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How Acupuncture Affects the Brain and Mental Health

The majority of people across the world know what acupuncture is. However, they are not aware of its short-term and long-term side effects. Acupuncture is an old practice that has existed for close to two thousand years now. Other people believe that it is way older than that. Lots of research studies have been conducted to discover the benefits and the side effects of this practice.

Have you ever wondered why and how this practice is effective in combating chronic health issues? Acupuncture has the potential of changing the chemistry of your brain, the structure of neurotransmitters, and pain response. In this post, we are going to define acupuncture and its effects on the brain and your mental health. Let’s get started!

Defining acupuncture

As stated in the reports of some research paper service, acupuncture is an old practice that involves penetrating the skin with thin, metallic, solid needles that are activated with electrical stimulation or through specific and gentle movements of the hands of the practitioner. Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese practice. The practitioners believe that the human body has more than two thousand points connected by meridians or pathways. These pathways help in the flow of energy around the body.

When the energy flow is disrupted, the body will be harmed by dangerous diseases. Applying acupuncture to specific points improves energy flow in all parts of the body thus improving health. Research studies have shown that acupuncture is an effective practice for a wide range of health conditions. However, this practice is not ideal for everyone. Before visiting a practitioner, it’s important to see your doctor first. If your doctor allows it, visit a practitioner who has been licensed by the health board and has all the necessary tools.

What should you expect to feel?

As we said earlier, acupuncture is done using thin, metallic needles. Most people have reported feeling minimal or no pain at all during insertion. The needle is inserted up to the point where it starts producing a sensation of ache or pressure. During the treatment, needles might be heated or an electric current is applied to them. Some people have reported that the practice makes them feel relaxed and energized.

According to some reviews of the, placing the needle incorrectly during the treatment can cause pain. The practitioner has to sterilize the needles to prevent infections. That’s why it is important to have this procedure done by a qualified practitioner who has all the necessary tools. Acupuncture needles are regulated by the FDA to ensure that the manufacturing process and sterility standards are high. At times, the practitioner can choose other forms of stimulation instead of needles. They include:

●      Pressure (acupressure)

●      Suction (cupping)

●      Heat

●      Electromagnetic energy impulse

●      Friction

Effects of acupuncture on the brain

1.     It helps the brain to release painkillers

What comes to mind when you think of painkillers? Prescribed medication and over-the-counter drugs will probably come to mind. Our brains are chemical factories. And they are capable of producing various hormones and chemicals such as endorphins that help in the management of pain. Acupuncture can help your brain produce and release lots of essential chemicals. Most people visit acupuncture practitioners to help them relieve pain. According to a study conducted by the American College of Physicians, acupuncture is one of the best solutions for people suffering from back pain.

2.     It helps your brain release neuropeptide molecules

A research study conducted back in 2013 found that acupuncture can help your brain release molecules known as neuropeptides. Neuropeptides facilitate the communication between neurons and effector cells in the central nervous system. This can help in relieving pain in different parts of the body and stimulating the self-healing process.

3.     It improves blood flow

Another amazing effect of acupuncture is that it improves blood flow throughout the body. The practice constricts blood vessels while releasing vasodilators. And this leads to the relaxation of blood vessels. When blood vessels relax, high blood pressure and cerebral blood pressure are reduced in the body.

4.     It relieves anxiety

A research study conducted in 2013 by Complementary and Alternative Medicine found out that acupuncture has a degree of efficacy on various autonomic disorders related to the nerve such as anxiety, cardiovascular diseases, nervousness, epilepsy, polycystic ovary syndrome, circadian rhythm disorders, and subfertility. The researchers concluded that acupuncture can alter neurotransmitters in different areas of the brain to stop autonomic responses. And this alleviates disorders related to the nerves.

5.     It can boost mood

Apart from changing the way your brain responds to pain, acupuncture can have a positive effect on your mental health. Acupuncture affects neurotransmitters, noradrenaline, and serotonin which all affect an individual’s mood. Most people around the world are using acupuncture as an alternative treatment for depression. Acupuncture has proven to enhance the effects of selective reuptake of serotonin inhibitors thus helping the treatment work quickly to increase the levels of serotonin and strengthen the immune system.

6.     It can improve the brain’s response to stress

Are you always stressed out as an essay writer? If yes, you should give acupuncture a shot. The nervous system is composed of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. The sympathetic nervous system is popularly known for the flight or fight response. When this system is on, blood pressure together with cortisol (stress hormone) goes up. Acupuncture encourages the body to allow the parasympathetic nervous system to take over. And this slows down the heart rate, drops cortisol levels and blood pressure.

7.     It blocks the body’s process to fight pain

While scientific studies have proven that acupuncture releases natural pain killers, some doctors and scientists believe that this practice works because it prevents pain from being felt in the spinal cord and the brain. Acupuncture helps in controlling pain through the gate theory. When the nervous system gets hit with lots of nerve impulses, it will get overwhelmed and close all pain centers. These gates usually close during acupuncture.

Factors to consider when choosing acupuncture

●      Since scientific studies have not fully elaborated how and why this practice works in the western medicine framework, the subject is quite controversial. Therefore, it’s important to take these necessary precautions before and during the procedure:

●      Discuss with your doctor: As we said earlier, this practice is not for everyone. You need to discuss the treatments and medicines that you are taking. If you are pregnant or have underlying health issues, you need to tell your doctor.

●      You don’t have to ask an acupuncture practitioner to diagnose any disease that you are suffering from. After receiving a diagnosis from your doctor, you can ask them whether acupuncture will help.

●      Visit a licensed acupuncture practitioner: Your doctor can be a great source of referral to a licensed practitioner. Family members and friends can also refer you to a good practitioner.


Acupuncture is an old practice that has improved the health of millions of people across the world. Since it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, you should ask your doctor first before trying it out.


About the author:

Tiffany Harper is a training guru who’s been working in the corporate sector as a technology expert for several years now. She is a management graduate and loves to share her experience through blogs and expert articles. For her love of writing, she provided online consultations for college paper reviews while working with Please do not hesitate to contact her on LinkedIn.


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