The Body’s Stress Response

When you perceive a threat, your nervous system responds by releasing a flood of stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones rouse the body for emergency action.

Your heart pounds faster, muscles tighten, blood pressure rises, breath quickens, and your senses become sharper. These physical changes increase your strength and stamina, speed your reaction time, and enhance your focus—preparing you to either fight or flee from the danger at hand.

This is a nomal stress response. On the other hand,  however, if the stress/stressor continues the body cannot cope. This “distress” causes major changes in your general health.

You become prone to infections, heart disease, insomnia, depression. You loose the general  “get up and go ” feeling.

Acupuncture used to be very widely regarded as no more than a technique for reducing stress and pain, but opinion was sharply divided between those who thought the benefits were largely non-specific – being given time and attention, being listened to, lying down relaxing for half an hour – as much as the needles themselves. This is still the case now, and the words ‘placebo effect’ are used somewhat disparagingly about apparent successes of acupuncture. As one of the senior medical acupuncturists in the UK said, however, if both acupuncture and the ‘sham’ acupuncture used in a major trial outperform conventional treatment, that has got to be worth investigating.

Stress is such a wide-ranging and inclusive term that it is very difficult to give a blanket answer. In most cases we advise people to seek advice locally and in person for their specific needs, except in those cases where we are sure that acupuncture will not help or may even be contra-indicated, but in this case that is the only answer we can give. How stress presents in your life and what the main presenting causes are can have a huge bearing on how well it can be treated. If someone is trapped in a job they hate with an unpleasant boss whom they have to put up with to pay a large mortgage, there is nothing that treatment can do to change the material circumstances and possibly the best it can manage is to reduce the impact of these day to day vexations. Where the causes are more internal it may be possible to achieve more. Speaking directly to one of our members is the best course of action.

STRESS, YIN TANG AND THE LIVER

Yin tang is one of the most popular points used in Acupuncture. It is located between the eyebrows. Yintang has a very powerful action of calming the mind and because of this action is almost always used in the treatment of insomnia, anxiety and agitation. Because of the location of Yintang, it can be an effective point to treat a frontal headache. Yintang also benefits the nose and is often used to treat nasal and sinus congestion, rhinitis and nosebleed. Yintang can be used to treat disorders of the eyes and can be stimulated not only by acupuncture, but also acupressure. I often give my patients homework to do between acupuncture treatments. Self acupressure on a number of acupuncture points on the face and head will increase circulation to the eyes and Yintang is one of those points.

According to the philosophy of Chinese medicine, the liver is responsible for the smooth flow of Qi (energy) throughout the body and smoothing our emotions. Anger, irritability, and frustration are all signs that our Qi is not flowing smoothly. This is referred to as Liver Qi Stagnation, one of the most common imbalances treated by Eastern medicine practitioners in the western world.

We commonly treat patients with anxiety and stress related conditions. The key is,  however,  to get the patients to look after the stressors. Acupuncture treatment will work on the enrgetic levels and Osteopathic treatment will treat the mechanical effects of stress.