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Chinese medicine views all health issues as mind-body conditions. The mind and body are one, and we experience each challenge both physically and mentally, whether we are aware of it or not. Anxiety is no different. Chinese medicine works to balance mind and body and reduce overthinking, stress, and fear while also helping the body cope with physical responses like increased heart rate, sweating, or sleeplessness. Restlessness is a similar issue, but not always tied to anxiety. Nevertheless, most restless conditions are treated in with the same ideas in mind.
A Chinese medicine practitioner always takes a person’s shen into account, no matter their complaints. The shen is likened to “spirit” but can be thought of as soul, mind, or even that spark in someone’s eyes. When it comes to anxiety, the shen becomes disturbed. It is restless, troubled, and uneasy. This leads to a physical reaction in the body (temperature changes, sweating, racing pulse, tension) and a mental state of unrest. At night, the shen must feel safe enough to retreat to allow us to fall asleep. This is difficult for an overactive shen, and often why those who suffer from anxiety also often suffer from insomnia.
Heart: In Chinese medicine, anxiety most readily involves the Heart and shen or “spirit.” Common symptoms of anxiety involve the chest and heart – palpitations, tightness in the chest, shortness of breath. Other seemingly unrelated experiences also have their root in the Heart according to Chinese medicine: confusion, trouble concentrating, insomnia, and hot flashes. By calming the Heart, we are able to reduce anxiety and relax the mind.
Liver: The Liver system oversees all other systems in the body and makes sure everything goes as planned. It is the commander and organizer. When we have anxiety from feeling out of control, the source is in the Liver. Many formulas work to smooth the Liver energy and encourage relaxation.
Kidney: The Kidney system is important in many mental and emotional struggles, because of it’s dominating emotion: fear. An overwhelming sense of doom, fear, worry, and trouble is often a sign that the Kidney system needs attention.
Chinese medicine takes a well-rounded approach to treating anxiety. The core goal is to nourish the Heart, Liver, and Kidney. Chinese herbal medicine does an excellent job at restoring the necessary balance in the body and relaxing the mind. Acupuncture can immediately reduce stress and quell anxious thoughts. Diet, habits, exercise, and other lifestyle techniques are also considered.
There are a few commonly used formulas that help to treat anxiety, as well as address the additional issues that follow anxiety like insomnia, restlessness, headaches, menstrual issues, and more.
Suan Zao Ren Tang calms the shen and nourishes yin to address insomnia, insomnia, with anxiety, irritability, restlessness, night sweats, vertigo, and dry mouth or throat.
An Shui Wan: This formula nourishes the Heart and sedates Heart fire to address insomnia, palpitations, restlessness and anxiety (and other such related symptoms of disturbed Shen). My personal go-to!
Xiao Yao Wan (Free and Easy Wanderer): This formula addresses Liver qi stagnation, which is characterized by irritability, frustrated or angry outbursts, and bouts of anxiety and/or depression. Physical indicators of blocked Liver qi include abdominal bloating and distention, dysregulated menses, and breast tenderness.
Bai Zi Yang Xin Wan: This formula nourishes the Heart and is recommended for those with insomnia, low energy, headache, mental strain, agitation and anxiety.
Gan Mai Da Zao Wan: This is a gently nourishing formula that is geared toward anxiety that feels like sadness or weepiness.
The following are important herbs used in our popular anti-anxiety formulas.
Suan Zao ren/jujube seed: Suan zao ren is most famous for its use in Suan Zao Ren Tang, a popular formula for insomnia. Along with helping us fall to sleep peacefully, it’s also an amazing tonic for the Heart, Liver, and Kidney systems. This herb has a powerful action on relieving anxiety and restoring peace.
Dang gui/Angelia root: Dang gui has a beautiful way of nourishing our bodies while also encouraging proper flow. It supports us, but also moves us forward. Dang gui is used in anxiety formulas to calm the heart while reducing stress.
Anxiety and restlessness can prevent you from living your life to the fullest. Chinese herbal medicine can help you overcome your anxiety and take a step in a new direction. Shop our collection of Chinese herbal formulas dedicated to relieving anxiety.