Acupuncture Studio: Stress and TCM (Part One)

Every living thing experiences stress throughout its lifespan.

Over time, each organism has evolved a complex set of responses to the stresses it experiences. Human stress response includes behaviours and a complex cascade of hormones and chemicals.

Stress is, by definition, an imbalance of mind and body equilibrium.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is based on a holistic view in which the person is an integrated, interacting system of mind and body energies working in conjunction with (or against) its environment.

All TCM treatments are aimed toward the goal of balancing a person’s energies and restoring balance.

Through the use of acupuncture, herbal medicine, and other traditional therapies, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) may help to relieve stress and unwind its harmful effects on your health.

The Biology of Stress

A healthy relaxed person is in homeostasis, that is, the body is physiologically and psychologically in a state of balance.

When stressed, the body produces adrenalin, cortisol, and other strong chemicals in response, whether the perceived or experienced stress is psychological or physical.

The body is well prepared to utilize these powerful chemicals by focusing on attention, dampening perceptions to distractions, limiting the ability to feel pain, or providing powerful boosts to available energy.

When a person is stressed over a long period, though, these substances can cause serious
negative impacts on his or her health, including: sleep disruption, chronic headaches,
hormone disruption, gastrointestinal distress, weight gain, immune system impairment,
cardiovascular impacts, and psychological disturbances.

In the short term, stress challenges the immune system, adjusts blood pressure, increases
heart rate, shifts neurotransmitters, and regulates the central nervous system.

In the long term, stress damages the body’s systems, reduces its ability to cope with disease, and impairs brain function and mental health.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)  and Stress

To restore a stressed person to balance, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) treatments focus on unblocking energy flow. The combination of mind and body techniques promotes relaxation and mindfulness.

According to TCM theory, long-term stress tends to constrict the flow of Qi (vital energy)
within the body. This constriction is often diagnosed as Liver Qi Stagnation.

As the stagnation of Qi builds over time, individuals generally experience emotional difficulties, such as agitation, depression, and mood swings; digestive disorders, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and nausea; feelings of distension in the chest and abdomen; and menstrual disharmonies, including PMS, dysmenorrhoea (cramps), and irregular periods.

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