Press to de-stress
by Jane Alexander
A new way to help you heal heartache, anger, fear and depression.
Daily Mail, Saturday August 31, 1996
TO WHOM do you turn when you feel your emotions are running out of control? If you sought professional help at all, it would probably be your doctor or perhaps a psychotherapist.
However, there is another somewhat surprising option - acupuncture, which uses pressure points around the body. Together with its non-intrusive sister therapy, acupressure, it has become a well-accepted therapy in the UK and a proven ally in the fight against physical pain, from digestive problems to gynaecological disorders.
However, as more and more acupuncturists studied the effects of their work on their patients' minds and emotions, they became convinced that working on the pressure points was a quick, efficient way to banish bad moods and emotional upsets.
This new role for acupuncture, or the self-administered, non-needle based acupressure, should not be that surprising. As Angels Hicks, author of Principles Of Chines Medicine (Thorsons, £5.99), puts it: "The body and mind are linked, and one area will affect another'.
She cites the case of a woman who had digestive problems which took root at a time of great unresolved anger and frustration. Treatment with acupuncture resolved the digestive problem and smoothed away the anger too. The woman reported she no longer felt 'put upon' and was more in control of her life.
Another of Hick's patients had become very depressed after years of chronic joint pains. Working on his pressure points helped ease his pain and, as the physical problem eased, his spirits also rose.
Acupuncturist Maria Mercati, who practices in Cheltenham, reports similar cases. She has seen so many people who have been helped to come to terms with grief through acupuncture. 'It helped one woman who had lost her mother and could not get over the grief,' says Mercati, 'and another whose adopted son had committed suicide. Acupuncture works exceedingly well for heartache of this kind.'
The therapy works by stimulating subtle energy lines known as meridians
which run through the body. Mercati explains that when dealing with
emotional issues, the acupuncturist will usually focus on the meridians
which link to one of the main organs and aim to balance the chi,
or energy, in that organ.
In the theory of acupuncture, each major organ is linked to a different emotion. By soothing the energy in the relevant organ, the corresponding emotion will be calmed.
Dr Tamara Voronina is an acupuncturist who trained as a medical doctor and endocrinologist. She has spent many years in research and is an expert on metabolic and hormonal imbalances. She believes most of our mood swings and excessive emotional states are the result of hormonal imbalances - and she firmly believes acupuncture can help.
She explains that emotions like depression, anger and fear have their basis in a chemical imbalance within the body. 'These imbalances can be rectified by adjustments to correct the quality and quantity of hormones by increasing the hormone endorphin (the 'feel-good' hormone which improves mood) in the brain and relaxing the body.
'This can be achieved by acupuncture in conjunction with correct diet, and, possibly, vitamin supplements'.
She says that some chronically depressed patients have reported an improvement in their condition as early as the first or second treatment. 'This is due to the fact that the acupuncturist can activate those parts of the body which are directly linked to that part of the brain that produces hormones,'
So will we see acupuncture take over from 'standard' emotional therapies such as counseling, hypnotherapy and psychotherapy? Maria Mercati thinks this is unlikely. 'Ideally, you would have both, she says. 'I like people to have counseling as well because often acupuncture will bring up emotions that will need to be dealt with. But there is little doubt that acupuncture will speed up the therapy process because It releases repressed emotions very quickly.
She also points out that acupuncture is an ideal solution for people who find the idea of psychotherapy embarrassing or who are nervous of talking about their problems. 'The beauty of acupuncture is that you don't have to tell the acupuncturist anything about yourself if you don't want to,' she says.