Lovely article from Shape Magazine about acupuncture that actually gets to the nitty gritty of mechanisms.
But I loved this part best
“Acupuncture also has a dramatic effect on your nervous system, calming you down so your body can rejuvenate faster, Dr. Audette says. When a needle is inserted, it stimulates small nerves beneath the skin, setting off a chain reaction that shuts down your fight or flight response. As a result, your stress levels plummet. “It’s basically what’s supposed to happen when you meditate, except it’s even stronger and faster,” Dr. Audette says. “Acupuncture relaxes your muscles, slows your heart rate, and reduces inflammation to promote healing.”
This is the whole basis of my research! I just love that they are corroborating and highlighting this aspect. And it goes on to discuss some of the more common things I treat in my practice.
“But a growing body of research reveals that its benefits are more wide-ranging than doctors thought. For instance, allergy sufferers who started acupuncture at the beginning of pollen season were able to stop taking antihistamines nine days sooner on average than those who didn’t use it, according to a study from the Charité—University Hospital Berlin. (Here are more ways to get rid of seasonal allergy symptoms.) Other studies have indicated that the practice may be useful for gut issues, including irritable bowel syndrome.
Recent research has uncovered powerful mental benefits of acupuncture as well. It can decrease feelings of stress for up to three months after treatment, according to a study from Arizona State University. The reason for its long-lasting effects may have to do with the HPA axis, a system that controls our reactions to stress. In an animal study at Georgetown University Medical Center, chronically stressed rats that were given electroacupuncture had significantly lower levels of hormones known to drive the body’s fight or flight response compared with those that didn’t get the treatment.
And that may be just scratching the surface of what acupuncture can do. Scientists are also looking into the practice as a way to reduce migraine frequency, improve PMS symptoms, ease insomnia, boost the effectiveness of depression meds, lower blood pressure in people with hypertension, and reduce side effects of chemotherapy drugs. While much of the research is still in the early stages, it points to a pretty bright future for this ancient treatment.