Acupuncture for Stress

acupuncture for stress

In our fast-paced modern world, stress has become an ever-present companion; affecting both our physical and mental well-being.

In the UK, its effects on mental health are staggering: recent statistics show that approximately 74% of adults have reported feeling stressed, overwhelmed and unable to cope at some point in the past year.

Symptoms of stress

Stress is the body’s natural response to external challenges and pressures. Having a healthy stress-response is a normal part of being human and our ability to respond to and recover from stressful events is part of our very successful survival instinct!

However, if stressful triggers are too big, too frequent or our resources are too low then our body is unable to maintain a healthy response. It can then manifest in a multitude of symptoms that impact both our physical and mental well-being.

  • Common symptoms of stress include heightened anxiety, often characterised by racing thoughts, restlessness, and constant worry.
  • Physically, it can lead to muscle tension, headaches, and even digestive issues like stomach aches or irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Sleep disturbances such as insomnia or frequent awakenings can also be indicative of stress.
  • It can affect our emotional state, leading to mood swings, irritability, and an inability to concentrate or make decisions.
  • Prolonged stress can eventually lead to more severe physical and psychological conditions that may necessitate medical intervention.

But what if there was a different approach that went beyond conventional methods? And how might acupuncture hold the answer?

How does Chinese medicine understand stress?

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), our understanding of stress and its impact on the body is deeply rooted in the concept of balance and the flow of vital energy, known as “Qi”.

Whether it stems from emotional turmoil, lifestyle factors, or environmental influences, it is believed to disrupt the free flow of Qi through the body’s meridians, leading to stagnation or blockages. These energy blockages can manifest as physical and mental symptoms, ranging from muscle tension and headaches to anxiety and insomnia. Moreover, TCM emphasises the interconnectedness of the body’s organ systems, acknowledging that chronic stress can weaken vital organs, such as the Liver or Heart, leading to imbalances in their respective functions.

Managing stress is essential for maintaining the body’s natural equilibrium, promoting the smooth flow of Qi, and preventing the development of more severe health issues over time.

How does acupuncture treat stress?

Acupuncture offers a holistic approach to stress reduction by targeting both the physical and mental aspects of this common condition. When fine needles are delicately inserted into specific acupuncture points on the body, a cascade of physiological responses is triggered.

One of the key mechanisms involves the stimulation of the nervous system, particularly the parasympathetic nervous system, often referred to as the “rest and digest” system. This activation promotes relaxation and reduces the “fight or flight” response associated with stress, effectively lowering cortisol levels, a stress hormone. Additionally, acupuncture encourages the release of endorphins and other natural painkillers, which not only alleviate physical discomfort but also elevate mood, creating an overall sense of calm and well-being. The personalised and holistic nature of acupuncture treatment accounts for its ability to address the root causes of stress, offering individuals a path to sustainable relief and improved emotional resilience.

After each session with Katy my sleep is better and my anxiety is reduced.

What does the science say?

Scientific research into the effectiveness of acupuncture for stress and anxiety has yielded promising results. Numerous studies have documented the positive impact of acupuncture on the body’s stress response mechanisms. Moreover, studies using brain imaging techniques such as fMRI have shown that acupuncture can modulate the activity of brain regions associated with stress and anxiety regulation. A meta-analysis of clinical trials has also indicated that acupuncture can significantly reduce symptoms of anxiety when compared to control groups.

Want to try it for yourself? Then why not book in for a free consultation to see if acupuncture can help with your mental well-being.

Evidence for Acupuncture

There are around four million acupuncture treatments per year in the UK, of which around half are delivered by members of the British Acupuncture Council. Musculoskeletal pain is the most common condition that patients present with, but traditional acupuncturists see people with a wide range of conditions; mental ill health and infertility are the next most prevalent (Hopton 2012):

The best place to look at the evidence for acupuncture is at Evidence Based Acupuncture. I cannot rate this work highly enough.

You can also find out  more via the British Acupuncture Council, who provide a series of fact sheets on a wide range of conditions and include summaries of research and how acupuncture may be beneficial.

But remember…

Measuring the efficacy of acupuncture from a Western point of view isn’t without its complications.

Chinese medicine is practised and understood in its own terms. Whilst Western science is based on facts and measurements, the classical Chinese worldview looks more at patterns and qualities; it is more about human sensory experience (Kaz Wegmuller 2015).


Acupuncture trials are usually carried out comparing real acupuncture vs sham (needles placed into non-points), but this shows little understanding of how acupuncture actually works and more often than not leads to less accurate outcomes. More work needs to be done on comparing acupuncture outcomes with other modalities of treatment.

Contact me for more information.

Acupuncture Brighton

Katy Bradshaw Acupuncture - flourish and thrive

Are you…

  • searching for Acupuncture in Brighton
  • ready to prioritise your self-care
  • need choice and control over your health
  • want to invest in yourself for the long-term
  • prefer a natural approach to managing your health
  • expect to feel listened to, supported and understood

Perhaps you are also…

  • fed up with feeling tired, unhappy or in pain
  • longing to be parents but need help to conceive
  • navigating menopause or a mid-life transition
  • feeling over-worked, over-stretched and undervalued
  • wondering if there may be an emotional cause to your illness
  • struggling to find a solution to your health problems

Then you’re in the right place.

I say let’s befriend our bodies. Let’s prioritise our needs so we can say yes to what matters so that we can feel good in our skin and in control of our lives. Let’s transform our health so that we can flourish and thrive.

Katy Bradshaw Acupuncture Brighton

You are worth the investment.

My name is Katy Bradshaw and I am a trauma-informed acupuncturist in Brighton. I help people to transform their health so that they can flourish and thrive.

I believe that mental and physical dis-ease is in the most part, your body telling you that something in your life isn’t right. Something is out of balance.

I create a safe space for you to pause, listen and reflect so that you can tune in to what your body is telling you. We will have the unique conversations that you won’t be having anywhere else, where you will gain new insights into what’s really going on.

I will listen in to what’s going on for you, help to clear out what’s stuck, and strengthen and support your whole system so you can really begin to thrive.

I use my extensive experience and draw on many different tools to help you enact this courageous change. It takes patience, compassion and a different way of thinking but it’s worth the investment.

What people are saying…

Before I met Katy I was feeling overwhelmed and had high stress levels. Myself and my partner were trying for a baby and I turned to accupuncture for some extra support after researching into the benefits for fertility. My sessions with Katy put me at such ease and I always leave feeling relaxed. After 4 months of working with Katy on a regular basis, I finally got a positive pregnancy test. I can’t thank Katy enough for her support and comfort through a really hard and challenging time. I would recommend Katy to everyone - acupuncture is life changing, I can’t recommend it enough and will be continuing throughout my pregnancy journey.

I first started to see Katy in 2020 when we were trying for a baby. Being slightly older brings a level of anxiety and emotions and Katy was fantastic at calming and reassuring me throughout. I’m so pleased to say our new baby was born recently and we can’t thank Katy enough for all the support and help she gave to us. Thank you for everything.

I went to Katy for help with severe symptoms of peri-menopause. She really listened to everything that's going on. The best thing has been that after each session my sleep is much better, and anxiety is reduced, but it's also helped with my joint pain and made me feel generally more able to cope with everything that's going on. I do this in conjunction with HRT - definitely not mutually exclusive. I find Katy very professional and supportive and highly recommend her.

It a pleasure to write a review for Katy as she is a very caring person. Katy has given me so much help both pre & post surgery which was a massive support physically & mentally and I am pleased to recommend her.

Katy offers a wonderful acupuncture service. I felt very well supported and reassured during my pregnancy and received regular treatments throughout. It particularly helped with numerous symptoms I was experiencing e.g. nausea, indigestion, and UTI symptoms. I Would highly recommend her to anyone.

I started having acupuncture sessions with Katy to try to manage my endometriosis symptoms & to help with fertility. When I first started seeing Katy my cycle was on average 43 days long and I had been trying for a baby for around 9 months. A few months of weekly acupuncture treatments brought my cycle to a healthy 28 days & was helping to manage my endo pain so I was not needing to take as many pain killers. To my amazement I fell pregnant after around 6 months of treatment & now have a baby boy. I truly believe this may not have happened without acupuncture and I am so grateful to Katy for this. I still see Katy now to help to manage endometriosis & would recommend anyone with endo and anyone struggling to conceive to see her. She is amazing at what she does & so lovely!

I went to Katy for help with severe symptoms of peri-menopause. She really listened to everything that's going on. The best thing has been that after each session my sleep is much better, and anxiety is reduced, but it's also helped with my joint pain and made me feel generally more able to cope with everything that's going on. I do this in conjunction with HRT - definitely not mutually exclusive. I find Katy very professional and supportive and highly recommend her.

Throughout our three courses of IVF Katy was an incredible support. She tailored our treatment according to our needs and we reaped the benefits; emotionally and physically. We are pleased to say we are now expecting our first baby and we can’t thank Katy enough for all the support she’s given us both. Fertility treatment is a roller coaster but Katy’s been with us every step of the way. She’s wonderfully caring, calming and reassuring and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend her to others.

Katy was vital in keeping my morning sickness at bay when I was pregnant. I loved the fact that the treatments incorporated plenty of time to talk about how I was feeling, both physically and emotionally, as this allowed Katy to tailor what she was doing to meet those specific needs. I always left a treatment feeling much more relaxed and the use of acupuncture seemed to have a tangible impact on my nausea.

I have crippling pain from severe arthritis in my hip which makes life with two small children difficult and distressing. Katy brought me so much pain relief and released my limbs so much the first time she ‘pinned me’ that I burst out crying. She keeps me moving and smiling. She is magic. And lovely.

Katy’s extensive experience is clear as soon as you meet her. However, it is Katy’s compassion and intuition that make her such an exceptional practitioner. Katy put me at ease from the very first session, taking time to listen and explain why symptoms or emotions are happening. Her clinic room is quiet, cosy and super clean. I really look forward to my sessions as I know that I will leave feeling peaceful and balanced. Thank you Katy for being so fantastic and for having such a positive impact on my health and wellbeing.

Get started.

Want to get started right away? Then you can download my free eBook ‘Master your habits to Transform your health’ – A guide to successfully transforming your health one small step at a time.

More about me…

British Acupuncture Council - bacc acupuncture