Acupuncture for Chronic Anxiety

  • Tara Andresen

Categories: Acupuncture Treatment Blood Sugar Management Digestive Issues Dry Needling Healthcare Practitioners IBS Toronto IBS Treatment Licensed Naturopathic Doctor Massage Therapy Naturopath Naturopath Toronto Naturopathic Clinics Naturopathic Consultation Naturopathic Medicine Naturopathic Products Naturopathy Pain Management PCOS Treatment SIBO Treatment Skin Treatment Stress Management Weight Management Women’s Health Treatment

Acupuncture is an important treatment modality employed by many licensed Naturopaths.  It can be used to improve a wide variety of health concerns, including anxiety.  In this article we will look at how acupuncture works to reduce anxiety and review the relevant research that supports the use of acupuncture in those with chronic anxiety disorders.

How does acupuncture work in anxiety? Researchers at Georgetown University studied this question and demonstrated that acupuncture slows the body’s production of stress hormones.  These findings were published in the Journal of Endocrinology in 2013. Reducing the production of cortisol and other stress hormones is critical in ameliorating somatic symptoms related to anxiety.

Another study published online in October 2013 in the Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies, students had less anxiety and better memory immediately after a 20 minute acupuncture session, compared to those who only lay on a treatment table and did not receive acupuncture.

A recent clinical trial in the British Journal of Acupuncture in Medicine (2015) examined the effectiveness of acupuncture treatment in those suffering from chronic non-responding anxiety symptoms.  Those involved in the study had previously accessed various other treatment modalities repeatedly, without success.  Participants received one weekly acupuncture session for 10 weeks.  State anxiety scores decreased significantly as a result of treatment and the improvements were maintained 10 weeks after treatment had ended. The authors concluded that acupuncture is a promising intervention for patients with chronic anxiety symptoms.

Another clinical trial published in Medical Care (Dec 2014) examined the effect of acupuncture on service members with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).   The participants received a 60 minute acupuncture session twice weekly in addition to standard PTSD care.  Outcomes were reviewed every 4 weeks up to 12 weeks in total. Those receiving acupuncture experienced greater improvement in PTSD severity than those who only received the standard treatment.  The authors concluded that acupuncture was effective in reducing PTSD symptoms.

While additional research would be useful, the existing research supports the use of acupuncture in treating chronic anxiety disorders.  Your Naturopath can help you determine if this treatment may be indicated for you. To find out more about acupuncture, book your appointment with Dr. Andresen at one of her Toronto Naturopathic Clinics.