Anxiety

Mondays

4:30 pm

Acupressure of PC8 Lao Gong -

 used to calm the mind to settle anxiety

Emotions, according to traditional Chinese Medicine (tCM), affect our energy or Qi:

 

"Anger causes energy to rise, joy causes energy to slow down, grief causes energy to descend, fright causes energy to scatter, exhaustion causes energy to wither, worry causes energy to stagnate." The Yellow Emperor 1

It's completely normal to feel emotions, it's part of being alive.  It's when we get stuck in an emotional state or we repress emotions that they are harmful.

 

Chronic anxiety and habitual worrying about what may happen in the future depletes the body, mind and spirit.  Mental health is a cornerstone of good overall health (sleep, exercise and diet the others) it's important that we explore ways to help anxiety, including non-allopathic ones like acupressure.

How Acupressure may Help

Acupressure is a traditional Chinese Medicine (tCM) technique  I summarise some key aspects of tCM medical theory on my Acupressure page.  During this time of social distancing face-to-face acupuncture consultations are impossible.  Acupressure is a different way of stimulating acu-points to needling which enables you to benefit from your home.

 

As anxiety is a common underlying pattern in sleep disorders much of the advice on this page mirrors that of Acupressure & Insomnia.  As with sleep disorders your experience of anxiety is unique and any suggestions here are simply for you to trial.  TCM interprets anxiety as imbalance.  Like acupuncture, the acu-points selected for your acupressure treatment depend on the type of your anxiety, when it started, triggers and the key lifestyle factors - emotions, diet and exercise.

From a tCM perspective there are a number of patterns which explain anxiety.  There are too many for me to list but a common theme is a turbulent mind or Shen.  Whatever and whenever the cause activities which help develop mental resilience and stability, such as yoga, mindfulness, CBT, acupressure have a role to play in anchoring the Shen.

 

A tCM acupuncturist like me will identify your pattern/s of disharmony through careful questioning and observation and make a diagnosis.  Your acupressure treatment plan will include your bespoke acu-point protocol and lifestyle advice. The acupressure points (acu-points) listed here are intended simply as a starting point - to help you out whilst we are unable to arrange face-to-face acupuncture consultations.  Acupuncture is a complex medical model and these 'cookbook' protocols (i.e. for anxiety press x) are for you to try.  If they help you that's great.  If not, it may be that you would benefit from a proper consultation.  Contact me to book your online acupressure consultation.

During pregnancy and childbirth midwife and acupuncturist Debra Betts recommends wearing a travel band over KID 1 to settle anxiety during childbirth.  More details here.  You can also download her free booklet on Natural Pain Relief Techniques for Childbirth.
 

Anxiety UK are currently running a pilot project with the British Acupuncture Council to, "monitor the effectiveness of traditional acupuncture for treating those living with anxiety, stress and anxiety based depression. This will enable both parties to continue to build a body of evidence to measure the success rate of this type of treatment.

We know anecdotally that many people find complementary therapies used to support conventional care can provide enormous benefit, although it should be remembered they are used in addition to and not instead of seeking medical advice from a doctor or taking prescribed medication."2

 

Acupressure Anxiety Routine
These acu-points are some of the most common that I use in my acupuncture clinic for anxiety.  This is a general routine.  Remember, we are all have our own unique patterns of disharmony and some points may work better for you than others.  Give them a try. 


If you have time for just one point try Du 20 - point number 1. in Acupressure for Anxiety Routine.
Du 20 combines well with LIV 3 and LI4 - points 5. and 7. - this acu-point pair is known as the Four Gates.

 

How to apply acupressure: gently massage in slow circular movements applying medium pressure or press the acu-point with steady pressure.   Duration: 20 seconds - 2 minutes.  Breathe deeply and slowly.  Travel bands may be used at PC 6 for continuous stimulation.

This routine may take up to 15 minutes, but if you apply pressure for just 30 seconds on each point under 5 minutes.

1. DU 20 

  • On top of head. 

  • Visualise a line joining the tips of both ears.

  • Visualise a line running from the tip of your nose over the middle of your head to the back of your neck. 

  • DU 20 is where the 2 lines cross.  Gentle acupressure (will be tender if you are stressed)

2. GB 13

  • Visualise a line running from the tip of your nose to the crown of your head

  • GB 13 is 1/2 a thumb's width inside your hairline on this line 

3.  CV 17 (Sea of Tranquility)

  • In the centre of the sternum (breast bone)

  • 3 thumbs widths up from base of the bone

4. PC 6

  • The point is in between the two tendons you can feel (sometimes just 1 can be felt)

  • Place thumb of other hand on point.  Acupressure

5. LI 4 (not to be used in pregnancy)

  • Between the thumb and first finger. 

  • Squeeze thumb and first finger together you will see a muscle mound. 

  • It's at the highest point of this mound. 

  • Using thumb of other hand, press firmly towards the first finger and hold.  It's a tender point.

6SP 6 (not to be used in pregnancy)

  • Find the tip of inner ankle bone

  • Line 4 fingers above the tip

  • Slide top finger off the edge of the bone (tibia)

  • This point is usually tender

7.  LIV 3

  • On top of foot

  • In between the big toe and first toe, up from the web.  Can be really tender

8. KID 1

  • Divide the sole of your foot into 3

  • The point is in the centre of the top 1/3. If you point your toes you should see the dip.

 
 
 
 

Exercise - Yoga & Meditation (under construction)

Diet (under construction)

 

Books & References

  • Recipes for Self-Healing, Daverick Leggett, 1999, Meridian Press, (Ref 1. p. 74)

  • Helping Ourselves, A Guide to Traditional Chinese Food Energetics, Daverick Leggett, 2014, Meridian Press

  • Anxiety UK, Acupuncture Service (Ref 2)
     

Useful Links


Biomedical Interpretation of how acupuncture may help anxiety

This information is a direct quotation from the British Acupuncture Council's research factsheet, Acupuncture and Anxiety, November 2014.

"Research has shown that acupuncture treatment may specifically benefit anxiety disorders and symptoms of anxiety by:

  • Acting on areas of the brain known to reduce sensitivity to pain and stress, as well as promoting relaxation and deactivating the 'analytical' brain, which is responsible for anxiety and worry (Hui 2010).

  • Regulating levels of neurotransmitters (or their modulators) and hormones such as serotonin, noradrenaline, dopamine, GABA, neuropeptide Y and ACTH; hence altering the brain's mood chemistry to help to combat negative affective states (Lee 2009; Samuels 2008; Zhou 2008; Yuan 2007).

  • Stimulating production of endogenous opioids that affect the autonomic nervous system  (Arranz 2007). Stress activates the sympathetic nervous system, while acupuncture can activate the opposing parasympathetic nervous system, which initiates the relaxation response.

  • Reversing pathological changes in levels of inflammatory cytokines that are associated with anxiety (Arranz 2007)

  • Reversing stress-induced changes in behaviour and biochemistry (Kim 2009).

Acupuncture can be safely combined with conventional treatments such as medication or psycho-educational therapy, possibly enhancing their beneficial effects (Courbasson 2007) and reducing unwanted side-effects (Yuan 2007)"