How does acupuncture help anxiety

How To Get The Most Out Of Acupuncture For Your Anxiety

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With coronavirus cases continuing to make headlines, children and adults cohabitating 24/7 and the upcoming presidential election, a growing number of people are understandably anxious. While there are many ways to manage stress and anxiety, people are increasingly turning to acupuncture to calm frayed nerves.

"Acupuncture stimulates the body's natural feel-good hormones and reduces the level of stress hormones like cortisol," says Mathew Kulas, MA, RAc, an acupuncturist at Henry Ford Health. Studies show that acupuncture is an effective treatment for anxiety, with fewer side effects than medications. Perhaps the best news: You don't have to rely on weekly in-person sessions to get the benefits.

 Related Topic: What's The Difference Between Worry And Anxiety? 

Homemade Acupuncture Strategies For Managing Anxiety

Acupuncture relies on stimulating specific points in the body, most often with needles, to improve health and well-being.

So how do you maintain those feel-good results in between sessions? "There are a number of things people can do at home to extend the benefits they achieve immediately after an acupuncture session," Kulas says. Here are six of his favorites:

  1. Pay attention to your diet: Diet plays a key role in maintaining the effects of acupuncture. Instead of leaving your session and noshing on pizza and beer, fuel up on a plant-based meal and drink plenty of water. Consider making an appointment with a plant-based nutritionist to help you learn how to incorporate more antioxidant- and nutrient-rich plants into your diet.
  2. Try ear seeds: An acupuncturist applies these small seeds to stimulate the pressure points in your ear and promote healthy energy flow in the body. Acupuncturists often use seeds when treating panic attacks or nicotine addiction. They can be helpful for issues like weight loss and pain management, too.
  3. Get moving: Movement is therapy. Techniques like yoga, tai chi and qigong can help you maintain balance in your body. You can find relevant videos on YouTube to walk you through a stress-reducing practice. It only takes a few minutes to stretch your whole body between tasks with a set of sun salutations or a simple child's pose. Or just lift your shoulders to your ears, hold, and release with a deep exhale.
  4. Breathe deeply: While many breathing exercises might help you relax, Kulas suggests keeping it simple. Try a four-breath cycle per minute to slow your breathing and reset your nervous system: Inhale for seven seconds, pause, then exhale for seven seconds.
  5. Self-massage: Self-massage can help alleviate mild to moderate pain in muscle and connective tissue. Acupressure is a form of massage that targets specific acupuncture points with pressure along with deep breathing. Self-acupressure can also treat psycho-emotional, gastrointestinal and neuropathic ailments. Ask your acupuncturist for customized acupressure point combinations for your specific health concerns.
  6. Maintain social connections: The pandemic has dramatically affected our ability to stay connected with friends and family. While you may need to maintain a safe physical distance between yourself and others, that doesn't mean your social connections need to take a hit. Do what you can to create feelings of connection with those living inside your own home. Try family yoga time, acupressure on each other or cooking a delicious plant-based meal.

Achieving Calm

Remaining calm right now may feel like a Herculean task. The key is to try to maintain some normalcy within the chaos.

"Often with anxiety, thoughts can become chaotic and there's a certain level of fear about the future," Kulas says. "Sometimes just knowing you're doing something productive — whether getting an acupuncture treatment, exercising or practicing self-massage — can help reduce worries about things that fall outside of your control."

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Learn more about acupuncture and other integrative medicine services at Henry Ford. To find a doctor or acupuncturist at Henry Ford, visit or call 1-800-HENRYFORD (436-7936).

If you are struggling with anxiety or depression and it's interfering with your life or ability to function, talk with your doctor or a behavioral health professional. 

Mathew Kulas, RAc, is a licensed acupuncturist and sees patients at Henry Ford Medical Centers located in Northville and Grosse Pointe Farms.

Categories: FeelWell

Tags: Acupuncture, Mathew Kulas, Integrative Medicine

Why Acupuncture Works for Anxiety Relief

You might think acupuncture is for hipsters who don’t believe in Western medicine or for your aging parent with chronic back pain, but a growing body of research shows that acupuncture can help treat a condition that affects everyone from time to time: anxiety.

Managing severe anxiety can be tricky because it generally includes therapy, which might not provide results for months, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. What's more, it can require anxiety medication, which can have serious side effects, says Ladan Eshkevari, PhD, CRNA, LAc, a certified acupuncturist, a physiologist, and the assistant director of the Nurse Anesthesia Program at the School of Nursing & Health Studies at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Yet when acupuncture for anxiety is effective, symptoms lessen after the first few visits, and practitioners like Eshkevari are confident it attacks the problem at its roots.

How Acupuncture for Anxiety Works

Ancient Chinese medicine describes an energy force called Qi that regulates the body’s overall health, according to University of Chicago Medicine. Like blood in the circulatory system, Qi moves throughout the body via pathways called meridians. When factors like injury, stress, poor nutrition, or a change in environment disrupt the flow of Qi, health issues follow, according to the University of Miami Health System. By inserting needles at specific points in the body, acupuncturists restore the balance of Qi and the body’s overall health, University of Chicago Medicine reports.

This concept might seem outdated to some, but Daniel Hsu, DAOM (Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine), LAc, a practitioner at New York AcuHealth Acupuncture in New York City, says Qi is just a metaphor for metabolic function, or the chemical reactions constantly taking place in the body.

Acupuncturists insert each needle half a millimeter away from a nerve, Dr. Hsu explains. Depending on where the needles go, acupuncture can cause the nervous system to produce painkilling chemicals, jump-start the body’s natural ability to heal itself, or stimulate the part of the brain that controls emotions, including anxiety. All of these results, Hsu adds, can help people feel more balanced and treat a variety of illnesses.

RELATED: Hidden Signs of Stress and Anxiety

The Mechanics of Acupuncture for Anxiety Management

Hsu says acupuncture has increased in popularity since the 1970s simply because it works, and now there’s growing research supporting its effectiveness for anxiety and other mental conditions.

For instance, in a study published online in October 2013 in the Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies, students who underwent a 20-minute acupuncture session were found to have less anxiety and better memory immediately afterward than those who didn't have acupuncture.

Why does it work? Eshkevari explains that external circumstances beyond your control can set off your anxiety and that acupuncture allows your body to take back control.

“We’re constantly under stress and pressure to perform, which can bring on disease and other serious health issues,” Hsu says. “Acupuncture is great for maintenance. It helps a long life become a better-quality life.”

How does it work? Led by Eshkevari, researchers at Georgetown University used lab studies to demonstrate that acupuncture slows the body’s production of stress hormones. Their findings were published in the April 2013 issue of the Journal of Endocrinology.

Few procedures work 100 percent of the time. That includes acupuncture, but it does have benefits that conventional treatments like psychotherapy and medication do not, Eshkevari says. She explains that side effects, such as bruising and dizziness, are minimal and uncommon, whereas some prescription drugs can have serious side effects and can lead to dependency.

Unlike with counseling, people treated with acupuncture often see results after one session, and the results improve with continued treatment. Hsu says acupuncture is particularly helpful for people who want to limit or stop drug use — prescription or otherwise. Because it regulates the body’s chemical balance naturally, acupuncture can even prevent people from needing medication at all, he says.

Getting Started With Acupuncture

When it comes to trying acupuncture, you have nothing to lose, Hsu says. With a certified acupuncturist, the risks are almost nonexistent and are far outweighed by the potential benefits. The majority of Eshkevari’s patients have told her they sleep better and have a stronger sense of overall well-being after just a few sessions.

If you're already receiving treatment for anxiety, Eshkevari suggests adding acupuncture to your current regimen. If you decide it works for you, you can work with your doctor to wean off anxiety medication. First, though, contact your insurance provider to find out whether it covers any acupuncturists in your area. Then talk with a practitioner — ask questions and openly discuss a potential treatment plan.

Treatment of stress, anxiety. Depression treatment. Acupuncture

The cause of many diseases is a reaction to modern conditions of existence and lifestyle. Loads and stressful situations can have a stimulating effect, but can also lead to illness. Stress, especially if it is frequent and prolonged, has a negative effect on both the psychological state and the physical health of a person. Currently, a new direction in medicine is being developed, called psychosomatic medicine, which considers all kinds of stress as the main or concomitant factor in the development of most diseases.

Psychological stress, anxiety and depression — depression, accompanied by a constant feeling of melancholy, anxiety, apathy, an indifferent attitude to reality, a painful feeling of guilt and the impossibility of obtaining pleasure from life, a desire for loneliness and peace, a subjective feeling of intellectual dullness and lack of will.

Psychological stress and anxiety is the most common type of mental illness in the United States, with approximately 19% of the adult population, or 40 million people, experience an anxiety disorder each year. It is estimated that 30% of the population will experience Psychological Stress, Anxiety and Anxiety Disorder at some point in their lives.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), today 5% of the population is subject to prolonged depression, and women are significantly more likely than men. Every year, from 300 to 500 million people suffer from 90,005 psychological stresses, anxiety and 90,006 depressions. Depressive illnesses are on the rise, especially since the latest COVID-19 pandemic, lockdowns, rising unemployment and family troubles. A national survey by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) found that 36% of Americans say the coronavirus is having a major impact on their mental health. According to the organization, the most common disease will be 2030.


symptoms of psychological stress, anxiety and depression may include the following:
  • Indigestion, diarrhea, nausea, constipation, heartburn, or other bowel problems.
  • Palpitations or chest pain
  • Sleep problems
  • Loss of libido or decreased sexual function
  • More colds or seasonal illnesses than usual
  • Clenched jaw or grinding of teeth
  • Painful, tense muscles, especially in the neck and shoulders
  • Constant anxiety
  • I always see the "worst case scenario"
  • Restless thoughts
  • Feeling exhausted and out of focus
  • Disorganization and forgetfulness

When stress is chronic, there is an increased risk of depression and anxiety, heart attack and heart disease, obesity and eating disorders, and more serious bowel problems such as gastroesophageal reflux, colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome.

I am often asked questions about alternative and possible complementary treatments for this condition.

acupuncture (acupuncture, reflex therapy, acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine- TCM ) acts one of the effective, comparable methods for treating psychological stress, and depressive neurosis. This method is very effective, recommended for use by the World Health Organization in these conditions.

Acupuncture (acupuncture, reflexology, acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine - TCM ) can help people experiencing symptoms of psychological stress, anxiety, depression .

The main role of the mechanism of action acupuncture (acupuncture, reflexology, acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine - TCM ) is the connection of the autonomic nervous system with skin-visceral relations on the skin and internal organs , nervous and humoral mechanisms are involved in the process.

How does acupuncture (acupuncture, reflexology, acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine - TCM ) help psychological stress, anxiety and depression
  • Effects on areas of the brain known to reduce sensitivity to pain and stress, as well as promote relaxation and deactivation of the "analytical" brain responsible for anxiety and worry;
  • Improving stress-induced memory impairment and increasing AchE reactivity in the hippocampus;
  • Decreased serum levels of corticosterone and immunoreactive tyrosine hydroxylase cells;
  • Regulation of levels of neurotransmitters (or their modulators) and hormones such as serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, GABA, neuropeptide Y and ACTH; hence, altering the brain's mood chemistry to help combat negative affective states;
  • Stimulating the production of endogenous opioids that affect the autonomic nervous system. Stress activates the sympathetic nervous system, while acupuncture can activate the opposite parasympathetic nervous system, which initiates the relaxation response;
  • Reversal of pathological changes in inflammatory cytokine levels associated with stress responses.
  • Reducing inflammation by stimulating the release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors;
  • Reversing stress-induced changes in behavior and biochemistry.

The main advantage of reflexology (acupuncture, reflexology, acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine- TCM ) in the treatment of no risk of any psychological stress, anxiety and depression, the occurrence of any psychological stress, anxiety and depression what happens during drug therapy.
An important point is that in the process of treatment it is possible to remove the cause of psychological stress, anxiety and depression , and not only remove the external accompanying symptoms. Characterizes acupuncture (acupuncture, reflexology, acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine - TCM ) and its individual focus: an individual treatment plan is developed for each individual patient.

Acupuncture (Acupuncture, Reflexology, Acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Medicine - TCM ) does not need to be combined with any other treatments for maximum effect. Self-administered reflexology techniques (acupuncture, reflexology, acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine - TCM ) help to heal depression , an inherently severe disease. The result of the course of acupuncture at psychological stress, anxiety and depression is not only getting rid of the symptoms of this disease, but also improving overall health. In addition, in recovering patients, an increase in concentration, memory improvement and normalization of sleep are recorded.

Acupuncture for the treatment of neurosis and depression

With neurotic disorders, Western medicine operates with pills - tranquilizers, antidepressants. But these are symptomatic remedies, but the problem can be eliminated in essence.

Tibetan doctors consider neuroses, depression, and other disorders of the nervous system and psyche to be the result of an imbalance in the regulating basis Wind (Rlung). And if the cause is known, then there are ways to eliminate it.

The usual cause of nervous disorders is the energy depletion of the body. This is due, firstly, to the innate characteristics of metabolism.

Most often, people of the constitutional type Wind suffer from neuroses and depression - impressionable, emotional, restless, mobile. They are not at all prone to excess weight, they are lean, tall or, on the contrary, miniature.

The metabolism of such people is very fast, so the energy does not have time to spend rationally and most of it is wasted - on emotional outbursts, violent and fruitless impulses, insomnia, constant anxiety.

The result is an exhaustion of the nervous system, or the basis of Wind. This base is of a cold nature, so its depletion is often accompanied by coldness of the hands, feet, and a sensation of chilliness.

No pills can restore the energy balance. Only proper nutrition, herbal medicine can increase the level of heat. For these methods to work optimally, it is necessary that the energy move freely in the body along the meridians.

But with neurosis of anxiety, fear or other disorders of the nervous system in the body, as a rule, there are muscle spasms, blood circulation is disturbed. If the normal circulation of energy is not restored, it is almost impossible to increase the level of body heat.

And then acupuncture comes to the rescue. With the help of acupuncture, the Tibet clinic doctor restores the normal movement of energy along the meridians of the body and puts the energy balance of the body in order.

Thus, acupuncture eliminates the cause of nervous disorders - energy depletion. No pills can help with this, but acupuncture sessions help.

The success of acupuncture in the treatment of neuroses, depression and other nervous diseases is so obvious that modern medicine tries to explain them scientifically. Her explanation consists of three points.

1. Acupuncture somehow stimulates the production of dopamine and serotonin.

Indeed, the introduction of needles into bioactive points according to certain patterns stimulates the production of the "hormone of pleasure" - dopamine and the "hormone of happiness" - serotonin.

Serotonin is a hormone that is produced when exposed to sunlight. The lack of sun in the northern climate is one of the main causes of depression and suicidality.

An example is Finland. This country has one of the highest living standards, but also one of the highest suicide rates. The reason is the shortage of the sun, a small number of sunny days, that is, a purely climatic, and not an economic factor.

Russia is also among the country-record holders in the number of suicides, and the climate factor plays a significant role in this.

Acupuncture increases the production of serotonin and thus serves as a cure for depression. As for dopamine, it is not only a “hormone of pleasure”, but also a neurotransmitter.

The conductivity of the "white channels" - the nerves - depends on its concentration. The easier and faster the signals pass through the nerves, the lower the energy costs. Therefore, by facilitating the innervation of the body, acupuncture improves its energy.

2. Acupuncture somehow stimulates the production of endorphins.

Pain-relieving substances that are produced by our brain are similar in their action to morphine. They not only anesthetize, but also improve mood and therefore help with neurosis and depression no worse, but better than antidepressants.

3. Acupuncture relieves muscle spasms and pain.

The introduction of needles into bioactive points relieves muscle tension. Thanks to this, canned nervous stresses are released, mental, nervous tension is relieved.

Acupressure massage also gives a similar effect in the Tibet clinic, during sessions of which patients sometimes begin to cry because the drunken mental load is released and comes out. These are tears and the joy of relief.

Acupuncture in this sense gives less effect than acupressure, but it has an analgesic effect in pain syndromes, which serve as a factor in the development of neurosis, depression, and insomnia.

In general, according to the experience of the doctors of the Tibet clinic, acupuncture is a powerful tool for treating neurosis, depression and other nervous disorders.

In terms of its effectiveness, this method is significantly superior to medications, especially in the long term. After all, acupuncture eliminates not only the symptoms and mechanisms of development of nervous disorders.

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