Anxiety treatment

In my last article I discussed how the body has evolved to deal with stress and how long-term stress can tax the body and lead to a state of anxiety and anxiety disorders. From a Western medical perspective, anxiety can be the result of an over stimulated sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response) and from a Chinese medical point of view anxiety is often due to a weakness and imbalance between the heart and kidneys. 

To treat anxiety I incorporate a few different forms of Acupuncture and Chinese Medical therapies.  I will touch on three anti–anxiety therapies that I commonly use: Acupuncture (3 different types), Chinese Herbal Medicine, and Qi Gong.



Acupuncture is the insertion of tiny needles into highly innervated muscular areas of the body known as acu-points. Needling specific or certain combinations of acu-points has been proven to mimic the mechanism used by various anti-anxiety and anti-depressive drugs by increasing amounts of serotonin and norepinephrine available to nerve cells in the brain thereby decreasing anxiety symptoms.  

In Chinese Medicine there are numerous different types and styles of Acupuncture but in today’s article I will discuss the three types I use for anxiety.


1.  Traditional Acupuncture

Traditional Acupuncture is the insertion of Acupuncture needles into acu-points on the body. When treating anxiety I select specific acu-points that address the root cause of the anxiety, as well as additional acu-points that will support the patient’s individual constitution.   

There are acu- points found at the wrist that once stimulated, according to Chinese Medical theory, have a regulatory effect on the heart and a calming effect on the mind. According to Western Medical theory these points have been shown to elicit the secretion of neurotransmitters that stimulate the brain’s fear control centre, the limbic system.


2.  Electro – Acupuncture

Electro-acupuncture enhances the effect of the traditional Acupuncture by adding a gentle current to the Acupuncture needles. A study on the use of electro-acupuncture on specific acu-points showed an increase in the synthesis and release of serotonin and norepinephrine on the central nervous system. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter released by neurons in the central nervous system and is believed to play an important role in the regulation of mood and sleep. Abnormal levels of serotonin have been thought to play a part in many disorders, including anxiety. Norepinephrine is also a stress hormone and along with epinephrine (adrenalin) affects the fight or flight response of the sympathetic nervous system.


3.  Auricular Acupuncture

Two of the major acu-points in the ear, found just below the ear’s apex, are Shen Men and Sympathetic. When stimulated together these two points have a very profound effect on calming the sympathetic nervous system and thus calming and relaxing the individual. 


Chinese Herbal Medicine

When treating anxiety it is essential to combine Chinese herbal medicines with Acupuncture treatments. While Acupuncture treatments are effective on their own, physically adding the nutrients from Chinese herbal medicines to the body is essential to physiologically support an emotionally and often physically taxed heart, kidneys and nervous system.  When treating heart and kidney based anxiety one of the most effective herbal formulas that I use is Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan or “The Yellow Emperor’s Tonify The Heart Pill”. This a centuries old formula made up of 14 individual herbs, that are combined to specifically nourish and strengthen the function of the heart and kidneys in Chinese Medicine and address disorders such as anxiety and insomnia.  


Qi Gong

Qi Gong is a Chinese Medicine martial art that incorporates slow controlled movements, rhythmical breathing and a meditative state of mind to manage stress and regulate emotions, improve the body’s physiological function, and improve coordination, strength and flexibility. The exercise known as “standing like a tree” is what I will often prescribe to patients suffering from anxiety. It is a simple exercise that is easily mastered but is every effective at calming anxiety by having the patient focus on their breathing and thus being more mindful in the present moment.  


If you have any questions or would benefit from a session contact my office at (250) 860 2212 or visit my website: www.kelownacupunctureclinic.com

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Ryan Samuels is a Registered Acupuncturist and Chinese Medical Herbalist (R.Ac, R.TCMP) at KLO Chiropractic Centre in Kelowna. He holds a Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine diploma, and has a special interest in the treatment of digestive issues, neuropathy, acute & chronic pain, sports injuries, and migraines.  All treatments with Ryan are individualized and designed around your current physical and mental well being. 

Website link:  http://www.kelownaacupunctureclinic.com/

Contact Email:  [email protected] 

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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