TCM or Traditional Chinese Medicine sees a direct link between the liver and anxiety and stress. TCM practitioners warn that any disharmony in the function of the liver can bring about “10,000 illnesses.” The liver, according to them, is so important in that its function is to improve the smooth flow of qi or vital energy all over the body. The stagnation of qi will also mean the stagnation of body fluids such as blood causing them to accumulate in the area where the blockage has occurred. If left this way for a considerable amount of time, it may result in a number of conditions including the formation of fibroids in the uterus, or breast lumps or masses (if the stagnation developed in those organs). If blood stagnation occurs in the chest, the heart and lungs will be affected.
Anxiety and Stress in TCM
Ya li or stress leads to the buildup of tension in the shoulders resulting in headaches, neck pain, and shoulder pain. In TCM, the meridian (the pathways of qi) associated with the gallbladder travels over the shoulders, towards the neck and onto the sides of the head. This meridian is in turn associated with the liver meridian and so during times of stress both the liver and the gallbladder are affected. The fact is, when the liver is affected by stress, all organs are affected as well.
Acupuncture is a vital component of TCM that can help induce relaxation in the body. This causes stress to be relieved, boosts tissue regeneration and energy, and lowers blood pressure, and heart rate. With acupuncture digestion improves and the body feels relaxed. The lessening of tension means the reduction of headaches as well. Acupuncture can transform anger and tension into level-headedness and calmness in a person. Studies prove that during an acupuncture procedure, substances are released in the body to help normalize serotonin in the brain. The effect positively changes the mood and emotion of a person.
Acupuncture does not have the ability to alter the circumstances of a person’s life. Nevertheless, it can quell any feelings of depression or anxiety in him. When stress is relieved, there is greater confidence in the individuals to be able to cope with the negative aspects of life. This greater control of his life will make him less dependent on antidepressants, tranquilizers or sleeping pills.
In June 2003, the medical journal Anesthesiology released a study that used ear acupressure to treat anxiety and stress in patients who were driven to hospitals in ambulances. The acupuncture group (the group treated with real acupuncture) showed a 66% decrease in stress levels while the group given sham acupuncture treatment actually increased their levels of stress by 10%. This proved that acupuncture can indeed treat stress.
Western Medicine’s View of Anxiety and Stress
The body biochemically reacts to anxiety and stress. During times of anxiety and stress, the body releases chemicals setting into motion a number of physiological changes, such as muscle tension, elevated blood pressure, increased breathing rate, and rapid heartbeat. This reaction is known as the “fight-or-flight” response and it arises when the autonomic nervous system’s sympathetic component is stimulated. This response causes temporal changes in the body causing it to be more alert and stronger in order to protect itself from a perceived threat. This is a perfectly normal response to danger. However, this becomes a problem when the stress response occurs continually. Prolonged stress has certain health consequences such as tremors, pain, muscle tension, palpitations, increased heart rate, dyspnea, panic attacks, exhaustion, insomnia, anxiety, and emotional/mental strain.
Memory loss, poor concentration, depression, seep and digestive disorders, dermatological disorders, body pain, and headaches are the other symptoms of stress. Chronic stress can also likely cause in the long term irritable bowel syndrome, heart disease, high blood pressure, asthma, strokes, and hair loss. Research has revealed that stress-related health disorders make up 60% to 90% of doctor visits in the United States.
During times of anxiety and stress, a lot of people resort to food to feel good once more. Certain people would take to antidepressants, sleeping pills, or alcohol when they are stressed out. The use of antidepressants for the relief of stress merely provides a short-term solution and more often than not the person develops dependence to the drug as well.
DeJongh Acupuncture Clinic
2929 SW 3rd Ave #610
Miami, FL 33129