We’ve recently had a number of emails asking whether anxiety sufferers should use acupuncture for panic attacks.
So we thought we’d better take a closer look at this form of alternative medicine, and whether it actually works or not.
What is acupuncture exactly?
Acupuncture is one of the most popular forms of Chinese alternative medicine. It involves the practitioner inserting and manipulating needles in the body of the patient.
Supporters of acupuncture claim it relieves pain, can treat and prevent disease and/or infertility, and promote general health and wellbeing.
The ’science’ of acupuncture is based on the idea that the body and its functions are regulated by energy (which they call ‘qi’). This energy flows through the body - and any disruptions to the flow of ‘qi’ are supposed to be the cause of illness and disease.
Acupuncture therefore aims to fix any imbalances in the flow of energy by stimulating certain places on or under the skin (sometimes called acupoints). The most common way to achieve this stimulation of acupoints is to penetrate the skin using thin metal needles, which are moved by hand or via electrical current.
As it relates to anxiety disorders and panic attacks, the idea is that extreme emotions (or long-held emotions) are also caused by imbalances in the energy flow.
The purpose of acupuncture for panic attacks is therefore to try to harmonize the flow the energy, relieving the negative emotions.
No medical evidence of acupuncture success
There is no anatomical or scientific evidence for the existence of ‘qi’ or ‘meridians’, concepts which are fundamental to acupuncture. There is some limited evidence that acupuncture can be effective for certain limited types of pain and nausea, but other than in limited cases, nothing has been medically established.
An extensive 2011 research review concluded that, except for neck pain, the efficacy of acupuncture was doubtful. Some have suggested that any positive results reported from acupuncture use can simply be explained by the placebo effect - which would seem to make sense. (Research publication bias was also mentioned.)
As to its safety, it is generally agreed that acupuncture is safe when administered by well-trained practitioners - using sterile needles.
However, there are small but serious risks involved with acupuncture (including death). This is particularly the case when it is performed by untrained practitioners. If you did decide to try acupuncture, be very thorough when researching potential practioners.
What can I do to stop panic attacks?
Whatever the success acupuncture may have for certain forms of pain relief, sadly there is no such reported success when it comes to relieving panic attacks and anxiety disorders. We believe acupuncture for panic attacks is therefore unlikely to succeed.
Thankfully, there is another solution for panic attack sufferers.
We recommend the breakthrough treatment ‘Panic Away‘ - a new cognitive behavioral therapy technique used successfully by private therapists, and now publicly available.
Consumer reviews for Panic Away have been consistently very positive, and the good news for many anxiety sufferers is that the treatment does NOT require taking any medication or drugs.