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Sometimes held as physical tension, anxiety can be helped with treatments that manipulate the body. Acupuncture uses sterile, disposable, single-use, and hair thin needles which are inserted into points on the body that have scientifically and empirically validated therapeutic effects on the brain, nervous system, blood circulation, internal organs, and hormones. The brain and spinal nerves, when stimulated with acupuncture needles by a qualified Acupuncture Physician, can aid in treating the symptoms associated with many conditions including anxiety.
Effect of Acupuncture on Panic Disorder
Acupuncture is most often used in conjunction with Chinese herbs to treat anxiety disorders such as panic disorder by helping to restore balance to the energy fields that run through the body. Specifically, acupuncture works to treat the underlying imbalance in the body that is, as a result, causing the anxiety symptoms experienced by the individual.
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Research Evidence on Acupuncture
Studies continue to be conducted on the efficacy of acupuncture as a treatment for anxiety disorders such as panic disorder. Up until this point, promising results have been found. 12,29
Serious adverse effects associated with the use of acupuncture are rare. 1,2 The most commonly reported problems include short-term pain from needle insertion, tiredness, and minor bleeding. There is one report of infection caused by acupuncture given to a person with diabetes. 3 Some acupuncture points lie over the lungs and insertion to excessive depth could conceivably cause a pneumothorax (punctured lung). Because acupuncturists are trained to avoid this complication, it is a rare occurrence.
A recent report from China contained an example of another complication caused by excessively deep needling. 4 A 44-year-old man was needled on the back of the neck at a commonly used acupuncture point just below the bony protuberance at the base of the skull. However, the acupuncturist inserted the needle too deeply and punctured a blood vessel in the skull. The client developed a severe headache with nausea and vomiting; a CAT scan showed bleeding in the brain, and a spinal tap found a small amount of blood in the cerebrospinal fluid. The severe headache, along with neck stiffness, continued for 28 days. The man was treated with standard pain medication, and the condition resolved itself without any permanent effects.
Infection due to the use of unclean needles has been reported in the past, but the modern practice of using disposable sterile needles appears to have eliminated this risk.
- Ernst E, White AR. Prospective studies of the safety of acupuncture: a systematic review. Am J Med. 110(6):481-5.
- MacPherson H, Thomas K, Walters S, Fitter M. The York acupuncture safety study: prospective survey of 34 000 treatments by traditional acupuncturists. BMJ. 323(7311):486-7.
- Shah N, Hing C, Tucker K, Crawford R. Infected compartment syndrome after acupuncture. Acupunct Med. 20(2-3):105-6.
- Choo DCA, Yue G. Acute intracranial hemorrhage in the brain caused by acupuncture. Headache. 2000;40:397-398.
- Wang SM, Kain ZN. Auricular acupuncture: a potential treatment for anxiety. Anesth Analg. 2001;92:548-553.
- Eich H, Agelink MW, Lehmann E, et al. Acupuncture in patients with minor depressive episodes and generalized anxiety. Results of an experimental study [in German; English abstract]. Fortschr Neurol Psychiatr. 2000;68:137-144.
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