No Need to Be a Super Freak! Acupuncture Regulates Stress Hormones
Good news for all those who don’t wish to get their freak on! A new laboratory experiment using brain chemistry investigations shows that acupuncture regulates steroid hormones to reduce biochemical reactions to stress. How does this work? Acupuncture upregulates hormones in some areas while downregulating in other areas to maintain balance within the body when it is exposed to stress. Then they brought out the blot test! Western blot analysis confirmed behavioral testing that acupuncture biochemically reduces stress reactions.
The researchers discovered that acupuncture reduces stress by regulating glucocorticoid receptor (GR) protein expression. Acupuncture simultaneously upregulated GR protein expression in the hippocampus, hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN) and pituitary gland while decreasing expression in the adrenal cortex when laboratory rats were exposed to stress. This counters the opposite biochemical phenomenon caused by unpredictable chronic mild stress (UCMS). The researchers note that acupuncture balances bodily biochemistry in this dual-directional manner.
The researchers conducted a controlled experiment on different acupuncture points on laboratory rats and discovered that hormone reactions to acupuncture are point specific. Control groups did not receive acupuncture. Two groups received different sets of acupuncture points combined with exposure to unpredictable chronic mild stress.
The researchers note that one group showed a significantly greater reduction in stress related biochemical responses at adrenocorticotropic hormone receptors (ACTHR) than the other group.
The researchers note that “it is recognized generally that CRH (corticotrophin releasing hormone) is one of the important initiating factors in the stress process.” Acupuncture demonstrated a powerful ability to inhibit CRH protein expression in response to stress.
The researchers note that acupuncture demonstrated the ability to “decrease HPAA excitability” in reactions to stress. The HPAA (Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis) controls reactions to stress along with regulating many bodily functions including digestion and immunity. The researchers documented that acupuncture initiates a cascade of biochemical responses via the HPAA to reduce stress.
New research demonstrates that acupuncture exerts medically significant benefits and does so, in part, by regulating brain chemistry. Acupuncture research has also demonstrated that the specific choice of acupuncture points affects both brain chemistry and clinical outcomes.
Stress can manifest itself in a virtually unlimited number of ways, including headaches, muscle spasms, depression, insomnia, hypertension, and inappropriate social behavior, among many others. Increased heart rate, changes in breathing patterns, muscle tension and high blood pressure are common reactions from a change in brain chemistry that occurs with stress.
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Wang, Shao-jun, Jiao-jiao Zhang, Li-li Qie, and Shao-Jun Wang. “Acupuncture relieves the excessive excitation of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal cortex axis function and correlates with the regulatory mechanism of GR, CRH and ACTHR.”
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