Acupuncture helps mental health by stimulating a number of neurotransmitters and hormones. These neurotransmitters send signals to the brain and spinal cord, and also send signals to release certain hormones that primarily kill pain and make you feel good. This is why acupuncture is an effective, natural, drug-free, non-habit-forming, and no-side-effect medical option.
This is the neuroscience behind acupuncture. There are four neurotransmitters and hormones associated with acupuncture stimulation:
- Norepinephrine is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands, and a neurotransmitter, which is a chemical substance that transmits signals across nerve endings. It is associated with blood pressure and heart health.
- Endorphins are hormones secreted within the brain and nervous system. Endorphins are the body’s natural painkillers. In response to pain or stress, they’re released by the hypothalamus and pituitary gland to relieve pain and create a “feel-good” sensation.
- Dopamine is another type of neurotransmitter that sends messages between nerve cells (stimulated by acupuncture). It’s associated with pleasure and helps us think, plan, and have motivation in life.
- Serotonin is another complex neurotransmitter that acts as a mood stabilizer. It helps produce healthy sleep patterns, improves digestion, and boosts mood. Serotonin affects:
- Mood and behavior—feeling good and living a long life
- Physiological processes (digestion)
From an Eastern perspective, two main approaches can be gleaned from an 8 Principle Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) diagnosis and a Five Element philosophy. In a broad overview, the patterns involved relate to deficiency, stagnation, heat, dampness, phlegm, and shen disturbance. Our guiding principles are to transform phlegm, move stagnation, tonify qi /chi/, calm shen, and nourish the heart.
From a five element perspective, a person’s constitution (inherent way of being) is associated with one of the five elements: Water, Wood, Fire, Earth, and Metal. Depending on an individual’s physiology, emotions, and stage in life, the goal is to balance disharmonies and acknowledge your elemental virtues or gifts in the world: wisdom, benevolence, propriety, integrity, righteousness.
There are different approaches to the type of mental health issues you have. A licensed acupuncturist will be able to help you navigate your health from a holistic point of view. Book an appointment today.