A study published last month in the British Medical Journal, submitted by Hywel Dda University Health Board, concluded that acupuncture is a promising intervention for patients with chronic anxiety symptoms that have proven resistant to other forms of treatment.
The study treated a sample of forty patients selected from a psychiatry waiting list – all of whom had repeatedly accessed anxiety treatments through their GP, such as cognitive behavior therapy, bibliotherapy and medication, but had found them to be unsuccessful.
The sample was split into two groups – the first group received ten weeks of acupuncture at three points – Neiguan Pericardium [PC6], Shenmen Heart 7 [HT7] and Liver 3 Tai Chong [LR3]. The second group was a waiting list control group, with members receiving the same treatment at a later date.
State anxiety scores in the acupuncture group decreased from 57.7 [SD 13.1] to 38.8 [12.0]. Scores in the waiting list control group decreased from 61.5 [11.6] to 60.6 [11.7]. The differences were highly significant [p<0.0001]. Similar changes were also seen for trait anxiety scores.
These three acupuncture points can be used together to calm the mind. PC6 is located between the tendons of palmaris longus and flexor radialis about 1.5 inches proximal to the wrist crease. Manipulation of this point relaxes the chest, relieving chest tightness and palpitations. This point is also connected to insomnia and psychological issues such as stress, nervousness and poor memory in addition to nausea, motion sickness and vomiting. The point HT7 is situated along the heart meridian and located at the wrist crease next to the flexor ulnar muscle. It relates to emotional conditions including anxiety, panic and muddled thinking and sleep conditions like insomnia. It also corresponds to heart conditions including irregular heartbeat, a pounding heart and angina. LR3 is located along the liver meridian in the hollow between the first and second metatarsal bones of the foot. It is a calming and tonifying point, dispelling anger and anxiety.
“The usual effect of acupuncture is to bring the mind and body back into the desired state of equilibrium. The Chinese Medicine concept is that this is done by restoring the flow of energy and blood. That is, if one is pent up and the energy is blocked, then by using points such as Liver 3 the free and easy flow of energy is facilitated. One of the functions of the liver in Chinese Medicine is the smooth flow of energy throughout the body. Hence the Western use of the term ‘feeling liverish’.” – Chris Leonard, Acupuncturist & Osteopath