Acupuncture for Anxiety

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.