“How can acupuncture treat anxiety?”
This is the common question that patients and anyone who wonders about acupuncture often ask. While general mechanisms are scientifically proven, Acupuncture is still unrevealed or not fully explained yet, and maybe this is why people keep asking questions about Acupuncture. So I am trying to approach it from a different angle, hoping it becomes easier to understandwhen it is explained from Acupuncturists’ perspectives, making a diagnosis, and choosing where to apply a needle.
Psychiatric symptoms are mostly concentrated in the head and chest area. When a patient complains of these symptoms, the acupuncturist would first check where the main symptoms appear. From here, more detailed examination gets involved focusing on small areas, for example, the front or side of the chest, and the front, side, or the back of the head, etc. Which part of the body to examine is important because our body is interconnected,and the map of the connection signal is Acupuncturists select the meridian system to apply acupuncture. There are numerous discussions about what a meridian system is, but you can think of it as a wiring diagram.
The left is the wiring diagram of a human body, and the right is a vehicle. Each explains how human body parts and vehicle parts are connected within its body. The side of the head interconnects with the side of the feet. Therefore, the stimulation on the side of the feet naturally treats the side of the head. It sounds like a logical leap, but Acupuncture is the statistical accumulation of countless experiences observing and stimulating the human body and developing treatments based on the responses. You can take this as an educational diagram that experienced doctors use to teach new doctors about the meridian system, such as stimulating the side of the feet will help treat headaches.
Here is a closer look. The symptoms such as hypochondriac pain, chest tightness, and frequent sighs are shown on the flank and the chest. This is exactly where the gallbladder meridian passes. Clinically, the acupoints of this meridian are mainly used to treat these symptoms, such as GB 41 and 34, which are acupuncture points on the feet.
Then the next question follows,
“Why apply acupuncture on a spot where it’s far away from the symptom area?”
First, as shown in the picture above,the nerves on the hands and feet have the most stimulation sensitivity.
Regardless of the thickness of needles, acupuncture on hands and feet creates stronger stimulation to the brain. The stronger stimulation brings stronger responses and, of course, great results.
Secondly, the amount of blood flow is critical.
Naturally, the amount of blood flow increases where our body feels pain.However, if the blood remains in the area, it becomes an obstruction in healingFor example, stress causes increased blood flow in the chest area, and patients complain of chest congestion. Acupuncture applied on hands and feet for stimulation will cause the blood to flow toward the hands and feet temporarily, then the pressure on the chest area decreases.
Acupuncturists first check where pain occurs. Then, through the meridian system, they look for the stimulation points from other body parts interconnected to the pain area. In general, hands and feet have the most acupoints. While applying acupuncture on the acupoints, acupuncturists check how the patient’s body reacts to the application. Pain relief or comfort is expected and usually the point where healing is happening.
of course, anxiety doesn’t magically disappear after applying a few needles on Gallbladder meridian points. There are a couple of things to consider for psychiatric symptoms, such as breathing problems or digestive disorders. There are more complex conditions to look at. However, following the principle of stimulation of the pain area and the other parts of the body connected to the pain area will eventually get to the treatment and healing.
✔ Most common acupuncture points for Anxiety