Treating Stress with Emotional Release Acupuncture

By Andrew Castellanos, L.Ac.

Emotional Release Treatment is a go-to acupuncture treatment method for me. Here’s why:

It’s a fact of Western living that we all deal with stress on a pretty constant basis. Acupuncture is great for treating stress, and is one of the reasons why it has become such an effective and popular medical modality in the U.S. It’s no secret that stress is responsible for many of our physical ailments. Stress and anxiety can manifest in many ways, but the bottom line is that most afflictions ultimately can be traced back to stressors that adversely affect the body and mind.

When it comes down to it, 90% of the healing work I do addresses stress, regardless of the actual issues that my patient’s come to me with. Most dis-ease is caused by an imbalance in the body. We get out of balance because of stressful situations we are in-pressure at work, dealing with a divorce, worrying about our kids.

We live in a state of constant vigilance and low-grade anxiety. Our sympathetic nervous system-which is supposed to kick in for emergencies only-is on alert all the time. Let me put it this way: when we step off a curb and almost get hit by a speeding bus, we get an instant adrenaline rush that allows us to save ourselves. Physically, we feel our heart rate go up, our pupils dilate, and blood shoot into our muscles in order to protect us and allow us to act fast. This is a vital physiologic response and one that our very survival depends upon. However, most of us are under so much stress in our daily lives that we keep this constant low-grade state of adrenaline and anxiety running through our veins at all times.

The problem is, when we are in this sort of “fight or flight” mode, our body isn’t functioning at its fullest. During an emergency, our sympathetic nervous system has no use for our digestive system, sexual organs, or our immune system. Those future-oriented systems get shut down in favor of immediate survival mechanisms. So, when we exist in a prolonged state of sympathetic nervous system functioning, it stands to reason that our digestive system, sexual organs, and immune system don’t get a lot of love. Over time, this manifests as chronic issues with the ignored systems and they start to deteriorate. This is why certain disorders are so common in our Western culture: insomnia, ulcers, infertility, even cancer.

We are not meant to be in fight or flight mode 24/7.

The most important thing that acupuncture does, and does so effectively, is to turn the sympathetic nervous system functioning off so that the body can relax and begin to heal itself. Once the body is allowed to take a chill, the parasympathetic nervous system has a chance to kick in and start the healing process. Acupuncture turns on the parasympathetic nervous system, calms the mind, and brings us into a highly relaxed state of being.

Through acupuncture treatments, I help my patients get back in touch with balanced emotions, channel blood and energy back into their digestive tracts, release tense muscles, stimulate their immune system, and enhance reproductive and sexual capability. It’s amazing how clearing away stress and anxiety can actually start to heal physical ailments. I use massage in my treatments for this same reason: relaxing the body begins the healing process.

Unfortunately, in real life, my patients always have to go back to work. So, a crucial part of my treatment sessions is to council my patient’s on making lifestyle choices that will enhance their ability to get in touch with their parasympathetic nervous system on a daily basis. This might mean making time for a bath at night, sleeping more, making wiser food choices, or doing yoga.

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