Updated: Nov 1, 2022
Have you ever found yourself experiencing anxiety? Or perhaps it is something that you regularly experience or are struggling with right now? Did you know that acupuncture can be used to help reduce anxiety? Acupuncture for anxiety works to restore flow and harmony to the body as a whole, from an energetic, physical and emotional perspective. For these reasons acupuncture can be a beneficial practice to reduce anxiety and to assist in managing both the body and the minds response when in that state of anxiousness.
Anxiety is a very real thing, and most people have either experienced it at some point in their lives or are quite used to it appearing on a regular basis. Particularly with the current global climate and the changes in the way we live, it is not surprising if you have felt anxious at some point or another these last few months. I know I certainly have! Self-isolation can definitely heighten anxiety and while introverts often thrive at home, extrovert personalities can often struggle more.
Symptoms of anxiety
Anxiety can manifest as many different sensations depending on the individual, from a racing heart, to a pounding chest, tightness or constriction in the throat, to that feeling of a knot in your stomach- (that horrible feeling like someone is wringing out your intestines), or even as intense repetitive thoughts in the mind that prevent you from moving forward. It really is very individual and often it is more than one of these or all of them combined. One thing is for certain though there is no shame in anxiety, it really is very common and a very real thing that people experience.
How acupuncture can help anxiety
But what I do know from my work as an acupuncturist is that the body is so amazing and will tell me exactly what’s going on and where it needs some support to help bring you back to a state of harmony and flow. Acupuncture has been found to assist in lowering heart rate and cortisol levels which typically heighten when we are in that fight or flight state. The practice of acupuncture helps the body to relax and shift the nervous system back from fight or flight mode to the parasympathetic, which is our rest and relaxation state. Basically, it can help take us from that run for your life feeling (which I am sure we have all had at one point or another in our lives, right?) to that more calm, zen state where we feel safe and relaxed.
When thinking about acupuncture for anxiety, I like to look at the root or underlying cause and treat my clients as a whole. When we come from a place of healing all layers, we bring longer lasting changes rather than just a quick fix band aid solution. Some of the techniques I use when treating anxiety with acupuncture are palpation. Through palpating the hara, which is the abdomen, I can see exactly where the body is holding onto anxiety and then work to move the energy and chi through the body to abate the symptoms and bring about a more calm and harmonised state of being.Some points that often come up in the use of acupuncture for anxiety and points which can also be useful acupressure points that you might like to try at home are:-
Located right in the middle of the gap between your eyebrows, often referred to as your third eye. This point is used often in acupuncture to help with calming the body and the mind and promoting deep relaxation. Connecting with the pineal gland it can assist in anxiety, headaches, brain fog, and more.
Also known as the governing vessel and located right at the crown of your head, right in the middle. If you imagine a light beam travelling up through your centre and bursting out through the crown of your head, the spot where it radiates from at the crown is DU 20. This point can help alleviate sadness, depression and overthinking, creating a more balanced and calm sense of focus.
Also, a great one for working with the menstrual cycle and hormonal aspects in women, another speciality of mine. This point is located on the inside of your leg above the ankle. You can locate this point by first finding the top of your ankle and then moving up about four finger widths higher. Spleen 6 is where the liver, kidney and spleen meridian lines intersect, three organs that during times of stress and anxiety can become easily drained and unbalanced.
I often tell my patients even though I will often insert needles into these points I have mentioned during a session that they can also use these points at home through EFT Tapping, to bring about a more calm and relaxed sense of self. Simply tapping in the middle of your forehead at yin tang, or on the top of your head at DU 20 or even at spleen 6 can help calm the mind, stop the heart racing and help support you to feel less anxious and overwhelmed.
Anxiety can be a very debilitating condition but there are definitely ways to help alleviate and manage the symptoms. Acupuncture being one of these! If you have tried acupuncture before I would love to hear about your experiences. Equally if you are new to acupuncture it really is a gentle and relaxing practice that benefits the body and the mind in so many ways. I love working with my clients and would love to support you as well. Feel free to get in contact if you would like to find out more or schedule an appointment. I highly recommend acupuncture as a beautiful addition to supporting our physical and emotional wellbeing and it is especially helpful for anxiety. I might be a little biased of course!
Balance Acupuncture- Charleston, SC. (n.d). 7 Acupressure Points for Stress + Anxiety Relief. [online]. Accessed 21 July 2020. Available at: https://balancecharleston.com/blog/2020/4/5/7-acupressure-points-for-stress-anxiety-relief.
Deadman, P., Mazin Al-Khafaji and Baker, K. (2016). A manual of acupuncture. East Sussex, England: Journal of Chinese Medicine Publications; Vista, California.
Mindbodygreen. (2018). Panic Attacks & Heart Palpitations? Soothe Your Nervous System Back With This Simple Acupressure Technique. [online]. Accessed 21 July 2020. Available at: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/how-to-use-acupressure-for-panic-attacks-and-heart-palpitations.