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How does Acupuncture Work (Part 2)

Following up on my previous blog on the local mechanisms of acupuncture, here we will discuss how acupuncture affects the bio-chemistry in the brain. What does this mean? Think of the acupuncture needle as the nail in Frankinstein’s head (but less painful or scary).

Let out the happiness

For most of us, what do we do when we feel down? We eat chocolate! Play Animal Crossing or exercise. Why? It helps us to wind down and relax. But what is actually happening in our body to help us feel better? It’s the happy hormones. When we do those activities we enjoy, our body is actually producing endorphin, serotonin and dopamine, which helps us to reduce the stress and feel better. The amazing thing about acupuncture is, that the needle in your body can also help to trigger the response to make more of these happy hormones, and without the extra calories of the triple chocolate coffee.

Ambush the stress pathway

Get ready for the science. Has anyone heard of the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenaline Axis? If you have, you get 10% off your next acupuncture with me. Simply put, this is the network of organs in our body that are key to redirecting the energy to where it is necessary, working on numerous body systems including stress, digestion, and immune system. One of the key roles of the HPA Axis is the secretion of cortisol. If endorphin, serotonin and dopamine are happiness hormones, cortisol is the stress hormone. That’s why the HPA Axis is the key pathway for stress. Acupuncture has been shown to interrupt this HPA pathway. What does this mean? Less cortisol = less stress. Meaning we deal with the same stressors better (You cant change your boss, but you can change how your body responds).

Happy Frankenstein

The take home message? Forget how to spell the HPA axis. Acupuncture helps to make more happy hormones, and helps to reduce stress hormones. Now I bet you wish you had someone to put a needle in your head 😉

Talk to us

Daniel is an acupuncturist at Kingsford and Kingscross clinics and is happy to help answer any questions.

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