Acupuncture is great at reducing stress. Even the patients who are seeing me for treatment of other health issues with acupuncture such as infertility report reduced anxiety. One of the first things they often notice is that sleep improves and they experience reduced irritability. They feel more relaxed at work and at home.

Even though we had viable theories how and why acupuncture helps stress, we know very little about what exactly happens on the cellular level. Researchers at the Georgetown University Medical Center made a major contribution to understanding how acupuncture helps. They discovered that acupuncture interferes with the very mechanism of stress. It blocks the chronic, stress-induced elevations of the HPA axis hormones and the sympathetic NPY pathway. Read more


Not many asthma sufferers come to see me specifically for this condition. I do see many patients affected by stress, anxiety and depression. Some of them also suffer from asthma. A few of these patients told me that their asthma improved significantly following acupuncture treatment. I used to get surprised by this, as studies on acupuncture and asthma provide mixed results.

I think I found a link explaining why asthma improves when anxiety is reduced with acupuncture. If you are prone to anxiety, your chances of developing asthma are tripled. This is the conclusion of a study on 4000 adults published in Journal of Allergy this month. Chronic stress alters hormone levels, which can lead to inflamed airways. Acupuncture has been shown to regulate stress hormones; it is an effective treatment for anxiety.

This contributes to understanding the pathophysiology of asthma. But it also explains how acupuncture may help asthma sufferers. It may be the reason why some acupuncture treatment protocols work better than others; and help to design studies which could actually provide some hard evidence for the practice.

Acupuncture for Women With Concurrent Substance Use and Anxiety/Depression
In this controlled trial, women receiving acupuncture reported

  • having reduced physiological cravings for substances,
  • felt significantly less depressed, less anxious, and
  • were better able to reflect on and resolve difficulties

than women in the control group.

It was found that auricular acupuncture, as an adjunct therapy to a comprehensive psychoeducational treatment program for women with addictions, shows promise in being an effective, more viable treatment alternative to anti-anxiety drugs anxiolytics.

This study was published in Family & Community Health April/June 2007 Volume 30 Number 2 Pages 112 – 120.