According to the most up to date evidence, there is clear and strong proof that the useacupuncture is an effective treatment for anxiety. The Acupuncture Evidence Program was published in 2017, providing a comparative review of the clinical and scientific evidence for acupuncture. (You can download a PDF of the findings by doing an online search.) This comprehensive document determined that acupuncture is moderately effective in treating anxiety.
Anxiety is the most prevalent mental health disorder in the US, with nearly 16 million new cases per year being treated. Twice as many women than men are diagnosed with it. Symptoms such as shortness of breath, variations in heart rate, headaches, pain, and insomnia. Anxiety is a complex, pervasive condition that is usually treated with medication and/or psychotherapy.
When acupuncture has been compared to these conventional treatments, the evidence concludes that it “had a large effect on reducing anxiety and depression compared to medication and psychotherapy, with over twice the reduction in symptoms”. And acupuncture can help reduce symptoms in anxious people who did not respond to drugs and counseling. Acupuncture works more quickly than psychotherapy, which can take months, and it has fewer side effects and also works more quickly than medications.
MRI studies indicate that one of the many ways acupuncture works is by effecting the part of the human brain that controls emotions, including anxiety. Acupuncture also works through the hypothalamus to slow the production of stress hormones like cortisol. It has been known since the 1970’s that an acupuncture treatment also stimulates the release of feel-good endorphins and other opiates, which relieve stress and pain, elevate mood and produce an overall sense of well being and relaxation.
One of the most sensitive measures of the body’s ability to cope with stress is something called Heart Rate Variability (HRV). Rather than beating consistently at the same rate like a metronome, the heart changes its rate based on its fine-tuned response to the environment. A higher HRV has been associated with better health in all ways, including mental health and lower levels of anxiety. Acupuncture has been shown to improve the body’s ability to cope with stress through improving HRV.
In addition to using acupuncture to help reduce anxiety, there are other things you can do. Regular meditation is helpful in reducing stress and anxiety. Exercise helps, too, as does reducing caffeine intake and eating regular, whole food meals. Herbs like Kava root, valerian root, chamomile, passion flower, hops can help. Certain nutrients like magnesium and B-vitamins can ease nervous system stress and anxiety.
If you or someone you know suffers from anxiety, call me for a free consultation to see if acupuncture can help. I am passionate about helping people heal naturally!
To your continued good health,
David Mortell, Licensed Acupuncturist/Medical Herbalist
412 888 9390