Acupuncture has been around for centuries and is a practice that is a part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It involves using fine, sterilized needles that are placed in specific areas of the body. It is designed to change the flow of qi energy within the body, which is believed to become unbalanced causing various ailments and disease. The channels through which qi travels are called meridians.
Acupuncture relies on a knowledge of the interplay between the five different elements, including earth, fire, water, metal, and wood. Each organ is affected by these elements; the organs can be described as either yin or yang and respond to various acupuncture points on the skin.
Elements and Emotions
The various elements have emotions attached to them. For example, water is associated with fear, fire is associated with happiness, earth yields to worry, wood is connected to anger and metal is associated with sadness or grief.
Over the centuries, Chinese acupuncturists have determined that the body and mind are intricately related. This is how the acupuncture needles, by triggering certain points on specific meridians in the body can affect how the brain works so that issues like anxiety and depression can be managed using the right trigger point stimulations.
Acupuncture was initially thought by Western doctors to be ineffective but a lot of research and the global expansion of medicine have put acupuncture into a much more positive light. Some Western doctors hire acupuncturists as part of their practice; while others study the art of acupuncture themselves.
Anxiety and Acupuncture
Anxiety is an extremely common disorder around the world and in the United States; it is the most common form of mental illness affecting 40 million American adults. It is defined as having an exaggerated response to a real or perceived stressful or fearful situation. Anxiety is the brain and body’s way of telling you that the stress response has become overloaded and the body has become unable to cope.
Anxiety manifests itself in several different ways:
• You can have a pit in the middle of your stomach as a gut response to stress.
• There are cognitive changes relating to having negative thoughts about your situation.
• You may be behaviorally impaired, suffering from irritability, anger or fear responses.
• Anxiety can relate to your emotions so that you feel an irrational fear in your mind.
• Feelings of intense nervousness are common when anxiety occurs.
Sources Of Anxiety:
• Generalized anxiety disorder
• Social anxiety disorder
• Obsessive compulsive disorder
• Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
• Random feelings of anxiety triggered by daily stress or life situations
Some people are more susceptible to stressors and get anxious more easily than others get. Anxiety can even be hereditary to some extent. There are real changes in the brain’s neurochemicals that cause the anxiousness you feel.
Traditional Chinese Medicine’s View Of Anxiety
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the source of anxiety is believed to come from the kidneys and heart instead of the brain. Acupuncture stimulates areas along the meridians leading to these areas become blocked from the normal flow of qi.
TCM believes that when you develop too much heat within the heart, it throws off its relationship with the kidney, leading to fear. The kidney or “water organ” fails to control the fire in the heart and the fire rises to the brain, leading to anxious feelings.
In acupuncture, the focus is on enhancing and balancing qi energy as it related to the kidneys, the heart, the ear, and the kidney.
Does it really work?
Research has recently been shown to reveal that acupuncture has the equivalent reactions on the body when compared to modern cognitive-behavioral therapy. Research presented to the Journal of Endocrinology has shown that the levels of stress hormones are decreased in an animal model that received acupuncture treatments.
Depression and Anxiety
Depression and anxiety are closely related to each other when it comes to symptoms. Some people have only one set of symptoms while others have both anxiety and depression symptoms together. When this happens, the acupuncturist works to increase the flow of qi which has become unbalanced during the anxiety or depressive state.
If you suffer from both anxiety and depression, you should seek the advice of a doctor before seeing an acupuncturist. Many open-minded physicians out there recognize the benefit of acupuncture as a complementary therapy in relaxing the mind and decreasing the symptoms of depression without having to use harsh or addictive pills.
Choose a qualified acupuncturist that is licensed and runs a clean and well-maintained clinic.