The brain/mind and body are interconnected in dozens of ways. Hormones and neurotransmitters in the brain affect the regulation of organs throughout the body. Blood flows throughout the entire body and waste products from metabolism also flow from organs like the brain to the kidneys and bowel. Diseases of the body can affect the brain, as when blood vessel disease causes a stroke. There is also considerable “communication” between the brain and body organs, as anyone who has ever experienced that clutch in the gut from fear, or muscle tension from anxiety, can testify.
Enhancing healing capacity and promoting the ability to maintain health is the cornerstone of Traditional Chinese Medicine. According to TCM practitioners, health depends on balance and the unobstructed flow of energy or Qi (pronounced “chee”) along pathways in the body known as meridians. Disease and mental health conditions result from disruptions in Qi. Acupuncture is specifically directed toward the meridians to promote the flow of Qi, while herbs, diet and exercise also enhance the flow of energy. TCM is not a single form of treatment, but an integrated system in which each component matters. For example, herbs like St. John's Wort can be used to treat depression; valerian reduces anxiety. Exercise can help relieve depressive symptoms.
Acupuncture is a mainstay of TCM and is used to promote the flow of energy throughout the body. TCM practitioners, such as Dr. Brendan Armm, use an extremely wide array of herbal formulas, either individually or in combination. The herbs may be taken in pills or capsules, in dried form in teas, applied as a poultice or mixed into ointments and oils. Oils enhanced with herbs are used for cupping, another important component of TCM. Herbs are also used in aromatherapy. A variation is to burn herbs near acupuncture points to stimulate the points and help improve the flow of Qi, known as moxibustion. Specific exercise modalities like Qigong combine breathing, intention and body movements to improve both mental and physical health.
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