Acupuncture is an ancient treatment that has proven itself effective in over two millennia. It has been known to treat physical afflictions, such as migraines, allergies, chronic pain, and strokes. But did you know that it is also useful for mental health issues? This is how it works and how it boosts your mental health.
The philosophy of acupuncture
At the core of acupuncture is the ancient Chinese belief in “qi” or “chi”. It is the energy that flows in our bodies through channels or meridians, and is responsible for our overall health and wellness. The five elements (water, fire, earth, wood, and metal) also factor in, and affect your organs in ways that are yin or yang. Negative changes in the flow of your qi, such as blocked meridians or deficiency, will result in illness.
Traditional Chinese medicine, in general, recognizes that the mind and body interact as one. Your emotions affect your body on the physical level, and the five main emotions are reflected by the elements — water is fear, fire is happiness, earth is worry, wood is anger, and metal is grief.
Although it was initially dismissed by Western medicine, medical acupuncture is now widely recognized as an effective treatment for different physical illnesses. Its effectiveness as a mental health treatment is yet to be officially recognized, but many already enjoy its benefits.
Anxiety affects a lot of people worldwide. Some of them only suffer occasional bouts of anxiety, while others are not able to manage their natural response to stress at all times. Although it is a mental condition, anxiety can trigger responses on different aspects. It can manifest physically as irregular heartbeat, sweating, and palpitations; cognitively, by developing negative thoughts; behaviorally as restlessness or uncharacteristic aggression; and emotionally as dread or fear.
In traditional Chinese medicine, anxiety is related to imbalances in the Zang organs, specifically in the heart and kidney. The heart is related to joy and fire, and too much heat in the heart disrupts the balance of its interaction with the kidney, which represents water and fear. The water organ fails to contain the fire organ, and rises up to the mind, causing anxiety.
Acupuncture can then ease the flow of qi from the kidney to the heart and head. Applying it on points near the heart, kidney, spleen and ear treats anxiety.
Depression is an intense, long-term state that negatively affects a person’s emotional, cognitive and physical functions, and hinders their daily life. They lose positive associations and their sense of fulfillment — they no longer enjoy the activities that they used to find pleasurable. They constantly have negative thoughts, worrying about the future and feeling hopeless. Depressed people also sleep too much or too little.
Depression is considered as the result of problems in the circulation of your qi. The liver is the main organ responsible for qi circulation, with the spleen and heart supporting it. The Four Gates is the most common method used to enhance the flow of qi. It involves stimulating source points on the hands, between the index finger and thumb, and the feet between the big and second toes.
The value of acupuncture and other forms of complementary and alternative therapies is gradually being proven as official treatments for anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses. Before that happens, patient with mental health issues should still be entitled to seek other remedies if they think conventional medicine is not enough.