“We spend so much of our time racing to work or getting the kids to school, all which utilize our fight-or-flight nervous system, or sympathetic nervous system. Acupuncture helps us relax and shift into our parasympathetic, or rest-and-digest, nervous system.”

This process increases hormones associated with a positive mood.

“This important shift changes our neurochemistry, increasing our ‘happy’ hormones, such as serotonin and epinephrine, and decreasing our main ‘stress’ hormone, cortisol.”


In addition to increasing serotonin, a 2016 review of both animal and human studies suggested that acupuncture may help treat depression. A 2019 case studyTrusted Source on a person diagnosed with depression suggested that acupuncture may even be associated with decreases in suicidal intention.

You’re likely to leave your next acupuncture session feeling happier and relaxed due to the release of gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), a relaxation amino acid.

Along with GABA, acupuncture may also encourage the release of:

  • serotonin
  • epinephrine
  • dopamine

Research assessing the impact of acupuncture on stress tends to focus on specific objective parameters of stress. These include:

  • blood pressure
  • heart rate
  • cortisol levels

“Acupuncture has been shown in studies to decrease the activation of the stress response and various indicators of stress in the body and improve the patient experience with stress and anxiety.”

“Acupuncture relaxes the system and mitigates the repercussions of stress created by our daily lives.” “Acupuncture is an essential tool for both physical and mental well-being, de-stress and re-energize.”

There is quite a bit of research that addresses the effectiveness of acupuncture on stress.

An older 2002 study of advanced heart failure patients found that acupuncture helped diminish stress.

The study demonstrated that acupuncture can help inhibit activation of the sympathetic nervous system in heart failure patients under stress. In other words, acupuncture may help prevent the activation of the stress response.

A randomized controlled clinical trial published in 2017 tested the effects that traditional acupuncture had when compared with sham acupuncture used as a control.

Participants were people who studied or worked on a large, urban college campus. Those in both the traditional acupuncture and sham acupuncture group showed a substantial initial decrease in perceived stress scores within the first few weeks.

At 12 weeks post-treatment, the traditional acupuncture group showed a significantly greater treatment effect than the sham acupuncture group. The study also demonstrated that effects can persist for at least 3 months after completion of treatment.

In a 2018 study of 75 women with fibromyalgia, real acupuncture showed improvement for longer periods of time than sham acupuncture.

Acupuncture Proactively Reduces Stress.

Here’s how.

Yes, there are needles, and they don’t hurt. To restore the body’s stress equilibrium, we use very fine needles inserted just under the skin to stimulate our body’s acupressure points and meridians and improve the flow of Qi (pronounced “chee”), or vital energy in our systems. After an extensive evaluation, your practitioner will determine the best points to place the needles on your body. You’ll lay on a padded table, and your acupuncturist will begin placing needles with a light tap at each site. The needles are so fine that you’ll barely feel it. There may be one that feels “strong” or like a mosquito bite.

  1. Acupuncture sessions provide relaxation time. In addition to the healing effects the needles offer, the session itself calms and relaxes you. After placing the needles, you’ll rest for about 30 minutes and allow the treatment to unfold. During this time, you can listen to soft music, rest your eyes, or even fall lightly asleep.
  2. There are no side-effects with acupuncture. Since acupuncture is a drug-free treatment modality, you won’t have to worry about the side effects that many drugs carry. Further, you can also rest assured there will not be any adverse drug interactions with your current medications. Your acupuncturist will recommend a treatment frequency to help you achieve your desired stress-reduction objectives.
  3. Acupuncture uses your body’s internal mechanisms to bring relief. When the fine needles stimulate nerves under the skin, the nerve sends a message to the brain, telling it to release our natural pain killers, called endorphins. These natural brain chemicals cause us to relax and feel euphoric or happy. Acupuncture also helps our bodies naturally reduce inflammation and pain as well, which can both increase with chronic stress. Beyond that, study is showing more and more that acupuncture can amazing benefits to your neural function and chemical balance.
  4. Going to your appointment means taking much needed time for self-care. Unlike popping a pill and soldiering on, scheduling and attending an acupuncture appointment adjusts your focus back on yourself. Part of reducing stress is changing our mindsets and habits. Not only is acupuncture effective in changing your internal stress-induced chemistry but maintaining a consistent treatment schedule helps you make time for yourself and re-prioritize your stressful habits.