acupuncture for anxiety

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The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences. – Eleanor Roosevelt

What is empowerment? What does it mean to you? The Oxford dictionary defines empowerment:  “Make (someone) stronger and more confident, especially in controlling their life and claiming their rights”.

How can we become stronger and more confident in controlling our life and claiming our rights? Because that sounds really good! Based on what we see every day in our practice and what we have experienced ourselves, we would like to share the ways that Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can strengthen confidence and well being. Also, how it can help to remove some of the things that weigh us down so we are able to move with lightness and vitality towards our goals and what makes us joyful.

Stress Relief

There are numerous research findings that show how acupuncture relieves stress. One study showed that acupuncture regulates steroid hormones to reduce biochemical reactions to stress. It upregulates hormones in some areas, while downregulating in other areas to maintain balance within the body when it is exposed to stress. Amazing!

Other studies show that acupuncture significantly reduces depression.

We are all expected to juggle so much in a 24/7 world. Helping your body to regulate stress is a gift you can give yourself.

We wrote a more in-depth post about treating anxiety with acupuncture that you can find here if you’d like to learn more.


Feeling grounded, alert, or more confident are qualities many of our patients describe as unexpected perks during their treatment. There are many reasons why this could happen but it often occurs when working on the Gall Bladder meridian. In TCM, the organs have distinct roles and qualities. The Gall Bladder is known as The Official of Decision Making and Judgment. It makes the decisions of when to break down, assimilate, and clear nutrients and waste. It secretes the potent bile fluids required to digest and metabolize fats and oils; it provides muscular strength and vitality; and it assists the lymphatic system in clearing the toxic by-products of metabolism from the muscular system.

The emotional qualities it governs are daring, decisiveness, and judgement. It also is an organ that spurs action—helping with courage and initiative. The word for daring in Chinese is is da dan (‘big gall’). In English, we have a similar expression. When someone does something bold, we might say, “They have a lot of gall!”  In ancient Chinese medicine, the names of acupuncture points describe the gifts they can bring. Acupuncture point, “Gall Bladder 37 Bright and Clear Junction (Luo Connecting) Point” has the spiritual connotation of bringing lightness to dark, so that we can see clearly.  Sometimes people describe feeling like all the cobwebs were cleared from their mind.

Pain Relief

We see many patients with chronic pain. Sometimes patients express surprise at realizing just how much the chronic pain was draining their overall energy once they experience some relief. Don’t suffer! Acupuncture can help alleviate and manage your chronic pain condition or an episode of acute pain. Pain relief from acupuncture is so effective, it’s being utilized in important ways around the world:  on-site in children’s hospitals, like Boston Children’s Hospital, to ease the use of pharmaceuticals for injured American members of the military, and quite poignantly, it was used by Iraqi doctors during drug shortages, to successfully treat mothers during caesarean section births.

Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are non-invasive, symptom-free tools available for you to use to better your life. In the next post we will show how TCM can empower you by giving you better sleep, by assisting you in making lifestyle changes and overcoming addictions, and simply by taking time for self-care!

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Stress free

Are you ready for relief from anxiety? Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine can help!

General anxiety disorder (GAD) is the most common anxiety disorder, affecting 5% of Americans. People with GAD live in a near-constant state of worry and anxiety that is out of proportion to the amount of stress in their lives. This type of anxiety is typically treated with medication or specific modes of psychotherapy like cognitive behavioral therapy, or a combination of the two. For people looking for a natural option to manage or overcome their anxiety, acupuncture is an excellent choice.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has always considered the connection between mind and body and between the body and environment. Disease or imbalance can be caused by environmental factors, like heat and cold, or by internal factors, like emotions. This interconnection means that a deficiency caused by an environmental factor can affect the emotions. Emotions, like excessive worry or stress, can weaken the corresponding organ, causing a deficiency or other imbalance. TCM believes that emotions reside in the cells of the body, specifically in the internal organs. Emotions like anger, fear, and worry were assigned to Yin body organs. The connection between the environment and body and the flow of energy between organs are described in the Five Element Theory. It is an intricate theory, evolved from observation, where each of the elements has correspondences in senses, seasons, foods, emotional states, etc. Since we are discussing anxiety, we’ve made a modified Five Element chart that focuses on the spiritual/emotional qualities of the Yin organs of the Five Elements. Take a look:

Anxiety 5 Elements chart

For an example, you see that the spleen corresponds with the earth element. This element is associated with generating, nurturing, and ripening. It also “digests” thoughts, thereby governing thinking, learning, and analysis. The Spleen absorbs and transforms food and drinks on the physical level to Qi, blood, and other body fluids. If there is an imbalance of this system, thinking may be dulled or on the other end of the scale, there may be over-thinking, brooding, and constant worry. If a person habitually over-thinks or continually nurtures others without caring for themselves, the spleen energy system can weaken, resulting in imbalance that can show up physically in symptoms like digestive disorders.

Anxiety is often found to be an energetic imbalance in the heart and kidney systems. The heart corresponds to the fire element. It is activating, warming, and associated with joy. If this system is too activated, there is excessive fire, or excessive joy, which can lead to insomnia, anxiety, or volatile emotions. The water element of the kidneys balances the fire of the heart system. If the kidneys are deficient, heart fire can rise up leading to the issues just described.

From a more Western view, research is showing that acupuncture works as well as anxiety medication when performed before a stressful event, like a dental procedure or pre-surgery.

Acupuncture can work deeply to restore balance to these systems, breaking the cycle of general anxiety. During treatment and going forward, you can help yourself further by nurturing yourself with mind-body exercises. Yoga, Qi-Gong, and Tai Chi are especially useful as they nourish internal organs with more oxygen and improved blood circulation and they calm the sympathetic nervous system. These exercises also help to keep Qi flowing, helping to prevent stagnation and blockages in the energetic body.


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