Depression Medicine

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Which Acupuncture Points Are For Depression?

Chart of acupuncture points from China

Chart of acupuncture points from China

Patients and healthcare workers who are more familiar withconventional modern  medicine sometimes ask “What are the acupuncture points for depression?”, imagining perhaps that there are a ‘family’ of points in the same way there are ‘families’ of modern anti-depressant drugs.  In typical Traditional Chinese Medicine  style, it depends on the syndrome. There isn’t a simple neat list of acupuncture points that are used every time, for everyone. This reflects the link between body and mind. Patients may have a variety of physical symptoms accompanying their emotional difficulties. Some may be what is sometimes described as  ‘sub-clinical’ symptoms within modern medicine, for example, clear urine but no significant abnormal results from urine tests. Having said this, there are common patterns seen in patients suffering from low moods, involving disruption to the Qi flowing in the  Shaoyin, Jueyin or Taiyin channels. Or perhaps more than one of those channels is affected. So some points are commonly used – tai chong, for example, might be chosen on the Jueyin channel; sanyinjiao on the Tainyin channel,  or shenmen to regulate the Shaoyin channel and so on.  But the key to which points are used is always the predominant TCM syndrome.  Ear Acupuncture is a further therapy used as an indivual treatment in the West, or it can be integrated with the treatments outlined above. Its useful to remeber if you hear or see discussions about acupucnture or TCM,  the terminology used does not mean the same thing in modern conventional medicine. So a problem with the ‘Kidney’ in TCM could refer to the Qi (energy) of the channel just as much as the Qi of organ itself – whereas in modern medicine it would mean there was something wrong with the physical tangible kidney. Not neccessarily so in TCM – and in any case, if you ever suspect there is a problem with a physical organ in modern medical terms, remember TCM practitioners cannot see inside the body, but if you see your conventional medicine practitioner they can often use modern technology to assess the interior.

Herbs can be made into decoctions, literally meaning 'soups' or 'teas'

Herbs can be made into decoctions, literally meaning 'soups' or 'teas'

Which Chinese Herbs are used ?
Similarly, there aren’t so much a list of one-at-a-time ‘anti-depressant herbs” as such, whereas  a conventional doctor might choose to prescribe one anti-depressant pill. Instead herbal formula are composed of many herbs and taken either as herbal pills/capsules, powders to make into drinkable mixtures or traditional decoctions (soups). All formulas are again understood in terms of the clinical patterns they treat.  And since many patients with ‘depression’ could have different TCM patterns, it would be difficult to use a single ‘one-size-fits-all’ herbal prescription to use for every single patient every single time.

This may seem confusing, as in many countries, TCM herbal products are often advertised and sold as pills, seemingly a sort of Chinese-style over the counter remedy. However, in a TCM clinic practice, the practitioner selling the pills will have diagnosed the TCM pattern before prescribing the pills. Traditionally, herbs were often boiled to make a liquid in which (the modern pharmacy studies would state) the active chemical compounds within the herbs become more bio-available. Since this is time consuming and can create strong odours, pills and herbal powders are popular. Powdered herbs are generally simply stirred into hot water (although it is important to always ask exactly how to take them).

What is Qi Gong?
Qi Gong is gentle exercise routinely used in China as part of  medical treatment for hundreds of conditions. It is possibly best known in the West by patients wishing to lift low energy states such as fatigue.

Phot credit: herbs

DISCLAIMER: No information here is intended to be taken as medical advice – or used as a substitute for professional medical advice. Any person with any health concerns is advised instead to consult their doctor. In the case of persons seeking therapy using Traditional Chinese Medicine, this information cannot be taken as medical advice and persons are advised instead to consult a suitably qualified practitioner.

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