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How To Deal With Stress & Anxiety with Traditional Chinese Medicine
(Photo Courtesy of Bob Wong Art of AcupunctureStress and Anxiety Relief with Traditional Chinese Medicine)
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) draws a direct connection between stress, anxiety and the liver, cautioning that “disharmony of the liver is the cause of 10,000 illnesses”. The ancients believed that the liver is so important is that the function of the liver in TCM is to promote the smooth circulation of vital energy, or qi (pronounced “chee”) throughout the body. The Liver is also responsible for processing all of the emotions, regulating the nervous system, and protecting the Heart, the “Emperor/Empress”.
When qi stagnates, blood and other body fluids lack the energy to move and can thus collect. This stagnation leads to pain, headaches, palpitations and can even lead to the formation of masses and blockages if left untreated. Stress is therefore one of the greatest threats to health and wellbeing in Western civilisation right now.
Stress and Anxiety in TCM
Stress causes tension build-up in the shoulders, which leads to shoulder pain, neck pain and headaches. In TCM, the gall bladder channel runs over the shoulders, up the neck and on the sides of the head. This channel is paired with the liver channel, such that stress-related problems that affect the liver often affect the gall bladder as well. The liver is the one organ capable of affecting all of the other organs.
TCM techniques such as acupuncture and acupressure can induce a relaxation response, which decreases the heart rate, lowers blood pressure, increases energy and tissue regeneration, and reduces stress. One feels more relaxed, and digestion improves. As tension is relieved, so are headaches. Instead of being tense and angry, one remains calm, tempers stay even, and blood pressure can even decrease. By moving stuck Liver Qi , and nourishing and encouraging the movement of the Qi and blood in the body, TCM is a potent tool for dealing with stress.
Studies have shown that the substances released in the body as a result of acupuncture relax the body, and also regulate serotonin in the brain, which affects emotional states.
TCM will not, of course, change the circumstances of a person’s life. But it can relieve feelings of anxiety or depression by moving the stuck energy and emotions. As the heavy feelings of stress are relieved, a person feels more confidence in his ability to cope with the negative aspects of life and make necessary changes. This in turn can eliminate dependence on sleeping pills, tranquilizers and antidepressants (with consultation with your GP/ specialist).
A medical study published in Anesthesiology (June 2003) used ear acupressure to relieve stress and anxiety in patients being transported to the hospital in ambulances. On arrival, the stress level in the acupuncture group decreased 66%. In contrast, the stress level in the control group increased 10%. Such studies indicate the effectiveness of acupuncture in stress treatment.
Stress and Anxiety in Western (Allopathic) Medicine
Biochemical reactions in the human body occur in response to stress and anxiety. Chemicals that are quickly released into the bloodstream set into motion certain physical changes, such as rapid heartbeat, increased breathing rate, higher blood pressure, and muscle tension. This is the classic “fight-or-flight” adrenalized response, seen when the sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system is activated.
In nature, these temporary physical changes allow the body to be stronger and more alert when called upon to protect oneself. In civilization, this response prepares one to deal with stressful events such as speaking in public, saving a drowning victim, defending oneself in a fight or fleeing an attacker. However, if the stress continually occurs, this healthy response becomes a pathological one, which is not easily switched off.
Resulting symptoms can be mental and emotional strain; anxiety, insomnia, exhaustion; panic attacks, dyspnea (shortness of breath and rapid breathing), increased heart rate, palpitations, muscle tension, pain and tremors.Some other common symptoms of stress are headache, backache (or general aches and pains), dermatological disorders, digestive and sleep disorders, depression, poor concentration, and memory loss. There is even evidence that chronic stress can lead to such long-term health problems as hair loss, strokes, asthma, high blood pressure, heart disease and irritable bowel syndrome. Studies indicate that about 60-90% of doctor visits are related to stress, and Western medicine doesn’t always have the solutions for dealing with the cavalcade of events and symptoms created by stress.
Many people resort to food when feeling stressed and anxious. Some turn to alcohol, sleeping pills or antidepressants. Antidepressants prescribed to reduce stress can deliver only limited, short-term relief and often lead to chemical dependence and unwanted side effects. Combined with practices such as meditation, yoga, mindfulness and exercise, acupuncture and TCM can help regulate the nervous system to regulate and relieve stress and anxiety.
Dr Alexandria Page-Robertson (TCM/Acu) has had significant experience in helping clients manage stress and anxiety. Having worked with Acupuncturists Without Borders and the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre, Alexandria has worked with many clients with PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder), anxiety, depression, and substance abuse.
For enquiries as to how Acupuncture can help you with stress and anxiety please call Qi on 9532 8862 or SMS Alexandria on 0419383146 email firstname.lastname@example.org
• WebMD: Acupuncture Makes Moms Less Anxious, Resulting in Less Anxiety in Children
• The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease
Acupuncture for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Trial.
Conclusion: Acupuncture may be an efficacious and acceptable nonexposure treatment option for PTSD.
• Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S.A.
Chronic stress, glucocorticoid receptor resistance, inflammation, and disease risk.
Conclusion: Chronic stress may raise the risk of sickness by fostering resistance to cortisol.