Lower Stress Hormones with Acupuncture
Published on July 11, 2018
by Dr. Caitlin Gordon

Lower Stress Hormones with Acupuncture

Published on July 11, 2018 by Dr. Caitlin Gordon

How Acupuncture Reduces the Negative Impact of Chronic Stress

relaxed woman laying in a bathtubCortisol is a hormone that our body makes in response to stress. It’s a helpful and necessary response to acute stressors in our life like running from the police or tackling other shoppers on Black Friday. But, as you’ve likely read, we operate in a state of fight-or-flight far more often than we are hormonally adapted to do. Our jobs spark our fight or flight response, traffic triggers it, even getting into an argument with our spouse or kids will flood our brain cells with cortisol. The result? Too much cortisol, too often.

Excessive exposure to cortisol can cause:

  • Weight gain, especially around the midsection
  • High blood pressure
  • Depressed thyroid function
  • Blood sugar imbalance
  • Poor sleep
  • Muscle weakness
  • Mood swings, anxiety, depression
  • Cognitive impairment (brain fog, fuzzy thinking)
  • Weakened immune system
  • Slow wound healing

Over time excessive cortisol can cause the adrenal glands to become less responsive to stress triggers, resulting in a suppressed production of cortisol. This is a more serious problem. It is what people refer to as “adrenal fatigue”. We become unable to mount an appropriate response to stressors, similarly to the way insulin receptors become unresponsive to blood glucose levels after years of a high-sugar diet.

We desperately need to implement techniques for lowering stress hormones if we want to avoid chronic disease.

Lower Stress Hormones with Acupuncture

Acupuncture treatments lower stress hormones. Acupuncture needles trigger the parasympathetic nervous system. Cortisol flushing is a term used to describe the idea that when we enter a parasympathetic nervous state (rest and digest mode), our body metabolizes cortisol and it is flushed from the cells. The body produces calming hormones like dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin when we feel relaxed.

The better we are at switching into a parasympathetic state, and the more frequently we do it, the less time our cells are exposed to cortisol hormones. This helps mitigate the damaging effects of stress.

Acupuncture has been shown to immediately lower stress hormones by reducing cortisol levels when high and can raise chronically depressed cortisol as well. Even more exciting, after acupuncture, you may experience lower cortisol production for as many as 7 days.

When To Schedule

Schedule acupuncture to lower stress hormones after stressful events– deaths in the family, court cases, illness, surgery, holidays, exams, interviews, travel, etc. You can also schedule 2-3 acupuncture sessions leading up to a stressful event to help mitigate the effect of elevated cortisol levels during the event.


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