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About Stress

Stress can sometimes be used as a catch-all word for many symptoms but the fact is that stress is very real and causes a whole host of conditions. Stress can be the starting point for all types of anxiety, depression, hypertension, lethargy, addiction, obesity, muscle pain etc. The list is very long and this is why it is fundamental that everyone actively adopts some form of stress management.

Possible Symptoms

Common stress symptoms include irritability, muscular tension, inability to concentrate and a variety of physical reactions, such as headaches and accelerated heart rate. Anxiety, depression and a fuzzy or confused mind can also be caused by stress.

Western Medicine View

When you face a challenging situation, your body releases chemicals, including cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline. These chemicals raise the fight or flight feelings that help you to deal with the situation. However, if you are in a situation where you cannot fight or escape, these chemicals are not used. These chemicals accumulate from not being used and their effects are felt by the body. That is how you feel stressful. Stress is usually treated by using tranquilizing drugs to calm or reset the body.

Chinese Medicine View

In Chinese Medicine, human emotions are closely related to the organs. Liver, whose main function is to store blood and maintain the smooth flow of Qi throughout the body, is predominantly associated with stress. Negative emotions like anger and sadness can directly affect the liver, causing a stagnation of liver energy, which is often the underlying factor for stress as well as for depression and anxiety. If you are suffering from stress then you may even feel a dull ache under your right rib cage as the liver is being affected.

The main concern of well-being in Chinese medicine is the interrelated balance within the body between its mental, emotional and physical components. In scientific terms, the healthy body regulates its metabolism and hormonal systems by the balancing acts of releasing the correct amount of cortisol adrenaline and neurotransmitters such as endorphins. Excessive stimuli caused by a traumatic event or problem can lead to confusion and chaos within the body. Less than 20% of people can effectively cope with crises. Stress increases the heart rate as much as heavy physical exercise. According to Chinese Medical theory acupuncture can provide the balance because of its two-way regulation effects on the body’s metabolism and hormonal systems. It is proven now that acupuncture releases endorphins and other neurotransmitters.

Chinese herbal medicine can be used to address the balance of the body’s internal organs and physiological functions. The Liver is the organ relating to emotion in Chinese medicine theory. If the Liver meridian is blocked, Chinese herbs are used to sooth the Liver and to tonify the Kidney which can mobilise Qi to clear the blockage that can lead to serious diseases. Great physicians perfected Chinese herbal formulae through thousands of years of clinical analysis. Stress leads to many chronic syndromes, or chronic illnesses classified by Chinese medicine. The Kidney is responsible for the energetic function and the Spleen is the housekeeper of the body’s immune system, taking its nutrients from the stomach. Low resistance to infection caused by stress can be addressed by regulating the Spleen and Kidney. Emotional and mental disorders can be regulated through the Liver and Heart meridians. All of these considerations form a holistic approach to the treatment of stress.

According to Chinese Medicine theory Chinese herbs and acupuncture can be prescribed  to soothe and tonify the body so that you can better cope with stress. Special attention is usually directed towards clearing Liver qi stagnation.

The treatment can use acupuncture, small metal balls on the ear points (to press during stressful times) and herbs to naturally calm the body and bring about feelings of well-being according to CM theory. Things like diet and lifestyle will be taken into account. At AcuMedic the treatment is tailored to the patient’s individual symptoms and requirements.

Lifestyle Advice

Many people find meditation and exercise very useful at managing stress. The trick is to find a way to have time and space free of thoughts of the future (worries and anxieties), the past (depression and regret) or the day to day. It is important to have those moments that only focus on that moment and to put all negative thoughts away to be dealt with later. Exercise is useful because it demands attention. Chinese use tea drinking to focus attention into the cup and away from the world. Meditation is also great but can be difficult to master. A good starting point is to simply sit and count 100 deep breaths. If any thoughts enter your head the mentally step away from them until they disappear. You should enter a state of relaxation.

See our free guide on how to deal with stress by using Chinese Medicine.

All chinese teas are a great way to relax (especially white, green and floral teas). We have medicinal blend teas such as Calm.

For personalised advice on diet and lifestyle, please ask the doctor during your consultation. Please be reminded that we offer free online health advice.