If the holiday season has left you filled with hard-to-overcome stress, researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center say the alternative health answer to letting go may be acupuncture.
The researchers say an animal study that found acupuncture significantly reduces levels of a protein in rats linked to chronic stress may help explain the sense of well-being that many people receive from this ancient Chinese therapy.
“It has long been thought that acupuncture can reduce stress, but this is the first study to show molecular proof of this benefit,” said the study’s lead author, Ladan Eshkevari, Ph.D., an assistant professor at Georgetown’s School of Nursing & Health Studies, a part of GUMC.
The study used four groups of rats for a 14-day experiment: a control group that was not stressed and received no acupuncture, a group that was stressed for an hour a day and did not receive acupuncture, a group that was stressed and received “sham” acupuncture near the tail, and the experimental group that was stressed and received acupuncture to the Zuslanli spot on the leg.
The Zuslanli point is said to help relieve a variety of conditions, including stress. That acupuncture point for humans is on the leg below the knee.
The researchers measured levels of neuropeptide Y (NPY) in the rats. NPY is a peptide that is secreted by the sympathetic nervous system in humans as well, and is responsible for the fight or flight response to acute stress. They found NPY levels in the experimental group came down almost to the level of the control group signifying stress release resulting from the treatment.