Acupuncture as a Treatment for Anxiety?

Treatment for anxiety often involves antidepressants and psychotherapy. But what if you could relieve your anxiety naturally, using acupuncture? Some research suggests it’s possible.

Auricular Acupuncture Relieves Stress and Anxiety

Auricular acupuncture, which is performed on acupuncture points in the ears, has already been used for years to ease stress and anxiety in people recovering from substance abuse. Recovering addict Hank, who received auricular acupuncture during his substance abuse treatment at Connecticut Mental Health Center’s Substance Abuse Treatment Unit, called the therapy “the best relaxation, anti-anxiety drug I’ve ever had…better than Valium or Lorazepam.”

A comprehensive review published in CNS Neuroscience and Therapeutics found that body acupuncture is just as effective as cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT, as a treatment for anxiety. A 2013 study published in the Journal of Endocrinology showed that rats who received electronic stimulation of acupuncture points demonstrated increased levels of stress hormones. A study investigating the effects of auricular acupuncture on the stress and anxiety levels of otherwise healthy volunteers found that they experienced reduced anxiety levels for at least 48 hours after receiving auricular acupuncture therapy.

Related research has found that acupuncture is an effective treatment for anxiety in women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF). A randomized-controlled study involving 43 women who were going through IVF found that weekly acupuncture treatments significantly reduced anxiety and psychological strain in these women.

Acupuncture has also been found to relieve anxiety in dental patients. A study involving 182 dental patients found that auricular acupuncture, administered prior to dental work, produced significantly lower levels of anxiety than sham acupuncture (acupuncture administered in the wrong places) or no treatment for anxiety at all. Body acupuncture has also been found to relieve pre- and post-operative anxiety in surgical patients.

How Is Acupuncture Used to Treat Anxiety?

Auricular or ear acupuncture is the preferred method for treating anxiety because it is easy for medical professionals to learn – it involves only five acupuncture points in the ear. This form of acupuncture is also less intimidating for patients, since it only involves using small needles in the ear instead of putting needles into various acupuncture points throughout the body.

Acupuncture is a form of ancient Chinese medicine that, according to tradition, works by correcting imbalances in the flow of the body’s energy through channels called meridians. Modern science does not, however, fully understand how acupuncture works. While many people continue to question the worth of acupuncture as a treatment for anxiety or other conditions, the growing body of evidence in its favor has led to its recognition as a legitimate medical treatment and its surge in popularity among people seeking relief from depression, anxiety, stress, addiction and chronic pain.

To perform ear acupuncture, an acupuncturist places small needles in the five acupuncture points of the ears. It only takes a moment to insert the needles into the ears. Ear acupuncture doesn’t hurt; the needles are paper-thin. The five acupuncture points found in the ears include:

  • The Autonomic Point which soothes the central nervous system and promotes relaxation;
  • The Kidney Point which eases fears and promotes organ health;
  • The Shen Men which calms nervousness and anxiety;
  • The Lung Point which helps patients release grief and assists with oxygenation of the body; and
  • The Liver Point for blood purification, detoxification and the release of aggression.

Once the needles are in, clients sit back and relax in a dim room. The needles are left in for 30 minutes or more. Most people fall into a calm, meditative state while undergoing acupuncture treatment for anxiety. Treatment is typically administered once a week for several weeks. Acupuncture is a great complement to other forms of anxiety treatment, including cognitive-behavioral therapy and pharmacological therapy.

If you or someone you love is suffering from anxiety, help is available. Treatment can reduce your anxiety levels, help you learn to cope with anxiety triggers and let you get back to living a normal life. Whether you’re interested in outpatient treatment for anxiety or an inpatient anxiety program, The Delray Center for Healing can help.

Call us today at 888-699-5679 to learn more.

Ebook

Download Our FREE Psychiatry:
Redefine Ebook!

Dr. Rodriguez founded the Delray Center in 2003 and built it on a foundation of core clinical, professional, and ethical principles that are adhered to still to this day. Dr. Rodriguez founded the Delray Center in 2003 and built it on a foundation of core clinical, professional, and ethical principles that are adhered to still to this day.