Relieving Stress Through “Stomach 36”

(written by Sara G.)

April and May are a particularly stressful months for my family. My husband owns a swimming pool maintenance company. (He is a pool boy!) You would not think this job is stressful. And for the most part it’s not, but the spring is difficult because every hotel, apartment building, water park and home wants their pool open by Memorial Day weekend. The deadline for completing the job is finite and the task can be overwhelming.

So when I saw an article a couple weeks ago about how researchers were able to find biological evidence that acupuncture can help alleviate stress in rats I sent it to my husband, my stressed out rat. I also thought I would share it with you here. (“Acupuncture Relieves Stress: New Understanding Of Why The Ancient Practice Eases Anxiety”, Huffington Post, March 16, 2013)

In summary, the article talked about how a group of researchers were able measure the level of stress in rats by measuring the level of hormones in the their bloodstream. Hormones are secreted by the hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal glands, also called the HPA axis. These hormones are a natural part of the fight and flight response, which is similar to the way our bodies react to stress.

While being exposed to high levels of stress, one group of rats received acupuncture on a commonly used point (genuine acupuncture) while two other groups received either no acupuncture or acupuncture on non-specific points (sham acupuncture). In the group receiving genuine acupuncture the hormone response in the HPA axis remained low. Acupuncture essentially blocked that cascade of hormones that typically would occur when stress levels increase.

The point mentioned is Zusanli, also known as stomach 36. (See the picture.) It is a very common point, we use it quite a bit in the clinic. It is helpful for digestive issues, chronic illnesses, fatigue and is a great point to boost immune function. And I guess it works on rodents as well.

That’s great news for these poor rats! Over time they will be able to maintain better overall health. High levels of stress has been linked to a myriad of chronic conditions such as heart disease, obesity, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and more.

If you have a minute take a look at this article, maybe forward it on to your stressed-out loved ones. If they have not tried acupuncture, this might persuade them.

Happy spring!