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Acupuncture for the Heart - Treating anxiety in a chaotic world
Acupuncture for the Heart - Treating anxiety in a chaotic world

Acupuncture for the Heart - Treating anxiety in a chaotic world

August 09, 2022


There is no question that in the current state of the world anxiety seems to be increasing, and for some, anxiety is the typical state of being they are learning to live with. With so much happening in the world, and with the constant bombardment of media and screens, life can be incredibly overwhelming. Getting treatment for anxiety can be challenging in itself, but there are alternatives in the holistic realm to help ease the stress that anxiety creates. Herbal remedies and acupuncture are reliable treatment options for easing mild-moderate anxiety and the symptoms that come along with it.


How anxiety shows up from person to person can look similar or very different. There is a spectrum from low level nervousness to debilitating panic attacks and everything in between. Signs and symptoms can range from worry or spiralling thought patterns to shortness of breath, heart palpitations, excessive sweating and insomnia. It can be difficult to manage generalized anxiety in a society that rarely allows enough rest between work, managing a family, housework, a pandemic, and trying to find time for hobbies and passion projects. It’s no surprise that an estimated 3 million Canadians experience anxiety or a related mood disorder (Stats Canada).


In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) anxiety can present due to a deficient or excess state in the body. The Liver is in charge of free flow of qi in the body (and is greatly impacted by stress), and when in disharmony qi stagnates and can impede the other organs such as the Heart, Kidney, and Spleen from doing their job. The Spleen has an incredibly important job of making the blood, and when impaired by stagnation or deficiency the Spleen may not be able to complete this important task in the body. This can show up as signs of anxiety including heart palpitations, worry, shortness of breath, dry mouth, and insomnia. Without sufficient blood, the Shen (Mind/Spirit) cannot feel rooted. Also, if blood is deficient for a long period of time, yin can be depleted over time. Without enough Yin (cool, moist fluids), Yang (heat) can rise and show up as night sweats, anxiety, irritability and feelings of heat. These are just a few examples of how looking at anxiety through the lens of TCM can be so beneficial. It means that there are a multitude of reasons anxiety may be happening, which gives the practitioner many ways to approach it. A few common acupuncture points for anxiety are HT7, Yintang, RN15, KD3, PC6, DU24, SP6, UB17, UB15.

A few common Western herbs to help ease anxiety are Hawthorne, Skullcap, Passionflower, Motherwort, Ashwagandha, Kava Kava, and Milky Oats.


One of the benefits to an acupuncture treatment is the acu-nap. When the needles are in, the patient gets to enjoy between 20-60 minutes (time dependent) of blissed out relaxation time to just rest. This is the perfect time to fall asleep (for real, do it - it’s awesome) or dive into a meditation practice. It’s a time few and far between where there are no screens involved, just dim lighting, soothing music and dedicated time to rest which is such an important piece of the puzzle. It’s also important to remember that for long term anxiety, one acupuncture treatment may not be enough. Patients who get the most benefit will go on a regular basis and follow the treatment plan provided to them by their practitioner. For some, once a week for 4 weeks will show huge improvements while others may need to have 2 treatments per week for a few weeks.


Other recommendations for those dealing with anxiety on a regular basis is seeking help with counsellors or psychologists to focus on an array of therapies like CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy), talk therapy, and EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing). Finding a practitioner that you trust and feel safe with is extremely important so a safe container between the patient and practitioner can be made and the patient has a place to settle.

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