Posted on January 1, 2018 by in ,

Stress, the immune system and acupuncture

Stress, the immune system and acupuncture

The run-up to Christmas is hectic. We have more financial pressures, more organising and housework to do, more social commitments and, often, tighter work deadlines. In January we are facing into a New Year with positive goals and ideas for ourselves with perhaps not enough energy to realise them. The stress we were under has had our Sympathetic Nervous System switched on and our bodies have probably been in “Fight or Flight mode” more than they should have been. Back in caveman times this meant that our bodies were primed to deal with running into a large, wild animal and this gave us the energy to either fight or run for our lives. This demanded a pretty drastic and immediate reaction from our brain and our bodies that prepared us for these activities. If we were successful our bodies settled back to normal. Let’s not think about the alternative!

Today our triggers are different and we don’t get the opportunities we need to work off our bodies response instantly. As a result we are exposed to the ongoing effects of this fight or flight response. This can result in health issues such as headaches, muscle tension, digestive complaints, shallow breathing and anxiety. Our body becomes flooded with the hormone cortisol, which has a negative impact on our immune system over time.

When we relax and switch off our Sympathetic Nervous System our Parasympathetic Nervous System comes into play. This system’s role has earned it the title of “ Rest and Digest” ( now who doesn’t need loads of both of those after Christmas!)  When we are relaxed our body has time to heal. In the 1960s an American cardiologist, Dr Herbert Benson, became interested in the effects of relaxation on our health and he started the Harvard Mind/Body Medical Institute. He coined the term “ the Relaxation Response” and produced many papers on the positive impact that it has on our health. He found that meditation, yoga, energy healing ,massage and acupuncture all helped bring about this effect. For anybody who has never experienced acupuncture I know it sounds strange to consider a treatment that sticks needles into you as relaxing, but you really have to try it! It is deeply relaxing. Acupuncture increases the number of both white and red blood cells and T-cells which boosts the efficacy of our immune response. It helps reduce pain and restore balance in our bodies. Spring is on the horizon but we still have a bit of winter to get through. Why not make some time for acupuncture to boost your health and relaxation and get you ready for a great 2018.

– Sarah Ledwidge


For more information about acupuncture at The Novara Centre, click here