What is anxiety?
Anxiety is a normal response to a threat or stress and is experienced by individuals on an occasional basis.
This normal anxiety response stems from fear and plays a vital role in survival. When confronted with a dangerous situation, anxiety triggers the fight-or-flight response. This physiological response involves various changes in the body, such as increased blood flow to the heart and muscles, providing the necessary energy and strength to cope with life-threatening scenarios. For instance, it aids in escaping from an aggressive animal or defending against an attacker. However, when anxiety occurs in inappropriate situations, becomes frequent, or becomes excessively intense and persistent, to the extent that it disrupts a person’s everyday functioning, it is considered unhealthy.
Anxiety disorders are the most prevalent category of mental health disorders, affecting an estimated 15% of adults.
Causes and main symptoms
The causes of anxiety disorders are not fully known, but both physical and psychologic factors are involved.
- rapid or irregular heartbeat (palpitations)
- stomach problems (gnawing feeling, “butterflies,” diarrhoea, irritated bowel syndrome)
- breaking out in a sweat, or
- feeling cold and clammy
- headaches, lightheadedness or dizziness
- bodily tension or aches fatigue
- a general sense of apprehension and dread;
- difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep;
- jumpiness irritation.
Anxiety and Traditional Chines medicine acupuncture
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) views anxiety as a manifestation of an imbalance in the body’s energy – the Yin (spirit) and Yang (blood) aspects of vital energy, and imbalance of organ systems.
Acupuncture and anxiety
With limited evidence, acupuncture have been found to be successful in calming the symptoms of anxiety whether you are in an acute panic attack or have generalised anxiety. Specific acupuncture points are used to calm the sympathetic nervous system and interrupt the cascade of panic.
Common acupuncture points for anxiety
Acupuncture treatments for anxiety typically involve inserting thin needles into specific points on the body. The selection of acupuncture points may vary depending on the individual’s specific symptoms and underlying pattern of imbalance according to Chinese medicine theory. Some commonly used acupuncture points for anxiety include:
- Shenmen (HT7): Located on the wrist, this point is believed to calm the mind and nourish the heart.
- Yin Tang: Positioned between the eyebrows, Yin Tang is often referred to as the “third eye” point. It is believed to calm the spirit and ease worry.
- Neiguan (PC6): Found on the inner forearm, three finger-widths above the wrist crease, this point is commonly used to relieve anxiety and promote relaxation.
- Baihui (GV20): Situated at the top of the head, Baihui is believed to harmonise the mind and balance emotions.
- Sishencong (EX-HN1): This point is located at the junction of the forehead and scalp, and its stimulation is thought to clear the mind and calm the spirit.
Chinese herbal medicine and anxiety
In addition to acupuncture herbal medicine may be a valuable compliment to your acupuncture treatments. Adjunctive herbal medicines may have the potential to alleviate these symptoms and improve the outcomes of standard treatment, despite limited evidence. Chinese herbal medicine aims to restore harmony and balance to these systems, thus addressing the underlying causes of anxiety. Herbal formulas are tailored to individual cases and may further assist in alleviating various discomforting symptoms associated with anxiety, such as insomnia and digestive disorders.
Common Chinese herbs for anxiety
It’s important to note that herbal formulas in Chinese medicine are typically tailored to the individual based on their specific pattern of disharmony. A TCM practitioner will assess your overall health, symptoms, and underlying imbalances to create a personalised herbal prescription. Here are a few commonly used Chinese herbs that are known for their potential benefits in anxiety management:
- Bai He (Lily bulb): Traditionally used to nourish the heart, calm the spirit, and alleviate restlessness and irritability.
- Suan Zao Ren (Sour jujube seed): Known for its sedative properties, this herb is often used to relieve insomnia, palpitations, and anxiety.
- He Huan Pi (Mimosa tree bark): Considered to be a mood-elevating herb, it is used to soothe the liver and relieve emotional constraint.
- Fu Xiao Mai (Unripe wheat grain): This herb is commonly used to calm the mind and alleviate anxiety and insomnia.
- Gan Cao (Licorice root): Often included in herbal formulas, Gan Cao helps harmonise the actions of other herbs and can have a calming effect on the nervous system.
Almond Wellness Centre clinics
If you or someone you care about is experiencing anxiety and would like to explore the potential benefits of Chinese medicine acupuncture, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Our fully qualified registered acupuncture Chinese medicine practitioners in both Coburg clinic and Ringwood clinic are here to provide information and assistance.
Acupuncture and electroacupuncture for anxiety disorders: A systematic review of the clinical research. May 2018 Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice
This systematic review aimed to analyse published clinical trials that focused on using acupuncture for the treatment of anxiety. Only trials that specifically targeted anxiety as the main therapeutic objective, rather than considering it as a secondary outcome or associated with other health conditions, were included in the review.
The initial search identified 1,135 papers related to anxiety as a primary therapeutic target. After a thorough evaluation, 13 papers were found to meet the inclusion and exclusion criteria and were selected for analysis. The research methodology, design, and quality varied significantly and were discussed and compared.
The findings of this systematic review suggest that there is promising scientific evidence supporting the use of acupuncture therapy for anxiety disorders. Acupuncture was shown to yield positive outcomes with fewer side effects compared to conventional treatments.
However, it is important to acknowledge that further research is needed to strengthen the existing evidence base. Additional well-designed studies are necessary to provide more comprehensive and conclusive findings regarding the effectiveness and safety of acupuncture in treating anxiety disorders.
Clinical applications of herbal medicines for anxiety and insomnia; targeting patients with bipolar disorder. Aust N Z J Psychiatry Aug 2014. Ji Hyun Baek 1, Andrew A Nierenberg 2, Gustavo Kinrys 3
This review includes eleven herbal medicines that have been studied in human subjects. Researchers discussed their mechanisms of action, efficacy, side effects, and potential drug interactions. Among the herbal medicines studied, valerian appears to be the most promising candidate for treating insomnia and anxiety in bipolar disorder.
Conclusions: Adjunctive use of herbal medicines may hold potential in alleviating these symptoms and improving the outcomes of standard treatment, despite the limited evidence available. Physicians should strive for a comprehensive understanding of the evidence regarding the benefits, risks, and drug interactions associated with alternative treatments.