Needles. The word usually provokes stress for people. For those who’ve not received acupuncture, that is. My patients know that ahhhhhcupuncture (said like a sigh) gives them a chance to relax and feel better. In fact, some of my patients have called their acupuncture sessions, their “spa time.” I get used to seeing the blissed, semi-dopey faces post-treatment. As a result, my receptionists and I have learned not to ask challenging questions at the end of the treatments.
Why do people feel so good after acupuncture? One of the well-documented effects of acupuncture treatment is the release of endorphins–feel good hormones. The word endorphin can be understood by breaking it down. “Endo” means substances your body can produce itself. The “orphins” part of the word refers to morphine, an opioid chemical that relieves pain and suffering. The good thing about endorphins is that they are naturally produced by your own body, so don’t have the negative side effects of an externally delivered morphine, while still benefitting from the feelings of well-being.
Another biochemical that your body releases during and after acupuncture is called serotonin. This substance is found in your central nervous system (CNS) and gut. Serotonin is important in the regulation of mood. Pharmaceutical antidepressants such as Paxil, Prozac, Zoloft, Celexa, Cipralex, Effexor, Cymbalta, and Marplan–the list goes on and on and on!–also work on keeping serotonin circulating. Serotonin is important in supporting good sleep, memory, and learning. Healthy digestive activity also relies on serotonin. Have you ever had butterflies in your stomach, knots in your stomach, nausea, or diarrhea when you are nervous or stressed out? Then you know why the gut is sometimes called the “Second Brain.”
The first question I get with regard to acupuncture is almost invariably, “Is it painful?” My answer is, “No.” For more about this, check out my articles, “But I’m afraid” and “Planning for the Worst.”
TCM also has stress-management options that do not involve needles for anyone that does not want to have acupuncture.
But think of this. One of my patients told me that when he gets up from his acupuncture treatments, he is the most relaxed he has ever been…in his life. Wow!