Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) draws a direct connection between stress, anxiety and the liver, cautioning that "disharmony of the liver is the cause of 10,000 illnesses. The reason that the liver is so important is that the function of the liver in TCM is to promote the smooth circulation of vital energy, or qi (pronounced "chee") throughout the body. When qi stagnates, blood and other body fluids lack the energy to move and can thus collect. This stagnation can even lead to the formation of masses such as breast lumps and fibroids in the uterus if left untreated. If blood stagnates in the chest, the lungs and heart will be affected.
Acupuncture induces a relaxation response, which decreases the heart rate, lowers blood pressure, increases energy and tissue regeneration, and reduces stress. One feels more relaxed, and digestion improves. As tension is relieved, so are headaches. Instead of being tense and angry, one remains calm, tempers stay even, and blood pressure can even decrease. Studies have shown that the substances released in the body as a result of acupuncture relax the body, and also regulate serotonin in the brain, which affects emotional states.
Acupuncture will not, of course, change the circumstances of a person's life. But it can relieve feelings of anxiety or depression. As the heavy feelings of stress are relieved, a person feels more confidence in his ability to cope with the negative aspects of life and make necessary changes. This in turn can eliminate dependence on sleeping pills, tranquilizers and antidepressants.