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Test Anxiety

Acupuncture and Test Anxiety

Fang Cai, MAOM, LAc, Dipl OM

meditationAcupuncture is an Asian system of medicine that has been used to treat a variety of conditions for over 5,000 years.  In the U.S., acupuncture has begun to be widely known only since the 1970’s, but the various positive benefits of acupuncture have been increasingly recognized since then.  Test anxiety is one such condition that frequently benefits from acupuncture treatments.

Does Acupuncture Help Improve Memory?

Acupuncture has long been used as a treatment to help improve memory and cognitive function.  A 2006 study in Neurology Research demonstrated that acupuncture significantly helped with test subjects’ memory and calculation(1).  Therefore, acupuncture treatments can be performed regularly during the weeks or months leading up to a big test, in order to assist the student in her test preparations. 

How Does Acupuncture Help Students With Test Anxiety?

One common concern for students is the anxiety that comes hand-in-hand with an important test—the student may have palpitations, shortness of breath, irritability, digestive problems, sleep disturbances, spontaneous sweating… all this while just thinking about the test, not to mention what actually happens during the big test!  Acupuncture is very commonly used to help with all psychological and physical symptoms of anxiety.  There are acupuncture treatments from as far back as 2,000 years whose goals are to “calm the spirit”, and bring oneself back to center.

Recent clinical studies are also showing that acupuncture helps with anxiety, depression, and control insomnia(2), and even improve the immune response of people with anxiety(3).

How Many Treatments Will I Need?

The number of treatments needed depends on the individual’s state of health and on his response to treatment.  Some students may need just one treatment, on the day or two days before a test, to help them to dramatically reduce anxiety and proceed through the tests in a calm, level-headed manner.  Others, if they also want to work on imbalances such as memory and concentration, may need to have weekly or bi-monthly treatments for one or two months before the test in order to most adequately prepare themselves.  Discussing your condition with a qualified, North Carolina-licensed acupuncturist (LAc) will help you determine what course of treatment will best serve your needs. 


1 - Yu et al., Effect of acupuncture treatment on vascular dementia.  Neurol Res. 2006 Jan;28(1):97-103.
2 - Ruan et al., Effects of the degrees of anxiety and depression on the therapeutic effect of acupuncture in the patient of insomnia.  Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2006 Mar;26(3):186-8.
3 - Arranz, et al. Effect of acupuncture treatment on the immune function impairment found in anxious women. Am J Chin Med. 2007;35(1):35-51.