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Electro-Acupuncture, Stress and Depression

Acupuncture is the most popular adjuvant and alternative therapy in China, and it has been used for thousands of years.

Electro-acupuncture is an innovation of traditional Chinese acupuncture, which improves the clinical effect by transmitting electrical pulses to the needle.

A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis suggested that acupuncture may be a suitable supplementary therapeutic method to usual care and standard anti-depressant medication.

What is Stress

Stress is a systemic, non-specific, adaptive response to any physiological or psychological stimulus that disrupts persistent homeostasis.

The effect of stress on the body seems to depend on the duration, not the intensity of external or internal stress stimuli. The introduction of unpredictable factors makes it difficult for individuals to adapt to stressors. Therefore, chronic stress may induce and aggravate damage to tissues and organs.

Regarding depression, it seems that Chronic stress is an important risk factor.

Various studies have connected, long-term stress with deleterious effects on the body’s physiological processes, leading to nervous, endocrine and immune disorders and other systemic diseases

Scientific Studies

In a study, acupuncture showed clinically significant reductions in the severity of depression compared to usual care and sham acupuncture***. The study showed that acupuncture can work as an adjunct to anti-depressant medication. A significant correlation between an increase in the number of acupuncture treatments delivered and reduction in the severity of depression (p = 0.015) was found.

***sham acupuncture is placebo acupuncture, performed away from the acupuncture points and is used as control in scientific studies.

Another study contacted in model rats revealed that Electro-acupuncture points can regulate the heat pain threshold of chronic stress model rats and change the morphology of adrenal cortex cells Structure, and regulate the contents of corticotropin-releasing hormone, Corticosterone (CORT), glucose, alanine and valine in the samples. These fndings help to clarify the therapeutic mechanism of electro-acupuncture on chronic stress model rats.

The effect of electro-acupuncture on improving chronic stress is likely to be achieved by regulating glucose metabolism, which can provide a reference for clinical acupuncture treatment of chronic stress depression

In conlucion, electro-acupuncture and traditional acupuncture HAVE benefits regarding chronic stress and depression and can be used as an adjunct therapy


  • Ma FQ, Sun CJ, Wei JJ, Wang YD, Shen JC, Chang JJ. Electro-acupuncture regulates glucose metabolism in chronic stress model rats. Sci Rep. 2020 Jul 9;10(1):11281. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-68132-w. PMID: 32647204; PMCID: PMC7347532.

  • Armour M, Smith CA, Wang LQ, Naidoo D, Yang GY, MacPherson H, Lee MS, Hay P. Acupuncture for Depression: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. J Clin Med. 2019 Jul 31;8(8):1140. doi: 10.3390/jcm8081140. PMID: 31370200; PMCID: PMC6722678.

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