Acupuncture is commonly used for pain management, but did you know that acupuncture and Traditional Chinese herbal Medicine (TCM), are used for a variety of other health concerns that are less well-known? An area of special interest for me is disorders that affect the “Spirit-Mind”, or “Shen”. These are numerous in nature and include anxiety; various types of depression, including those due to pre-menstrual and menopausal syndrome; insomnia; OCD, ADD, ADHD; a tendency towards addictive behaviours; and even difficulty coping with stressful situations.
Insomnia, or “Bu Mei”, manifests uniquely in each individual and therefore is best treated accordingly. Using TCM diagnosis and treatment principles, treatment is aimed at finding the root cause of dysfunction according to signs and symptoms experienced by the individual. While one person may have difficulty falling asleep at night, another may fall asleep easily only to wake up several times a night or exceptionally early in the morning without being able to fall back to sleep. Still another may seemingly fall asleep easily and sleep through the night but never feel rested upon waking, and some may even go night upon night without sleeping at all.
Dream-disturbed sleep: Nightmares normally indicate a disorder of the gall bladder meridian. Dreams in which we go over and over the same ground, walking in a maze, or reliving aspects of our jobs or our relationships are generally due to a spleen/heart imbalance. People with this problem say, “I can’t shut my mind off.”
Difficulty falling asleep: This is usually related to an excess condition of the liver and/or gall bladder. People will lie awake, tossing and turning for hours.
Waking up easily: Many people can fall asleep easily, but then they wake up later and find it difficult to go back to sleep again. They may be awake for an hour or so, or may not go back to sleep at all. These people have a deficiency pattern, usually of the heart/spleen.
Waking up at a specific time every night: Some people regularly wake up at a specific time each night (three o’clock in the morning for example). In Chinese medicine theory, the body’s energy (Qi) circulates through the twelve principal meridians over a 24-hour period. Each meridian relates to an internal organ. If a person wakes or has some unusual symptoms at the same time every day, it is probable that there is an imbalance in the organ system that is accentuated at that time of day. Energy peaks in the liver meridian at 3:00 a.m., which is why people often wake up then. Liver problems can result from unexpressed anger, stress triggering Liver Qi stagnation, and Liver Fire.
When we can’t sleep well, nothing is right. We are tired, moody, irritable, our muscles are stiff, our head hurts, we can hardly think or function. Furthermore, lack of adequate sleep can be at the root of more serious health problems. A good place to start is to practice good “sleep hygiene”. This allows your brain and nervous system to prepare for the idea of sleep. Sleep hygiene involves wind-down practices such as ensuring you are not eating too late at night, turning off any screens at least one to two hours before bed, having a relaxing bath or reading a book, and repeating your pattern every night so that you are essentially preparing your mind for sleep until a regular circadian rhythm is restored. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are a wonderful and safe adjunct to good sleep, and overall healthcare practices.
Dove Sprout (R.TCM.P) and her husband, Paul Gaucher (R.TCM.P) co-own Creston Acupuncture & Natural Health. They work at the Full Circle Health Centre, which also offers Physiotherapy, Chiropractic , and Counselling services. For more information, or to book an appointment, call the clinic at 250-402-2044. For further questions about what acupuncture and herbal medicine can treat, you can e-mail Dove at email@example.com.