The world is changing in dramatic ways and it’s no wonder that anxiety is rampant among a large majority of the population. Nearly everyone’s life on the planet has been affected by recent events, and I have seen so many patients that are seeking natural remedies for their mental health.
If you are anxious, stressed, and uncertain, you are not alone. Change in our world brings uncomfortable emotions that make everyday life difficult. Anxiety can manifest in different ways for everyone. Some common symptoms you may have experienced with anxiety are:
- Restlessness and feelings of worry
- Increased heart rate and heart palpitations
- Chest tightness
- Shortness of breath
- Cyclic/repetitive thoughts
How Acupuncture is different
Maybe you have your own ways of managing anxiety, possibly by self-medicating or with pharmaceuticals. I truly believe western medicine is an incredibly useful tool and can be beneficial and lifesaving in the appropriate situations. However, many individuals are used to being prescribed medication for any condition. Popping a pill for quick pain relief or to fall asleep is done without much explanation given toward adverse effects, dependency, and treating the true underlying conditions.
Acupuncture views the body as a whole, emphasizing how everything is connected, and it treats the root cause of an issue rather than masking the presenting symptoms. If you are looking for an all-natural, drug free approach to help with stress and anxiety, then look no further than acupuncture and Chinese Medicine.
Calm Shen, Ease Anxiety
For thousands of years Chinese Medicine has been used as a holistic approach to address all aspects of one’s physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. In Chinese Medicine, mental health faculties reside in the “Shen” of the mind and are correlated with the heart organ. Shen can also be viewed as the spirit, consciousness, or soul of an individual. Whenever there is a disturbance of Shen, it can manifest as anxiety, depression, insomnia, or other mental health matters. We want to have a calm and balanced Shen. This means that we are able to self-regulate our emotions and respond to external stimuli in a healthy, balanced, and appropriate way.
Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine can be very beneficial for symptoms of anxiety as they target the Shen, the mind, and the central nervous system. You will move from a sympathetic (fight or flight) state into a parasympathetic (rest and relax) state of being. Engaging in regular acupuncture treatments is a proven and all-natural way to rewire your nervous system and maintain a healthy and balanced body, mind, and spirit.
How Acupuncture and Chinese medicine work
Acupuncture, at its core, is an energetic practice that works by balancing the overall flow of energy in the body. This vital energy or ‘life force’ energy called Qi (pronounced chee) flows within designated channels or meridian pathways all along the body, from the bottom of the foot to the top of the head. When we are feeling stressed or anxious, the flow of Qi can easily become blocked in our bodies, which can then result in an unbalance. This may manifest as chest tightness, hypochondrium pain, headaches, or shortness of breath. There are designated areas along the meridian pathways that stimulate physiological responses more so than others, and these are called acupuncture points. By placing acupuncture needles in these particular points, the flow of Qi can become unblocked, resulting in a more balanced energetic body and a calmed nervous system. A big part of acupuncture is about creating balance in the body, or in other words creating a state of internal homeostasis. If there are any excess conditions in the body, acupuncture can help to rid the body of these surplus states. On the contrary, if one is suffering from a deficiency of some sort, acupuncture can tonify or boost the body back to its normal balanced state.
When a needle is placed in the body, there are a multitude of effects that take place. Acupuncture needles can:
- Cause the nervous system to produce painkilling chemicals
- Stimulate the part of the brain that controls emotions, including anxiety
- Jumpstart the body’s natural ability to heal itself
Acupuncture can literally change your brain, from its chemistry to your neurotransmitters, and your response to pain and external stimuli.
Chinese herbal medicine, in combination or on its own, is another effective way to manage symptoms of anxiety. Similar to acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine works by balancing the energies of the body and targeting underlying causes rather than individual symptoms. Personalized formulas are selected to treat conditions such as anxiety, stress, insomnia, etc. For example, formulas for stress and anxiety often work by calming the Shen or mind, and nourishing the Heart which in Chinese Medicine governs mental activity. Chinese herbs can be taken in many different forms including raw herbs that you cook yourself, powders or granules that are mixed with water, tinctures, or pills/capsules. All forms of herbs are effective. The most important factor is what is easiest and most convenient for you to take.
What you can expect in an acupuncture treatment with me
I commonly treat anxiety and other mental health conditions in my Portland acupuncture practice. I have personally witnessed the results that acupuncture and Chinese medicine can provide for those who struggle with chronic anxiety and stress. At each acupuncture visit, I make it a priority to fully listen and understand what your body, mind, and spirit needs in order to operate at its highest vibration. Since every individual’s condition is unique, a detailed intake will be completed in order to identify the appropriate treatment plan and formulas to be used. I may use a combination of modalities including bodywork, acupuncture, and Chinese herbal medicine to put your body and mind in a parasympathetic state so you leave every treatment feeling relaxed, refreshed, and with a sense of renewed self. I strive to create a safe and comfortable space for every individual to experience true healing and transformation.
Justin Long, LAc is an acupuncture practitioner in Portland, Oregon who specializes in natural treatments of pain management, stress, anxiety, insomnia, and digestive disorders. He creates a tailored healing experience using a variety of modalities based in Chinese medicine. Justin received his Master’s in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine from AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine and is currently pursuing his doctorate degree from Pacific College of Health & Science. Learn more about Justin.