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Acupuncture for Mental Health


Of course sticking acupuncture needles into your body would affect your your nerves, muscles and other organs, but did you know that it also affects your brain? We know acupuncture has been around for at least 2000 years, and it may even be older than that. Acupuncture deals with the flow of chi, and while that may seem very new-agey, acupuncture for pain and other health concerns is highly supported by scientific research. While acupuncture can heal many different ailments, you may not know that acupuncture can affect the brain. The acupuncture points have direct pathways to neurotransmitters and your response to pain.

Unlike traditional medicine, acupuncture and traditional chinese medicine practices take into account the whole body. In other words, it’s a holistic form of medicine. This includes the physical, emotional and spiritual well being. The brain is the epicentre of emotion and so if you’re experiencing depression, anxiety or other psychological distress, acupuncture can possibly be of help to you.

Dr. Shari Auth, DACM, LAC, LMT and acupuncturist at NYC wellness center Modern Sanctuary, says, “One of the things that so amazing about acupuncture is its numerous use cases. In addition to being a great alternative to prescription pain medication, it is also good for mental health. In today’s busy world, people are turning to acupuncture for relief from stress and anxiety.”

Let’s go through all the ways acupuncture can help your brain:

  1. It helps release your brain’s natural pain killers

Our brains produce chemicals called endorphins that can not only make you feel really good, but reduce pain. One of the most popular uses for acupuncture is pain. And getting an acupuncture treatment can be the equivalent of taking pain medication.  

  1. Improves blood flow

Acupuncture improves circulation by constricting the blood vessels and releases vasodilators. This causes your blood vessels to relax and helps blood pressure normalize and reduces high blood pressure within the body.

  1. It helps anxiety

Many people may ask: Does acupuncture work for anxiety? What about acupuncture for anxiety and depression? According to a 2013 study published in the journal, Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, “Acupuncture has clinical efficacy on various autonomic nerve-related disorders, such as cardiovascular disease, epilepsy, anxiety and nervousness, circadian rhythm disorders, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and subfertility.” This study is saying that acupuncture can change your brain via neurotransmitters to stop your autonomic response. This calms down the nervous system and would in theory, reduce anxiety.

  1. It can boost your mood

Acupuncture does a great job reducing pain in our body but it can also positively affect your mental wellness. Acupuncture is even being used for depression all over the world. Because acupuncture enhances the effect of serotonin reuptake inhibitor treatment, it has a direct correlation with mood and can help depression treatment work faster.

  1. Stop the stress response

If you’re always stressed, acupuncture can stop stress right in its tracks. There are two parts of your nervous system, the sympathetic and the parasympathetic. Our sympathetic system is known for the fight or flight response which aggravates anxiety and stress. Acupuncture activates the parasympathetic system and it can override the sympathetic system which causes a drop in the heart rate, blood pressure and cortisol production.  

Even if you’re looking into acupuncture in San Diego for pain, know that as the treatments work on your body, it’s also working on the epicentre of your body, the brain.


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