Anxiety affects nearly 40 million adults in this country. The accepted mainstream method of dealing with anxiety is conventional medication. There may be a better way – a more natural way – of addressing anxiety in patients of all ages. A study appearing in Evidence Based Acupuncture found that acupuncture could provide people with relief from their symptoms of anxiety.
Research shows that up to 30 percent of the global population has some form of anxiety, with 13 sub-classifications of disorders in existence. The symptoms vary greatly between each, from shortness of breath to heart rate variations. Thus, there are many manifestations of anxiety, including panic attacks, headaches, pain and insomnia.
Acupuncture, it turns out, is an effective treatment for anxiety. The Acupuncture Evidence Project was published in 2017. It gave a comparative review of the clinical and scientific evidence for using acupuncture to treat anxiety. Researchers found that acupuncture greatly reduced anxiety and depression compared with conventional treatment involving pharmaceuticals.
Why? Biochemical Mechanisms
The autonomic nervous system includes both the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), in charge of regulating vital internal conditions. Important signals direct the body to react in various ways. It may tell the heart to increase its rate or tell your blood to lower its pressure. Acupuncture has been found to have an effect on both the SNS and the PNS.
The body’s Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is a sensitive measure of ability to cope with stress. Your heart doesn’t always operate like a perfect metronome. In fact, your heart rate changes depending on its environment. A higher HRV is correlated with better health all around, from physical to mental health. Acupuncture can improve the way your body copes with stress via the improvement of HRV.
When you are stressed, the brain’s hypothalamus releases neurochemicals with responses that can be calmed with acupuncture. Acupuncture can also boost the release of endorphins which regulate physical and emotional stress responses like pain, heart rate, digestive function and blood pressure. In turn, all of these mechanisms can reduce anxiety.
This is good news for those who do not want to rely solely on anxiety medications such as benzodiazepines, selective-serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and tricyclic antidepressants. They aren’t very effective anyway. The majority of patients treated for anxiety with medication report an “inadequate response,” which means their symptoms have not been alleviated to clinically-significant levels. Other times, patients experience bad side effects from the medication such as nausea and drowsiness.
The conclusion is that acupuncture has moderate benefits in the treatment of anxiety, often times more effective than pharmacotherapy.
Contact Metro Detroit Acupuncture
To learn more about acupuncture in Southeast Michigan and how it can help relieve your anxiety, contact Metro Detroit Acupuncture at 248-432-2846.