Traditional Chinese medical concepts state that illness is a disruption of energy flow or qi within the body. Acupuncture aims to restore health by correcting the imbalances that cause disease. During a session, an acupuncturist places fine needles into acupoints that lie along meridians (energy channels) on the skin. These points are connected to different parts of the body and acupuncturists treat each person as an individual with a tailored acupuncture session.
Is acupuncture risky?
While acupuncture does not work for everyone, studies show that it does help some people feel better. For example, a study published in 2013 in the journal Endocrinology showed that acupuncture reduces levels of NPY, a peptide released during stress that increases our “fight or flight” response. The study also found that acupuncture increases the production of certain chemicals in our bodies that can improve mood and increase feelings of relaxation.
Although some people worry about the pain associated with acupuncture, it is actually a very relaxing experience. The needles are very fine, so they do not hurt at all when inserted. In fact, many people sleep through a treatment session.
Some studies show that acupuncture can significantly decrease anxiety symptoms, and it is considered an effective alternative to antidepressants for those who cannot tolerate the side effects of some antidepressant medications. The reason that it works for anxiety is believed to be related to how acupuncture affects how different areas of the resting brain connect and communicate with each other.