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How effective is acupuncture for treating anxiety? 3 things you need to know

Updated on July 29, 2013

Get Rid of your Anxiety With Acupuncture Treatments

Anxiety is a condition most adults face at some time in their lives. Western medicine has medications for severe anxiety such as Klonopin. But what if you are one of the millions of people who experience stress and anxiety who are not necessarily clinically diagnosed? What can you do? Acupuncture is one possible alternative to help you. Here are three important things you need to know about acupuncture and its use to effectively treat anxiety.

by Marniejoyce Compfight
by Marniejoyce Compfight | Source

Research on Acupuncture and Anxiety

There is some clinical evidence that acupuncture works: The effects of acupuncture on anxiety have tended to be anecdotal over the years with little to no scientific support that acupuncture works. This ancient Chinese medicine has been based on the idea of supporting the body’s own natural balance of energy. Traditionally, acupuncture has been almost a faith, rather than a science.

However, this is changing and more and more research is being done that supports its benefits. One study shows that rats show a reduction in stress hormones when treated with electronic acupuncture. This supports the idea that acupuncture creates changes at the molecular level to ease anxiety. In another study, using acupuncture on the ear was shown to help to eliminate stress and anxiety for a particular situation, such as surgery, or an exam. In several more studies acupuncture was shown again to be beneficial in relieving anxiety, depression and PMS.

Although the research mentioned here has shown that acupuncture can be effective, one needs to understand that many of the studies were based on very small samples of people, or on samples that were not representative of diverse backgrounds. This merely means that more research is needed to see exactly how effective it is. It does not mean that acupuncture is not effective. It certainly appears that it is beneficial to many people.

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Acupuncture Stimulates The Body

Acupuncture stimulates the right chemicals: Acupuncture works by stimulating the body to release chemicals so that it can restore its own balance. There is now evidence that some of the chemicals released are dopamine and serotonin, two chemicals that are related to anxiety and depression. When we are stressed out, our bodies need to use too much of these neurotransmitters so that our brain chemistry becomes off balance. Acupuncture works to restore these without the use of harsher drugs like Paxil or Ativan. In this way, acupuncture restores brain chemistry to alleviate anxiety.

Acupuncture can have side effects: Generally, acupuncture is seen to have fewer side effects than many other Western treatments, but this does not mean there are none. Some people who have received acupuncture have become dizzy or nauseated during the procedure. This is likely because of the sight of needles. Some acupuncturists have noticed that symptoms get worse before improving. Women who are pregnant should always consult their OBGYN before undergoing the procedure.

Acupuncture is being shown to be an effective treatment for anxiety. While there are still many questions about how and why it may work, the fact is that it is becoming more and more accepted as a viable treatment. Most insurance companies now cover the procedure. When big companies but their money where their mouth is, you know the evidence is good enough for them!

Acupuncture in Progress

Wonderlane
Wonderlane | Source

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