How Acupuncture Can Be an Effective Treatment for Depression & Anxiety + How Acupuncture Can Boost Your Immune System & What to Know Before You Go For the First Time (with Ann Cecil-Sterman)

Although many people have heard of acupuncture or even had acupuncture, there is still a lot of confusion surrounding this ancient Chinese medicine. In this podcast (episode #227) and blog, I speak with acupuncture specialist and educator Ann Cecil-Sterman about how acupuncture can help reduce anxiety, burnout and depression, the physical health benefits of acupuncture, the different types of acupuncture, common misconceptions about acupuncture, how acupuncture can boost our immunity, and more!

As Ann points out, acupuncture in its fullest context can help us tackle any mental or physical issue. There seems to be no limits to what it can help address! Yes, Western medicine certainly has its place, especially when it comes to emergencies like a heart attack, gunshot wound or broken leg. However, when it comes to chronic, long-term issues, it often fails to meet all of our needs, which is why Eastern treatments like acupuncture are gaining popularity.

Acupuncture is way of harnessing our mental and physical energy and allowing it to flow freely throughout the body for optimum mental and physical wellbeing. This is done by placing needles at points of energy blockage in the human body, which can come from a variety of factors, from negative thinking and toxic stress to physical health issues like a miscarriage or arthritis.

It is important to remember that negative life experiences like trauma, burnout and physical health issues disrupt energy flow in the brain, body and mind. This is why acupuncture is a great tool in our self-care toolbox. It can help restore a balanced flow of energy, which, in turn, can facilitate the healing process and help improve our overall mental and physical health.

You may be wondering if it is painful. As Ann notes, when there is an energy blockage in the body, and you insert a needle in that channel, you will feel some kind of sensation there, which draws your attention to that blockage and allows you to let it go. This can be an uncomfortable feeling and may last a few minutes, but it is worth it, because afterwards you will feel so much better—just like a good workout!

Advanced acupuncture, which is what Ann practices and teaches, is acupuncture as it was understood and explained in the Han dynasty (2nd Century BCE to 2nd century CE, which is often called the golden age of acupuncture). During this period, the Chinese masters used all the channels of acupuncture, which fall into two broad categories:

  1. Primary Channels (12), responsible for maintaining the moment-to-moment functioning of the internal organs
  2. Complement Channels (56), responsible for protecting the internal organs by diverting illness away from them.

Advanced acupuncture is the restoration of the full practice of acupuncture.

Advanced acupuncture can help with a variety of problems, including mental health issues. By focusing on the 16 Luo Channels, which are the “connecting” channels that help treat emotional and psychological problems that come from disrupted energy, advanced acupuncture can help someone deal with mental distress and overcome issues like anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation. It works by targeting the emotions that are held in the blood—it focuses on stimulating the release of emotional energy, so that the person can become aware of it and process their feelings in a healthy way.

Along with changing your diet and managing your thinking, advanced acupuncture can also help calm down the immune system response, thereby healing the gut-brain connection. How? It captures the immune response that affects the gut, which helps rebalance energy flow and get rid of the pathogens (disease-causing factors) related to certain gastro-intestinal issues. It essentially helps the body naturally find the point of pain and redistribute or evacuate it. 

However, it is important to note that advanced acupuncture does not treat specific symptoms or diseases. Rather, it treats the entire being, determining where the flow of energy is impeded in the entire set of channels. It then releases that flow to relieve the illness. This process is not magic; it takes time and effort, and should be part of a healthy lifestyle.

This is especially true when it comes to acupuncture and immunity. Acupuncture, alongside a healthy diet and lifestyle, can help boost our immunity by helping move pathogens or disease-causing factors out of the body through different fluids, which is why what we eat and drink, and how we eat and drink, is also important. Processed and refined foods are severely dehydrating, which can impact the effectiveness of classical acupuncture treatments.

It is also a good idea to prep before you get acupuncture for the first time:

  1. Wear loose and comfortable clothing.
  2. Don’t expect a miracle treatment. Acupuncture is not a magic bullet or quick-fix solution, as mentioned above.
  3. After 3 sessions, you should feel quite different. If not, you are probably going to the wrong person and should look for a different acupuncturist.
  4. It is not something you have to do for the rest of your life or every week. A good acupuncturist wants to heal you, not keep you coming back!
  5. Look at other lifestyle choices like diet and exercise. These should match the intention of your treatment, or the acupuncture treatment will not be as effective as it should be. 

For more on acupuncture, mental health and immunity, listen to my podcast (episode #227) with Ann, and check out her website. If you enjoy listening to my podcast, please consider leaving a 5-star review and subscribing! And keep sharing episodes with friends and family and on social media (don’t forget to tag me so I can see your posts!).

This podcast was sponsored by:
Pique Tea: my favorite organic tea company! Their mission is to help everyone unlock the benefits of herbal plants and unleash their full potential. I love all Pique tea products, but they just came out with a new product I cannot get enough of and one that is perfect for the cold weather and has probiotics: their fermented pu’ur black tea!). Get 5% off your order with the code DRLEAF at checkout at
Ritual: the best multivitamin out there—simple, clean, and backed by science! They just released their new children’s multivitamin: Ritual Essential for kids, which is a great way to keep your child healthy this flu season. To get 10% off your first three months of Ritual multivitamins see: ritual/drleaf

For more self-care tips to improve your mental health, pre-order my new book 101 Ways to be Less Stressed, which is now on sale at 20% off!  

You can also check out my app SWITCH, which is a great tool for helping you learn how to manage your mind and achieve success by dealing with the roots of your choices and overcoming thought patterns and behaviors that hold you back through the mental process of reconceptualization. 

To learn more about ways to improve your mental and physical health, register for my Virtual Mental Health Summit this December 3-6! For more see CME and CEU credits are available for PAs, NPs, RNs, MDs, DOs, and other medical professionals, and certificates of attendance will be given for physical therapists, occupational therapists and social workers! 

Podcast Highlights

1:50 How acupuncture can help us heal and improve our mental and physical health

4:30 The limits of Western medicine

8:35, 33:08 How acupuncture can help with chronic, degenerative diseases like arthritis

8:48 What is acupuncture?

13:22 Does acupuncture hurt?

15:23 What is advanced acupuncture? 

21:14 How acupuncture can help with mental health issues like anxiety and depression

26:33 How acupuncture can help with gastro-intentional issues like IBS and Crohn’s Disease

41:30 How acupuncture can help improve immunity

50:56 The science behind acupuncture: can we trust it?

This podcast and blog is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. We always encourage each person to make the decision that seems best for their situation with the guidance of a medical professional.

Switch On Your Brain LLC. is providing this podcast as a public service. Reference to any specific viewpoint or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by our organization. The views expressed by guests are their own and their appearance on the program does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. If you have any questions about this disclaimer, please contact

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