Psychoneuroimmunology and Acupuncture
As an acupuncturist, the most common question I hear is "how does acupuncture work". There are several theories, which attempt to explain the mechanisms behind acupuncture, but my personal favorite is derived from research I did as an undergraduate while studying immunology. My field of interest at that time and still is that of Psychoneuroimmunology. This is a relatively new field of scientific research which examines the connection between various chemicals in the body, such as hormones, neuropeptides and cytokines (chemicals released by immunological cells, Interlukine I is one type), and the functioning of the immune system and emotional states. Some of the scientific research I've read is proving that under high levels of stress we are more prone to illness. It seems that certain chemicals produced in the body under stress weaken the ability of the immune system to respond to viruses, bacteria and even cancer. Now this is just a fancy way of saying that how one thinks and feels emotionally can affect ones health. I think is something we have all experienced.

Remember a particularly happy time in your life. Chances are that your health was also pretty good at this time. Lots of energy, no stress, rising each day with optimism to face what needed to be done. Compare that with how you feel when under emotional stress, or while having difficulties in your life. Perhaps you have been feeling anxious and unsettled with alternations of restless energy with feeling totally exhausted. Some times this may seem to be a regular state.

However there are things we can do for ourselves to expedite our recovery from this state and to resist becoming ill from a lowered immune system during times of great stress. Some of the same studies mentioned above indicate that some techniques, which lower stress, can also improve our health. These techniques include relaxation, meditation, visualization and biofeedback. So do something good for yourself during stressful times. Check out a yoga class. Study Tai Chi. Meditate. Go for a walk in nature. Oh yea, and try acupuncture - it is also great in relieving stress.

Terry Tangredi Lic. Ac. 131 Main Street, Hatfield, MA. 01038 (413) 247-3388