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Stress

What is Stress

The term stress is used to describe the effect of any event or experience that interferes with ones physical or mental well being. Different individuals will experience varying forms of stress and symptoms relating to stress. These symptoms may include emotional upset, short temper, restlessness, headaches, insomnia, irritable bowels, skin rashes or lack of energy. One person may experience two or more of these symptoms, which may well result in difficulties in everyday life; in one’s normal routine, work and home life. People may find it increasingly difficult to cope with their lives.

What causes Stress

It is easy to see that an activity or circumstances which arouses your emotions or which you perceive as threatening or dangerous is stressful, but what upsets one person may not upset another. Traumatic life events that have a high stress rating for almost everyone include moving house, getting married, divorce, having a baby ,the death of a close friend or relative, and losing a job or starting a new one. However, for some people even seemingly small irritations such as getting stuck in a queue or caught on a train that is delayed can be major stress events.

What effects does stress have on the body.

In terms of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), stress is linked with the function of the liver and kidney. One of the main physiological functions of the liver is to regulate mind and mood.
TCM believes that the mental activities of human beings are controlled both by the heart and the liver, which smoothes and regulates the flows of vital energy and blood. When the function of the liver is normal, the human body will co-ordinate mental activities effectively, which is indicated by feelings of happiness and sensitivity, being at ease, and being able to reason.
However, when stress affects the liver it is unable to perform this function well, and the human body will fail to co-ordinate its mental and moral activities. This may be evident by dullness and anxiety, depression, belching, sighing, distension and stuffy sensation in the breast and hypochondria. When the liver’s normal function is impaired in the extreme, symptoms may occur such as restlessness of the mind, irascibility, dizziness and sensations of distension in the head, headache insomnia and dream disturbed sleep.
TCM also believes that another main function of kidney is to store the essence of life. If a person is over worked or sexually overactive this will drain the essence of kidney and result in backache, dizziness, tiredness or tinnitus (kidney having its specific opening in the ears.)
Stress is not terribly harmful in the short term, but prolonged stress keeps your body in overdrive and can effect your health. It may, for example, stimulate the production of excess acid in the stomach, which can lead to a gastric ulcer, or it may narrow blood vessels causing raised blood pressure, even angina or a heart attack. It may also provoke over or under eating, resulting in obesity or severe loss of weight.
Prolonged (chronic) stress may also be involved in the onset or progression of a number of illnesses. These include migraine, hair loss, asthma, nervous habits, skin rashes, impotence, menstrual problems, colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, low back pain, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and even cancer.

Management of Stress by TCM

TCM treats stress conditions mainly by acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine.
1. Firstly, the practitioner will listen to the patient carefully then advise them of the best way to deal their own cause of stress.
2. Next, the practitioner will ask more questions about the patients’ health and history, check the pulse and the tongue to determine the organic problem and establish a treatment principle.
3. Acupuncture is one method of treatment that can unblock the energy of the body, regulate the liver and its function and help the body relax. This is usually undertaken once a week for three to five weeks, gradually falling to once every one or two months.
4. Chinese herbal treatment can be taken in the long term as a preventative.

Common formulas are

(a) Xia Yao Wan (ease tablets) to disperse the liver energy and rectify the problem which is most suitable for emotional anger and depression.
(b)Qi Du Di Huang Wan (bolus of rehmannia with wolfberry fruit etc.) to nourish the kidney and calm the liver yang. This is more suitable for tiredness and dizziness.
(c) A newly formulated herbal teabag is available from ShiZhen TCM Ltd. This is for severe stress with such symptoms as restlessness, becoming upset easily, skin rashes, headaches, constipation, and general feelings of being too hot and thirsty, accompanied by a red tongue with little or no coating and a rapid pulse.
A good example of stress management is a lady of thirty-five who had suffered from stress for over ten years. She was a professional, working long hours in a high-pressure job. She was very stressed and had tears in her eyes as she explained how listless she felt, and how she argued with her husband regularly. She felt hot, thirsty, and had dry skin and hair. These symptoms grew worse before her period. She had Acupuncture and she was prescribed one week of stress tea bags. In the second week she returned with improved skin and hair condition. She felt a lot more able to cope with family and work and had a lot more energy. She had another treatment and now has acupuncture once a month, and now takes tea bags regularly. She was amazed at the difference ‘ What’s the tonic in it ?’ she asked ‘It’s a lot better than Ginseng’
In actuality the treatment of stress does not require Ginseng. The most important thing is to balance the energy of the body. Ginseng is to hot, whilst the tea bag clears away the liver fire and nourishes the essence in the kidney.
In addition to the above treatment TCM also recommends patients stick to a good diet and increase relaxation exercises such as Chi.
Many people turn to alcohol to help them relax. However this neither removes the cause of the stress nor helps with long-term coping. In fact alcohol will result in raised liver Yang (fire) which will make the symptoms worse.
If you are unable to cope with stress try and talk to a TCM practitioner