Stress is what you feel when you have to handle more than you are used to. When you are stressed, your body responds as though you are in danger. It makes hormones that speed up your heart, make you breathe faster, and give you a burst of energy. This is called the fight or flight stress response. When stress happens too often or lasts too long, it can be linked to headaches, upset stomach, back pain, weak immune system, trouble sleeping, and make you moody, tense and depressed. Stress makes the adrenal glands raise your blood pressure and increases heart disease.
Have you ever “choked” under stress? Did you ever have to make a “gut-wrenching” decision under pressure? Gut is seat of human emotion and stress affects every part of the digestive system. When stress activates the fight or flight response, digestion is shut down because your nervous system reduces blood flow, affects the contractions of your digestive muscles, and decreases secretions needed for digestion. Stress can cause acid re-flux, nausea, diarrhea or constipation. Stress secretes the hormone cortisol which leads to panic and binging—eating too much and craving too many sweets.
A study at the Yale University School of Medicine found acupuncture to significantly reduce anxiety, promote calm and relaxation and help circulate blood. Neuro-imaging studies show acupuncture calms the stress parts of the brain and activates those involved in rest and recuperation. Doppler ultrasounds show that acupuncture increases blood flow. Thermal imaging shows it makes inflammation subside and stimulates releases of the “feel good” endorphin’s.
The Dr. Oz Show says “Acupuncture curbs appetite, quells cravings, boosts metabolism, improves digestion, regulates obesity-related hormones…It also strengthens the function of the liver, the organ that produces many chemicals critical for digestion, processing nutrients and breaking down fats. Acupuncture may also increase tone in the smooth muscle of the stomach to help people know they are full.” So if you have stress, digestive or weight problems, acupuncture may be your safe, gentle approach to natural healing.