Can Acupuncture Be Used for Mental Wellness?

Can Acupuncture Be Used for Mental Wellness?

Mental wellness is key to overall health, happiness, and success. If you’re looking to improve your mental health, many options are available, from therapy to meditation and even, yes, acupuncture. Here’s what you need to know about how acupuncture can improve mental wellness. 

About Acupuncture: What You Need to Know

Acupuncture has been performed for thousands of years and is thought to have originated in China around 200 BCE and then slowly spread to Korea and Japan, and later Vietnam and even France. Acupuncture works via the insertion of thin needles at specific points of the body, or meridians, intending to balance or rebalance the human life force or Qi (pronounced chi). By the 1800s, interest in acupuncture waned, and in 1924, acupuncture was briefly outlawed as Western medicine gained acceptance in China. However, by the 1950s, acupuncture was reinstated, and scientists in China began to study its potential benefits once again. 


While research about the benefits of acupuncture is ongoing, several studies have shown that acupuncture may be helpful in certain conditions, including mental wellness. 

What Type of Training Do Acupuncturists Receive? 

Most US acupuncturists attend an accredited master’s program in acupuncture or Chinese medicine. However, some do receive doctoral degrees in one or both fields. The National Commission of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine is the only national organization that evaluates acupuncture and Oriental medicine competency in the US. However, not every state requires NCCAOM licensing for the practice of acupuncture. 

How Can Acupuncture Help Mental Wellness 

Studies have shown that several mental health problems, including anxiety and depression, can be relieved by acupuncture. A literature review published in 2007 looked at multiple studies where acupuncture was evaluated for anxiety and reported positive findings. Other studies have shown that acupuncture can also decrease the severity of depression. 


Other research has found that acupuncture can increase several central nervous system hormones such as serotonin, noradrenaline, and ACTH, all of which are linked to mood. Health centers that offer acupuncture indicate that the procedure can also help with PTSD, panic disorder and even relieve general stress.  


Using Acupuncture to Improve Mental Wellness

There is no simple answer to improving mental wellness because we are all unique individuals with our unique sets of experiences. While research does show promising connections between acupuncture and mental wellness, there is still a lot that the medical community does not understand about acupuncture and its effects. 


If you are considering acupuncture, it is best to do so in addition to, and not instead, of the other things that you are already doing. For instance, if meditating daily has helped your mental wellness, don’t stop meditating when you begin acupuncture. Likewise, if you are currently under the care of a mental health professional, you should speak to them about your decision to try acupuncture, especially if you are taking any medications. 

The Takeaway?

Acupuncture can be a great way to improve your mental wellness when used with other methods, but it is not for everyone. To ensure that your experience with acupuncture is safe, speak to your doctor, and do a bit of research on your local acupuncturist to ensure that they are certified. 

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