A Clear Mind and Calm Heart. Anxiety and Acupuncture

Mental health and needles? Helping to achieve a clear mind and calm heart? Surely not I hear you say! However, the reality is that increasingly Acupuncture as a form of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) is being sought and used in the treatment of mental health conditions including Anxiety and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

In England, 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year, (1) and the year 2020 brought about unprecedented change to all our lives, a global pandemic and has led to a concerning increase in reported mental health symptoms. We will be dealing with the medical, both physical and mental, and economic impact for many years to come. Mind (2), the mental health charity, states that since the outbreak ‘more than half of adults and two-thirds of young people said that their mental health has gotten worse during the periods of lockdown restrictions,’ and that ‘loneliness has been a key contributor to poor mental health.’ The reality is that anxiety is not something that anybody should suffer in silence about, the numbers clearly show that anxiety is highly significant in our society and something that people need to speak openly about and understand what treatment options are available.

Research has shown that acupuncture can help to treat the symptoms of anxiety and the amount of high-quality research being carried out to study the efficacy of acupuncture for several conditions including anxiety is increasing. Studies show acupuncture can be an effective treatment for anxiety, with few side effects and serious adverse events are rare. Acupuncture is thought to stimulate the central nervous system, thus releasing chemicals into the brain and the spinal cord. Biochemical changes help to bring about homeostatic balance. The body’s natural healing response is triggered, consequently bringing about improved physical and emotional health.

As a person-centred approach to treatment, Five Element Acupuncture addresses the balance at a mind, body, and spirit level, therefore treating at a root cause level rather than simply addressing individual symptoms. By firstly addressing any blocks, and then moving on to treat the spirit, the mind and the body begins to heal. When the spirit becomes distressed imbalance occurs, manifesting in symptoms. Anxiety is diverse, presents differently in each patient, it can be chronic or acute. Depending on each patient’s constitutional factor the emotional root cause will be different, and the symptoms will manifest in an individual way. Many treatment options and point combinations are therefore feasible and are person-centred and individualised.

As we unfold through the complexities that recent events have brought, we acknowledge that 2020/21 has brought about many challenges with a considerable increase and exposure to stressors, but with challenges, we have hope and optimism as we navigate into the future. The global pandemic has changed our lives in many ways, the way in which we work and how we live, but it has also brought about greater openness and a wider discussion about our mental health. Clinicians and practitioners are at a critical juncture to consider patient needs more than ever and we must all think differently about how we approach mental health wellness and draw nationally and globally on both ancient teachings and new emerging treatment options. We move forward collectively, to bring about balance, and positive emotional, mental, and physical health.

Julia Ugrinic is the owner of Green Rose Acupuncture and is a Five Element Acupuncture practitioner covering Telford, Shrewsbury, and surrounding areas in Shropshire. As part of Julia’s final year Acupuncture course, she focussed on the benefits of Acupuncture in the treatment of mental health conditions such as anxiety and Julia currently treats patients with conditions including anxiety.

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