effect on reducing anxiety.
According to recent evidence, Acupuncture is an effective treatment for anxiety. The Acupuncture Evidence Project (McDonald and Janz 2017) provided an up-to-date comparative review of clinical and scientific evidence for Acupuncture.
“This comprehensive document, updating two previous reviews, determined that it is moderately effective in treating anxiety according to high-level evidence. Their evidence included a 2016 systematic review with over 400 randomised patients that concluded that the effects from acupuncture for treating anxiety have been shown to be significant as compared to conventional treatments. The largest of these studies, which included 120 randomized patients, found that acupuncture had a large effect on reducing anxiety and depression compared to conventional treatment involving pharmacological approaches and psychotherapy, with over twice the reduction in symptoms.” (Kylee Junghans MPH).
Other research has also shown that Acupuncture can aid in the management of stress and anxiety symptoms. A systematic review (Amorim et al. 2018) found there is evidence to support Acupuncture (including electro-acupuncture) aids in the relief of anxiety symptoms, and that it has had fewer side effects than conventional treatment. Auriculo (ear) Acupuncture was also found to be able to reduce stress and anxiety-related symptoms in health care professionals who were experiencing work-related stress.
Is it for you?
A typical session goes for 60mins. After completing an initial form, you will have a quick chat during which Sarah will perform a Chinese Medicine diagnosis including looking at your tongue and taking your pulse. You will lie in a comfortable position on the treatment table, accompanied by soft music and dim lighting.
The fine single-use disposable acupuncture needles are inserted with minimal to no pain, and then the needles will be retained for 20-40mins. Feelings of heaviness or drowsiness are common. Herbs, as well as diet and lifestyle advice, may also be discussed during this time.
If you are feeling stressed or anxious, why not give Acupuncture a go?
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By Sarah Folwell