What Is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a form of treatment that involves inserting very thin needles through a person's skin at specific points on the body, to various depths.
To understand Acupuncture, we need to discuss two main systems in our body and how they function; the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) and the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS). These two systems together make up the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS), which regulates all kinds of unconscious body functions, like breathing, heartbeat, bloodflow and digestion. The ANS operates by receiving information from the environment and from other parts of the body. The SNS and PNS have opposing reactions to this information. The SNS “excites” the body, or engages the “Fight-or-Flight” response. The PNS does the opposite; it calms the body and reduces blood pressure and heart rate.
Acupuncture can help with stress and anxiety by pulling the individual out of the fight-or-flight response and engaging the PNS. Research has shown that acupuncture can calm the hypothalamus (part of the brain that ‘sends the distress signal’ to activate the SNS) and can encourage the body to release endorphins, otherwise known as the body’s own ‘feel-good’ chemicals. These play an important role in physical and emotional stress responses such as pain, heart rate, blood pressure and digestive function.