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Acupuncture: A Traditional Remedy for Modern Life

As today’s society becomes more “productive” and the pace of life quickens, the opportunity to kick back and take time for ourselves is slowly diminishing. We are in a culture that values busy-ness, and we are constantly rewarded and acknowledged for this characteristic through the media, peer groups, social media and in the business marketplace.

The Cost
Along with this busy-ness comes a price tag: our health, and specifically our mental health. In this day and age, it’s ironic that when medical research is so sophisticated and access to information is at its peak, anxiety and depression are chronically leading illnesses worldwide. Acupuncture offers insight into why this may be, and solutions for treatment.

Ancient Solutions
Traditional Chinese Medicine is an ancient theory and a proven system that has been used and documented for over 3000 years. The practice of acupuncture is a therapy which falls under the umbrella of Traditional Chinese Medicine. The main principle is that acupuncture points throughout the body are stimulated to move and guide the vital energy (Qi) of the body to create homeostasis or correct the imbalances in the flow of energy.

The Theory
To give a very brief overview of the foundation of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory, the ancient Chinese culture observed life processes and the relationship between humans and their environment for thousands of years. Through this investigation, they discovered a variety of subtle patterns that helped develop their understanding of how disease arises within the body. This enabled them to relate diseases back to the patterns of occurrences in our natural environment.

Customized Diagnosis
In order to identify the pattern of disharmony within your body, an acupuncturist uses a variety of tools to determine the associated symptoms and diagnose the root cause of your concerns. An in depth intake form, along with a thorough medical assessment and history, are the starting point to uncover what is going on with a patient. Additionally, acupuncturists will commonly take the pulse, observe the tongue, and palpate along the acupuncture meridians as a way to further confirm their diagnosis. The emphasis with this type of examination is strongly on prevention and every treatment is catered directly to the individual needs of the patient and their unique set of conditions.

Root Cause
The unique part of receiving acupuncture is the practitioner can treat the symptoms while still being able to treat the root cause of the problem. For example, a person with chronic congestion may have a weakness in their digestive functions that hinders their ability to efficiently process the water coming into their system, which in turn produces excess mucous. With acupuncture, we are not only able to treat the symptoms of the chronic congestion, like a stuffy nose and heavy feeling in the head, but also to treat the root cause by building up the health of the digestive system to reduce the production of mucous.

Mental Wellness
Anxiety and depression are both characterized as mental illness. In Canada alone, one in five people will suffer from mental illness in their lifetime. Whether anxiety and depression has formed due to difficult circumstances or is a diagnosed illness, the most important consideration is our mental and emotional wellness. Many of us don’t realize that this can be addressed within the body.


Anxiety is the most common illness in Canada, and the percentage of physician visits due to stress related ailments ranges between 75-90%.

Anxiety – The Elements of Traditional Chinese Medicine

From the perspective of TCM, the functions of organs are not limited to their physical form. For example, the heart houses the spirit and is represented by Fire in the elements and joy in the emotions. As fire becomes stronger, more heat is produced and heat rises within the body up to the head, in turn contributing to the symptoms listed above. The kidneys are represented by water in the elements and as the fire (heart) within the body becomes stronger, the water (kidneys) will fail to contain the fire causing the imbalance between the heart and kidney. Anxiety is therefore an imbalance in the heart and the kidneys.

Symptoms of Anxiety

Anxiety can present itself in a variety of ways, which include but are not limited to:

  • Insomnia
  • Heart palpitations or irregular heartbeat (arrhythmias)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Irregular sweating
  • Tightness and constricted feeling in the chest
  • Restlessness or uncharacteristic aggression
  • Increased feelings of fear
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea


Depression is the fourth leading cause of disability and premature death in the world. It has been estimated that 8% of Canadians will experience major depression in their lifetime. It can range from short term periods to chronic to long term occurrence, in which case it is considered Clinical Depression.

Depression – The Elements of Traditional Chinese Medicine

In TCM, depression is rooted in the stagnation of the vital energy. The liver has a major role to play in circulating the vital energy (Qi), ensuring it’s relaxed and effortless flow, while the Heart and Spleen have supporting roles. But when a liver is worked too hard in its other roles, the capacity to circulate smooth flowing Qi decreases, and the symptoms associated with depression increase.

Symptoms of Depression

Some of the symptoms include:

  • Irritability, agitation and exhaustion
  • Changes in sleeping patterns (too much or too little)
  • Hopelessness (feeling trapped or suicidal)
  • Loss of positive associations and sense of achievement
  • Increased sense of worrying (particularly about the future)
  • Lack of interests

Intuitive Medicine
Acupuncture offers a break from the pressures of modern life, allowing patients to claim the time and space they need for healing and regeneration. It is intuitive medicine that takes a holistic approach to healing, and can be used in conjunction with other therapies without harmful side effects. It works with the body to build health and vitality, rather than focussing on the symptoms alone. In a world where busy is better, acupuncture gives us permission to slow down, and take the time we need to maintain good health.

If you are interested in further investigation into Chinese Medicine, this is a great reference book.
The Web that Has no Weaver – Understanding Chinese Medicine, Ted J. Kaptchuk, O.M.D, 2000, McGraw-Hill, New York
If you’d like to learn more about Anxiety and Depression, these are great resource websites.

2016-12-03T03:59:36+00:00 Comments Off on Anxiety and Depression