Settle Your Qi: Quick Tips to Help Calm Anxiety In-Between Sessions

Anxiety can sneak up on people for myriad reasons.  For some it's more of a chronic state, for others its related to life events- races, presentations, and major life changes (moving, wedding, home purchases) are just a few examples. (See complimentary posting titled, Treating Anxiety with Acupuncture)

Two common ways that patients describe their anxiety: shortness or shallow breath, or rapid and unclear thoughts in their head.   

Here are some of my go-to points that I teach my patients to use on the run and in-between sessions, one for each of the common symptoms.  If I know someone is in the midst of an anxiety provoking event, I will often send them off with seeds, or magnets on the points for stimulation.  Press these points for a few seconds at a time while focusing on your breath.

Pericardium 6, Neiguan (Inner Gate) 

This point opens the chest and relaxes the diaphragm for deeper fuller breaths, and calms the mind. It's also a great point for nausea and for that reason I teach it to many of my pregnant patients.  Easiest way to locate it: three finger breadths from the wrist, and in-between the two tendons.


Kidney 1, Yongquan (Bubbling Spring) 

Think of this point like an anchor.  It works very well for anxiety yielding sensations of thoughts rushing to the head, possibly with tingling or cold feet.  The emotional feeling might be reported as feeling ungrounded.  Easiest way to locate it: divide the sole of the foot in thirds, and follow a straight line down from between your second and third toes.

Treating Anxiety with Acupuncture

A documented 3% of the US population suffers from Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).  Common symptoms include excessive worrying, difficulty focusing, sweating, trouble sitting still, disrupted sleep, and irritable bowel.

While pharmaceutical options certainly have their place in treating anxiety, they often come with side effects like fatigue, easily bruising, headaches, changes in blood pressure, and digestive disruptions.  

A 2013 study on the treatment of Generalized Anxiety Disorder with acupuncture confirms the efficacy of two points that are commonly needled in our practice, LU7, and KD6.  The combination of both points encourages the body to disperse qi and blood so that a patient can feel at ease on a deep level.  Read more about the point functions.

Effects of acupuncture treatments are cumulative, and we often say that for every year someone has had an imbalance, we need a month to treat and reverse the imbalance. At 8 Point Wellness we have worked with many patients with a history of anxiety.  Whether that anxiety has affected digestion, sleep, caused heart palpitations, or created migraines (to name a few) we have had great success reducing intensity and frequency of symptoms with acupuncture and Chinese herbal formulas.

For a few quick tips, see related article, Settle Your Qi

References:

Acupuncture Calms Anxiety Disorder Research. (2014, February 23). Retrieved June 12, 2016, from http://www.healthcmi.com/Acupuncture-Continuing-Education-News/1256-acupuncture-calms-anxiety-disorder-new-research

Observation on the mechanism of acupuncture treatment for generalized anxiety disorder using Lieque (LU7), Zhaohai (KI6) as the main acupoints. Lin, Chuhua; Zhao, Xiaoyan; Liu, Xing; Fu, Wenbin. Bioinformatics and Biomedicine (BIBM), 2013 IEEE International Conference on. 18-21, 12-2-13.

Fashionable Acupuncture at David Barton Gym

 

Ready for Calm?

I had the opportunity to partner with David Barton Gym for an event they were doing with Glam & Go, the express styling service they offer at the gym. 

I did my best to compliment the work of the team with fashion-friendly Swarovski crystal ear seeds. As an acupuncturist, I often place these bejeweled, medicinal seeds over a point called Shen Men or "The Gate of Heaven." This popular point helps to calm stress, ease anxiety, increase energy, and improve sleep.

In Chinese Medicine, the ear represents a microsystem of the entire body, with regions and points that correspond to specific organs, systems and emotions. The seeds were traditionally made from Vaccaria seeds, but have been modified over time to include gold, silver, metals and crystals. They are often complimented as jewelry, making them both visually appealing and medically relevant. 

There are many benefits of ear seeds. For starters, they are not needles, so patients can wear them home and leave them in anywhere from a few days to two weeks. In my practice, I like to use them to extend the duration of support between treatments. You can massage the seeds into your ears for convenient symptom relief throughout the day, and they have versatile implications including pain, stress, addiction, and more. 

To get your ear seed game on, contact Molly to set up an acupuncture appointment today!

How Willpower and Follow-Through Affect Your Overall Wellbeing

When one thinks of something, decides on it, and then acts on it, this is called willpower (zhi).”    - Zhang Jiebin

Winter is the time of year when many people lose their motivation. The days become shorter, the weather gets colder, and finding that extra motivation can be a challenge. 

Whether you’ve set a resolution and are beginning to waiver from it, or are looking for new motivation to complete lingering goals, take a few minutes to understand how follow-through and completion can impact your physical and emotional wellbeing.   

In Chinese medicine, we correlate organs with their respective seasons. Winter is the season related to the kidneys. The kidneys are the root of yin and yang, which are the essential forces necessary to maintain a balanced life. In a spiritual sense, the Kidneys also correspond to zhi, or willpower. Willpower determines whether or not you complete a task, and also carries a component of destiny. When your actions are aligned with your life's purpose, zhi comes easily. When you place yourself in situations that do not serve you, zhi presents obstacles to steer you back on track. The kidneys represent this guiding light, giving you the power you need to become your best self. By cultivating zhi and being true to your word, the kidneys become stronger as well.

I often explain to patients that the kidneys are like your savings account. It’s always best to leave what you have in your savings account and spend only from your checking.  Every time we make a conscious choice to invest in the things we love, our savings account grows. We do this by keeping our emotions in check, doing the necessary life work to eliminate our fears, eating kidney nourishing foods*, and setting obtainable goals. Set yourself up for success by completing small tasks; then stretch yourself out of your comfort zone one day at a time. Throughout the process, always remember to acknowledge your achievements and enjoy the journey. 

Every season brings different opportunities for growth. In the winter, we seek to nourish our kidney yin and yang, take extra time for self-care, and slow down from the hustle of life. By needling specific points, acupuncture can amplify the kidneys' power and therefore provide clarity around any life changes or goals. Through acupuncture, herbs, and dietary education, Chinese Medicine naturally supports the kidneys, provides balance to the overall yin and yang of the body, and cultivates essential zhi.

*Examples of foods that nourish the kidneys: cloves, ginger, cinnamon bark, quinoa, chicken, lamb, trout, salmon, millet, barley, most types of beans, & spirulina 

Goji Berries Goodness & How To Eat Them Properly

For the past few years goji berries have gained popularity as a superfood.  They can be found at nearly any grocery store now.

Most people use them as a topping - I don't know about you but the first time I had a dried goji berry I was unimpressed with the hardly chewable texture.  It was in my first term of grad school that a classmate passed around a jar of hard, dried goji berries. I tried one and wished I hadn't.  Shortly thereafter I learned how to prepare and eat them properly-- like an herbalist, and now I love them. 

Take a small handful- roughly ten berries and put them in a shallow pot of water, just enough to cover the berries.  Bring the water to a boil, turn it down to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.  Keep the liquid! To gain the full benefit of goji berries pour both the berries and the liquid into your oatmeal, smoothie, etc.  What are goji berries good for? Nourishing yin, and blood- helping with vision, nourishing a dry cough.  If you have a sensitive stomach consider eating goji in moderation as they can be hard to digest- 1-2 times a week at most.