Acupuncture Relieves Anxiety

Greetings Dear Readers,

Maybe it’s an interview for that job you’re really hoping to land – your heart is racing, palms sweating, feeling jittery, over-heated, butterflies in the stomach. Most people understand a little anxiousness as part of the adventure called life but everyday anxiety is another story. Luckily Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has had great success with getting to the root of this matter.

Rather than just popping a few pills with questionable side-effects, what acupuncture does is effectively re-wire the energy circuits of the body. So instead of all the firey energy from your heart rushing upwards causing dizziness, sweating, ungroundedness, and facial flushing, acupuncture needles in the right places can stop the cascade of neuro-chemicals such as cortisol (released as part of the flight-or-flight stress response) and instead activate opium and serotonin receptors thereby increasing feelings of well-being and relaxation.1 If that’s not enough, the effects can last up to several days with no negative side-effects.

So how did those quirky TCM people figure this out? The ancient wisdom of TCM breaks down symptoms according to patterns relating to the organ systems. In plain English, most people with anxiety will likely have one of the following commonly seen patterns: “Heart-Fire”, “Kidney-Yin Deficiency Heat” or “Blood or Yin Deficiency”.2

People with “Heart-Fire” anxiety often have heart palpitations, ulcers (canker sores) on the tongue, trouble falling asleep and a bitter taste in the mouth when they wake up after a fitful dream-disturbed sleep. This person will benefit from avoiding “hot” foods such as chili peppers, onions, alcohol, caffeine and chocolate and do better with eating cooler foods such as leafy greens, kale, celery or cucumber. In addition it is helpful for them to increase their Earth element (this comes from a Five Element acupuncture protocol called “Turn Fire Into Ash” meaning that the excess Fire in the Heart is calmed by pushing this energy towards the next element in the Creation cycle which is Earth (Fire-Earth- Metal-Water-Wood). The Earth element is increased by such things as letting go of too much worry and over-thinking, eating mindfully, wearing Earthy colours such as brown and eating foods that grow underground such as carrots, beets and potatoes.

The Kidney-Yin Deficiency Heat person will have anxiety along with night sweating, dizziness, ringing in the ears, flushed cheeks, dry mouth and low back ache. This person will benefit from getting more sleep, avoiding overwork, eating Kidney Yin foods such as black beans, seaweed, butter and sesame, slowing down (Yin=slow whereas Yang=fast) and doing meditation or qi gong.

Blood deficiency is very common in women because of monthly blood loss through menstruation.  The person will feel tired and want to lie down, have numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, blurred vision or floaters in the visual field, a pale complexion and scanty menstruation. They do well with dietary changes mainly such as including blood-building foods such as beets, dark green vegetables, egg yolks, bee pollen and the herb “dong quai” (also called angelica).  With diligent daily use of blood-building foods symptoms should clear up in about three months.

The Yin deficient anxious person is essentially lacking essential fluids (Yin is liquid in nature) and experiences afternoon fever, night sweating, dry mouth, and scanty dark urine. This is often seen when a person has been working too hard, staying up late, eating fast food on the run, essentially “life in the fast lane”. This person does well with resting from overworking, going to bed by 10pm, eating slow, home-cooked meals and eating Yin foods such as seaweed, dairy, beans, berries, foods that are black, blue or purple in colour such as eggplant or black sesame seeds and taking a more slow, mindful approach to life.

You do not need to live with chronic anxiety. There is a lot your acupuncturist can do to relieve these symptoms and I have only scratched the surface here. Your acupuncturist will diagnose the pattern by examining your tongue and wrist pulse, observation and a few short questions. You should feel effects during the first treatment.  For those with needle anxiety, (oddly enough I’m one of them), acupuncture needles are very thin (infinitely smaller than the hypodermic needles used to inject vaccine in hospitals) and are often not felt when inserted.  You can also ask for Japanese needles which are as thin as a hair.

Do your symptoms fit any of these descriptions? If so, let’s set up an appointment and get you on the road to better health and peace of mind.

Yours in health,
Cynthia

References:
1. Jaung-Geng Lin, Yuan-Yu Chan, and Yi-Hung Chen. February 22, 2012. Acupuncture for the Treatment of Opiate Addiction. National Institutes of Health.
2. Maciocia, Giovanni. Diagnosis in Chinese Medicine: A Comprehensive Guide. 2004. Elsevier Ltd.

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