Acupuncture for Anxiety Treatment

Image by Thom Sevalrud

Image by Thom Sevalrud

If you experience at times of stress difficultly breathing, a constricted chest, heart palpitations (feeling your heart beat), irrational fears, difficulty sleeping, churning and/or obsessive thoughts, you may be experiencing an anxiety disorder. These are the more common symptoms of generalized anxiety, but in no way inclusive of the myriad of ways anxiety can affect you physically and emotionally.


Unbeknownst to many, anxiety disorders are extremely common affecting 40 million adults, aged 18 and older. This is around 18 percent of the US population. 


There are many causes of anxiety that range from genetics, side effects of drugs, extremely stressful or traumatic situations, or chronic stress in one's life. Anxiety disorders can be categorized as generalized anxiety disorder, OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), panic disorder, PTSD, social anxiety, phobias and depression. 


While many times, medications are given to combat these disorders, there are other avenues to treat these conditions. Chronic stress is one major potential cause of generalized anxiety. This is because when the stress hormones- cortisol and corticotropin- are released over an extended period of time, they actually boost anxiety and mood disorders. 


Treating Anxiety


Anything that can lower one's stress level is a great way to begin combating anxiety. Whether that is exercising, taking a walk, having a hot bath, or spending time with friends and loved ones. Meditating, yoga, qigong and tai-chi are other great options. Another alternative to dealing with anxiety as an alternative or even in conjunction with talk therapy or medication is acupuncture! Acupuncture not only has been proven to activate your parasympathetic nervous system (which is part of your autonomic nervous system where the body is able to rest, digest and heal), but it also targets the root of where your anxiety stems from. Classical Five Element acupuncture specializes in understanding what underlies any psycho-emotional issues you may be experiencing and uniquely treats the condition. Each treatment is individualized and believes that by understanding and treating what we call a root elemental imbalance, one can heal from the inside out. If you experience anxiety in any form, consider giving acupuncture a try.


Classical Five Element Acupuncture has exceptional success in addressing anxiety, stress, depression and insomnia. Patients commonly report leaving their treatment sessions feeling clear, calm, having an increased sense of self and ready to engage in their life with a more focused intent free of panic and anxiety. If you have any further questions regarding the treatment of anxiety with acupuncture, please email me at: 

About the Five Elements

The Chinese Five Elements include: fire, earth, metal, water and wood. After observing the earth, seasons and elements for thousands of years, the Chinese developed the belief that our bodies contained these same elements and therefore followed similar laws of nature. When one of these elements becomes out of balance, other systems/elements begin to compensate and eventually, after enough time, physical ailments and/or emotional disturbances begin to manifest.


While we each possess within us qualities of all the elements, Classical Five Element Acupuncture believes that each individual has a predominant imbalance in one of the elements. While we may exhibit a myriad of symptoms from various channel and organ systems, we still have the same root/core imbalance.


As this system is a complex medicine, I will attempt to provide you with as simple a description as possible of the five elements. The description of the elements is in no way exhaustive.  The elements are explained as they are in their balanced state–with an emphasis on the distinguishing qualities each one possesses. When out of balance, an individual can display an array of symptoms, which range from extreme aspects of an element to a lack of the qualities/powers that element provides. Each element has corresponding seasons, organ systems, emotions, colors, sounds and other attributes that differentiate it from the others.



element_fireThe fire element represents the season of summer. It is in this season that nature is in full bloom and in its fullest expansion. Fire therefore symbolizes the power of maturity and is an energy that is expressed through sharing, joy, exuberance, passion and love. It is the fire element that allows us to connect with others, open our hearts and also establish appropriate boundaries in relationships. The fire element represents the organ systems of the heart, small intestine, pericardium and san jiao (translated as triple burner). The color of fire is red, the odor is scorched, the emotion is joy or lack of joy, and the sound is laughter.



element_earthThe earth element is representative of the season of late summer. This season can also be referred to as the harvest season, when everything has reached its peak ripeness and is at its utmost abundance. This element is related to the mother as it is the earth that sustains and nourishes us. This nourishment refers not just to physical nourishment, but mental and spiritual nourishment as well. If our bodies, minds and spirits are not fed properly, then there is no base/foundation for all the other organ systems to be able to do their job. The power of the earth further lies in its ability to establish a sense of peace within ourselves and balance; it is the mother element that allows one to feel at home and attain a sense of belonging. The organs associated with the earth element are the stomach and spleen. The color is yellow/golden, the odor is fragrant and the emotion is sympathy or lack of sympathy. The sound of earth has a singing, soothing quality.



element_metalThe metal element represents the season of fall. It is in fall when the air is crisp and all the leaves fall from the trees. One of the main qualities of metal is, therefore, the beauty of letting go. All the leaves must fall for new ones to grow forth in the spring. In addition, it is the richness and minerals left in the leaves that feed the soil to further spur growth in the coming seasons. This correlates to many of our own life experiences in which in order for growth and new experiences to spring forth we must sometimes let go, whether it be of a relationship, job, living situation, etc. The organ systems that correlate with metal are the lung and large intestine. The color of metal is white, the odor is rotten, the emotion is grief and the sound is weeping.



element_waterThe water element represents the season of winter in which there is a gathering and replenishing of reserves. It is in the winter that one is meant to rest, recharge, and build strength. The water element is associated with the notion of power, cleansing and flexibility, for it is water that ultimately allows everything to move in the body. The organs associated with the water element are the kidney and bladder. The color or water is blue, and the odor is putrid. The emotion is fear or lack of fear, and the sound is a groaning or puttering voice.



element_woodThe wood element embodies the season of spring. The main qualities associated with this element are hope, vision, growth, activity and exuberance. It is in the springtime that everything springs forth back to life. After the cold and desperation of the winter, life begins anew. It is the fastest energetically moving of the elements upward and out like a tree or a plant. The word “vision” is the most emblematic of the element–as without vision and direction, there would be no growth. It is the ability to “see” into the future, to plan and to have aspiration and hope. The organ systems that lie within the wood element are that of the liver and gallbladder. The color of wood is green, the sound is a shouting or assertive voice or a voice that totally abandons self assertion (lack of shout). The odor of wood is rank and the emotion is anger.