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Acupuncture as a Natural Stress Treatment

How to relieve stress with acupuncture

In the hustle and bustle of modern life, many of us constantly feel like we are at our wit’s end, beaten down with stress and exhaustion. Often, we only realise how severe our stress has gotten when it begins to create other issues, such as poor mental health, insomnia or unhealthy coping mechanisms such as binge eating or drinking.

Stress damages health

In the long term, chronic stress can contribute to heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity and sexual dysfunction, meaning it’s important to treat the issue early on. If you have been experiencing headaches, anxiety, fatigue, tightness in the chest, loss of appetite or just generally feel high-strung, there is a chance you could be under a great amount of stress. Due to its pervasive yet subtle nature, stress can’t be targeted with a magic pill or treatment: instead, a holistic and natural approach is required to truly resolve the issue and your unique presenting symptoms.

Stress can seriously damage health
Stress can start as a simple tension and if unattended develop into a serious health problem
that can affect many bodily functions and cause a serious damage to your health.

Acupuncture is traditional Chinese medicine

Those looking for a natural way to ease their stress should consider acupuncture, a traditional Chinese treatment that has stood the test of time. In traditional Chinese medicine, stress is not thought of as a singular issue, but an external factor that influences your entire body. When stress strikes, your body switches to the flight-or-flight mode, elevating your heart rate and putting you on high alert. This also means your body slows down its “non-essential” functions, such as the digestive, reproductive and cardiovascular systems.

When seen through the lens of traditional Chinese medicine, it becomes easy to understand how stress affects the functioning of various parts of your body, from your mind to your muscles. In traditional Chinese medicine, stress is thought to be able to affect your spleen and heart, causing sleep and digestive issues. When stress acts on your liver, it can cause issues with your emotions and menstrual cycle, while stressed muscles result in a fatigued body. Stress can also affect your gut health, thought to be the control centre of the body in traditional Chinese medicine, which causes the body to divert its attention from proper digestion to stress responses such as elevated heart rate and sweating, creating blockages within the bowels.

Acupuncture promotes Qi flow

Acupuncture works to treat stress by aiding in relaxation and promoting the flow of Qi, or energy (also known as Chi), throughout the body. This clears any blockages that have been polluting your body, rebalances the body and allows it to heal itself. Depending on your exact symptoms, different meridians will be stimulated, targeting whichever one of your organs is responsible for your presenting symptoms. Acupuncture can also block elevations in stress hormones, helping you ease the overall feeling of “being on edge”. In fact, acupuncture can be thought of as the equivalent of physical therapy for the nervous system, allowing it to function the way it should.

Acupuncture needles treatment
Acupuncture treatments involve inserting thin needles in specific points on the body,
that will promote the Chi (Qi) energy flow, this providing a healthy balance.

Highly effective in treating stress

While some may be sceptical of the effectiveness of acupuncture, the ancient practice has actually been shown to be highly effective in treating stress and its associated symptoms, as well as preventing stress from occurring in the first place. A 2013 article in the Journal of Endocrinology found that “electric acupuncture blocks the chronic, stress-induced elevations of the HPA axis hormones and the sympathetic NPY pathway,” demonstrating the treatment’s ability to block the body’s stress response. You will likely feel relaxed after your first acupuncture session, with a maintenance program helping you to treat your presenting symptoms as well as prevent stress from wreaking havoc on your body in the future.

A holistic and knowledgeable acupuncturist will also work with you to establish other healing and coping mechanisms you can use to keep your stress at bay. After all, stress cannot be cured with just one treatment, due to how intangible yet pervasive it is. Some coping mechanics to raise your endorphins and control your stress include meditation, yoga, exercise or simply taking some time out to pamper yourself every now and then. By regularly engaging in an activity you enjoy, you give yourself an outlet for your stress, preventing it from bottling up and causing Qi blockages. Overall mental health and stress management can also be aided by following the basic health tenets that include healthy eating, quality sleep, regular exercise and avoiding stressful situations and people.

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