One of the most common “ailments” treated by acupuncturists is stress. Acupuncture has been shown conclusively to relieve stress in a variety of ways and promote relaxation. These include stimulating the release of endorphins and serotonin, the body’s natural “feel good” opiates that promote a feeling of general well-being. The acupuncture points chosen can also coincide with pressure points or trigger points which help release tension and aid relaxation. Endorphins and serotonin also stimulate the adrenal gland which secretes cortisol. Cortisol is the body’s stress-fighting and anti-inflammatory hormone. It helps to regulate immune functions, blood pressure, and glucose metabolism. Thus, the patient can see, over the course of treatments, physical, emotional and mental well-being.
Another way in which acupuncture promotes relaxation is through the powerful psychological effect associated with the treatment. Since the treatment causes feelings of well-being as explained above, patients leave a treatment session immediately feeling better than when they went and, consequently, with an optimistic attitude. The mind is a very powerful thing and everyone knows that having a positive attitude can have a profound effect on our physical and emotional well-being. This, in turn, ties right back into the original point about promoting relaxation, it starts in the mind.
During a typical acupuncture treatment, the needles are left in for about 20 – 30 minutes. During this time the body temperature may lower, organ systems, heart beat and respiration may slow down, and muscle tension dissipates. In most cases, the patient will sink into a very relaxed state.