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Emotional problems and Acupuncture

Mark Bovey, Head of Research for the British Acupuncture Council, says: “Traditional acupuncturists registered with the British Acupuncture Council are trained to treat people on an emotional level as well as a physical level. Feeling anxious or depressed can mean that a part of the body is out of balance and traditional acupuncture can be successful at unblocking the organs that are involved and under duress.

Source: https://www.acupuncture.org.uk/public-content/public-pr-press-releases/4898-anxiety-uk-and-british-acupuncture-council-launch-pilot-research-project.html


Our Blog

An ongoing series of informational entries

Depression and Acupuncture

March 15, 2017

Depression is a common mental health problem that affects people of all genders, ages, and backgrounds. About two thirds of adults will at some time experience depression severe enough to interfere with their normal activities (Mintel/YouGov, 2006, Stewart et al, 2004).

Women are twice as likely as men to become depressed (Stewart et al, 2004) partly due to hormone changes occurring pre-menstrually, at menopause, during pregnancy or after childbirth. Depression is estimated to cost the UK £7.5 billion a year in medication, benefits and lost working days (McCrone et al, 2008). The World Health Organization predicts that by 2020 depression will be second only to chronic heart disease as an international health burden (WHO, 2008

Although everyone occasionally experiences low mood, these feelings usually pass after a couple of days. When a person has clinical depression, these problems can become chronic or recurrent, interfering with daily life. Depression causes symptoms such as low mood, loss of interest in enjoyable activities, anxiety, irritability low self-esteem, disturbed sleep or appetite, weight change, tiredness, lack of motivation, concentration or libido, physical pain, and suicidal thoughts.

Depression is likely to result from a combination of genetic, biochemical, environmental, and psychological factors. It may be triggered by stressful events, such as bereavement, illness, relationship problems or financial difficulties.

References

Mintel/YouGov. Depression poll commissioned by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. 2006 Apr.

Stewart DE, Gucciardi E, Grace SL; Depression. BMC Women's Health. 2004 Aug 25;4 Suppl 1:S19.

McCrone P, Dhanasiri S, Patel A, Knapp M, Lawton-Smith S. Paying the Price: The cost of mental health care in England to 2026. The King's Fund, May 2008, ISBN 978 1 85717 571 4.

World Health Organization. 2008. http://www.who.int/mental_health/management/depression/definition/en/

How acupuncture can help

Most research on acupuncture for depression has been carried out in China with Western drugs as comparators. Two recent systematic reviews, both drawing on Western and Chinese data, found that acupuncture was similar in effectiveness to anti-depressant medication and not significantly better than sham acupuncture or waiting list controls. However, they reached very different conclusions, one recommending acupuncture (Zhang 2010) and one stating that the evidence was insufficient (Smith 2010). Major issues to consider in respect of the research evidence are a) how trustworthy are Chinese studies (Ernst 2010), b) how valid are sham controlled trials (Schroer 2010), and c) how relevant to normal practice is the acupuncture provided in trials (Schroer 2010). Notions about acupuncture's placebo properties (Ernst 2010) can only be speculative, and with little relevance to decisions about patient benefit. Given that acupuncture appears to be at least as effective as existing conventional drugs, without their level of side effects, it should be considered as one of the therapeutic options, alongside the existing repertoire. Two specific situations, during pregnancy (Manber 2010) and post-stroke (Zhang 2010; Smith 2010), seem to be particularly favourable for incorporating acupuncture treatment. (See table overleaf)

In general, acupuncture is believed to stimulate the nervous system and cause the release of neurochemical messenger molecules. The resulting biochemical changes influence the body's homeostatic mechanisms, thus promoting physical and emotional wellbeing.

Studies indicate that acupuncture can have a specific positive effect on depression by altering the brain's mood chemistry, increasing production of serotonin (Sprott 1998) and endorphins (Wang 2010). Acupuncture may also benefit depression by acting through other neurochemical pathways, including those involving dopamine (Scott 1997), noradrenaline (Han 1986), cortisol (Han 2004) and neuropeptide Y (Pohl 2002).

Stimulation of certain acupuncture points has been shown to affect areas of the brain that are known to reduce sensitivity to pain and stress, as well as promoting relaxation and deactivating the 'analytical' brain which is responsible for anxiety and worry (Hui 2010). Stress-induced changes in behaviour and biochemistry may be reversed (Kim 2009).

Some of the most recent research suggests that depression is associated with dysfunction in the way that parts of the resting brain interact with each other (Broyd 2008); acupuncture has been shown to be capable of changing the 'default mode network' (Dhond 2007), but the effect goes beyond that of expectation/placebo (Hui 2010).

Acupuncture can be safely combined with conventional medical treatments such as anti-depressants, helping to reduce their side effects and enhance their beneficial effects (Zhang 2007).

Acupuncture treatment can also help resolve physical ailments such as chronic pain (Zhao 2008), which may be a contributing cause of depression. In addition to offering acupuncture and related therapies, acupuncturists will often make suggestions as to dietary and other lifestyle changes that may be helpful in overcoming depression. Finally, people struggling to cope with depression usually find that coming to see a supportive therapist on a regular basis is helpful in itself.

Additional Info

Terms and conditions:

Terms and conditions The use of this fact sheet is for the use of British Acupuncture Council members and is subject to the strict conditions imposed by the British Acupuncture Council details of which can be found in the members area of its website www.acupuncture.org.uk.


Source: https://www.acupuncture.org.uk/a-to-z-of-conditions/a-to-z-of-conditions/depression.html


Stress and Acupuncture

March 15, 2017

Up to half a million people in the UK experience work-related stress every year, which often results in illness.(Health and Safety Executive 2011) Other factors that affect stress levels include alcohol, smoking, exams, pregnancy, divorce, moving, death in family, lifestyle, drugs, poor nutrition and unemployment.

The signs of stress can vary from one individual to the next.(NHS Choices 2011) They may manifest physically as an illness, tiredness or lethargy, or as symptoms such as sore, tight muscles, dull skin, lank hair, or erratic sleep patterns. Mental stress can result in depression, mood swings, anger, frustration, confusion, paranoid behaviour, jealousy or withdrawal.

Conventional treatments include medication such as anti-anxiety drugs, cognitive behavioural therapy and relaxation techniques.(NHS Choices 2011)

References

Health and Safety Executive, 2011.Stress-related and psychological illness [online]. Available: http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causdis/stress/scale.htm

NHS Choices, 2011. Stress Management [online]. Available: http://www.nhs.uk/livewell/stressmanagement/Pages/Stressmanagementhome.aspx

How acupuncture can help

Stress is a common complaint cited by acupuncture patients, with a variety of possible associated symptoms. The most prevalent of these is anxiety, for which there is information about acupuncture treatment in the Anxiety Fact Sheet. There are also factsheets on other conditions that are affected by stress, such as back pain, chronic pain, depression, headache, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, menopausal symptoms, migraines, premenstrual syndrome and urinary incontinence.

Aside from such associated conditions, there is little clinical research on stress per se. One small randomised controlled trial (RCT) suggested that acupuncture might be successful in treating the symptoms of chronic stress (Huang 2011). Another three RCTs have investigated acupuncture in very specialised situations: a) as an adjunct to anaesthesia, it was found to help keep haemodynamics stable and reduce the stress response during laparoscopic cholecystectomy (Wu 2011); b) it did not reduce salivary cortisol concentrations (and so may not be able to reduce emotional stress) in female dysphonic speakers (Kwong 2010); c) acute acupuncture appeared to control excessive sympathetic excitation during mental stress in patients with advanced heart failure (Middlekauff 2002). A crossover study with healthy individuals subjected to stress testing found acupuncture at a point indicated for stress was more effective than a 'control' point (Fassoulaki 2003). Several uncontrolled studies have looked at various aspects of stress and the effects of acupuncture. One found that it might be effective in attenuating psychological distress, as well as increasing cellular immunity (Pavao 2011). In another, acupuncture was associated with less stress around embryo transfer and improved pregnancy rates in women having IVF (Balk 2010). In a small pilot study, the use of one particular acupuncture point led to marked reductions in stress (Chan 2002).

In general, acupuncture is believed to stimulate the nervous system and cause the release of neurochemical messenger molecules. The resulting biochemical changes influence the body's homeostatic mechanisms, thus promoting physical and emotional well-being.

Research has shown that acupuncture treatment may specifically benefit anxiety disorders and symptoms of anxiety by:

Acting on areas of the brain known to reduce sensitivity to pain and stress, as well as promoting relaxation and deactivating the 'analytical' brain, which is responsible for anxiety and worry (Hui 2010; Hui 2009);

Improving stress induced memory impairment and an increasing AchE reactivity in the hippocampus (Kim 2011);

Reducing serum levels of corticosterone and the number of tyrosine hydroxylase-immunoreactive cells (Park 2010);

Regulating levels of neurotransmitters (or their modulators) and hormones such as serotonin, noradrenaline, dopamine, GABA, neuropeptide Y and ACTH; hence altering the brain's mood chemistry to help to combat negative affective states (Lee 2009; Cheng 2009; Zhou 2008);

Stimulating production of endogenous opioids that affect the autonomic nervous system (Arranz 2007). Stress activates the sympathetic nervous system, while acupuncture can activate the opposing parasympathetic nervous system, which initiates the relaxation response;

Reversing pathological changes in levels of inflammatory cytokines that are associated with stress reactions (Arranz 2007);

Reducing inflammation, by promoting release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors (Kavoussi 2007, Zijlstra 2003);

Reversing stress-induced changes in behaviour and biochemistry (Kim 2009).

About the British Acupuncture Council

With over 3000 members, the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) is the UK's largest professional body for traditional acupuncturists. Membership of the BAcC guarantees excellence in training, safe practice and professional conduct. To find a qualified traditional acupuncturist, contact the BAcC on 020 8735 0400 or visit www.acupuncture.org.uk

Additional Info

Terms and conditions:

Terms and conditions The use of this fact sheet is for the use of British Acupuncture Council members and is subject to the strict conditions imposed by the British Acupuncture Council details of which can be found in the members area of its website www.acupuncture.org.uk.

Source: https://www.acupuncture.org.uk/a-to-z-of-conditions/a-to-z-of-conditions/stress.html


Anxiety UK and British Acupuncture Council

March 15, 2017

Anxiety UK and British Acupuncture Council launch pilot research project

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Anxiety UK and British Acupuncture Council launch pilot research project

Anxiety UK and the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) have launched a joint pilot project which will see members of Anxiety UK being able to access traditional acupuncture through this new partnership.

Throughout the pilot project, data will be collected to determine the effectiveness of traditional acupuncture for treating those living with anxiety and anxiety based depression. This will enable both parties to continue to build a body of evidence to measure the success rate of this type of treatment.

Of those Anxiety UK members who have received traditional acupuncture from BAcC members, 74% reported anxiety was the primary reason for seeking treatment while 62% said it was a secondary reason.

Additionally, research carried out with BAcC members by the University of York found that traditional acupuncture is just as effective as talking therapies and more effective than drugs for depression.1

Anxiety UK’s Chief Executive Nicky Lidbetter said: “This is an exciting project and will provide us with valuable data and outcomes for those members who take part in the pilot and allow us to assess the benefits of extending the pilot to a regular service for those living with anxiety.

“We know anecdotally that many people find complementary therapies used to support conventional care can provide enormous benefit, although it should be remembered they are used in addition to and not instead of seeking medical advice from a doctor or taking prescribed medication.

“This supports our strategic aim to ensure that we continue to make therapies and services that are of benefit to those with anxiety and anxiety based depression, accessible.”

Mark Bovey, Head of Research for the British Acupuncture Council, added: “Traditional acupuncturists registered with the British Acupuncture Council are trained to treat people on an emotional level as well as a physical level. Feeling anxious or depressed can mean that a part of the body is out of balance and traditional acupuncture can be successful at unblocking the organs that are involved and under duress.

“We’re confident this pilot research programme will allow us to be much better informed and to gather a body of evidence to support the view that traditional acupuncture can be extremely beneficial for anxiety and anxiety based depression.”

The pilot programme is open to any Anxiety UK member not currently in receipt of any other form of therapy.

Further details can be provided by emailing [email protected]

References

1 MacPherson H, Richmond S, Bland M, Brealey S, Gabe R, Hopton A, Keding A, Lansdown H, Perren S, Sculpher M, Spackman E, Torgerson D, Watt I. Acupuncture and counselling for depression in primary care: a randomised controlled trial. PLoS Med. 2013;10(9):e1001518.


For more information go to: https://www.acupuncture.org.uk/public-content/public-pr-press-releases/4898-anxiety-uk-and-british-acupuncture-council-launch-pilot-research-project.html