Acupuncture and Herbs for Stress Relief

Cherry Blossoms

When I moved from Austin to Washington, DC, the first thing I noticed was how much more stress my patients here experience. Washington, DC is an achievement focused city, and many of us are trying to meet our career goals while simultaneously juggling friendships, romantic relationships, home life and child care, pet care, and so much more. We know it’s hard to do everything and not be overwhelmed. Sometimes you just need a break and a chance to come back to center. For all of us busy and stressed people in Washington, DC, acupuncture and Chinese herbs can help. 

Stress is Ubiquitous

The real problem with stress is that it is ubiquitous. The big events are easy to notice, but sometimes the smaller ones are harder to catch and they add up over time. It all amounts to increasing strain on our nervous systems, which is where acupuncture comes in. Acupuncture brings a lot of benefits, which you can read more about here and here, but for stress, the most important thing it does is reset the nervous system.

Your subconscious nervous system can be loosely divided into two sections: the sympathetic and the parasympathetic. There are overlapping functions between these two subdivisions, but in general, the sympathetic nervous system controls the fight or flight responses and the parasympathetic controls the rest and digest functions. 

Think of it like a gas/brake system in a car — the sympathetic is the gas and the parasympathetic is the brake. When you’re stressed, your body relies on the sympathetic nervous system for energy to resolve that stress. However, if the stress keeps going, then that system stays on longer than it should and it gets harder and harder to apply the brakes. This causes a lot of the normal symptoms we associate with stress like feeling jittery, anxiety or panic, insomnia, lack of appetite, diminished libido, and more. 

How Does Acupuncture Help Stress? 

Acupuncture can help by interrupting the cycle of the sympathetic nervous system and allowing your body to apply the brakes. This is why most people feel so relaxed after acupuncture. Your body is finally able to put on the brakes after hitting the gas for so long. 

Chinese Herbs for Stress Relief

Similar to acupuncture, Chinese herbs can also be incredibly helpful in treating stress. Many herbs and formulas we use have calming effects to help the body more easily switch from sympathetic to parasympathetic dominance. The exact combination of herbs depends on the person, but most contain adaptogens, which help your body to better manage stress. 

Acupuncture and Herbs Work Together to Help You Manage Stress

While most of our sources of stress can’t be removed from our lives (work, environment, family, etc.), we can change how we manage their effects. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can help give you the relief and support you need to feel your best! 

Acupuncture Helps Interrupt the Stress Cycle

If you are feeling overwhelmed by stress, acupuncture and herbal medicine can help! Your acupuncturist will use your tongue, pulse, medical history, and current symptoms to create a customized treatment plan that is just for you — because you deserve to feel better. To get started, head to our booking page and schedule your first appointment. If you’d like us to check your insurance benefits, we’d be happy to take care of that for you. We are in-network with CareFirst/BlueCross, Aetna, and the VA Community Choice Network.

About the Author

Zach Beattie, MAc.OM, Dipl.OM, L.Ac.
Associate Acupuncturist at  
 Learn more about me

I find working as an acupuncturist to be truly inspiring, and am excited to come to work each day. I consider myself to be an integrative practitioner, and while I focus on Chinese medicine, I also incorporate Western medical concepts to best serve my patients.

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