How acupuncture stimulates anti-inflammatory responses for mental health improvement
Inflammation is the body’s natural defence against harm, however, it also plays a key role in our healing mechanisms. Inflammation may be generated by a variety of reasons, including hypersensitivity of the immune system, exposure to irritants, autoimmune disorders, or previous inflammation that has not been resolved.
If inflammation becomes chronic it can lead to a wider range of diseases and health problems.
Mental health disorders such as depression, bipolar, and anxiety have been proven to be caused and accompanied by immune system dysregulation and inflammation.
Researchers today recognize the gut and brain dynamic which indicates that gut inflammation may be the direct source of mental health problems. When the gut and brain are not functioning cohesively, this can disrupt other organs and systems, also affecting our mental function and emotional health. Lifestyle habits such as diet, exercise, and stress influence the gut and brain connection, therefore affecting how we feel and how we are able to respond to stress.
Regarding general medicine, the spleen responds to inflammation by releasing certain chemicals as a reaction for healing. According to the TCM theory, regulating the spleen can treat inflammation, as well as issues that are manifested by the mind. The spleen generates “dampness” which can be any manifestation of inflammatory symptoms such as pain or mental and emotional signs.
From the TCM point of view, the spleen’s function is to extract nutrients from food and transport those nutrients to the heart for blood production and other organs. The spleen also works to ascend clear qi upwards for clear thought. If there is an imbalance in the spleen, it may affect the heart’s role in blood production and anchoring the mind. The spleen is also responsible for circulating blood within the vessels of the body. Without ample blood volume, the spleen cannot help transport blood from the structure of the heart to nourish the muscles or help the heart nourish the mind.
Acupuncture is not only recognized for stress relief and analgesic effects but also contributes to healing the mental and physical impairment from long-standing inflammation.
Acupuncture has the ability to eliminate systemic inflammation by signaling the brain via the vagus nerve to strengthen the immune system and inhibit anti-inflammatory responses, such as decreasing activation of inflammatory chemical release. The vagus nerve connects the digestive system to the nervous system and is responsible for regulating internal organs and inflammatory responses. This is beneficial for mental health as acupuncture is a rare practice that has the capability to treat multiple symptoms simultaneously. Acupuncture gives the mind and body an equal opportunity to heal.