According to the American Institute of Stress, between 75 and 90 percent of visits to primary care physicians are for stress-related ailments and conditions, such as headaches, back and neck pain, fatigue, insomnia, digestive problems, depression, and chronic pain syndromes.
All of these stress-related conditions can be effectively treated with traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) modalities, such as acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, Tui Na, Tai Chi, and Qigong.
Biochemical reactions in the human body occur in response to stress; chemicals released into the bloodstream produce physical changes, such as higher blood pressure, muscle tension, rapid heartbeat, and increased breathing rate. This is the "fight-or-flight" response, when the sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system is activated.
If the stress is prolonged, this healthy response can result in development of adverse health conditions and stress-related symptoms, such as exhaustion, panic attacks, mental and emotional strain, dyspnea (increased breathing rate), and palpitations. Prolonged stress can lead to heart disease, stroke, hair loss, high blood pressure, auto-immune diseases, myocardial infarction, chronic fatigue syndrome, and fibromyalgia.
Acupuncture reduces stress in several ways: By promoting deeper and more relaxed breathing, reducing bodily pain, strengthening digestive abilities, improving sleeping patterns, and enhancing a sense of well being.
From the TCM perspective, stress affects the flow of blood and chi, or vital energy, within the body, which causes energy stagnation and ill health. Acupuncture facilitates oxygen, blood and chi flow to muscles and nerve channels and balances the nervous system.
Acupuncture relieves symptoms of stress while treating the root cause of the condition or ailment. Chest constriction, poor concentration, moodiness, irregular menstrual cycle, PMS, and irritability are some of the stress-related symptoms acupuncture treats.
By lowering blood pressure and heart rate, acupuncture decreases the sympathetic nerve activity which occurs during stress. Acupuncture also produces a state of relaxation by increasing endorphin and serotonin levels (natural pain-killing chemicals) within the brain. Often, individuals experiencing stress feel more energetic after their first acupuncture treatment and have a marked reduction in stress after six to ten treatments.
In addition to acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine can aid in managing the symptoms of stress within the body. Herbal formulas are tailored to individual constitution, and can decrease occurrence of digestive complaints, muscle tension, headaches, fatigue, anxiety, and many other stress-related symptoms.
If you are experiencing stress on a regular basis, you may benefit from acupuncture’s stress-reducing and rejuvenating effects. The severity of symptoms and the effects stress has had on your health determine how quickly your condition will be resolved. Once you come for a few visits, your acupuncture physician will assess your progress and structure an appropriate treatment plan.
For more information about TCM and acupuncture for stress call Dr. Richard Browne, Acupuncture Physician, at (305) 595-9500.