Patients come in with all kinds of different aliments, and the one thing we always ask during an acupuncture treatment is how is your stress level? We ask this because when the body is in a heighten stressful state it shifts into the flight or fight stage which can turn off all non essential functions of the body. When the body is in a state of relaxation the immune system can take over and do what is supposed to do.
According to Psychology Today, “deep relaxation and meditation can help shut down the release of stress chemicals into to the bloodstream simply by counteracting some of the effects of these chemicals. The stress chemicals cause muscles to tense up. By consciously deciding to relax, you counteract the stress chemicals.
Stress chemicals send impulses to the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for keeping the body active. When the sympathetic nervous system is active, the opposite-functioning parasympathetic nervous system is inhibited.
Deep relaxation and meditation allows the parasympathetic nervous system to become active by down-regulating the sympathetic nervous system. What happens is that once the sympathetic nervous system shuts down, the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA is no longer prevented from acting on the GABA receptors that are present everywhere in the nervous system.” (1)
According to the Journal of American Board Family Practice,“there is considerable evidence of efficacy for several mind-body therapies in the treatment of coronary artery disease (eg, cardiac rehabilitation), headaches, insomnia, incontinence, chronic low back pain, disease and treatment-related symptoms of cancer, and improving post surgical outcomes. We found moderate evidence of efficacy for mind-body therapies in the areas of hypertension and arthritis. Additional research is required to clarify the relative efficacy of different mind-body therapies, factors (such as specific patient characteristics) that might predict more or less successful outcomes, and mechanisms of action. Research is also necessary to examine the cost offsets associated with mind-body therapies.”(2)
This is why when you are in the treatment room you should try to allow yourself to rest and recuperate. Away from phones, emails and the stressors of the day.
How Deep Relaxation Affects Brain Chemistry
Astin, J. A., Shaprio, S. L., Eisenburg, D. M., & Forys, K. L. (2003). Mind- body medicine: state of science, implications for practice. Journal American Board Family Practice, 16(2), 131–147. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12665179