Acupuncture And 3 Nutrients To Ease Chronic Stress
A growing number of studies and research is discovering the powers of acupuncture and its role in stress management and alleviating anxiety. “Many practitioners of acupuncture have observed that this ancient practice can reduce stress in their patients, but there is a lack of biological proof of how or why this happens. We’re starting to understand what’s going on at the molecular level that helps explain acupuncture’s benefit,” study researcher Dr. Ladan Eshkevari, an associate professor of nursing at Georgetown University School of Nursing and Health Studies, said in a statement. In one particular study, researchers studied the effects on rats (subjects who know nothing about placebo or what was going on) and reasoned blood levels as we understand them in relation to the brain and stress hormones. The body secretes an assortment of hormones into the bloodstream as a reaction to stress, which the researchers were then able to measure in the rats. They assessed blood hormone levels secreted by the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland and the adrenal gland — together these are known as the hypothalamus pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis. They also measured a peptide involved in creatures’ “fight or flight” responses, called NPY.
Researchers discovered that the “…electronic acupuncture blocks the chronic, stress-induced elevations of the HPA axis hormones and the sympathetic NPY pathway,” Eshkevari said in the statement. Since stress has been linked with detrimental health effects including heart disease and brain shrinkage, it’s important to study any measures to combat its detrimental nature.
As acupuncturists, we can often see the benefits of treatments immediately. Some people experience the effects for a few hours, or if they come regulatory and as the therapies build, they begin to have lasting effects.
What can people do in between their treatments? Below is some great information on nutrients.
Cravings can indicate that you are struggling with nutritional deficiencies. For example, many people have a deficiency in Magnesium. Magnesium provides a very calming effect on the body. Chocolate is high in Magnesium. Maybe your chocolate cravings are simply your body telling you a crucial piece of information: you need more nutrition!
We can become deficient in nutrients for various reasons. Overuse of medications such as antibiotics and birth control pills, high intake of processed or fried foods, leaky gut, undiagnosed food sensitivities and chlorinated water and others can contribute to this. Choosing to fill your body with nutrient dense foods, coupled with therapy with an anxiety specialist, can be a powerful combination to help you in your journey towards overcoming anxiety.
Magnesium is a POWERFUL relaxant mineral for the body. It is extremely important for the metabolism of other nutrients such as Calcium and Potassium. Magnesium deficiency can occur for many reasons such as excess body fat (hinders the absorption), alcohol consumption, coffee intake, profuse sweating, prolonged stress, excessive menstruation and use of other drugs. Malabsorption of Magnesium can lead to a host of physical and mental ailments such as anxiety, ADD, panic attacks, hypertension, fungal infections, recurrent bacterial infections, PMS, Calcium deficiency, muscle weakness, aggression and impotence, to name a few.
Taking a Magnesium Glycinate supplement can be extremely helpful (check with your doctor first if you have other medical conditions), but there are great ways to obtain it through foods. Kelp, wheat bran, wheat germ, almonds, cashews, buckwheat, brazil nuts, dulse, filberts, millet, pecans, walnuts, rye, tofu, soy beans, brown rice, figs, dates, collard greens, shrimp, avocado, parsley, beans, barley, dandelion greens, and garlic are all high in Magnesium. You can also take a bath in Epsom Salt (with a few drops of Lavender oil for relaxation) to help absorb Magnesium and de-stress!
B Vitamins and Iron
B-Vitamins have been shown in studies to help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. A recent 2013 study demonstrated that with intake of a B vitamin supplement, participants showed significant and more continuous improvements in depressive and anxiety symptoms compared to placebo. It also showed significant improvement on the mental health scale compared to placebo. Researchers concluded that B Vitamins can help improve mood and mental health quality in adults with depression. Another recent study showed that low levels of B6 and Iron contribute to increased panic attacks and hyperventilation. Both B6 and Iron are important in the synthesis of serotonin.
Great food sources of B Vitamins, particularly B6 include poultry, beef, salmon, sweet potato, sunflower seeds, spinach and pistachios.
Iron from meat, poultry, and fish (i.e., heme iron) is absorbed two to three times more efficiently than iron from plants (i.e., non-heme iron). Some good sources of iron include clams, oysters, beef, turkey, chicken, sardines, pork, fortified cereals, pumpkin seeds, beans, tofu, and sesame seeds.
Feel free to reach out to the clinic to see our dietician or acupuncturists! We can help, naturally!
Resources and to read more: