There are hundreds of acupuncture points throughout the body, but there are some that elicit a particularly powerful therapeutic response. The following studies explain the method of actions of two different points and examines the beneficial effects that using just one point can have on chronic stress.
In this study from Georgetown University, researchers administered electroacupuncture to acupuncture point St36 to the treatment group, sham acupuncture to another group, and no acupuncture to the control group prior to and following a stressor. They exposed all of the groups to fourteen days in a cold environment in order to induce a physiologic stress response. The sympathetic peptide, neuropeptide Y (NPY), elevated levels of which are found in those suffering from PTSD or other chronic stress conditions, and is hypothesized to contribute to the physiological stress response. No difference in NPY levels was found in the sham and control groups. The treatment group saw immediate and sustained suppression of NPY indicating that acupuncture to St36 may be an effective treatment and prevention of chronic stress.
Acupuncture at ST36 prevents chronic stress-induced increases in neuropeptide Y in rat. Eshkevari L, Egan R, Phillips D, Tilan J, Carney E, Azzam N, Amri H, Mulroney S. Experimental Biology and Medicine. In press. (2011).
Building on previous studies that demonstrated the effectiveness of P6 to decrease stress-induced anxiety, researchers in Korea investigated the effect of this acupuncture point on memory by measuring acetylcholinesterase (AchE) activity in the hippocampus. Individuals with chronic, mild stress exhibit low levels of AchE and that can result in memory impairment. Those in the treatment group received three minutes of stimulation on P6 resulting in an increase in AchE reactivity that was not produced in those receiving stimulation at acupuncture point San Jiao 5. Researchers concluded P6 is an effective point for restoring the CMS-related biochemical and behavioral impairments, such as learning and memory.
The effects of acupuncture (PC6) on chronic mild stress-induced memory loss. Hyunyoung Kima, Hyun-Jung Parkb, Hyun Soo Shimd, Seung-Moo Hanc, Dae-Hyun Hahmd, Hyejung Leed, Insop Shimd. Neuroscience Letters. Volume 488, Issue 3, 25 1-2011, p 225-228.