There is nothing literally as vexing as anxiety. It is an invisible force, which starts insidiously for most people, and can progress to a constant, persistent problem.
But before describing the treatment, let me describe the different types of Anxiety.
>>There is something we call “visceral agitation” which means that the anxiety comes from deep within the person, and causes pounding heart, palpitations, irritability, and uneasiness/restlessness.
>>There is something similar called Yin Fire, which is where the Will that is generated by the Kidney (endocrine system most likely) is unable to be secured by the Qi, and rises up into the heart. Is it hormones? Quite possibly, because it is primarily a diagnosis for women rather than men.
>>There is something easily confused with this called Yin Deficient Heat, which in some especially bad cases, of say, menopause results in persistent agitation and palpitations, which naturally would give someone anxieties.
>>There is also something we call Running Piglet, but is more or less upward rushing sensations in women, again from deficiency of Qi and Yin, that can climb up the middle all the way to the heart and throat via the Chong-Penetrating vessel. It is a very powerful sensation.
>>There is Vexation which is caused by the presence of heat, damp-heat, liver heat, liver fire, liver yang rising, or summerheat. The pathogenic heat rises upwards into the “orifices” – that is brain – and causes the nervous system to be over-stimulated.
>>There is Element-related (genetic) causes, most common in redheads with thin frames, where their Water-Fire relationship is naturally imbalanced, leading to a diagnosis called Heart and Kidney Miscommunication.
>>There are, of course, PTSD-like post-trauma memories locked in muscles, which later on agitate the subconscious of the person, resulting in persistent raised SNS (Sympathetic Nervous System or “fight or flight”) synaptic activity. These people typically sweat lightly and consistently and have very tightly wound muscles, even though they may in fact be calm & cool as a cucumber. They age mysteriously.
>>There is also quite oppositely post-trauma diagnoses that are anxieties related to shock, fright, panic, or generalized fears, all of which decrease the Kidney Qi, resulting in the Kidney and Heart “miscommunicating”. Again, is this hormonal changes in cortisol, aldosterone, and the renin-angiotensin axis? Perhaps, such research has not been conducted to cross-reference with TCM wisdom on pattern recognition.
>>There are a couple of strange(r) diagnoses. One is Heart & Gallbladder Qi deficiency. This does not necessarily have anything to do with gallbladders or removals. And yet, most of these patients will present with flank pains, or issues in the pecs/sides.
Heart Qi deficiency is usually associated with murmurs, palpitations, etc… however, in this case, the main thing that comes up are unexplained bouts of laughter or juxtaposed crying fits. In short, the deficiency leads to lack of regulation of the emotions and results in an anxiety that feels to the person as if they have no control over themselves – and yet are otherwise functional.[pullquote align=”right” width=”250″]As a side note, there is also a Lung and Spleen/Pancreas relationship (called Taiyin) that correlates insulin to surfactant. You may have experienced the production of phlegm you can cough away 20 minutes after eating french fries or ice cream. That relationship has also not been explored.[/pullquote]
>>Quite differently, another rare diagnosis called “Lily Syndrome” is not anxious at all, and yet the person knows there is something wrong. They just have no will or excitement/agitation to spur them into action. Lily Syndrome is a condition of “wilted” Lung and Kidney Qi, a completely different hormonal interaction that may be related to the production of surfactant. It may be the same interaction that is responsible in childhood asthma, which is Kidney Qi deficient caused. We again, have no research into specific chemicals, although ancient wisdom clearly points to these interactions.
>>There are a number of other anxieties related to elemental imbalances (genetics or environmentally caused), such as Social Anxieties which are inherited from a parent; or anxieties around persons of the opposite sex due to traumas or fears, real or imagined.
>>There are some odd anxieties also related to sudden, possibly unexplained breaches in Qi channel flow – such as strokes or falls. These anxieties are due to the lack of Qi flow from the viscera to the brain in a consistent manner, and the body reads this with distress and gives the person a general feeling of “anxiety” without specificity.
>>Finally there is self-induced Anxiety related to the progression of Liver Qi stagnation, most commonly from emotional distress OR lifestyle choices which agitate the SNS – such as a stressful job one hates especially if one feels helpless or powerless at the job and/or to change the situation. This is – to be very general – a matter of Ego and the conundrum of free-will & control… a matter for spiritual exploration. Some would say it is caused by lack of spiritual understanding. Regardless the SNS remains hyperactive and gives the Heart Shen anxiety as it ravages the body with Aggressive Qi. If one’s eyes have turned yellow or worse, red, or the tongue is deviating to the right or left, this process is already halfway through the stages of progression. See the first article in the series (on Depression) for more on this condition.
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Treating Anxiety, beyond pharmaceuticals and therapy, with Chinese Medicine is primarily herbal + acupuncture. The herbs give daily dosing and work on the inherent deficiencies. The acupuncture provides balance and harmony between channels and organs, and various elements of energies within the body which are affected by: weather, astrological events, life-stimuli, and of course emotions and thoughts.[pullquote align=”left”]Seasonal Affective Disorder is a perfect example of how changes in pressure, weather, and believe it or not moon-phases cause a bi-polar like reaction of Qi within the body. In an ideal world we would recognize this and simply increase or decrease our activities based upon the feel of Qi in the air and the weather. However, these days people are mystified as they are dragged along for a ride by the changes in weather and moon (menstrual cycles being the most common example).[/pullquote]
Among other methods for treating Anxiety, I would most like to mention the benefits of physical therapies such as gua-sha, massage, and cupping; and finally physical activity.
It is extremely important for a doctor to recognize an excess versus a deficient condition. About 80% of cases seem to be deficient related, and hence activity is really important – that is moderation. But most deficiencies still tend to have excesses and so require activity. If there is a lot of deficiency or atrophy, activity may be required just to promote longevity, even at the expense of fatiguing the body and Kidney Qi. But most of the time the deficiency is accompanied by Excess, especially Liver Qi Stagnation, Damp-heat, and Hot Toxicity.
To deal with Liver Qi Stagnation, the best thing is diet and exercise. More greens and less grease and caffeine, and more exercise and “coping” techniques, the subject of another article to come.
To deal with Damp-heat, best is diet moderation and reduction, movement, and pure water. Herbs are especially important. With both conditions, massage is very useful.
To deal with Hot toxicity, cupping and guasha are ESSENTIAL, whereas massage may at first worsen the condition if detoxification does not take place. Again in another article this will be discussed, or one can read more in our Online Brochure!
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Unfortunately, Anxiety for the most part is a long term condition, or uphill battle. But in some cases it can be not simply controlled but cured. If the cause is perfectly known, then if a mind is cleared of the cause, then over time the body, within reason, can heal. Excessive Qi deficiency can slow or prohibit healing, but most people in the median ages from 20-60 can expect to heal completely. However, halting the progressive momentum is VERY important. If left unchecked, it naturally may progress to a crippling/gripping fear, or cause such heart vexation that the person may fear an infarction (reasonably or not). This itself stresses the Qi, essence, and naturally ages the individual, and should not be allowed. Plus the chronic ingestion of pharmaceuticals will of course cause liver stagnation on the organ level, and could lead to chronic health problems and/or death. If this can at all be avoided, the patient owes it to themselves, family, friends, and co-workers to try to make changes and improve their outlook.