Acupuncture reverses harmful effects of anxiety

Effect of acupuncture treatment on the immune function impairment found in anxious women.
Arranz L, Guayerbas N, Siboni L, De la Fuente M.

Department of Physiology (Animal Physiology II), Faculty of Biological Science, Complutense University of Madrid, Spain.

It is presently accepted that emotional disturbances lead to immune system impairment, and that therefore their treatment could restore the immune response. Thus, the aim of the present work was to study the effect of an acupuncture treatment, designed specifically to relieve the emotional symptoms stemming from anxiety, on several functions (adherence, chemotaxis, phagocytosis, basal and stimulated superoxide anion levels, lymphocyte proliferation in response to phytohemagglutinin A (PHA) and natural killer (NK) activity) of leukocytes (neutrophils and lymphocytes) from anxious women. The acupuncture protocol consisted of manual needle stimulation of 19 acupoints, with each session lasting 30 min. It was performed on 34 female 30-60 year old patients, suffering from anxiety, as determined by the Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI). Before and 72 hours after receiving the first acupuncture session, peripheral blood samples were drawn. In 12 patients, samples were also collected immediately after the first single acupuncture session and one month after the end of the whole acupuncture treatment, which consisted of 10 sessions during a year, until the complete remission of anxiety. Twenty healthy non-anxious women in the same age range were used as controls. The results showed that the most favorable effects of acupuncture on the immune functions appear 72 hours after the single session and persist one month after the end of the complete treatment. Impaired immune functions in anxious women (chemotaxis, phagocytosis, lymphoproliferation and NK activity) were significantly improved by acupuncture, and augmented immune parameters (superoxide anion levels and lymphoproliferation of the patient subgroup whose values had been too high) were significantly diminished. Acupuncture brought the above mentioned parameters to values closer to those of healthy controls, exerting a modulatory effect on the immune system.

Am J Chin Med. 2007;35(1):35-51.