Acupuncture Scotland Blog

News and points of interest from Acupuncture Scotland

Acupuncture and Anxiety

How acupuncture can help

The best evidence for acupuncture's effectiveness (Pikington 2010; Pilkington 2007) comes in specific acute anxiety situations such as around medical operations (Mora 2007; Wang 2007; Gioia 2006) or dentistry (Karst 2007).

There is surprisingly little research with a primary focus on acupuncture for generalised anxiety disorder. Those studies published so far are mostly small and methodologically flawed, hence the reluctance of reviewers to draw conclusions (Pilkington 2010; Pilkington 2007).

There are also preliminary positive findings for treating chronic anxiety associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (Hollifield 2007), substance misuse (Chae 2008; Courbasson 2007; Grusser 2005), eating disorders (Fogarty 2010), hyperventilation (Gibson 2007), asthma (Scheewe 2008), insomnia (Nordio 2008), post-stroke ((Wu 2008), musculo-skeletal pain (Hansson 2007; He 2005) and various other conditions where anxiety has been measured as a secondary rather than primary outcome.

Although the overall evidence is patchy, it does lie promisingly in a positive direction, and, given the very low level of side effects and lack of demonstrably superior outcomes from other interventions, acupuncture could be considered as one possible therapeutic option alongside the existing repertoire. (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 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).
  • 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; Samuels 2008; Zhou 2008; Yuan 2007).
  • 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 anxiety (Arranz 2007)
  • Reversing stress-induced changes in behaviour and biochemistry (Kim 2009).

Acupuncture can be safely combined with conventional treatments such as medication or psycho-educational therapy, possibly enhancing their beneficial effects (Courbasson 2007) and reducing unwanted side-effects (Yuan 2007).

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Professional Standards Authority

Professional Standards Authority accreditation of the BAcC’s voluntary register

The BAcC is delighted to announce that it is now accredited by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA). As one of only two organisations currently accredited (along with the British Association of Counseling and Psychotherapy), it offers members enhanced status with the public, with the NHS, private health insurers and the Government.

Harry Cayton, Chief Executive of the PSA said: "We are very pleased to accredit BAcC. Bringing acupuncture into a broad framework of assurance is good for patient, service users and the public and is the best way to promote quality. The scheme offers enhanced protection to anyone looking for health and social care services, and gives acupuncture the opportunity to demonstrate its commitment."

Nick Pahl commented "This is great news for members, who can use it as a mark of quality. It is testament to the membership in their support to develop BAcC and to BAcC staff, particularly John Wheeler and Mandy Foster, who helped produce such a comprehensive application.

The PSA state that accreditation does not imply that the Authority has assessed the merits of individuals on the register - this remains the responsibility of the BAcC. Accreditation means that BAcC's register meets the Professional Standards Authority's high standards in governance, standard-setting, education and training, management, complaints and information.

As part of next steps, BAcC's will be meeting with the Authority later in February to receive a communications toolkit advising the BAcC and members on key messages about accreditation and on the use and regulations of the accreditation mark. Wider dissemination of the mark cannot occur until the signed agreement is in place.

BAcC are also in discussion with BUPA regarding a change in their policy to allow BAcC registered members to be able to claim for patient treatments now that we are accredited with the PSA. Further discussions are planned with AXA/PPP Healthcare and the NHS Blood and Transplant Service.

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New Acupuncture Clinic, East Linton

Julia is please to announce her new clinic at 2 The Square East Linton is now open. To come to this clinic please phone Julia on 07970129478

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Client Testimonials

I personally will always attribute Julia's treatment to be the predominant factor in my extended period of remission from Crohn's disease. Julia is both a trusted friend and therapist and I would highly recommend her to anyone seeking an alternative therapy.

Haley Creasey

My aches and pains in ankles, knees, hips and lower back disappear and my energy levels are given a very good boost too! It is 45 minutes or so of relaxation in a busy schedule. She keeps up to date with modern acupuncture techniques and has recently returned from a trip to China to experience these new techniques first hand. I cannot recommend Julia highly enough

Christopher Spencer

I consider myself very fortunate to have found Julia's Acupuncture Practice 2 years ago, when I decided to try acupuncture for back problems. After a few treatments the problems were solved. Since I have every confidence in Julia's ability, each treatment is a very relaxing and worthwhile experience.

Jean Osborne

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