Thursday, June 18, 2009

Acupuncture Treats Depression, Anxiety

One of the most common questions we get these days is if/how acupuncture can treat depression and anxiety.

Acupuncture is often very useful in both these conditions.

Health, in terms of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) depends on the smooth flow of qi (energy) throughout the body. This is important for mental health as well as physical health. In fact, problems in the energy flow often show up first as difficulties in mental health, whether it is feeling stuck in a current situation, not being enthusiastic about life, to experiencing anxiety and clinical depression.

When someone comes in for an acupuncture treatment or consultation, we assess the energy flow in the entire body and see where the cause may be for any symptoms (physical, mental or emotional) they may be experiencing. Often even seemingly unrelated symptoms may have a similar root in Chinese medicine. We find where energy flow may be blocked, weak, or not flowing in the proper direction.

There are many ways to address these imbalances. Of course, acupuncture - placing small, sterile needles in specific points on the body designed to balance energy flow, is one safe effective method we use at The Birch Center.

We can also address the root of the problem with herbs. For example, if smooth flow of energy needs to be restored, we may prescribe a Chinese formula called Xiao Yao Wan. Other formulas, which calm the Heart and settle scattered qi, can often address anxiety and sleeplessness. Depending on each person's specific case, formulas can be given to strengthen digestion, or the overall yin or yang of the body.

We also may discuss lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise, modifications of which can often be extremely helpful to a person's mental and physical well-being.

Finally, we can look at what is available around us. Blooming all around Pittsburgh right now is St. John's wort (pictured above), which is a traditional European herbal treatment for depression. St. John's Wort is used in Germany and other European countries much more often than the prescription medications we use in this country. St. John's wort can be taken as pill, tincture or tea, and is fun to gather yourself, once you learn to identify it.

So if you or someone you love is struggling with depression, anxiety, or other issues, please know that acupuncture can often be a great help.

You can call our office to speak with an acupuncturist directly (412) 381-0116, and can even schedule a free 20 minute consultation with David Sokulski, our head acupuncturist.

For more information about herbs and plants growing locally, please visit Food Under Foot.

Thanks so much!

In Health,

Melissa and David Sokulski, L.Ac
Birch Center for Health

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