Treating Anxiety with Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine
Anxiety can be a tricky thing. For some people it seems to come out of nowhere and creep up at unexpected moments. For others, anxiety is predictable and associated with certain events, fears, or situations. Things like driving on the highway, eating in restaurants, and spiders all have the potential to create anxiety.
There are a number of causes of anxiety. Traumatic events top the list. People who have been exposed to trauma, violence, emotional duress, or threats of any kind know the source of their anxiety. This includes unrelenting stress and worry over a life event or situation that’s not easily resolved.
Unfortunately, many people experience anxiety symptoms and don’t know why, which only makes the anxiety worse. These are the people who think they’re going crazy because they seemingly have no reason to feel anxious. However, it’s important to know that anxiety can be caused by physical problems, such as hormonal imbalances, digestive issues, heart problems, and drug side effects.
Anxiety can run in families. I have found that many of my patients who suffer from anxiety have either a parent or a child who also struggles with anxiety, too. This may be due to genetic makeup or how a particular family copes with stressful life events. Whether anxiety in families is due to nature or nurture, it’s not uncommon that family members will have similar triggers for their anxiety.
In Chinese medicine, there are three organ systems related to anxiety; the Heart, Spleen, and Kidneys.
The Chinese view anxiety as worry that has gotten out of control. Each organ system is associated with an emotion, and worry is the emotion associated with the Chinese Spleen. The Spleen is also your organ system of digestion. It sifts and sorts what you’ve eaten, takes what is useful, turns it into nutrients to fuel your body, and gets rid of what is not needed. While your Spleen primarily digests foods, it also plays a role in the sifting and sorting of ideas. While the emotion associated with the Spleen is worry, it is essentially the same as not being able to sort through and let go of unnecessary ideas. Worry is a kind of unhealthy rumination, and when it gets out of control, worry becomes anxiety and fear.
While your Spleen is the organ of digestion, your Heart is the Chinese organ of feelings. We intuitively know that the Heart is an emotional organ. We feel things with all our heart, have our heart broken, or thank someone from the bottom of our heart. Your Heart is home to the Shen, or your spirit, according to Chinese theory. Its function is similar to that of your brain in Western biomedicine. As such your Heart is the home to consciousness, memory, emotions, and thinking. Whenever someone suffers from any kind of emotional upset or condition, such as anxiety, the Heart is always involved.
Finally, the Chinese Kidney also plays a role in anxiety in a couple of ways. First, the emotion related to the Kidney is fear, which is the underlying component of anxiety. Secondly, the Kidney is the deepest and most nourishing of our organs. It’s responsible for how well you age, your underlying body constitution, and is the source of all the fundamental substances in your body, such as Yin, Yang, and Essence. Your Kidney is the organ system most damaged by stress and anxiety. The Western condition of adrenal fatigue (from stress, anxiety, overwork, etc.) correlates to a severe Kidney depletion in Chinese medicine.
Chinese medicine and acupuncture can offer a number of strategies to help someone suffering from anxiety. Your practitioner would work by first calming your Shen using acupuncture. This is an effective first line of defense, as research has documented the positive effects that acupuncture has on brain chemistry. It has been found that acupuncture increases the secretion of endorphins in the brain, the feel good substance associated with pain relief and runner’s high. This effect accounts for the relaxing and calming sensation patients feel both during and after their treatments.
A practitioner of Chinese medicine might also address your anxiety by nourishing your Spleen and restoring your Kidney health. Beyond acupuncture, there are a number of safe and effective herbal formulas that can help calm anxiety. Your practitioner can prescribe the combination of herbs that is most appropriate to your individual needs.
Food therapy and lifestyle changes may also be part of your treatment for anxiety. This may include at-home calming strategies, avoiding stimulants such as coffee or tea, dietary changes, and breathing techniques—all of which can be effective in relieving anxiety.
By Your Acupuncture Specialist, on March 30th
Another Computer Hazard: Dropping One on Your Foot
By Tiffany Sharples Tuesday, June 09, 2009
As ergonomics specialists know, using a computer can be a real pain — in the neck, wrists, back, eyes, shoulders, etc. But it also leads to injuries that experts may not have considered, such as trips and falls over the printer cord, lacerations from the sharp corners of a CPU or bruised toes from dropping laptops on feet.
Accidents like these happen more often than you think. According to a study published in the July issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine — the first to tally acute computer-caused injuries like cuts and bruises — 9,300 Americans suffer such mishaps each year. Based on data from some 100 hospital emergency rooms across the country from 1994 to 2006, the study found that 78,703 people sustained injuries ranging from scrapes and bruises to contusions and torn muscles during the 13-year study period. (Watch a video about dropping your laptop from 3 ft. off the ground.)
In part, the high rate of injury reflects the sheer increase in household computer ownership, which jumped 309% over the same period. But computer exposure and injuries hardly rose in lockstep: injuries far outpaced ownership, growing 732% from 1994 to 2006.
“I found that to be really astounding,” says study co-author Lara McKenzie, assistant professor of pediatrics at Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s Center for Injury Research and Policy. “We never see increases like that, and we look at consumer products all the time.”
The study showed that the majority of computer-related injuries — 93% — happened at home. In all age groups, the most frequently diagnosed injury was laceration, making up 39% of cases. For adults, the leading cause of injury was hitting or getting caught on a part of a computer (37% of cases). Falling computer equipment accounted for 21% of cases, the second highest cause of injury, and among adults, hands, feet, arms and legs were the most frequently wounded parts of the body, making up 57% of all injuries. (See pictures of vintage computers.)
In cases where there were available data on the type of activity that led to injury, researchers found the most common way adults hurt themselves — 50% of incidents — was while moving the computer or one of its components, defined by the researchers as anything from a mouse or keyboard to a scanner or piece of computer furniture. Children, on the other hand, got hurt most often by climbing on or playing near computer equipment. Injuries among small children accounted for a disproportionate number of all accidents, which most concerned the study’s authors. “Children under age 5 had the highest overall injury rates, as well as the highest injury-rate increase of any age group,” says McKenzie.
In the analysis of people ages 1 month to 89 years, children under 5 suffered 13.4% of all injuries. Also among this age group, 76% of all recorded incidents involved head injuries, which was five times the figure for adults. Children ages 5 to 9 fared somewhat better, with 62% of accidents resulting in head injuries.
Why the big increase in computer-related wounds? One explanation is that more households not only have computers but also have multiple computers and, therefore, multiple opportunities for injury. Another theory suggested by the researchers is that the democratization of computer access — as equipment has gotten cheaper — has resulted in increased ownership by new computer users or by people with less education in using the technology, who may be more prone to accidents and misuse. Whatever the root cause of the rise in injuries, it bears noting that the study data accounted only for injuries serious enough to require a visit to an emergency room. There may be many more injuries that were not reported to health officials.
The good news is that at least from 2003 to 2006, the study found that the rate of technology-related injuries seemed to be leveling off. That timing, researchers point out, coincided with the introduction of thinner, lighter liquid crystal display (LCD) and cathode-ray tube (CRT) monitors.
McKenzie’s study was designed to inform the debate about the establishment of official safety standards for home offices. She hopes the results will kick-start efforts to address the issue — similar to previous efforts to reduce television-set-related injuries — beginning with some practical safety tips. The Center for Injury Research and Policy has a helpful fact sheet that outlines common-sense computer safety, and McKenzie offers a few simple pointers as well: “Keep computer equipment away from the edges of desks. Organize cords and keep them out of the way. Anchor furniture and heavy computer components to the wall or to the floor.” And when you’re moving your computer, “check that the path is clear,” she says, adding with a sigh, “So many people fell while they were carrying the computer.”
Read more: http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1903642,00.html#ixzz1lHKBPgMq
What is Myofascial Release?
presented by Tia Ramos RMT
Myofascial Release is a very effective hands-on technique that provides sustained pressure into myofascial restrictions to eliminate pain and restore motion. The theory of Myofascial Release requires an understanding of the fascial system (or connective tissue). The fascia is a specialized system of the body that has an appearance similar to a spider’s web or a sweater.
Fascia is very densely woven, covering and interpenetrating every muscle, bone, nerve, artery and vein as well as all of our internal organs including the heart, lungs, brain and spinal cord. The most interesting aspect of the fascial system is that it is not just a system of separate coverings. It is actually one structure that exists from head to foot without interruption. In this way you can begin to see that each part of the entire body is connected to every other part by the fascia, like the yarn in a sweater.
Fascia also plays an important role in the support of our bodies, since it surrounds and attaches to all structures. These structures would not be able to provide the stability without the constant pull of the fascial system. In fact, our bones can be thought of as tent poles, which cannot support the structure without the constant support of the guide wires (or fascia) to keep an adequate amount of tension to allow the tent (or body) to remain upright with proper equilibrium.
In the normal healthy state, the fascia is relaxed and wavy in configuration. It has the ability to stretch and move without restriction. When we experience physical trauma, scarring, or inflammation, however, the fascia loses its pliability. It becomes tight, restricted and a source of tension to the rest of the body. Trauma, such as a fall, whiplash, surgery or just habitual poor posture over time and repetitive stress injuries has a cumulative effects. The changes they cause in the fascial system influence comfort and the functioning of our body. The fascia can exert excessive pressure producing pain or restriction of motion. They affect our flexibility and stability, and are a determining factor in our ability to withstand stress and strain.
The use of Myofascial Release allows us to look at each patient as a unique individual. Our one-on-one therapy sessions are hands-on treatments during which our therapists use a multitude of Myofascial Release techniques and movement therapy. We promote independence through education in proper body mechanics and movement, through the enhancement of strength, flexibility, and postural and movement awareness.
Thanksgiving and Acupuncture: The Role of Chinese Medicine in Prevention
As we are about to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday here in Canada, we have the opportunity to be thankful for friends, family, and much more. And for many of us we are thankful for the gift of health – or at least the gift of being alive! But what does it mean to be “healthy”? Is it simply the absence of serious illness or is there much more to the concept of being “well”? And what is your role in fostering this wellness?
An aspect of Chinese Medicine which does not get the coverage it should is its role in the prevention of disease. As with many acupuncturists, I find the majority of people come in for treatment after they have tried many western medicine options – and often after other alternatives as well. With acupuncture and its uses, being one of the more poorly understood medical systems amongst the general public and the western medical community, this is not surprising. What it means, however, is that your conditions have had more time to develop and, often, worsen.
While Chinese Medicine can be used to treat nearly any condition at any stage, it excels in many ways at treating conditions before they begin to develop. Some of the reasons acupuncture can be useful in complex conditions with varying symptoms like Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia, and various neurological conditions is that it doesn’t treat the “condition” per se, but the “pattern” that is behind its development. The patterns in Chinese Medicine look at your entire range of signs and symptoms even those that seem unrelated to your main complaint. Through treating a pattern instead of a condition your main complaint will improve along with all of the issues surrounding and preceding it.
Due to these diagnostic tools, Chinese Medicine can treat conditions before they arise – before the point that you would be able to provide a western diagnosis. This is often illustrated to patients when we work backwards through their medical history and can begin to see the formation of their current issues. In fact, the healing process of many conditions often goes through stages which are similar to the development of their current condition.
Often times as I am discussing acupuncture with other people they will say things like “I’d love to try it, but there is nothing wrong with me”, or more simply, “I’m fine”. What they usually mean is that they don’t have a “condition”. Everyone realizes that they have some issues, pains that come and go, sleep that is better or worse at times, moods that go up and down — nothing serious, just relatively minor issues.
From a Chinese Medicine perspective, however, those minor issues are plenty to work with and often when people come in just for “stress” or “relaxation” they find that other issues change – some they were not really aware of, or didn’t really think too much about. Some people think it’s normal to have a headache once a week, or not sleep well a couple nights a week, or to have bad menstrual cramps every month, etc. These minor issues, however, speak to our own personal view of what it means to be “well”.
In Chinese history there are stories where the village doctor was only paid when all of the villagers were “well”. So if people were sick the doctor would not be paid until they were better. If the villagers were continually sick then the doctor would most likely be out of a job at some point! What a different viewpoint to look at the role of medicine in our lives and our use for it on our path to wellness.
From a wellness point of view there are always avenues of improvement – some in ways that people don’t often think about. When you wake up do you need coffee to get going or do you feel well and rested, is your energy stable throughout the day, are your moods appropriate and balanced, when you eat do you enjoy it and feel well afterwards or do you have a variety of symptoms like heartburn, bloating, etc. They are minor issues now and may continue to be so for quite some time. But all of these and more are treatable at this point and treatment will stop these imbalances before they become deeper patterns in your body and ultimately conditions that can be given a western diagnosis.
Of course, these arguments also hold true for living well now with our emotions, diets, lifestyles – all aspects of our lives and doing what we can to improve those. We do not know what the future holds for us, so it is better to do what we can now when times are relatively easy and things are going well for us than when we are sick and will have a hard time to do what is necessary to help us heal. Acupuncture is but one part of this equation, but its use in relatively good times can greatly increase the chances that your wellness continues and that your experience of what it means to be well becomes more of an upward moving target than simply the absence of illness. Now, then, is the time to work on whatever issues you have and work towards higher states of wellness.
Submitted by Chad Dupuis Yin Yang House
Cody graduated from the West Coast College of Massage Therapy, class of 2003, where he obtained a full spectrum of Massage Therapy assessment and treatment skills. Cody is currently completing year three of a five year program at the Canadian College of Osteopathy (www.osteopathie-canada.ca). In 2006, Cody became a certified yoga instructor (classical Hatha, Vinyassa and Power based practice.)
Cody’s current training (at the Canadian College of Osteopathy) is allowing him to further develop his assessment and treatment techniques and fine-tune his palpation skills, enabling him to be more specific and precise.
With the broader knowledge and spectrum of techniques Cody is adding to his practice, he aims to move closer to the truer causes of his clients’ symptoms. His treatments are a global approach to the body. Treatments involve a detailed interview/ history taking, orthopedic testing and assessment as well as the following;
- Structural work, Myofascial release techniques, Muscle Energy Technique, osteo-articular techniques (joint mobilizations), and craniosacral techniques. To restructure and align, addressing holding patterns and improving overall function.
- Therapeutic exercise for rehabilitation, health maintenance and injury prevention.
- Pain and stress management, providing clients with tools to inhibit pain, and empowerment through self-observation.
- Neural re-education techniques to improve kinesthetic and proprioceptive awareness.
Cody is eager and committed to applying his knowledge of yoga, Massage Therapy, and the knowledge he is acquiring in school, to instill self-empowerment and a pro-active attitude towards attaining and maintaining healthy and balanced life habits for his clients.
To learn more about Osteopahty here’s a link that Cody recommends. : http://www.alive.com/8013a20a2.php?subject_bread_cramb=8
October, 2011, Vol. 12, Issue 10
By Neil Gumenick, MAc (UK), LAc, Dipl. Ac
Each acupuncture point has a name, translated from classical Chinese calligraphy, which indicates the unique spiritual qualities of that point and the gift it is capable of delivering to the patient in need.
In Classical Five-Element Acupuncture, points are mostly chosen for their spiritual connotation from the patient’s causative factor meridians.
The causative factor is the one element of the five (fire, Earth, metal, water or wood) which is the primary imbalance and the root cause of the patient’s symptoms. The causative factor is determined by assessing the patient’s odor, color lateral to the eyes, sound of voice and emotional expression. These are the four major pillars of diagnosis. The patient’s symptoms may vary tremendously. Symptoms do not lead us to the causative factor, as once there is a primary imbalance in any of the five elements and their corresponding officials (organs/functions), the imbalance must affect the balance of all the rest. Thus, by the time patients come in for treatment, it is likely that they will be presenting symptoms in multiple elements and organs and all 12 pulses will be imbalanced. Our focus, therefore, is to identify, support, balance and harmonize the causative factor.
Once having determined the causative factor and having removed any and all energetic blocks, we can set about addressing the needs of the patient in body, mind and spirit. I emphasize that we can only reach the body, mind or spirit of a patient if there are no energetic blocks present. It is impossible for any spirit point to deliver its gift if the patient is blocked. Such blocks include possession, aggressive energy, a husband/wife imbalance or an entry/exit block between meridians. It is beyond the scope of this article to expound on these and a good deal of clinical experience and guidance is required to develop the sensory skills to detect them, but the question of a block must always be held in mind if a patient is not responding.
The vast majority of patients we see are imbalanced at the spirit level, regardless of the presence of physical symptoms. To truly and holistically heal, all levels must be addressed. To reach the spirit of a patient, we call upon the spirits of the points.
Reaching the Patient’s Core
I would like to discuss several points on the Large Intestine (Colon) meridian and their spiritual connotations and uses. The Large Intestine belongs to the element Metal, whose functions are, specifically, that of the Lung: receiving the pure qi from the heavens and the Colon and eliminating the waste. The Colon removes more than just the waste of the digestive process. It removes the waste of every organ and function, as well as mental and spiritual rubbish. If this official is doing its job, rubbish will not collect, stagnate and rot. There will not only be a clean body, but a clear mind – able to let go of old “baggage” of the past and take in new and fresh ideas. The patient also will manifest a clean, radiant spirit – able to be inspired, to inspire others and to live in the beauty of the eternal present. Just as metal gives value to the Earth in the form of minerals and trace elements, it gives us our sense of self worth. Keywords associated with the Metal element include: respect, awe, purity, honor, inspiration, value and quality.
The translations of the points that follow are those taught by my teacher of nearly 25 years, Professor J.R. Worsley. I have found, in more than three decades of practice, that these translations capture the essential meanings of the individual points and the context of the element in which they reside.
The meanings are as timeless as nature itself and as needed by today’s patients as those who received them thousands of years ago.
Large Intestine 1 Merchant Yang
Merchants know the value of things. Their success depends on their acquisition and sale or exchange of things people want and need, as well as the elimination of what is old, stale or unnecessary. A “yang” merchant is one who is vibrant and active. There will be no accumulation of rubbish in this merchant’s shop. What will be found there will be of the highest quality, impeccably fresh and clean.
Many patients have accumulated so much rubbish – physically, mentally and spiritually – that they have lost touch with what is innately pure, incorruptible and eternal. Using this point on the metal-imbalanced patient in such a state is akin to cleaning layers of debris from a stone and revealing a dazzling diamond beneath.
Large Intestine 4 Joining of the Valleys
Valleys are low-lying places between hills or mountains. When the rain comes or the snow melts, all the debris that had accumulated on the mountainside (e.g. dead leaves, twigs, fruit fallen from trees, organic waste) falls into these low places and are washed away to the sea. Some of the plant and animal waste will soak into the soil to fertilize and enrich the valleys, which will abound with life as a result. But, that which is toxic and of no use will be washed away. When many valleys are joined, they connect into one vast, cleansing flow from every mountainside – from every official and every level. Many metal imbalanced-patients seem unable to wash away the waste of their own bodies, minds or spirits. As debris collects, they may become physically constipated, but also cynical and negative, tending to see the worst in themselves, others and in life situations. This point, also known as “The Great Eliminator” has the ability to flush out the stale and toxic within, allowing for inspiration to occur.
Large Intestine 5 Yang Stream
A stream is a body of water, moving with a current, confined within banks. As such, it has a specific direction and flow. The yang aspect adds the qualities of warmth, light and activity. This is the fire point of the meridian. Fire controls metal by melting and softening, making it malleable. Like metal that has become cold and inert, many metal-imbalanced patients have become hard, immobile, unable to bend, attached to the past, holding on to shame, guilt and unworthiness. They become unable to let go of that which binds them. This point, used at the right time, encourages release – direct, active and with a good measure of humor, love and compassion – the warmth of fire. In many cultures, the ritual of baptism is a rite of purification – a symbolic washing away of that which defiles and compromises our perception of our true selves as pure, incorruptible spirit. Using this point is akin to immersing the patient in need in these divine cleansing waters.
Large Intestine 6 Side Passage
This point, the junction (or Luo/Connecting) point of the meridian used for its spiritual connotation can be used to prevent backup of waste as it is eliminated. It is rather like the cleaning out of an old closet where, on the way to the trash bins, the garbage is temporarily piled in the nearby hallway. Before long, the hallway becomes so filled with trash that it is jammed tight and nothing can pass through. What is needed is a “side passage,” providing another way out. It might happen that as we treat the Colon official and it begins its job of eliminating accumulated waste from every level that things get stuck. This point can be used with such patients to unclog the jam, reestablishing and reinforcing the movement and flow of elimination.
Large Intestine 11 Crooked Pond
This point, the Earth point of the meridian, brings the qualities of groundedness and stability to the process of elimination. Letting go can be a fearful prospect to a patient who has become identified with attachments of the past, old ways of thought, beliefs, opinions and assumptions. Being held securely in the loving arms of the mother, for many might be the best and most comforting encouragement for the letting go to occur.
The image of a pond again gives the image of water. One of water’s principal qualities is to cleanse. “Crooked” implies the ability to bend and move in different directions. All of the old waste must be cleansed in order to be mentally and spiritually free – not just that with which one is comfortable in eliminating. One cannot be truly free and still hold to those attachments to which one feels especially entitled or identified. It is like asserting, “I want enlightenment, but I want to hold on to my anger. I have a right to be angry. Damn right, I do!” True, perhaps, but in continuing to hold that old resentment, one is in a prison of one’s own making and freedom is but an idea, not a reality. “Crooked Pond” can reach those hard-to-reach places, smooth out sharp edges and help ease the way to rediscover the beauty and clarity within.
Click here for more information about Neil Gumenick, MAc (UK), LAc, Dipl. Ac.
(NaturalNews) New research adds more evidence proving that acupuncture is effective at reducing and eliminating pain. Presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), the new findings include functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans that clearly show a positive change in the metabolic activity of patients’ brains receiving acupuncture treatment.
“Functional MRI gives us the opportunity to directly observe areas of the brain that are activated during pain perception and see the variances that occur with acupuncture,” explained lead researcher Nina Theysohn, MD, from the Department of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology and Neuroradiology at University Hospital in Essen, Germany. “Activation of brain areas involved in pain perception was significantly reduced or modulated under acupuncture.”
Eighteen volunteers agreed to participate in the study, and all were observed using fMRI technology. Researchers applied electrical pain stimuli to the participants’ left ankles and observed their brain activity both with and without acupuncture treatment. The team found that the pain activation centers in the participants’ brains became less active and even deactivated in the presence of acupuncture treatment.
The findings also challenge some notions that acupuncture works primarily as a placebo. While certain brain responses to acupuncture indicate facets of a placebo response, others clearly highlight specific mechanical activities in the brain that demonstrably reduce pain symptoms.
“Acupuncture is supposed to act through at least two mechanisms — nonspecific expectancy-based effects and specific modulation of the incoming pain signal,” said Theysohn. “Our findings support that both these nonspecific and specific mechanisms exist, suggesting that acupuncture can help relieve pain.”
Acupuncture has also been found to help improve fertility, increase heart function, and assist in helping people sleep.
To learn more about acupuncture, visit:
August 16, 2011 by Vassilena Johns
I recently attended a Conscious Diva Date Night in West Vancouver and was so inspired by the beautiful energy of the amazing women in attendance. Whether they were realtors, chefs, small business owners or stay at home moms, they all had one thing in common, a passion for life! This passion is not something you can pick up in a bottle at the local beauty counter, this passion is authentic. Each one with her own story of inspiration to ignite a spark within. Our beauty truly shines from the inside out. It is priceless and only gained through inner personal work. I encourage everyone to look at themselves and listen to what their heart truly wants. When we tune into our intuition there is no limit and no stopping the heights we can reach.
So I leave you all these questions of insight…What makes you rise in the morning? What are you passionate about? Are you living your full potential?