Stress & Acupuncture
Stress may not seem like a big deal, but it's time to take it seriously when you consider that
- 75 to 90% of all doctor visits are related to stress and
- The American Medical Association has identified stress as the source of over 60% of all human illness and disease.
The good news is that acupuncture excels in the treatment of stress!
Click on the topic headings below for more info and answers to some Frequently Asked Questions about Stress & Acupuncture
+ What Happens To Our Bodies When Stressed?
When stressed our bodies essentially feel threatened – as if we're under attack. Our nervous system responds by releasing a flood of stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, which rouse the body for emergency action. Our hearts pounds faster, muscles tighten, blood pressure rises, breath quickens, and our senses become sharper. These physical changes increase our strength and stamina, speed our reaction time, and enhance our focus, preparing us to either fight or flee from the danger at hand. Additionally, our bodies scale back on functions that aren't a priority in those dire situations, such as our liver, kidneys and digestive organ functions etc. This is ideal when we’re actually in danger and need to defend ourselves for a short period of time, but it's obviously not good for us in the long run.
Some feel they adapt easily to stress or that they excel under stress (like meeting deadlines for work or juggling a busy schedule) as if there are no consequences, but stress eventually catches up with all us in at least one way or another. It's just a matter of time before stress starts negatively impacting our mood, relationships, productivity, diet, health, and our quality of life.
+ Top 10 Health Problems Caused By (or Made Worse By) Stress
- Depression and Anxiety
- Pain (Neck, Back, Shoulder, Jaw, Headaches etc)
- Sleep disorders
- Digestive problems
- Skin conditions, such as Eczema
- Heart disease
- Weight problems
- Reproductive issues
- Thinking and Memory problems
- Reduced Immunity and Increased likelihood of Autoimmune diseases
+ Stress & Weight Gain
Weight gain can be a complex issue, but here are a few thoughts that illustrate how stress is a common cause of weight gain.
- When we’re stressed, we're in emergecny mode - our body doesn’t know when it’s going to get fed next so it tries to retain as much as it can and stockpile reserves, which leads to weight gain. It's not much different from when we stockpile supplies prior to a hurricane since we aren't sure when we'll be able to get back to the store.
- From WebMD: Levels of 'the stress hormone,' cortisol, rise during tension-filled times. This can turn your overeating into a habit. Because increased levels of the hormone also help cause higher insulin levels, your blood sugar drops and you crave sugary, fatty foods...The bottom line? “More stress = more cortisol = higher appetite for junk food = more belly fat,” says Shawn M. Talbott, PhD, a nutritional biochemist.
- For some the preferred comfort foods are sugary and, for others, it’s starchy/carbohydrate foods that release serotonin which, in turn, make us feel calmer so we can cope and feel less tense. Unfortunately, stress reduces our ability to adequately metabolize those foods, which can also lead to weight gain.
- Hungry for more insights?This is an interesting article that also explains how stress causes us to get hungry, why many of us turn to sweets/sugar, how cortisol reduces our metabolism & why we can't seem to lose weight despite eating well and exercising. It also has some suggestions on how to reduce stress & anxiety.
+ Does Acupuncture Really Excel In The Treatment Of Stress?
In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO), National Institute of Health (NIH) & American Academy of Medical Acupuncture (AAMA) all recognize acupuncture's ability to not only reduce stress, but its ability to minimize impact of stress & do so without the nasty side effects common to pharmaceutical interventions.
+ How Does Acupuncture Excel In The Treatment Of Stress?
In simplest physiological terms, acupuncture eases us out of the aforementioned “fight or flight” (sympathetic nervous system) state where our body doesn’t function all that well (similar to when your computer freezes up), and into the “rest and recuperate” state (parasympathetic) where our body functions best. Continuing with the body-as-computer metaphor, acupuncture helps us to re-boot our bodies when they freeze-up.
In more complex terms, acupuncture has the ability to positively influence the performance of, and improve the communication and synchronicity between, every one of the body’s physiological systems that you may remember from high school or college - circulatory, nervous, digestive, endocrine, muscular, cardiovascular, skeletal, lymphatic, respiratory, reproductive, urinary & integumentary.
In western medicine, this optimal performance, communication and balancing that occurs amongst the various body systems is referred to as ‘homeostasis’ and sits at the core of our body’s innate ability to heal itself. Stress prevents our bodies from achieving this balance, but acupuncture enables our body to re-gain that balance and engage its innate ability to heal itself and bring us into a state of good, or optimal, health.
Acupuncture does this by stimulating the nervous system to enhance the brain's ability to orchestrate things by
- Stimulating and improving gland and organ function
- Increasing blood circulation (our body’s primary means of delivering nutrients to our cells and our communication highway)
- Improving our immunological responses
- Reducing inflammation (as an aside, did you know more and more physicians and researchers believe inflammation is the cause of most disease?) and
- Sending out our natural painkillers and neurotransmitters like endorphins, dopamine and serotonin – without the negative side effects of the drugs that try to do this & also reducing the craving for "comfort foods"
Check out this video about Stress & Acupuncture!
+ Money & Stress
There's no doubt that finances are a major source of stress & the rising costs and uncertainty of healthcare are huger-than-huge contributors to our stress levels. What's frustrating is that although the purpose of health care should be to improve our health, the costs associated with healthcare create stress which causes our health to deteriorate instead of improve.
As much as that frustrates us it also motivates us to make acupuncture affordable & accessible for our neighbors.
Why overpay for acupuncture if you don't have to - especially if you can get 4+ treatments at our clinic for the price of one treatment elsewhere?
Not only does acupuncture excel at reducing the effects of stress, our Low Fees do too!
Longer Treatments + Lower Fees = No Brainer