Acupuncture has a long history going back more than 2000 years. Many people think acupuncture is only used for pain, but it is very effective for many disorders, diseases, and syndromes. Let’s focus on how Traditional Chinese Medicine(TCM) can treat Stress and Anxiety.
TCM includes acupuncture, Chinese Herbs, and several other modalities. These are all tools an acupuncturist can use to decrease their patient’s anxiety and improve the way he or she handles stressful situations. Stimulating acupuncture points with a very small needle can affect the nervous, endocrine, circulatory and immune systems. It activates your feel-good neurotransmitters like endorphins and increases circulation of the blood, which oxygenates tissues and cycles out cortisol. Our adrenal glands release cortisol when we are in a Fight or Flight response to a stressful event. Cortisol is considered to be the “stress hormone” but healthy levels are good, for example, if you were being chased by a tiger. TCM can help get patients out of this Fight or Flight mode and also relax the muscles, decrease heart rate and lower blood pressure. A wealth of several recent MRI research has shown by imaging the brain before, during and after acupuncture that different parts of the brain light up based on which acupuncture points were stimulated. This helps to explain how acupuncture can modulate brain activity.
Another way to utilize the power of acupuncture is with Auricular or Ear Acupuncture. The ear holds a microsystem of the body. Studies in China and Europe have shown the combination of body and ear acupuncture can reduce symptoms of anxiety and stress. “Shen Men” or “Heavenly Gate” is one of the most recognized ear points used to treat anxiety, stress, pain and many other conditions. Another Primary ear point is Sympathetic Nervous System, which helps to calm the sympathetic nervous system and bring the patient out of Fight or Flight. Many of us live in this state that was designed to jump-start our bodies when we are in crisis mode. I utilize both of these ear points and frequently see a domino effect where one condition improves (maybe stress) and then the patient sleeps better, has more energy and thinks more clearly.
Chinese Herbal Formulas are also very useful for stress and anxiety. Occasionally, patients will seek treatment after their Doctor has put them on a prescription medication. This is not a problem because it is perfectly safe to take the Chinese Herbs while continuing your medication. Often my patients find that they can decrease the dosage of their prescription or come off of it completely, with their doctor’s permission of course. Many of the medications patients are prescribed for anxiety and stress have an addictive nature and some also have some unpleasant side effects. On the other hand, frequently Herbal formulas I prescribe for anxiety and stress can be tailored to improve other conditions too, like digestion, insomnia, pain and many others.
Omni Balanced Life Center houses a unique blend of practitioners offering treatments and services designed to bring about a complete transformation in the areas of mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Kimbrell Rayfield is OMNI’s Licensed Acupuncturist and Herbalist as well as a Fellow of American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine. Schedule an appointment online or contact our office at 239-234-1608 to learn more about Kimbrell and how acupuncture can help bring your body back to the balanced state.