Article by Acupuncturist, Rachel Pagones
A study recently reported that acupuncture is more effective than a commonly used drug called fluoxetine hydrochloride to treat Post-Stroke Depression. We asked Acupuncturist, Rachel Pagones, to share more about the benefits of this holistic health technique.
When I talk to people about the benefits of acupuncture, they’re often surprised to hear that it is really helpful in alleviating emotional issues, such as anxiety and depression. Most people have heard that acupuncture is an effective pain reliever, and some have heard that it helps with stress, but few know just how deep the connection is between acupuncture and a person’s emotional well-being.
What’s your shen like today? Acupuncture may help.
When a patient walks into my office, I always assess not only their physical appearance, but also, what in Chinese medicine is called the “shen”, a person’s spirit–you can detect it in their expression, their voice, their eyes. Acupuncturists always consider the state of a person’s shen before giving a treatment, because it is so vital to their overall health.
Chinese medicine–which includes acupuncture and herbal medicine–dates back well over 2,000 years. Although society, average lifespan, and personal expectations were certainly very different at that time, the doctors and philosophers who formulated and practiced Chinese medicine always recognized the importance of the shen and the central role that emotion plays in a person’s health.
Emotional stress can cause disease
The earliest (and subsequent) Chinese medical texts emphasize that emotion is one of the main causes of disease. As a result, there is a great focus on treating the root cause of illness, not just the symptoms. This is one of the main reasons that people tell me they like acupuncture: because it addresses the root of their problem, they feel they can truly get to the bottom of it, and gain personal control over their health as well as long-lasting relief.
Acupuncture for older people makes them feel better
Many of my patients are older, and I’ve also done research into how older adults perceive the benefits of acupuncture. One thing that stands out is the prevalence of depression and anxiety as people become older, sicker, and, often, more isolated. My research found that acupuncture treatments made a big difference in relieving anxiety and depression and improving mood among older adults. Most people said what they liked best about acupuncture was that it simply made them feel better.
Where I find acupuncture is the most helpful is in relieving what we might call distress: a combination of physical discomfort plus emotional fear and worry about how that discomfort will affect a person’s life. Acupuncture works so well for this type of distress because it reduces pain while calming the mind and boosting mood. One way we know this works is through the release of endorphins–the body’s natural “feel-good” neurotransmitters–which is promoted through the insertion of acupuncture needles.
The combination of symptom relief plus emotional respite is one reason that acupuncture has become so popular with cancer patients and their doctors. In fact, acupuncture is now recommended by nearly every major cancer association in the United States. It’s a treatment that can help a person feel better at any stage of life but has particular importance for people as they grow old or deal with late-stage illness.
Integrated MD Care offers a variety of integrative health-care services, like acupuncture, to help make people with serious or terminal illnesses more comfortable. If you’d like to learn about how we can assist you, please contact us to schedule a free telephone consultation,
(Note from Dr. Bob Uslander, founder of Integrated MD Care)
Some of the patients who receive care through Integrative MD Care have had acupuncture previously, so allowing our acupuncturists into their homes as members of their care team is natural for them. Other patients have never received, or even considered, acupuncture treatments before, and may need to be encouraged to give it a try. Without exception, our patients experiencing physical pain and/or emotional distress who open themselves up to acupuncture have received significant benefit from the treatments. It really works!