Chinese Medicine Successfully Treats Stress and Anxiety
Stress and anxiety are emotions that play a big part in our daily lives. We live in a fast-paced society where we find ourselves talking on our cell phones while driving, working long hours to afford our lifestyles, even cramming our vacations full of unending “fun.” When do we give ourselves time to just relax?
Under stress, our bodies produce a variety of chemicals, including adrenaline and cortisol, that get dumped into our bloodstream to help us react to a potential threat. Adrenaline is a hormone that works in the short term. It gets released and quickens our pulse, makes our breathing shallow, increases perspiration and prepares us to physically get out of the way of the stressor. Cortisol has a longer term effect and accumulates in the body when adrenaline is released repeatedly.
In our daily lives we run into problems with stress when the threats that we face do not have quick solutions. Conflict with our bosses, impending deadlines, insufficient money, snarling traffic, responsibilities that feel overwhelming can all lead to chronic stress. This is a problem because our bodies do not have time to recover between episodes of stress. Chronic stress leads to fatigue, negative thoughts, stomachaches, ulcers, migraines, diarrhea or constipation and frequent colds. When these are not addressed they can lead to heart disease, diabetes, infertility, thyroid problems, cancer and depression.
Chinese medicine recognizes the impact that stress has on the body and views stress as a blockage of qi, or energy, that leads to many different problems. A common diagnosis for stress is Liver Qi Stagnation, or a blockage of energy in the liver channel (in Chinese Medicine the energy in the body travels in pathways, or channels, that are named after major organs). It is important to realize that each individual reacts in a unique way.
Acupuncturists can track these reactions by monitoring the energy in all of the body’s channels to determine how the stress is affecting the individual. The resulting treatment works to resolve symptoms as well as the root cause of the problem.
Acupuncture resolves stress by releasing endorphins, the body’s own painkillers, to reduce pain and improve circulation of blood and lymphatic fluids which bring nutrients to the body’s cells and allows waste products in the blood to be flushed out. In addition, acupuncture reduces cortisol levels, lowers blood pressure, shrinks inflammation and relaxes muscle tissue.
Acupuncturists also counsel patients on long-term strategies to deal with chronic stress such as exercise, meditation and prayer, yoga, tai chi, and qi gong. One shouldn’t underestimate the relaxing affect that friendships, the outdoors, laughter, hobbies and music have on our bodies.
Occasionally, its best to just RELAX!