Chinese Medicine and Mental Health

Today's world is stressful. We live in a hectic culture and face many conflicts and challenges in our daily lives. For some of us, it can be too much. Nearly 1 in 5 Americans suffer from some form of mental illness.  TCM practitioners don't see mental disorders as any one syndrome. Instead, TCM treats specific symptoms. The goal is to re-balance the body's inner functions.

Some issues are quickly treated, but severe/chronic illnesses require ongoing treatment. Typical treatments last for 15-30 minutes, and treatment is usually repeated once or twice weekly, based on a client's needs.  Treatment points relating to mental health are grouped at the head, forearms, and lower legs. Ear acupuncture is commonly used for traumatic conditions, extreme stress, and addiction.

Chinese Medicine and Stress Management


Stress, along with its related symptoms, is a very common complaint among acupuncture clients. Stress causes physical illness and disrupts sleep. It most often manifests as anxiety and depression and can aggravate other conditions, such as pain, IBS, menopause, PMS, and migraines.

The tension we feel when we are under stress is the body's natural reaction to potential dangers around us. The mind can become overloaded and fail to cope well with stressors, and the resulting behavior and thinking patterns can cause or aggravate anxiety.

Chinese Medicine and Pain Management

Pain is a symptom of many conditions and has many causes and types. Pain can result from an injury, from a temporary state of discomfort, or from an ongoing illness or condition. Pain that lasts for six months or less is considered acute, and pain that lasts longer than six months is considered chronic. Every individual is different, and therefore, results and relief can vary.

Acupuncture helps to free blocked Qi and to fix imbalanced Qi and can enable the acupuncturist to get to and treat the root cause of the pain. Other therapies may be recommended alongside acupuncture, and acupuncture may be used in conjunction with conventional medicine, depending on the type of pain and the cause or pain.

Managing Stress in the Midst of Chaos, Change, and Growth

We all experience stress in different ways, whether it be as muscle tension, digestive problems, or issues with our emotions. The way we experience stress is extremely individual, and I am thrilled when I meet others whose stress manifests the same as my own. Just as each of us is unique, the way in which we cope with and manage stress will be just as individual. Ultimately, the goal is to find the tools, methods, activities, and coping skills that work for you.

Before we discuss methods of managing stress, let's discuss what stress is and how it can either benefit or harm us. Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary ( defines stress as "a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a cause in disease causation" and "one of bodily or mental tension resulting from factors that tend to alter an existing equilibrium."

In evaluating the first definition, we see unmanaged stress may lead to various forms of disease. The most common conditions I see in my acupuncture and Reiki practice are bodily and emotional pain, varying levels of acute or chronic disease, and unmanaged stress. When these patients and clients enter my clinic, my job becomes helping them to reduce their stress to manageable levels or adapt to an increase level of stress.