Chinese Medicine divides illness into internal and external causes of disease, and treats them with an equal amount of attention and rigor. External causes of disease range from the obvious like viruses and bacteria to lifestyle choices such as poor diet and overwork, things we wouldn’t consider external in our modern Western cultures but are treated as external causes by Chinese Medicine practitioners. Internal causes of disease, on the other hand, are referred to as “the seven emotions.” These are anger, overjoy, pensiveness, grief, anxiety, fear, and fright - overarching emotional categories that encompass all of the emotions we experience as humans. (If you’re interested in learning more about the seven emotions, I highly recommend this blogpost.)
In Chinese Medicine, we address anxiety and stress as seriously as we address pneumonia and cancer.
This means that in Chinese Medicine, we address anxiety and stress as seriously as we address pneumonia and cancer. Both are wounds to the energy dynamics of the body - a trauma to the system. The word trauma comes from the greek word for “wound”, and Chinese Medicine
understands that wounds need to be taken seriously whether it’s a physical injury or a distressing emotional experience.
And we are collectively going through a global trauma. The world as we know has gone topsy-turvy. The future is uncertain. The right way forward isn’t clear. We’re worried about losing our jobs, our homes, our loved ones. The stress is palpable, both on a collective level as well as an individual one. This stress manifests differently for different people - for some it shows up in our sleep, for others in our gut, and for others in our reactions to the world outside of us.
This is where Chinese Herbal Medicine is particularly useful - since herbs are administered based on individual patterns, you can treat the symptoms that arise from stress as well as the central nervous system’s response that creates the symptoms in the first place. Below is a quick preview guide of Chinese Herbal Formulas that are designed to address the different manifestations of stress and anxiety:
If stress if affecting your sleep
Stress can easily affect our sleep. It can make it hard for us to fall asleep, wake up a bunch in the middle of the night, wake early and then not fall back asleep, or not let us sleep at all. Below are some examples of Chinese Herbal formulas designed to address different sleep patterns
If stress is affecting your digestion
For so many of us, stress goes right to our bellies. It can make us bloated, cause pain, produce reflux, back us up or do the opposite and make it all come exploding out. Below are a few formulas that treat stress-induced tummy issues:
If stress is screwing with your emotions
Stress obviously has an affect on our emotions, but each person is like a snowflake in that the emotions that come up during stressful times are so individualized. Some cry, some get angry, some can't stay still, some become paralyzed. The following formulas are common herbal formulas used to address the varying emotions that we can experience during stressful times:
These formulas are examples of the way Chinese Herbal Medicine is designed to treat stress and anxiety, but remember that each of us is a snowflake. What works for your neighbor may not be what works for you, but given the depth, breadth, and adaptability of Chinese Herbal Medicine there's something for everyone! If you’re looking for the right Chinese herbal formula to help you manage your stress during this time, I HIGHLY recommend doing so under the supervision of a licensed practitioner and/or a professionally trained herbalist. Click here to book a virtual herbal consult with me. If I'm not the right fit for you I will refer you to someone who is.
We will to get through this trauma and become more resilient as a society if we help each other out. For up-to-date information on COVID-19 and ways to get/give help, be sure to check out the Community Resources page.
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