Emotional Wellbeing Through Chinese Medicine
Physical health and mental health mutually affect each other. A core precept of Chinese medicine is that the body and mind are inseparable, and treatment is aimed at balancing the whole system. Emotional stress taxes the body’s organs, resulting in imbalances that can as physical or emotional symptoms. Chinese medicine directly affects the organ systems to balance hypo or hyper arousal states, and thereby help restore equilibrium.
This is not just an esoteric notion. We have all experienced how what we eat and how much we exercise affects our moods. But beyond basic self-care, Chinese medicine can powerfully influence your overall health by recognizing and addressing your specific predispositions. Some people’s predispositions lead to physical imbalances while others' result in emotional imbalances. The more you are in balance, the more resourced you are to manage whatever your specific predisposition may be. And beyond that, Chinese medicine also effectively treats specific psycho-emotional symptoms.
Research shows that acupuncture:
- positively alters the release of neurohormones and neurotransmitters;
- stimulates the central nervous system to help your body self-regulate;
- releases opioids (the body’s natural pain-killers) in the brain to reduce pain and promote better sleep.
Acupuncture has few to no side-effects, and can be used safely in conjunction with drug therapy and psychotherapy. In fact, by helping to regulate the emotional brain, acupuncture helps integrate the therapeutic components of psychotherapy.
Poor sleep can negatively affect all aspects of our lives, and therefore restoring healthy sleep patterns is fundamental to your overall wellbeing. Sleep difficulties arise from many causes. Chinese Medical diagnosis seeks to identify the underlying imbalance that is leading to the symptom of insomnia. By addressing the root of the problem, acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can help restore and deepen natural sleep patterns. Studies show that acupuncture not only improves sleep, but also reduces the fatigue that results from poor sleep.
Stress and Anxiety
Research shows that acupuncture is an excellent method to treat stress and anxiety. Anxiety disorders, including stress, affect over 19 million Americans, making it the most wide-spread mental illness in the country. Today it is easy for people to get caught up in a stress loop that leaves them wired and tired. The cycle can be hard to break because as the body tries to adapt to all the demands being placed on it, your deep energy reservoirs are depleted. Acupuncture can help by resetting the body’s unhealthy stress responses and calming the system. Physiologically, acupuncture:
- calms the sympathetic nervous system,
- lowers blood pressure,
- increases muscle relaxation.
Furthermore, acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine also help replenish the body's deep energy stores so that it is more resourced to handle the demands of life.
In some cases acupuncture can be used as a substitute for tranquilizers or at a minimum can help reduce the side effects of such medications.
Acupuncture offers hope to those suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Over the past 10 years, brain imaging has shown that stimulation of specific acupuncture points affects specific regions of the brain. A recent study at Harvard Medical School demonstrated that acupuncture can calm the limbic system—the parts of the brain that are most affected by emotional trauma.
Acupuncture is an excellent adjunctive treatment for those struggling with addictions—from simple to complex. In fact, a special addiction protocol, called NADA, is used in numerous addiction recovery centers across the country to great success. Research shows that acupuncture helps:
- detoxify the body of the addictive substance,
- calm compulsive impulses,
- curb cravings,
- stimulate the release of endorphins, the body’s natural “feel good” chemical to help promote positive thought processes.
Whether you are clinically depressed, are dealing with overwhelming life changes, or just have a mild case of the blues, Chinese medicine takes a holistic approach to help your body come back into balance. Research has found that acupuncture can markedly ease depression and that stimulation of specific acupuncture points can positively influence neurotransmitter production in the brain. It has also been shown that acupuncture enhances the positive effects of anti-depressant medications.