In our clinic, we treat many conditions that have stress as their root or contributing cause. Stress can manifest in many different ways, from headaches, insomnia or tightness in the upper back and shoulders to emotional problems or an inability to cope with the usual daily pressures at home or at work. Acupuncture is particularly suited to treating stress-related conditions because the typical patterns of stress correspond to patterns of symptoms that acupuncture has been treating for thousands of years.

Stress can build up in the body almost imperceptibly until the body is left in a high enough state of stress that symptoms start to appear. At this point someone might complain of feeling a bit stressed, but not realize that it has taken quite a long time to build to this level. If circumstances are favourable, like having a good holiday booked at the right time, it will become clear how much stress needed to be released by comparing how it feels before and after the holiday. Similarly, a good few treatments should lead to the feeling

Increased levels of frustration with others or getting upset over small things can be a sign that stress levels are increasing in the body. Physical symptoms such as tightness in the neck or shoulders, insomnia, PMT, headaches/migraines, facial tension (tight lips or a clenched jaw) and grinding teeth are also possible. Once the stress levels pass beyond a certain point, then physical and/or emotional burnout may occur. This can manifest as depleted physical energy, emotional volatility and exhaustion, dark circles under the eyes, sweating on the forehead or upper lip and a lowered immunity to illness. Someone in this position feels like they have less to give to friends and family and their performance at work may also suffer.

From the point of view of Chinese medicine, stress like this can be due to liver qi stagnation on a background of kidney yin deficiency. Physical tension and tightness occurs when our body’s energy stagnates and becomes blocked. Stagnation can also lead to emotional tension, manifesting as a shorter temper or increased volatility and moodiness. Acupuncture helps to unblock the body’s energy pathways and clear any stagnant energy to relieve physical tension and rebalance the emotions.

Our kidney yin energy can be thought of like a big reservoir of cool, calm water. When the body gets stressed and starts to heat up, it needs to draw from this reservoir to cool down again and restore calm and balance to the body. If the reservoir starts to run low, then the body cannot calm down so easily and a perpetual state of agitation can persist. This can affect our sleep, lead to increased sweating or feelings of heat, and can make us feel low in energy and exhausted emotionally. Acupuncture is able to restore the body’s reserves of kidney yin energy to bring you back to balance. By clearing any stagnant energy and by increasing the cool, calm energy in the body, acupuncture can effectively treat the varied symptoms of stress.

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014


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