Acupuncture for Anxiety

Whilst it is perfectly natural to feel anxiety from time to time—before an exam or job interview, for instance –  many people nowadays find that anxiety is an almost ever present part of their experience. This is sometimes so much the case that they have forgotten what it is like not to be anxious.

Anxiety can manifest in specific problems such as panic attacks or phobias, or it can simply remain as a background of fear and worry. A wide range of physical symptoms such as headache, palpitations, lethargy and digestive problems can accompany these feelings, so that anxiety has a debilitating effect both on the quality of our life and our health in general.

Anxiety and TCM


Anxiety of all kinds is such a common problem in our society because of the way we are taught to approach life; whilst many of us are relatively affluent, there is little nourishment for our spirit in the materialism of modern consumer society. Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine is rooted in a philosophy that provides what many people find to be a life giving alternative to this dry materialism, and acupuncture treatment, from ancient times, has been known to be able to treat disorders of the spirit such as anxiety.


Acupuncture treatment for anxiety often involves using points with names such as ‘Calm the Spirit’, which are known to have a deeply calming effect. Most patients, whether coming for treatment for anxiety or for any other condition, will acknowledge that acupuncture treatment itself is a very calming and nourishing experience.


More than this, however, TCM can address the disharmonies within our body and mind which underlie the anxiety, helping us to restore health on all levels of our being.


For example, a common factor in anxiety is often what TCM calls Blood Deficiency. (This is not the same thing as anaemia.) A Blood deficient person may look pale, they may not sleep well, and they may tire easily; they are also likely to get anxious. Blood deficiency may in turn arise from (amongst other things) an impaired digestive system, which is inefficient in transforming the food we eat into richly nourishing Blood. In such a case as this TCM uses acupuncture to regulate and harmonise the digestive system, and perhaps herbal therapy to nourish the Blood; we might also suggest some dietary modifications. Thus, in this example, treatment would aim to calm the spirit directly as well as treating the underlying imbalances which are at the root of the anxiety.


We might also suggest some gentle Chi Kung exercise or meditation if appropriate, and perhaps also discuss with you ways in which you can respond to your individual life circumstances which will promote calm and inner peace. This example perhaps illustrates how TCM treatment of anxiety is holistic and comprehensive; it is not a matter of suppressing your anxious feelings, but of calming the spirit and restoring harmony to you as a whole person.

Is Acupuncture Helpful in the treatment of Anxiety?


A systematic review of the evidence for acupuncture treatment of anxiety conducted at the University of Westminster found positive evidence that acupuncture helps generalised anxiety disorder 1.



1 Pilkington K. et al (2007) Acupuncture for anxiety and anxiety disorders – a systematic literature review. Acupunct Med. 2007 Jun;25(1-2):1-10


The Sean Barkes Clinic does not claim to cure any conventional medical disease states. Traditional Chinese Medicine seeks to re-establish and maintain the harmonious function of the human body-mind using tried and tested principles that have been discovered and matured over millennia. A Western medical diagnosis provides very little by way of insight in informing a Chinese Medical diagnosis. Patients usually recognise their own condition in terms of the medical disease category that they have been given by their GP or other conventional medical practitioner. The research presented here is merely an indication of the potential to draw parallels between Traditional Chinese Medicine and Modern Western Medicine.

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