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By Saima Anto, R.Ac, R.TCMP

Fall is coming, and with it, the beginning of a new school year. Whether anticipated with fresh hopes or attended by memories, our thoughts turn to learning:

Reading books and articles, composing essays — and sleepless nights preparing for tests and exams. So this is a good time to note that issues with insomnia, memory and cognition, anxiety and performance stress, are not restricted to students!

Most of us would benefit from better sleep, and as we leave our student days behind, the complexity of our lives (and potential sources of anxiety) tends to increase, rather than decrease. And we often dismiss absentmindedness or forgetfulness as something we just have to put up with, as the price of getting older.

But you don’t have to put up with insomnia, anxiety, ‘brain fog’, restlessness, or poor memory/concentration. Acupuncture can help manage all of these symptoms, while steadily and gently correcting their underlying systemic causes.

Anxiety, insomnia, palpitations and even panic attacks are all related to the traditional concept of the Heart in Chinese Medicine. The cognitive functions (such as memory, focus, and concentration), which Western science assigns to the brain and nervous system, also belong to your Heart system according to Chinese Medicine. This means we can address a lot of seemingly unrelated symptoms with a single coherent and comprehensive treatment plan, informed by over two millennia of cumulative clinical experience.

Treating anxiety with Acupuncture

Acupuncture treatments are customized for each patient; we don’t offer one-size-fits-all ‘solutions’. Someone with a pale complexion, who typically experiences milder anxiety, difficulty falling asleep, busy dreams, palpitations, easy startlement, and poor memory, would be treated very differently than someone with a flushed face, more severe anxiety and insomnia, restless dreams, palpitations, thirst, and (possibly) mouth or tongue sores. Both patients have insomnia, anxiety, palpitations, and poor memory, but the causes are quite different — and the treatment approach must also be different.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) recognizes and treats many types of anxiety, from mild to severe. Absent-mindedness, indecisiveness, timidity, or even just a vague sense of lacking direction, can all be part of a straightforward clinical picture, with a clear diagnosis and treatment plan. But even severe anxiety, agitation, confusion, restless and manic behavior can be successfully managed with acupuncture based on Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Treating ‘brain fog’, poor memory and difficulty concentrating with Acupuncture

If you are experiencing poor memory, insomnia, and palpitations, your practitioner may ask you seemingly unrelated questions: Do you also experience tinnitus? Loose stools and scanty periods? Any backache? Headaches? Prickling, numbness or tingling sensation anywhere? Do you find you feel restless?

If you have trouble concentrating, do you also have loose stools and a sense of fatigue? Or a tendency to constipation? Is there any dizziness? Does your head feel heavy, or empty? Are you easily startled? Do you feel listless or apathetic, and somehow ‘dull’? Is there a tendency to irritability?

Exploring these kinds of questions enables your provider to differentiate between the various causes of poor memory and other cognitive-functional issues. That way, we can treat the root cause of the problem, instead of just managing an apparent mish-mash of symptoms.

Treating hyperactivity with Acupuncture

Traditional Chinese Medicine recognizes at least six common types of hyperactivity, each caused by a different systemic imbalance. Hyperactivity, poor concentration, and insomnia can be accompanied by numbness and tingling, dizziness, blurred vision, and dry eyes, irritability, and tendency to thinness. Clearly, such a case requires a different approach than if the hyperactive patient instead experiences the tendency to gain weight, speech impairment, lassitude and fatigue, and loose stools, for example.

Whatever the mix of symptoms you experience, and whether they are severe or mild, your acupuncturist can pinpoint the specific systemic imbalances causing them, and explain what to expect from a course of treatment based on a plan tailored to your needs.

Saima Anto, R.Ac, R.TCMP provides acupuncture services at Pacific Wellness and is available for appointments four days a week.  If you would like to explore how acupuncture could help your health concerns please call us at 416-929-6958.  Acupuncture treatments are covered by most employee benefits.