Acupuncture Charlotte, NC | Charlotte, Acupuncture Clinic

Abbie Mercurio MA, AP, LAc, Dipl Ac ~ Ray Mercurio LAc, Dipl Ac

Stress and Anxiety a Primary Cause of Pain and Illness

Stress!!! Medical Doctors have stated that more than 80% of the illness that we experience is related to stress. Why is that? Part of the answer is explained by a better understanding of the Autonomic Nervous System.

The Autonomic Nervous System is comprised of two divisions, (the Sympathetic and the Parasympathetic divisions). These systems are made up of motor neurons that conduct impulses from the central nervous system to the cardiac muscle (heart), to smooth muscles (found in the walls of the hollow organs of the body i.e. intestines, arteries, lungs, etc.) and to glandular epithelial tissue (cells which release secretions). The main function of the Autonomic Nervous System is to keep the internal state of the organism constant. It does this by regulating the body so that it can respond to the requirements of the environment.

The Sympathetic Nervous System serves as the stress or emergency system that takes over during strenuous exercise and strong emotions such as anger, fear, hostility or anxiety. This system has little or no concern with the long term effects of these demands. It is concerned with getting you through the immediate moment. When stimulated, the Sympathetic Nervous System increases the heart rate, increases blood flow to the heart muscle and to the skeletal muscle, increases skeletal muscle strength and performance, reduces blood flow to the skin, reduces blood flow to all the internal organs, reduces the conscious thought process in the higher brain centers, shuts down the digestive processes, shuts down peristalsis (digestion and elimination), shuts down the kidney functions, open the bronchi, raises the blood sugar, and so on. Even the body’s natural healing process is shut down. This system has a strong connection with the adrenal glands. When stimulated the adrenals secrete hormones known as corticosteroids. These hormones have the same effects as the Sympathetic Nervous System on the body’s tissues and organs. It is no wonder that the Sympathetic Nervous System is known as the ìfight or flightî response. It prepares us to do battle or escape from the imminent danger or threat. Over time, the combined effect of the sympathetic response and the corticosteroid secretion depletes the body.

The Parasympathetic Nervous System dominates control of the body under normal, everyday non-stressful conditions. When engaged the Parasympathetic Nervous System slows the heart beat, lowers blood pressure, opens blood vessels to the skin, enhances digestion, enhances elimination, increases the secretion of most glands but slows the secretions of the adrenal glands, etc. The Parasympathetic activities favor the absorption of nutrients and calories, the storage of energy and the formation of protein building blocks. Therefore, the Parasympathetic Nervous System restores the energy reserves to safe levels after they have been depleted so freely by the Sympathetic Nervous System.

The Autonomic Nervous System (Sympathetic and Parasympathetic divisions) functions in ways to maintain and quickly restore homeostasis (balance) to the body. Many organs are affected by both divisions. They are influenced in opposite ways by the two divisions. The ratio of influence between these two opposite forces determines the actual organ response.

With this better understanding of the Autonomic Nervous System, the negative effects of stress become more apparent. The Sympathetic Nervous System was designed to work optimally in short bursts as it shuts down normal functions and prepares us for fight or flight. Unfortunately in this day and age, stress factors are not so readily escaped. For example, stressful conditions in business or personal relationships are often prolonged way beyond what is considered healthy and balanced. This creates a distortion between the Sympathetic and Parasympathetic Divisions. Being in a perpetual sympathetic response is depleting. Over time, this distortion of balance can result in headaches, muscle tension, sleep disorders, digestive problems, high blood pressure, coronary problems and reduced resistance to disease, to name a few. It is clear that we should spend more of our time in the parasympathetic realm. Can we control the length of time we experience this positive process?

This question intrigued us. We started looking for alternative ways to help balance the body and bring it back to normal. The more we looked, the more apparent it became, that simple techniques had a significant impact on reducing the effects of the Sympathetic Nervous Division. This allows the beneficial effects of the Parasympathetic Nervous Division to take place. We found that appropriate noninvasive modalities can help return the balance that the body needs to function optimally.

In Chinese Medicine stress can be viewed as a Shen (spirit) disturbance. By treating this Shen imbalance, acupuncture can restore the proper balance between the Parasympathetic and Sympathetic nervous systems. This will allow the person to be more relaxed and peaceful thereby permitting all the systems of the body to come into balance and harmony. During treatment of the Shen, specific attention can also be given to alleviate the negative effects of stress such as hypertension or digestive disorders if they are present. Along with acupuncture, some natural herbs may be suggested to further help calm the Shen.

While Acupuncture is an excellent way to help balance the body, we have studied other techniques which also help relieve stress and anxiety and the negative effects these can cause. Some other techniques we incorporate in our clinic include CranioSacral Therapy, Therapeutic Imagery and Dialogue, Neuromuscular Therapy and Manual Lymph Drainage. The goal of each of these techniques is to quiet the Sympathetic response and to allow the body’s innate wisdom to heal itself. We believe that empirical evidence will continue to demonstrate the positive effects of a complimentary holistic approach.

Abbie Mercurio M.Ac., L.Ac. and Ray Mercurio L.Ac. are licensed Board Certified Acupuncturist (NCCAOM) in the state of North Carolina. Their clinic – The Natural Response Acupuncture and Wellness Center – is located at 1112 Harding Place, Charlotte, NC. Their scope of practice includes Classical Five Element, Classical and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Acupuncture, CranioSacral Therapy, Neuromuscular Therapy, Therapeutic Imaging and Dialogue, Manual Lymph Drainage and Pain Management. If you are suffering from the negative effects of stress, have any questions or would like to book a consultation or treatment please call 704-370-2447.


Back to top