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Stress management seen by acupuncture

These days, no one is immune to stress

Whether we are juggling schedules, work, study, and/or family obligations, our current lifestyle pushes us to continually do more in less time. At times this stress is short-lived – before an important exam or meeting, for instance – and then fades away; however, stress can also become a constant in our everyday lives, generating a variety of discomforts and sometimes even affecting our health. What can we do about it?
Obviously, we have all heard the usual tips on how to reduce stress or simply prevent it from becoming a permanent condition. There are positive lifestyle habits we can adopt to minimize stress and improve our quality of life; they include good nutrition with plenty of fresh, homemade ingredients, exercising, getting enough sleep, and balancing work and family life with rest periods. However, sometimes these changes are not enough, or you must get through especially tough times… what should you do then?

The effects of stress

When your body is exposed to stress over long periods, it experiences a constant state of high alert. This can pave the way to numerous health risks, including:

• Heart disease
• Sleep disruptions
• Digestive issues
• Depression
• Memory and focus problems
• Irritability
• Decreased appetite; or the opposite, overeating/binge-eating leading to weight gain
• Backache and other muscle aches and pains
• Potential increase in interpersonal conflicts, both at work and with friends and family members

It’s clear that stress can have a negative impact on all bodily functions, since the hormonal reaction it causes can affect the heart, lungs, blood vessels, kidneys, and immune system. Considering the broad range of symptoms stress can generates, managing it can be a complex and challenging task. So what can we do?
Well… have you considered acupuncture?

Acupuncture as a stress management tool

How can acupuncture help?

How can the introduction of fine needles into various body points help lower your stress level and improve overall health? To answer this question, we should start with the basics of acupuncture.

This traditional Chinese medicine discipline has been practiced for over 2,000 years. The purpose of an acupuncture session is to restore healthy circulation within the body, thereby re-establishing functional balance. When blood and energy (or qi) are circulating freely, the body’s immune and self-regulating mechanisms are fully functional, making it more difficult for illness to set in.

Acupuncture is a holistic practice, meaning it takes into account a person’s body, spirit, emotions and external environment as important parts of the whole. Doing so enables us to fully analyze that person’s symptoms, as well as potential causes. This approach is especially intriguing here, since the main causes of stress include holistic elements such as emotional strain, overexertion, and genetics.

When balance is disrupted

When a person experiences a physical or emotional disruption, it creates one or more “blockages” which affect the body’s energy flow. Our bodies can usually adapt and manage these blockages in the short term, unless the disruption was traumatic. However, if these blockages occur repeatedly or are long-lasting, they can transform into more worrisome congestive nodes, generating areas of excess or deficiency within the body’s organs, tissues, or muscles. When our balance is disrupted in this way, symptoms soon appear and set in.

The acupuncturist works to identify where these blockages originate. To do so, we prepare what is known as an energy balance assessment, a term that refers to an acupuncture-specific diagnosis. In stress-related cases, we determine the underlying emotion in the patient’s condition: anger, frustration, repression, overthinking/anxiety, sadness, guilt, withdrawal, fear, loss of control of a situation, etc. In Chinese medicine, each emotion is closely linked to a body organ. An emotion that is intensely or repeatedly felt can eventually damage the sphere of its associated body organ. Conversely, an organ which is not in balance (excess or deficiency) can cause or intensify its related emotion. For example, anxiety is associated with the spleen; anger, repression, and irritability are associated with the liver; and sadness, remorse, and sorrow are associated with the lungs.

Next, the acupuncturist prepares an overview of all identified signs and symptoms that both precede and follow the person’s stressful situation. By doing so, we can determine which body spheres are affected, and whether they are in a state of excess or deficiency. In cases where there are general acupuncture points for stress and anxiety, treatments will be tailored to the patient’s specific condition and based on the acupuncturist’s energy balance assessment.

What science and research have to say

An increasing number of studies are being conducted into acupuncture, leading to scientific explanations for the effects of these treatments. These include:

• Acupuncture enables relaxation by acting to modulate brain activity and stimulate the production of neurotransmitters (including endorphins, serotonin and dopamine);
• By acting on endocrine (hormonal) and nervous systems, acupuncture helps restore balance to the body.



Acupuncture might be a good choice if you’re suffering from a discomfort or malaise that you can’t clearly identify; or conversely, if you’re looking to bounce back from a known condition through a treatment approach that is both natural and free of side effects. If you have any questions on whether this treatment is right for you, feel free to contact us or speak to one of our clinic’s acupuncturist to determine how we can help.

Contact us: 514 990.9299




By Jérôme Aubin, Acupuncturist – Clinique Physiothérapie Universelle de Vanier



Association des acupuncteurs du Québec. The benefits of acupuncture.


Passeport Santé. Quand le stress rend malade. (French only)


Ross, Jeremy. Zang Fu: The Organ Systems of Traditional Chinese Medicine. 2nd edition; Churchill Livingstone, 1986, 218 pages.


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