Stress no more

Welcome to the world of traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture

Regular acupuncture sessions can work wonders on our feelings of anxiety. Acupuncturist Claire Mash explains why.

It probably won’t come as a surprise that a lot of people are suffering from stress and anxiety right now. In the UK alone, an estimated three million people have an anxiety disorder, including panic attacks; the Office of National Statistics has found that around one in six are affected by a neurotic disorder – typically anxiety and depression. These figures will have almost certainly rocketed given the global pandemic, and will surely be unnaturally raised for a long time after. Broken sleep, lethargy, irritability, poor concentration, and mood swings all have a negative impact on our lives.

So, can acupuncture help? The simple answer is: yes. Through applying the principles of traditional Chinese medicine, stress and anxiety can be alleviated by the application fine needles inserted into the correct places in the skin. Acupuncture is based on the premise that a life force known as Qi (pronounced “Chee”) travels in paths through the body called meridians. Along these channels lie acupuncture points. If the flow of Qi is interrupted or unbalanced due to lifestyle or environmental issues, it results in energy blockages, which leads to physical pain and ailments and/or mental health problems. By correcting the flow of Qi, acupuncture helps restore balance, leading to physical and emotional harmony.

In practical application, it works like this: when inserted into the correct acupuncture points of the body the acupuncture needles stimulate the nervous system to release the body’s natural painkilling chemicals. Nerve fibres flow from acupuncture points to the spinal cord, and onward to stimulate areas of the hypothalamus-pituitary gland and brain stem – the parts of the brain that control emotions, including anxiety. This then causes the release of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine, altering the brain's mood chemistry.

A 2013 study in the Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies found that 20-minutes of acupuncture resulted in less anxiety, having slowed down the body’s production of stress hormones. These results were often immediate, too: patients reported sleeping better and having a stronger sense of wellbeing. As acupuncturist Ka Hang says, "Imagine a traffic jam during rush hour. Cars are blocking the road and no one can get anywhere. You start to feel tense around the neck and shoulders, you’re getting tired and annoyed, and now you need the bathroom as well. Now, if the traffic jam was suddenly removed, it would be a great feeling, right?”

Wellness•Chinese Medicine•Holistic health•Acupuncture•Stress relief

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