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10 August 2021


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How does Acupuncture help with Anxiety

How does Acupuncture help with Anxiety

The point of view in TCM for Anxiety

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) views anxiety or nervousness as stemming from an imbalance of the yin and yang, in the heart and kidney meridians, respectively. Other TCM practitioners believe anxiety stems from a variety of factors that affect different people in different ways. Some practitioners believe that it is related to cardiac disharmony (the heart pathogen), spleen qi deficiency, kidney yin deficiency, liver qi stagnation, and blood stasis.

In terms of TCM, anxiety can be induced by the follows:

  • an overly active mind/ emotions,
  • liver qi stagnation
  • the poor blood circulation of meridians
  • Qi Deficiency
  • trauma to the head.

In either case, an acupuncturist may identify the symptoms of anxiety:

  • shortness of breath,
  • fearfulness,
  • perfuse sweat
  • palpitations,
  • insomnia.

Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners believe that acupuncture can balance these various factors and bring about a reduction in anxiety and its symptoms.

Regardless of which school of thought is used to treat anxiety, it is commonly accepted that acupuncture based on Traditional Chinese Medicine has a positive effect on those suffering from anxiety. The main theory behind the effectiveness of this form of treatment comes from the widespread idea that acupuncture restores balance within the body. Since TCM believes all aspects of one’s life (psychological, physical, social, etc.) are interconnected and each affects another positively or negatively, restoring balance through treatments will produce positive effects on anxiety.

How does acupuncture help Anxiety

To treat anxiety successfully, the Chinese medicine practitioner looks at both body and mind. The practitioner works to restore balance through acupuncture meridians that affect the heart and kidney channels. He or she will also likely recommend several herbs to strengthen yin or yang qi. In addition, an acupuncturist trained in Herbal medicine may prescribe herbal remedies to minimize withdrawal symptoms from anti-anxiety drugs. As research reveals though, the best results come from a combination approach when it comes to treating anxiety disorders with acupuncture.

Given below are some studies which show how Chinese Medicine dealt with Anxiety and Stress

1. A study recently published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice investigated the effect of acupuncture on stress and anxiety. In this randomized control group, 30 individuals with a diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder were recruited for the study. Anxiety levels were measured using the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI). The results showed that anxiety decreased by over 50% in both the treatment and control groups. However, participants who received acupuncture reported a higher reduction of anxiety symptoms than those in the control group.

2 . Another study conducted on 60 patients suffering from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), showed that a combination of qi gong plus acupuncture therapy cured 75% of the cases. All 60 volunteers were first diagnosed using the DSM-IV criteria for GAD. They received 5 sessions of qi gong and acupuncture treatment over 2 weeks. The results revealed that 75% of them no longer met the diagnostic criteria after treatment. They also reported feeling more relaxed, calm, and tranquil.

3. In a randomized control trial, acupuncture treatment was used to treat 40 patients with generalized anxiety disorder. First, they were subjected to psychological treatment for 5 weeks and then randomly divided into 2 groups – one received electro-acupuncture treatments while the other received sham electro-acupuncture treatments for 8 weeks. At the end of the study, the anxiety and depression scores decreased in both groups but were significantly lower in those who received acupuncture treatment than those who only underwent psychological therapy. The results show that acupuncture is an effective treatment for generalized anxiety disorder due to its ability to reduce stress and anxiety.

The common use point to alleviate Anxiety

The following points are essential acupuncture treatment methods and acupoints that alleviate anxiety, stress, or mild depression.

  1. Spleen 6 (sanyinjiao) is a very important point in the treatment of anxiety, as it regulates emotional imbalances brought about by liver qi stagnation. It also helps improve sleep and nourishes kidney yin
  2. Liver 3 (taichong) is another point that can be used, as it regulates the flow of liver qi. It has a calming effect on the heart by regulating blood flow and alleviates irritability.
  3. Heart 7 (shenmen), a point often used to treat emotional disorders, is useful for treating anxiety. This point regulates mood and subdues manic states. It is also one of the best points for insomnia, restlessness, and palpitations.
  4. Du20 (baihui): This point helps ease insomnia and improves mood It is useful for treating chronic headaches.

When receiving acupuncture treatment

When visiting an acupuncturist, it is important to keep in mind that acupuncture treatments are not intended to immediately produce relief of symptoms. Acupuncture works best when the patient is consistent with treatments, not necessarily receiving treatment every week but rather applying the principles and philosophies of treatment daily. By doing so, the mind-body can adapt to new physiological functions and achieve homeostasis – a state of balance in which all physical and emotional needs are met. Please also check out our other blog post for tips on anxiety, more information on acupuncture, and other modalities in TCM.

Happy Acupuncture!

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http://www.tjzhongyiyao.com/ch/reader/download_pdf_file.aspx?journal_id=tjzyy&file_name=A8D77C701D04C881F6A5180004F48D33E7ED33F74D76D5D49BBC414765BF142BB2748262D8ADFAAC573109783BC9115593E5B9CECAEAC65A0FBCF93DCDAE72FD&open_type=self&file_no=19990124Leung, A., Chan, P., & Wing, Y. (2002). Efficacy of acupuncture in the treatment of anxiety and depression: a systematic review. Acupuncture in Medicine, 20(2), 61-67. doi:10.1136/aim.20.2-3.61

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4165564/Zhang, T., Yu, R., Zhang, H. (2012). Efficacy of Chinese and Western medicines for the treatment of anxiety disorders: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 141(2), 395-405. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2012.03.03

https://annals-general-psychiatry.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12991-021-00327-5Effectiveness of acupuncture on anxiety disorder: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trialsXiang-yun Yang, Ning-bo Yang, Fang-fang Huang, Shuai Ren & Zhan-jiang Li

Randomised Controlled Trial on the Use of Acupuncture in Adults with Chronic, Non-Responding Anxiety Symptoms Nick Errington-Evans Department, Hywel Dda Health Board, Bro Cerwyn, Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire SA61 2PZ, UK;


Any information contained herein is intended for educational purposes only and does not imply that this protocol will cure or treat any disease or illness.


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