Chinese Medicine and Anxiety
Springtime is the season of renewal; it is also a time of transition. These transitions can often cause some unwanted anxiety to pop up in our lives. My favorite way to ease this anxiety is through the use of acupuncture and herbal medicine.
Symptoms of Anxiety
If you have ever struggled with anxiety, you know it can be debilitating in so many ways. Your heart starts pounding, you feel sweaty or clammy, you may feel a tightness in your abdomen, you take short shallow breaths, you feel as though you can’t think straight, the list goes on and on. It can manifest differently for all of us, but when it comes to treatment, the focus is very similar. It begins by calming the sympathetic nervous system, the flight or fight mode. The sympathetic nervous system often can feel like it is in overdrive when anxiety peaks or stays elevated during times of stress. It operates through a series of interconnected neurons. When activated it will respond to a stimuli by secreting adrenaline (norepinephrine) and will dilate your pupils for increased peripheral vision, raise your blood pressure and increase your heart rate by allowing more blood to flow through your body more efficiently so you can move faster. This system puts all digestion and reproductive function on hold until you’re out of danger. This is one of the reasons why chronic stress can negatively impact fertility.
This can be helpful in an emergency situation, but often our sympathetic nervous system stays ramped up due to our busy and lifestyles. This overdrive can create massive problems for our adrenals and stress response which will in turn create more anxiety or a lower threshold for that anxiety to take hold.
Chinese Medicine and Anxiety
Chinese medicine views anxiety disorders as an imbalance in the zang (or yin) organs; this includes the heart, lung, spleen, liver, and kidney. When out of balance our spirit, or shen, can become disturbed. This can impact our stress, sleep, and create anxiety. Each zang organ is related to different emotions. When out of balance the heart organ is connected to anxiety and sadness, the liver is connected to anger, the spleen is connected to worry, the kidney to fear, and the lung to grief. These imbalances can be further classified by how the qi of that organ is functioning or affected. Acupuncture and herbs will help to restore these imbalances and support the spirit to reduce the anxiety and calm the sympathetic nervous system.
Acupuncture for Anxiety
My favorite points to use for anxiety include pericardium 6 and heart 7, both of which are located on the interior part of the wrist. San Jiao 5, located on the opposite side of the wrist, kidney 6 located on the interior part of the ankle below the ankle bone, governing vessel 20 located at the top of the head, and lastly yin tang, an extra point located in between the eyes. If you have ever had a treatment from me you have likely had one of these points needled at any given treatment. I also find the use of Chinese and western herbs to be very helpful in the treatment of anxiety. Some of my favorites are adaptogenic herbs like ashwaganda, ren shen (ginseng), holy basil, shatavari, or Chinese herbal formulas that support the zang organs listed above.
If you’re experiencing anxiety and have tried multiple treatments that haven’t offered support, I strongly urge you to try Chinese medicine!