How Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Treats Insomnia
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Chinese medicine, with its focus on healing whole syndromes rather than individual symptoms, is widely used as an insomnia remedy and has shown great success treating those who experience sleeplessness. A study published recently in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine, reports that patients who received acupressure and transcutaneous electrical acupoint stimulation (TEAS) experienced a significant improvement in their insomnia symptom, including problems of fatigue, sleep quality and depression. The results from this study suggest that acupressure or TEAS might have an important role in managing patients with fatigue, poor sleep quality and depression.

Acupuncture has a calming effect on the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) and a stimulating effect on the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest). It focuses primarily on rebalancing the energy of the heart and the functioning of the liver and kidneys. It clears obstructions in the muscle and nerve channels, facilitates the flow of oxygen-enriched energy, and relaxes the system overall.

For those who suffer from Restless Leg Syndrome, the inability to control leg movements during sleep which causes sleep disturbances, acupuncture points on the head as well as points around the limbs can have a calming effect on the peripheral nerves of the legs and help alleviate the constant interruption of sleep.

Overall common noted benefits of acupuncture include deeper breathing, improved digestive abilities, better sleeping patterns, decreased pain and a general sense of well-being, which are all excellent treatments for insomnia. General acupuncture protocol for the treatment of chronic insomnia includes 10 initial treatments at two to three treatments per week, followed by a two to four week observational period and possibly one treatment per week.

Chinese herbs and herbal medications are also useful in combating insomnia. They can be particularly helpful in regulating the release of cortisol from the adrenal cortex, which can be out of balance for those who suffer from insomnia. Too much cortisol at night can keep a person awake, and too little cortisol in the morning can make a person sleepy. A Chinese medicine practitioner can recommend an insomnia remedy to best suit individual insomnia symptoms. Herbs for insomnia such as longan fruit, golden thread, sour jujube seed, fossil bone or mimosa bark may be prescribed.

Nutritional and Lifestyle Guidance: Nutrition can contribute to the cause and cure of insomnia. Excess protein and the over reliance on stimulants and quick-energy foods contribute to fatigue by weighing on the liver, kidneys and intestines. Quick fix foods increase the depletion of the body-mind energy reserves. Tailoring a diet that includes foods such as whole grains, beans, vegetables and fruits to the individual can replenish energy and diffuse built-up stress.

Acupuncture and herbs as an insomnia remedy can greatly improve sleeping patterns, but in order to successfully and completely resolve sleep disturbance one must address all the contributing factors. Chinese medicine helps do this by treating the whole person and focusing on bringing the entire body into balance.

 Key words:  NeurastheniaInsomniaStressAnxiety

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