Chinese Medicine in Treating Anxiety and Depression

Chinese Medicine views that we human beings (just like all other living organisms) are made of three different aspects: body, mind, and spirit. Physical symptoms may stem from mental/emotional/spiritual disorders; emotional issues are often being displayed as physical ailments as the body and mind are seamlessly woven together in one energy field. Therefore, treating emotional/mental issues only with medications, without addressing inter-related   physiological counterparts, is not only ineffective, but may exacerbate the conditions.

In Chinese medicine, the underlying causes of anxieties/depression differ drastically from one patient to another. Typically, Chinese medical practitioners look for “pattern disharmonies” in treating depression/anxiety patients. The most prominent pattern disharmonies in depression disorders are:

* Heart and Spleen Qi deficiency – Physical symptoms may include palpitations, insomnia, poor memory, lack of appetite, fatigue, poor digestion, and a pale tongue. Emotional symptoms include excessive worry and feeling timid.
* Heart Yin deficiency – Physical symptoms may include absentmindedness, dizziness, insomnia, low back soreness, dryness, sensations of heat, tinnitus, and a red tongue with little coating. Emotional symptoms include sensitivity and irritability. Yin deficiency is commonly seen during menopause.
* Excessive Phlegm – Physical symptoms may include obesity, feeling weighted down, congestion, dizziness, fatigue and a swollen tongue. Emotional symptoms include depression and feeling cloudy or experiencing dullness of thought.
* Liver Qi stagnation – Physical symptoms may include nausea, bloating, premenstrual symptoms, rib-side pain, belching and possibly insomnia. Emotional stress affects the liver and includes irritability, frustration, and anger.
* Liver and/or Heart fire – Fire is often caused by prolonged Liver Qi stagnation. Symptoms include a bitter taste in the mouth, headaches, ringing in the ears, dizziness, sores in the mouth, red eyes, red face and a quick temper.

Depending on pattern diagnosis, acupuncture protocols are determined to address the underlying causes. Generally, results with acupuncture and herbs are cumulative, improving week by week. Treatment begins with one or two sessions per week and tapers off as the condition improves.

Acupuncture and herbs are not only safe, but also effectively used together with anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medications. Many patients find these medications to be inadequate at completely resolving their symptoms. Others, together with their doctors, would like to wean themselves to lower dosages in order to decrease the occurrence of side effects. Most patients turn to acupuncture and herbs for a variety of reasons – mostly because of their clinical success.

Ulcerative Colitis – Treating with Chinese Medicine

Chinese medical texts rarely differentiate Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or other chronic inflammatory intestinal disorders. In Chinese medical terms, most ulcerative intestinal disease is classified as spleen deficiency type, because it is believed that the spleen Qi is necessary to maintain the health of the intestines.

More specifically, any bowel-related issues can be caused by four major factors, all of them involving stomach/spleen deficiency.

  1. Stomach/Spleen Deficiency: Most common cause of any bowel-related and any other digestive disorders.
  2. Deficiency Complicated by Cold: Usually cold in the stomach and spleen meridians affect either the small or the large intestines.
  3. Deficiency Complicated by Damp Heat: Severe pain and/or bleeding can be caused by damp heat lodged in the intestines.
  4. Qi and Yin Deficiency: deficient Qi causes stagnation of the stomach and the spleen over time; not enough Yin (cooling element) makes Yang (hot element) invading the stomach, spleen, and liver meridians.

Chinese medical practitioners can establish protocols by examining the underlying causes of ulcerative colitis, not just symptomatic demonstrations. Quite often, acupuncture alone cannot effectively deal with this particular disease, and Chinese herbal concoctions (most notable is Jianpilling) are strongly recommended, along with strict diet changes.

A word of caution is that Chinese medicine, however, has its limitations. If the patient has such complications as toxic colitis or toxic megacolon, immediate hospitalization is required. In addition, serious complications such as massive hemorrhage, free perforation, or fulminating toxic colitis require immediate surgical intervention.

Improve Your Endocrine Health Through Chinese Medicine

Endocrine glands impact every area of your health.  Responsible for hormonal functions in the body, the endocrine system produces 30 distinct hormones, each of which has a very specific job to do.

This system controls your physical growth, mood, hormone output, reproduction, mental functionality, and immune system.

Typical symptoms of the endocrine disorders include: low immunity, fatigue, weight gain, depression, digestive issues, hair loss, arthritis, and feeling chilled regardless of the temperature.

Major endocrine glands in our bodies

Adrenals –

Adrenal glands regulate the body’s response to stress. Made of two parts, the outer part produces corticosteroid hormones that regulate the balance of salt and water, stress response, metabolism, immune function, and the reproductive system; the inner part secretes adrenaline hormones that increase blood pressure and heart rate in response to stress.

Pancreas –

The pancreas produces insulin and glucagon, two hormones that work together to provide the body with a constant supply of glucose which is the source of energy.

Pineal –

The pineal gland, also known as the “third eye,” produces the serotonin derivative melatonin, a hormone that affects the wake/sleep patterns and seasonal functions.

Hypothalamus and Pituitary –

As the primary link between the endocrine and central nervous systems, the pituitary gland secrete or suppress the release of various hormone messages to the other glands. The pituitary gland is also responsible for secreting growth hormones.

Reproductive –

These glands secrete hormones that control the development of male and female characteristics. In males, these glands secrete androgen hormones, most importantly testosterone. In females, they produce estrogen, progesterone, eggs, and are involved in reproductive functions.

Thyroid –

Thyroid hormones control the growth, temperature and function of every cell in the body. The gland acts as the metabolic engine of the body — if it secretes too little hormone, the body slows and dies; if it secretes too much, the body burns out and dies.

endocrine system 1

When it comes to treating the endocrine disorders, Chinese medicine seeks the root cause of the patient’s imbalance. The endocrine system is closely tied to the internal balance of the Yin energy (quiet, supportive, feminine, and cool) and the Yang energy (outward, strong, hot, and masculine).

Although imbalance between the Yin and Yang energy is the basis of any human disease, the most important element for endocrine disorder treatment is centered on the KIDNEY meridian.

By strengthening the KIDNEY (along with other organs like the Spleen, Liver, and Heart), acupuncture can restore hormonal balance, regulate energy levels, emotional stability, and help manage sleep and menstrual problems.

For endocrine disorders, we find that an integrated approach of Eastern and Western medicine often produce most optimal results. This is especially pertinent to infertility patients, many of whom may not have any “medical” issues according to conventional blood work.