Anxiety & TCM Treatment

Traditional Chinese Medicine focuses on treating the disturbance to the Shen while correcting the Pattern of Disharmony in the Zang organs. This dual approach helps correct and normalize responses to the stimuli of everyday life, thus permitting the Shen to remain calm.

Generalized anxiety disorder responds well to TCM treatment and all modalities are effective. They may be combined with conventional medication or used alone under proper supervision. Acupuncture seems to have the most immediate effect, with herbal medicine producing a medium-range effect, and Qi Gong a long-range effect. For this reason, a combination of the three modalities usually works best.

Anxiety & Acupuncture

Regardless of which Zang Pattern of Disharmony predominates, all acupuncture treatment involves calming the Shen and affecting the Heart through the use of points such as Heart 7 (Shen Men) and Pericardium 6 (Nei Guan).

If the Spleen Zang is affected, points such as Spleen 4 (Gong Sun), Spleen 3 (Tai Bai), and Spleen 6 (San Yin Jiao) may be used. If the Liver is affected, points such as Liver 3 (Hun Men) have a powerful effect.

The Lung may be affected by the use of Lung 7 (Lie Que) or Lung 9 (Tai Yuan), especially when combined with Stomach 6 (Zu San Li) to tonify the Qi. The Kidney Zang may be affected by using points such as Kidney 3 (Tai Xi).

Other points may be used as well. A point located between the eyebrows, known as Yin Tang, has a remarkable effect on any disturbance of the Shen. Other points may be selected based on signs and symptoms.

Ear Acupuncture points also are effective for psychological disorders, and points such as Heart, Shen Men, Spleen, Liver, Lung, and Kidney may be treated as part of an acupuncture protocol.

Anxiety & Herbal Medicine

Herbal medicine treatment for generalized anxiety disorder focuses on combining individual herbs to create formulas that calm the Shen and balance the affected Zang Organs.

To calm the Shen, most formulas use herbs such as Suan Zao Ren (Semen Zizyphy Spinosae) because of their calming properties. When the Heart and Spleen Qi are affected, common herbs in formulas include Fu-Shen (Sclerotium Pararadicis Poriae Cocos) and Bai Zhu (Rhizoma Atractylodis Macrocephalae) to affect the Qi.

Combinations of herbs such as Bai Zhu (Rhizoma Atractylodis Macrocephalae), Huang Qi (Radix Astragali Membranacei), and Wu Wei Zi (Fructus Schizandrae Chinensis) can tonify the Lung Qi while calming the Shen.

Combinations such as Chai Hu (Radix Bupleuri), Bai Shao (Radix Albus Paeoniae Lactiflorae), Bai Zhu (Rhizoma Atractylodis Macrocephalae), and Dang Shen (Radix Codonopsis Pilosulae) can Harmonize the Liver and the Spleen.

If the Kidney Qi is affected as well, herbs such as Yuan Zhi (Radix Polygalae Tenuifoliae) and Shu Di Huang (Radix Rhemanniae Glutinosae) may be effectively added to formulas.

Formulas may be modified according to signs and symptoms.

Anxiety & Qi Gong

The routines of Qi Gong are beneficial to patients suffering from generalized anxiety disorder. The slow, gentle, repetitive movements of the Eight Brocade Exercises and Tai Qi Quan induce relaxation and a focus on the present, reducing symptoms of anxiety. Meditation, especially if practiced regularly, helps normalize the body's response to everyday stimuli.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 02 Jan 2001

Last Modified: 01 Dec 2011