Can Acupuncture Help with OCD?

Breeze Academy December 9, 2022
Woman having acupuncture on upper back

Acupuncture is thought to be an effective alternative treatment for a number of mental health conditions, including anxiety and stress, but can it help with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)? In this article, we take a look into the relationship between Acupuncture and OCD, and whether or not it’s a beneficial treatment. We also compare it to common Western treatments, such as Psychotherapy and medication.

So, can Acupuncture help with OCD? Multiple studies indicate that Acupuncture may help with OCD, particularly when used in conjunction with other treatments such as Psychotherapy and medication. These studies suggest that Acupuncture may work quicker than Western treatments alone, and could be a good alternative for patients that need to reduce or cut out medication.

Read on to learn more about the relationship between Acupuncture and OCD.

Is Acupuncture Beneficial for OCD?

A number of studies have concluded that Acupuncture is beneficial for OCD, particularly when used in conjunction with other therapies, such as Psychotherapy. These studies found that Acupuncture can help to lower stress and anxiety levels, both of which can cause or trigger OCD. In one study, researchers found that Acupuncture may even slow down the production of stress hormones. 

According to a leading researcher of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, depending on where the Acupuncture needles are placed, this causes the nervous system to stimulate the part of the brain that controls emotion. Thus, making Acupuncture an effective treatment for OCD.

What’s more, it is thought that Acupuncture for OCD may work faster (1, 2) than with traditional methods, such as Psychotherapy, alone. In fact, clients often report seeing results after just a few Acupuncture sessions, with results improving with ongoing treatment.

Further to this, Acupuncture has been found to be particularly useful in OCD patients that, for one reason or another, wish to reduce or altogether stop taking drugs as OCD treatment due to severe side effects. 

Benefits of Acupuncture for OCD 

Multiple studies have reported Acupuncture for OCD to be beneficial, particularly in comparison with traditional Western treatments; here a few reasons why:

Low Side Effects

In comparison to more traditional Western treatments for OCD, such as medication, Acupuncture has relatively low side effects. Side effects to Acupuncture are rare, and when they do occur tend to be mild, self-correcting and short-lived. This may include:

  • Bruising, soreness and bleeding at the needle site
  • Feeling faint or dizzy after treatment

However, there are a few contraindications to Acupuncture where such patients should avoid treatment as side effects may be more severe than usual. For example:

  • Pregnancy (unless approved by their primary Doctor)
  • Spinal instability
  • Needling on scars, keloid, recent wounds or skin with sensory deficit
  • Blood disorders
  • Patients with pacemakers

Learn more about the safety of Acupuncture and its contraindications in our blog, Is Acupuncture Safe?

Quicker than Western Medicine

Studies have shown that Acupuncture for OCD may offer quicker treatment with fewer side effects than more traditional Western medicine alone. However, it is thought to be more effective when used in conjunction with other treatments, such as medication and/or Psychotherapy.

Reduction in Stress Hormones

A study from Georgetown University in the US found that Acupuncture can reduce the production of stress hormones. This is particularly beneficial for OCD patients as it can lower the symptoms of OCD, thus making the condition more manageable. 

Acupuncture Points for OCD

As previously mentioned, depending on where Acupuncture needles are placed, this causes the nervous system to stimulate the parts of the brain that controls emotion, e.g. stress and anxiety. The following Acupuncture points for OCD may prove to be beneficial, according to researchers:

  • Baihui (DU20)
  • Yintang (EX-HN3)
  • Taiyang (EX-HN5)
  • Neiguan (PC6)
  • Sanyinjiao (SP6)
  • Jiaji (EX-B2)

Final Thoughts

Multiple studies suggest that Acupuncture can help with OCD, particularly against triggers and symptoms, such as stress and anxiety. These studies also show that Acupuncture may treat the condition faster than more traditional Western treatments, but tends to work more effectively when used in conjunction with Western treatments such as Psychotherapy and/or medication. 

If you’re a healthcare professional that would like to offer Acupuncture as a treatment option for OCD or another condition, Breeze Academy runs a number of both beginner and advanced Acupuncture courses across the UK. We provide you with everything you need to safely, confidently and effectively deliver Acupuncture treatment. Learn more online today.


What is OCD?

OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) is a mental health disorder where a person has obsessive thoughts which are usually followed with related  compulsive actions. It is a relatively common disorder and usually presents in both men and women around puberty and early adulthood. Symptoms of OCD can be distressing for both the patient and those around them, but it can be managed with treatment.

Whilst OCD can manifest in any number of ways, there are five main categories that obsessive actions typically fall into:

  • Checking
  • Contamination / Mental Contamination
  • Symmetry and ordering
  • Ruminations / Intrusive Thoughts
  • Hoarding

What Causes OCD?

Scientists have not been able to identify a definitive cause of OCD, however there are a number of theories;

  • Neurobiological
  • Genetic
  • Learned behaviours
  • Pregnancy
  • Environmental factors
  • Specific events

What are the Symptoms of OCD?

People with OCD usually experience regular obsessive thoughts and/or compulsive behaviours. For clarity;

  • An obsession is considered to be an unwanted, unpleasant thought, image or urge that repeatedly enters the mind of someone with OCD. It can cause feelings of anxiety, stress, disgust or unease.

A compulsion is  a repetitive behaviour or mental act that a person with OCD feels the need to do in order to relieve any unpleasant feelings caused by an obsessive thought.

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