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The following is a special guest blog post by Susan Wallmeyer, a Licensed Acupuncturist in New York City. Her website is www.nychi-acupuncture.com.

 

When you hear the word anxiety, its meaning and the feelings it brings to mind for you are likely totally different from that of anyone else. Everyone experiences anxiety in unique ways, with unique triggers, symptoms and thought patterns.

Recognizing each person’s uniqueness is a fundamental part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). I might have five patients in my office with anxiety, and each would receive a totally different acupuncture point prescription and herbal formula to take.

TCM approaches anxiety by classifying it into various “patterns”. A pattern refers to the underlying cause, including which organs are out of balance and in what way they are imbalanced (too much heat or cold, excess functioning or not enough, etc). Your particular symptoms determine your pattern, and from there we decide which acupoints, herbs and dietary changes to utilize.

Instead of going through every possible anxiety pattern (there are about 20), I’ll just break it down into two types and give some recommendations based on each. For both “types”, it’s essential to find a regular outlet for your emotions, whether it’s journaling, meditation, meeting with a therapist or having a regular creative practice (or all of the above).

“Excess” Type Anxiety:

  • Anger, Irritability, tend to make rash decisions
  • Lots of physical tension (TMJ, shoulders, neck and ribsides especially)
  • Ear Ringing
  • Overeating
  • Dry Mouth or Bitter Taste in Mouth
  • Panic Attacks

For “excess” types, vigorous physical exercise is beneficial as well as drinking cooling mint tea since these patients sometimes have a hotter constitution.

Self-Acupressure: Excess types greatly benefit from acupressure on two points called “The Four Gates”- said to open the emotional and physical gates in order to reduce stagnation systemically. Regularly pressing on these two points can help reduce your tendency to irritability, frustration and tension. Please note that the hand point (LI- 4) is not to be used in pregnancy. If you are pregnant, just use the foot point (LIV- 3). Firmly apply pressure to the points with the tip of your thumb for 10-15 seconds at a time.

The hand point, LI-4, is at the highest point of the muscle bulge when you squeeze your thumb into the rest of your hand.

The hand point, LI-4, is at the highest
point of the muscle bulge when you
squeeze your thumb into the rest of your hand.

The foot point, LIV-3, is on the top of the foot, halfway between the big toe and second toe.

The foot point, LIV-3, is on the top
of the foot, halfway between the
big toe and second toe.

“Deficient” Type Anxiety:

  • Fearful
  • Shortness of Breath or General Fatigue
  • Night sweats or Spontaneous Sweating
  • Dizziness or Fainting Easily
  • Poor Memory
  • Palpitations

This type of anxiety benefits most from gentle, restorative exercise such as Tai Chi, Qi Gong or Hatha Yoga. A dietary focus on warming, nourishing “comfort” foods is also important, as is complete avoidance of sweets and added sugars.

Self-Acupressure: Deficiency types can perform self-acupressure on P- 6 (wrist point) and Ren-6 (abdomen point). The wrist point is especially helpful with palpitations and restlessness, and the lower abdomen point is a strengthening, centering point especially helpful with fearfulness and fatigue. Firmly apply pressure to the points with the tip of your thumb for 10-15 seconds at a time.

The wrist point, P-6, is between the two forearm tendons. It’s about two finger-widths away from the heel of the Hand.

The wrist point, P-6, is between the
two forearm tendons. It’s about two
finger-widths away from the heel of the
Hand.

The abdomen point, Ren-6 is approximately 1 ½ inches below the belly button.

The abdomen point, Ren-6 is approximately
1 ½ inches below the belly button.

For more information on acupuncture for anxiety, check out these links:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/16/acupuncture-could-help-prevent-stress_n_2883996.html

http://www.sunshineih.com/Health/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/Nocturnal-Melatonin.pdf

*All images courtesy of www.acupunctureschoolonline.com

Susan Wallmeyer is a Licensed Acupuncturist in New York City. Her practice focuses on treatment of women’s health issues, including PMS, infertility and prenatal health. Her website is www.nychi-acupuncture.com.