What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is an emotion that causes an overwhelming, worried or uneasy feeling. These days, there are a number of names for anxiety in the realm of western medicine, although there are some similarities between them.
The symptoms and signs of anxiety may consist of the following:
- Over thinking/over worrying
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Chest tightness
- Shortness of breath
What is the Western Treatment for Anxiety?
In dealing with anxiety, western medicine uses anti-anxiety drugs to block the emotional messages from being received by the brain. The problem with this approach is that the underlying reason for anxiety isn’t addressed, only the symptoms. This implies that after the block is lifted (which occurs when the use of the drug has been stopped), the problem is likely to manifest once more.
Acupuncture for Anxiety
Two of the most notable features of acupuncture for treating anxiety is that it's natural and painless. Acupuncture is one of the more effective and safer treatments for anxiety. It addresses anxiety by treating problems in 3 major organs: the kidneys, spleen and liver.
In traditional Chinese medicine, the kidneys are associated with coolness or the water in our body. The coolness soothes the mind and helps in preventing the rise of excess heat. The weakening of the kidneys causes deficiency in the coolness which enables heat to rise. Heat rises affecting the mind and heart resulting in anxiety. Moreover, the kidneys are associated to fear. This means that whenever something causes a person fear, the fear weakens the kidneys and this results in anxiety.
Deficiency in spleen energy causes the body difficulties in breaking down food. When food digestion becomes problematic, nutrients in the food do not get properly absorbed and this leads to poor quality of blood. When the blood lacks adequate nutrients, the heart and body start to become tired and weak. A tired and weak body becomes more prone to feelings of anxiety.
The function of the liver is to manage the flow of information, nutrients and energy to all our cells. The liver is likewise the primary organ affected by emotions and stress, and by the effects of drug abuse and alcohol. When we experience extreme stress, it causes the liver to tense up. When the liver tenses up, the normal movement of information, nutrients and energy to the cells starts to become stagnant. The slowing down effect means that our organs and cells aren't being supplied adequate amounts of nutrients and information to efficiently function, causing imbalances in our body. When your body is out of balance, stagnation begins to develop causing us to experience anxiety.
People with deficiency in liver energy tend to be emotionally wound up, and are often frustrated and irritated, keeping all this bottled up inside. This causes more heat to rise as well as stagnation in the body.
With acupuncture, the amount of heat and stagnation is reduced helping you unwind. This enables you to feel better relatively quickly, since the hormones, energy and nutrients are moving optimally in the body.
Acupressure Points for Addressing Anxiety
There are a few acupuncture points that can be treated with acupressure or acupuncture to naturally remedy the feeling of anxiety. It should be noted however, that acupressure is not an alternative to professional diagnosis or an option for acupuncture therapy tailored to each individual.
Nevertheless, acupressure can be an ideal adjunct to acupuncture therapy. The latter can be a do-it-yourself procedure that can be done in between acupuncture treatments to improve the results of the therapies.
When performing acupressure for anxiety, apply finger pressure to the Neiguan and Sanyinjiao points whenever you feel some kind of anxiety for about 3 minutes every day.
Neiguan – Acupressure on this point includes applying a couple of fingers above the wrist that lies between 2 major tendons that can be seen when flexing your wrist. Applying acupressure on this point helps calms the mind, clears the head and clears pain and stagnation.
Sanyinjiao – Apply pressure using 3 fingers above the inside ankle along the bone.
The effects of acupressure on these points helps calm the mind, reinforces blood and coolness and strengthens stomach/spleen.
Acupuncture for Anxiety in Vancouver
If you live or work in Vancouver, and stress and anxiety are getting the best of you, click here to schedule a FREE Initial Exam and Consultation - or call us today at (604) 733-2632.
Photo credit: David Goehring
Dr. Jeda Boughton is a Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine and the founder of BodaHealth in Vancouver, BC. She is also a Registered Herbologist, Registered Acupuncturist and is a Fellow of the American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine (FABORM), as well as a member of the North American Menopause Society (NAMS).