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Acupuncture can relieve stress and reduce weight

Acupuncture can relieve stress and reduce weight

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese therapy that has been used to treat various symptoms and diseases for centuries. Extensive studies conducted worldwide have shown that acupuncture can significantly improve stress symptoms.

From the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), acupuncture relieves stress by promoting the movement of Qi in the body.

According to Chinese medicine, energy that normally flows smoothly throughout the body can get stuck or dispersed due to stress or disease. This can lead to:

  • Muscle tension
  • Headache
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Upset

Qi will also become lacking.

Ali Vander Baan, a certified acupuncturist and founder of Yintuition Wellness in Boston, said that improving the flow of Qi can bring relief.

“When acupuncture points are applied to the stagnant qi or the meridian is blocked, it can be used to ventilate the collaterals, resolve the symptoms, relax and relax, when our body feels it should feel it.” Need,” Vander Baan said.

This may be because acupuncture can release hormones such as endorphins.

“From a physiological point of view, the stimulation of acupuncture points will promote the release of ‘happy hormones’, such as endorphins and other natural chemicals, which signal to the body that it is safe and reliable, and can relax and shut down. Stress response,” Van der Baan said.

Physical and mental benefits

Acupuncture has been proven to be good for both body and mind.

Dr. Shari Auth of DACM, co-founder of WTHN, a New York City acupuncture studio, explained how this works.

“We spend a lot of time to go to work or send children to school, all of which use our fight or flight nervous system or sympathetic nervous system. Acupuncture helps us relax and transfer to our parasympathetic or resting and digestive nervous system,” Auth Say.

Like Vander Baan, Auth points out that this process increases hormones related to positive emotions.

“This important shift changes our neurochemistry, increases our ‘happy’ hormones such as serotonin and adrenaline, and reduces our main ‘stress’ hormone cortisol,” Auth said.

In addition to increasing serotonin, a review of animal and human studies in 2016 indicated that acupuncture may help treat depression. A 2019 case study in a person who was diagnosed with depression showed that acupuncture may even be related to a decrease in suicidal ideation.

Auth says that due to the release of gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), a relaxing amino acid, you may feel happier and relaxed at the end of your next acupuncture session.

Together with GABA, acupuncture can also promote the release of the following substances:

  • Serotonin
  • Adrenaline
  • Dopamine

Research that assesses the impact of acupuncture on stress tends to focus on specific objective stress parameters. These include:

  • Blood pressure
  • Heart rate
  • Cortisol level

According to Vander Baan, the study also emphasized subjective patient experience.

“Research shows that acupuncture can reduce the activation of stress response and various stress indicators in the body, and improve the patient’s experience of stress and anxiety,” she said.

Gabriel Sher is the chief acupuncturist at ORA in New York City.

“Acupuncture can relax the system and reduce the impact of stress in our daily lives,” Sher said. “Acupuncture is an important tool for physical and mental health. At ORA, we have created a safe and peaceful environment in which you can decompress and rejuvenate.”

There are quite a few studies on the effectiveness of acupuncture on stress.

An earlier study of patients with advanced heart failure in 2002 found that acupuncture can help reduce stress.

The study shows that acupuncture can help inhibit the activation of the sympathetic nervous system in patients with heart failure under stress. In other words, acupuncture may help prevent the activation of the stress response.

A randomized controlled clinical trial published in 2017 tested the effects of traditional acupuncture and sham acupuncture used as a control.

Participants are people who study or work on campuses of large urban universities. Both the traditional acupuncture group and the sham acupuncture group had a significant decrease in their perceived pressure scores in the first few weeks.

After 12 weeks of treatment, the therapeutic effect of the traditional acupuncture group was significantly better than that of the sham acupuncture group. The study also shows that after the treatment is completed, the effect can last for at least 3 months.

In a 2018 study of 75 women with fibromyalgia, real acupuncture showed improvement for a longer time than fake acupuncture.

Common acupuncture points for stress relief

There is no one-size-fits-all method for treating stress with acupuncture.

“Although some acupuncture points can continuously improve pressure, acupuncture treatment is always tailored to the patient and his specific physique and symptoms,” said Vander Baan. “Because stress has a systemic effect on the body, we want to treat the whole person and consider the imbalance of that particular person.”

Having said that, Vander Baan often uses specific acupuncture points to relieve pressure on patients. These include:

  • PC6 (pericardium 6) on the inside of the wrist
  • HT7 (Heart 7) on the inside of the wrist
  • The gloomy hall between the eyebrows
  • Ear points, known to regulate the nervous system

In his practice, Sher uses DU-20 on the top of his head to treat his acupuncture stress.

“DU-20 can make you clear your mind, make you feel focused and living in the moment, and it can also help relieve depression and sadness,” he said.

Like Vander Baan, Sher also uses acupoint yin decoction to treat stress.

“Drinking soup can calm the mind, eliminate emotional restlessness and anxiety-it can also promote deep relaxation and treat insomnia,” Schell said.

Ren-17 is located in the middle of the chest and is another point used by Sher to relieve stress during acupuncture practice.

“This is especially [helpful] for people who tend to feel the effects of chest pressure or anxiety, such as shortness of breath, nervousness, or palpitations,” Sher said. “Ren-17 relaxes and opens the chest and releases the diaphragm.”

How often should you receive acupuncture to relieve stress?

Depending on your personal goals and how long you spend dealing with a particular condition, you can expect to feel better with every treatment.

“General guidelines: If you are new to acupuncture, we recommend that you come once a week in the first month, so that your body’s natural healing defenses can be fully utilized and you will feel the effect starting to increase,” Auth said. “At that time, Your acupuncturist can re-evaluate your treatment plan.”

Can acupuncture help reduce stress-related weight gain?

According to a 2018 retrospective study, acupuncture can effectively treat obese patients, which may be related to neuroendocrine regulation.

“When the body is under stress, it releases stress hormones that cause weight gain. This is an evolutionary response to survival,” Van der Bain said. “Traditionally, the stress response is a signal that the body is ready to fight or escape, and stimulates the activation of survival mode.”

Today, an overactive stress response can cause the body to store excess weight for a long time. By down-regulating the sympathetic nervous system, acupuncture may help prevent and reverse the effects of stress response on fat storage.

Acupuncture can also promote digestion and metabolism.

“In Chinese medicine, the liver system is responsible for dealing with stress. When it is overwhelmed, it tends to overreact to the spleen system,” Vander Baan said. “Treatment includes relieving the pressure that overwhelms the liver while supporting the liver’s overburdened digestive system.”

Acupuncture points for weight gain

To target stress-related weight gain, Sher uses a combination of points that focus on stress and points that accelerate digestion. These include:

  • “Four Doors” Essentials
  • Ren 12
  • Stomach 25
  • Ren 6

These acupuncture points are “used to treat digestive diseases by strengthening the digestive system and regulating the functions of the spleen, stomach, and intestines,” Sher said.

How often should you receive acupuncture for stress-related weight gain?

Sher recommends two treatments a week to balance the body and ensure that the digestive system is functioning at an optimal level.

“In order to preventively obtain the best health through acupuncture, we emphasize the importance of cultivating treatment habits and routines-we recommend acupuncture massage at least once a month, ideally once a week, but the reality is often between two Between those,” said Auth.

take away

In terms of research, people agree that acupuncture can reduce symptoms related to stress.

It does this in part by shutting down the sympathetic nervous system and activating the sedative parasympathetic nervous system.

If you think that weight gain is caused by stress, acupuncture may be beneficial for you. The frequency of your acupuncture sessions will depend on your needs and goals.

Talk to your healthcare provider to develop a plan that is right for you.


Daley Quinn is a beauty and health journalist and content strategist based in Boston. She is a former beauty editor of a national magazine, and her work has appeared on websites including Allure, Well + Good, Byrdie, Fashionista, The Cut, WWD, Women’s Health Mag, HelloGiggles, Shape, Elite Daily, etc. You can see more about her work on the website.

Translation: Hua Ying Lyle Acupuncturist