What Can CAM Do for Anxiety?

Désirée A. Lie, MD, MSEd


December 03, 2014

Acupuncture for Anxiety?

Acupuncture has also been advocated for the management of anxiety disorders or situational anxiety. A systematic review[18] reported some benefits for perioperative anxiety. Although there were methodological flaws in many of the studies, the review found that auricular acupuncture was potentially effective, whereas acupuncture in general needed further study.

An updated review published in 2010 cited similar concerns about the quality of studies and the lack of evidence for acupuncture in treating primary anxiety disorders, with some evidence for benefits in secondary anxiety disorders.[19]

The British Acupuncture Council[20] proposed several potential mechanisms of action of acupuncture, including down-regulation of neurotransmitters; stimulation of opioid receptors to counteract the sympathetic response to stress; reversal of inflammatory cytokine levels that are associated with anxiety; and reversal of stress-induced changes in behavior and biochemistry. Because of its minimal side effects, acupuncture may be used as an adjunct to other therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and psychoeducation for anxiety disorders, according to the Council.


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.