Stress and acupuncture

What is stress

Stress is the effect of any event or experience which interferes with one’s physical and mental well being. Different individuals will experience carrying forms and symptoms of stress. These symptoms may include emotional upset, short temper, restlessness, headaches, insomnia, irritable bowels, skin rashes or lack of energy.

Causes of stress

Traumatic life events have a high stress rating for almost everyone, but the impact to one person may not be the same to the other. Stress may be caused by activities and circumstances which arouse emotion or which you perceive as threatening or annoyance, such as moving house, getting married, divorce, having a baby, the death of a friend, losing a job…etc.

Effects of stress

In terms of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), stress is linked with the function of the liver and kidney. One of the main physiological functions of the liver is to regulate mind and mood. TCM believes that the mental activities of human beings are controlled both by the heart and the liver, which smoothes and regulates the flow of vital energy and blood. When the function of the liver is normal, the human body will co-ordinate mental activities effectively. However, when stress affects the liver it is unable to perform this function well, and the human body will fail to co-ordinate its mental and emotional activities. At earlier stage, the following symptoms may appear, such as dullness and anxiety, depression, belching, sighing, distension and stuffy sensation in the chest. When the liver’s function is impaired to the extreme, the more troublesome symptoms may occur such as restlessness of the mind, irascibility, dizziness and sensations of distension in the head, headache, insomnia and continual dreaming.

TCM also believes that another main function of kidney is to store the essence of life. If a person is over worked or sexually overactive, this will drain the essence of kidney and result in backache, dizziness, tiredness or tinnitus (kidney having its specific opening in the ears). Although Stress is not terribly harmful in the short term, but prolonged stress keeps your body in overdrive and can affect your health. It may, for example, stimulate the production of excess acid in the stomach which can lead to gastric ulcers, or it may narrow blood vessels causing raised blood pressure, even angina or a heart attack. It may also provoke over or under eating, resulting in obesity or severe loss of weight. Furthermore, Prolonged or chronic stress may also be involved in the onset or progression of a number of illnesses. These include migraine, hair loss, asthma, nervous habits, skin rashes, impotence, menstrual problems, colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, low back pain, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and even cancer.

Remedy for stress by TCM

TCM treats stress conditions mainly by acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine.

1. Firstly, the practitioner will listen to the patient carefully and then advise them as to the suitable way to deal with the causes.
2. The practitioner will ask more questions about the patient’s health and history, check the pulse and the tongue so as to identify the organic problem and establish a treatment principle.
3. Acupuncture is a method of treatment which can unblock the energy of the body , regulate the liver and its function and help the body relax. This is usually undertaken once a week for three to five weeks, then gradually reducing to once every one or two months depending on the improvement of the illness.
4. Chinese herbal treatment can be taken in the long term as a preventative .the Chinese herbal medicine will help get rid of liver fire and nourish the essence of the kidney.

In addition to the above treatment, TCM also recommends that patients stick to a good diet and increase relaxation exercises. Many people may try to reduce their stress by tuning to alcohol. However, alcohol will stir up the liver fire that may make the symptoms even worse.

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