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A recent research study, titled “Acupuncture Relieves the Excessive Excitation of Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Cortex Axis Function and Correlates with the Regulatory Mechanism of GR, CRH, and ACTHR,” has unveiled groundbreaking findings that shed light on the therapeutic potential of acupuncture in managing stress-related conditions.

Conducted by a team of dedicated researchers led by Dr. S.J. Wang, the study, published in the journal “Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine” (Volume 2014, Article ID 495379), delves into the intricate mechanisms behind the stress response within the human body and the remarkable impact acupuncture can have on its regulation.


Stress, a prevalent modern-day challenge, can have profound effects on an individual’s physical and mental well-being. The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal cortex axis (HPAA) plays a pivotal role in the body’s response to stress, influencing various hormonal pathways. Previous studies have suggested that acupuncture can effectively mitigate the overexcitation of the HPAA caused by stress. However, until now, the precise changes in glucocorticoid receptor (GR) induced by acupuncture had remained unclear.

Study Objectives

The primary aim of this research was to investigate the influence of acupuncture on the protein expressions of key components within the HPAA, namely corticotrophin releasing hormone (CRH), adrenocorticotropic hormone receptor (ACTHR), and GR, both under normal physiological conditions and during states of stress.

Key Findings

The study yielded remarkable insights into how acupuncture influences the body’s stress response:

  • Under stress conditions, acupuncture was found to upregulate the protein expression of GR in critical regions of the brain, such as the hippocampus and hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN), as well as in the pituitary gland.
  • Conversely, acupuncture downregulated GR protein expression in the adrenal cortex, leading to a notable reduction in the production of glucocorticoids (GC), a key stress hormone.
  • Furthermore, acupuncture significantly reduced the protein expressions of CRH and ACTHR, further dampening the stress response.
  • Under normal physiological conditions, acupuncture promoted the expression of GR in the hippocampus and CRH in the hippocampus and PVN.


The study’s findings suggest that acupuncture can regulate the body’s response to stress by enhancing the interaction between glucocorticoids (GC) and GR, thereby influencing GR protein expression. This increase in GR protein expression appears to instigate a feedback mechanism that inhibits the overexpression of CRH and ACTHR, ultimately leading to a reduction in GC levels and GR protein expression in the adrenal cortex.

This groundbreaking research brings us closer to understanding the profound therapeutic potential of acupuncture in managing stress-related conditions and offers hope for individuals seeking effective, holistic stress relief.

For more details and a comprehensive look at the study, please refer to the full article published in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine