Acupuncture for Anxiety, Depression and PTSD
by Liana Kramer, AP, DOM
We’ve all seen those pharmaceutical drug commercials for depression, and then heard the very long list of side effects from the medication. Some of these side effects include the causing of depression or worsening of the condition. Thoughts go through your head that there must be an alternative to these meds.
Can the use of fine needles create a shift in our thoughts and emotions? Most of us have heard the phrases “the gut is our second brain” and “the mind-body connection.” Can negative emotions be created by the things we eat? Can different systemic imbalances in the body affect our mind? Is our body lacking in certain nutrients? Alternative medicine and acupuncture ask these very questions.
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) have been documented in the oldest medical book in the world, The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine, from 2598 B.C. In TCM, the body is viewed as a complex system of energy (qi) running along 14 channels within it. The acupuncture points are located on these vital energy channels, and each channel flows into an organ and different body part. According to TCM, pain and illness are caused by a blockage or slowing down in these channels. Like a garden hose that is kinked or blocked and unable to provide adequate water, blockage of an acupuncture channel will cause the supply of qi to be restricted. Over time, the whole body becomes susceptible to pain, disease and ill health. To open these blockages and provide the organ and body part much needed nourishment, hair-fine acupuncture needles are placed in specific points.
Acupuncture has been used around the globe for thousands of years. Millions of people have heard or experienced its benefits for chronic pain and inflammation, but what about chronic emotional blockages? If acupuncture can help open up channels of energy to cleanse and nourish areas with pain and inflammation, what about our thoughts and emotions?
The acknowledgement of the mind-body connection has become so mainstream that, according to the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, the Pentagon has been investigating the beneficial effects of acupuncture for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) on soldiers with this condition. A study conducted by Dr. Michael Hollifield at the University of New Mexico’s Department of Psychiatry1 supports the use of acupuncture for PTSD, insomnia, anxiety and depression. Effects from acupuncture can last more than three months post-treatments. Patients are more likely to benefit from this type of treatment because there is no need to describe or relive traumatic events for acupuncture to be effective.
Another U.S. army study2 reports that one in four soldiers have turned to alternative medicine for help with their disorder. As per findings, combat veterans were relieved of their symptoms and experienced reduced depression and reduction in pain. A similar study from Italy and the Medical Association of Lombard Acupuncture3 on the survivors of a deadly earthquake that caused 300 deaths and left 30,000 homeless, indicates patients improved both mentally and physically from symptoms of PTSD after having acupuncture.
While some people may absolutely need antidepressants to function normally, many of us can try natural steps to make a shift in our thoughts and emotions. One of the first steps to take is an advanced blood panel, offered at Peaks of Health, in Largo. This panel will show precursors to imbalances in the body or other early signs of disease already present. These markers include vitamin and mineral deficiencies, hormone imbalances, food sensitivities, thyroid, cardiac, blood sugar and insulin, and adrenal imbalances. Additional blood or stool tests can be done to rule out heavy metals, bacteria, viruses or parasites, any one of which can affect energy and emotions.
The next steps to a healthy mind and body are exercise and a good night's sleep, which help to eliminate toxins, balance hormones and stabilize blood sugar. For some body types, meditation and yoga are stress relievers. Other body types need high cardio and weight lifting to help reduce stress. The appropriate gut bacteria play a huge role in keeping even emotions. Adding a good probiotic to your diet along with prebiotic fiber is suggested.
Lastly, try energy medicine. This is where acupuncture comes in. Tapping into a completely different system of the body may be the exact solution to trigger a shift in the mind-body connection. Acupuncture promotes a free flow of energy into each organ and system; this aids your body to heal itself by unblocking the channels of energy so each and every organ and system is working to optimal potential. With no side effects and minimal discomfort from the needle insertions, it’s no wonder the Pentagon is taking notice.
Liana Kramer is an acupuncture physician and doctor of Oriental medicine at Peaks of Health Metabolic Health Center, located at 1120 Belcher Rd. S, Largo. For more information and to make an appointment, call 727-826-0838.
1 Michael Hollifield, Nityamo Sinclair-Lian, Teddy D. Warner, and Richard Hammerschlag, “acupuncture for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder: Randomized Controlled Pilot Trial.” The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, June 2007
2 Zoroya, researches alternative treatments, USA Today. Posted 10/7/2008
3 Carlo Moiraghi, Paola Poli and Antonio Piscitelli. Medical Acupuncture. Volume 31 Issue 2 Apr 15, 2019