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Chinese medicine views stress and its consequences in many ways, often based upon an individual’s constitution or tendencies. No matter your unique constitution, makeup, lifestyle, or other unique factors, stress does affect us all in some similar ways:
Stress is known for causing sleep issues. Many people either struggle to fall asleep at night, wake up frequently, or find themselves sleeping too much. Stress throws off the body’s yin-yang balance, which leads to difficulty maintaining a proper sleep schedule. Furthermore, the mental distress caused by chronic stress can build into bigger issues like anxiety or depression.
Clenched jaw, tight shoulders, furrowed brow – it is clear that mental stress leads to physical tension. Over time, this tension lingers, and many people develop issues like neck and back pain, migraines and headaches, TMJ, eye strain, abdominal or digestive issues, and more.
Stress causes the release of the hormone cortisol. While cortisol is helpful when we need to fight or fly, the constant presence of cortisol from chronic stress is harmful to the body. Too much cortisol disturbs our natural hormone balance, increases weight gain, impacts fertility, disturbs sleep, and leads to inflammation and mental distress.
The Liver is the main organ involved in managing stress. In Chinese medicine, the Liver is seen as the “commander.” It oversees the proper flow of blood and qi through the body and ensures that all organs are functioning properly. Excess stress puts tension on the Liver system which later leads to physical stress as the body fails to function properly.
The Heart is affected by all emotional and mental distress. Increasing amounts of stress overtime leads to damage and weakening of the Heart. This later results in poor memory, brain fog, sleep issues, anxiety, or depression.
Treating stress is at the core of almost every Chinese medicine treatment. Whether someone complains of stress as their main issue for seeking natural healthcare or it is simply an added side-effect, reducing stress is key for total body wellness. Chinese medicine uses a combination of acupuncture, herbal medicine, and lifestyle techniques to help patients relieve stress and find a healthier balance. Acupuncture immediately helps to lower blood pressure, release tension, and relax the nervous system. Over time, regular acupuncture can help to re-establish a healthy response to stress. Chinese medicine practitioners also encourage lifestyle balance to reduce the effects of stress. This often involves making time for rest, exercise, and nature.
Because Chinese medicine sees the mind and body as one, many herbal formulas are dedicated to relieving stress and addressing its many side effects. Herbs are used to both calm the mind and improve the body’s resiliency to stress and tension. Many herbs have a relaxing effect or can improve the flow of qi and blood through the body to relieve pent-up emotions or tense muscles. Few herbal formulas treat stress alone, as many are focused on re-establishing whole-body balance and preventing stress in the future as well.
The following are important herbs used in our popular formulas for stress relief.
Mei gui hua is a fragrant, gentle herb that relieves stress. It can be used in herbal formulas or alone as a tea. Mei gui hua soothes the Liver system, relieves mental stress, and calms the Heart.
Rather than a single herb, Xiao Yao Wan is an entire herbal formula that is famous for its power to relieve stress.
Chai hu is a Chinese herb that is often used in stress, tension, and headache formulas. It helps to soothe the Liver and release constraint, pain, or frustration.
We can’t eliminate stress from our lives, but we can improve the way our bodies react and respond to stressors. Chinese herbal supplements are a gentle, natural way to support our bodies in times of stress while encouraging a healthy lifestyle balance. Shop our collection of Chinese herbal formulas that heal the mind and protect us from the side-effects of stress.