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How therapeutic tattoos might relieve stress and depression

According to the American Psychological Association, in 2017, 75 percent of American adults surveyed feel stressed on a monthly basis and 34 percent feel fatigued from stress (APA, 2017). The good news that there is some evidence on how therapeutic tattoos might relieve stress and depression. Tattoos have been used medicinally for over 5000 years. Today, when used with similarly to acupuncture therapy, tattoo sessions could help relieve stress in everyday life. Tattoos have also been found to reduce cortisol levels according to the American Journal of Human Biology. This improves the immune system and also helps provide stress reduction, enabling tattoos for depression and anxiety to possibly be useful.

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Ancient Medicinal Tattoos

Iceman Ötzi, is a 5300 year old mummy with a total of 57 small line tattoos. Over 70% of those ancient medicinal tattoos follow classical Chinese acupuncture points. These points have been used to treat rheumatism, which Ötzi suffered through during his life time, as well as gastro-intestinal problems (Gambino, 2012). It is thought that therapeutic tattoos can provide a more permanent therapeutic effect to many different conditions (SCMP, 2015).

Pressure Point Tattoos

There is an increasing amount of information on pressure point tattoos as a form of therapy that can provide relief from stress or even other body illnesses. Today, there are some cultures that are still practicing medicinal tattooing with some convincing effects seen in arthritic joints (SCMP). In Borneo, several tattoo artists and tattoo studios practice therapeutic joint tattooing (Gambino, 2012). The similarities between acupuncture therapies and tattoos on the pressure points might help provide relief for stress or other body ailments.

Tattoos and Acupuncture Points

Acupuncture has been used for at least 5000 years and is still a common practice today. According to the Advanced Acupuncture Center, acupuncture can be used to treat pain, nausea, allergies, immunity enhancement, and stress among many other health conditions (Wang). Acupuncture uses needles pressed into specific points to influence a healthy flow of energy and biochemicals. According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (or the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health), western science has suggested several theories for how acupuncture works, including the conduction of electromagnetic signals, activation of opioid systems, and changes in brain chemistry, sensation, and involuntary bodily functions (NCCIH). There is evidence that tattoos found on ancient humans may have been deliberately placed over acupuncture pressure points to provide relief for various disorders.

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PostScript Opinion:

There is far more interesting information on how therapeutic tattoos as a form of therapy might relieve stress and depression, but take it with a grain of salt. Here's the salt. If the root of your stress and depression is based on circumstances then substances, things, or activities like getting tattoos will never provide the lasting solution you seek. Happiness can't be bought, because it's free. Happiness is a mindset and it has to be chosen. Coping with circumstantial stress or depression in any way other than dealing with root issue will result in an infinite circle of searching for relief. Our existence on earth can never fully escape unwanted circumstances. We will always have unwanted circumstances, people, events, and things, the only thing we can control is our reaction to them. Lasting peace won't be conjured up in a pharmaceutical science lab or at the end of a tattoo needle.


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