The American Medical Council reported that the root cause of 85% of illnesses is due to stress.
We ultimately cannot relieve all stress, nor would we want to. Some stress will keep us motivated, filled with passion and vitality to accomplish things that satisfy our spirits. It’s when the stress levels get too high for too long and actually cause physical symptoms of pain and illnesses, that we need to look at lowering the stress levels. So catching the first signs of symptoms of stress is important. The most common symptoms of stress are sleep disorders, GI disorders, hypertension, skin disorders, anxiety and lack of joy in one’s life. The list is really endless as each person places their stress differently, so being aware of your own mind, body and spirit is important.
So how can acupuncture help with stress levels? There are many “tools” that an acupuncturist can use - for example herbal formula’s, various acupuncture points, auricular (ear) acupuncture, tui na (massage), moxa, etc. For today, I am going to specifically talk about auricular (ear) acupuncture.
According to TCM theory the ear is a microcosm of the whole body, much like reflexology is of the feet. Auricular acu-points are closely related to the central nervous system which is why it is so effective for relieving stress and calming the nervous system.
A medical study published in Anesthesiology (7/03) used ear acupressure to relieve stress and anxiety in patients being transported to the hospital in ambulances. Some received real acupuncture points (the acupuncture group), and some received fake (sham) points ( the control group). At arrival, the stress level in the acupuncture group decreased sixty-six percent. In contrast, the stress level in the control group increased by ten percent. Such studies indicate the effectiveness of acupuncture in stress treatment.
I personally have felt the amazing calming effects of auricular acupuncture after being in a fender bender and seeing my son hit the windshield (causing the spider web effect on the window) with his head (the seat belt didn’t work – another story). Even though my son had no injuries – much due to the Santa hat he was wearing – I had trouble driving afterward. I could actually drive fine, but when I stopped, got out of my car, I would start to tremble. My hands would just shake, I couldn’t “will” them to stop. Three days after the accident I drove to an acupuncture treatment where I arrived trembling and shaking and very nervous about driving. The acupuncturist mainly treated me using auricular points and when I left the office, I was no longer trembling and the fear I felt while driving had disappeared. I never had the shakes again!
I recently came across an article where the military is using acupuncture for not only pain but also to help with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). They obviously found the results to be effective and how great to give something back to the men and women serving this country. If you know any military personnel with PTSD, anxiety or depression check out www.zazendayspa.com to find out details to discounted or free acupuncture treatments.
Much more to say about the use of acupuncture and stress relief….. more to come.
Connie M. Warden L.Ac. Chinese Herbalist