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Chinese Medicine Lends a Hand During Stress and Anxiety Month

Whether we know it or not, stress and anxiety can affect us everyday, potentially causing serious health problems. However, studies show that Chinese medicine, which includes acupuncture, massage, Tai Chi and Qi Gong, can significantly help reduce stress.

Stress is a physical and psychological response to perceived demands and pressures, which cause the body to generate distress signals. Increased blood pressure and cortisol levels, as well as lowered immune system function, result when stress begins to affect the body. The symptoms often worsen to become depression, fatigue, tension headaches, stomachaches, hypertension, migraines, ulcers, heart attacks, or colitis. Eventually, stress can lead to even more serious health problems, such as cancer, diabetes or thyroid dysfunction.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 19.1 million American adults ages 18 to 54 have an anxiety disorder in a given year, and the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) states that as much as 80 percent of disease is stress-related. According to the 2002 Tension Tracker survey, between 60 and 90 percent of visits to primary care physicians are for stress-related problems. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health estimates, $300 billion, or $7,500 per employee, is spent annually in the U.S. on stress-related compensation claims, reduced productivity, absenteeism, health insurance costs, direct medical expenses and employee turnover. Furthermore, job burnout experienced by 25-40 percent of U.S. workers is blamed on stress.

The Chinese medical view of stress is that excessive emotional stimulation or suppression sets up an imbalance of the basic life force energy, or Qi, thereby injuring the body and producing disease. Chinese acupuncture and massage, as well as Tai Chi and Qi Gong exercises, can alleviate stress symptoms by releasing endorphins, the body's own natural painkillers, and improving the circulation of blood and lymphatic fluids, which brings fresh oxygen to body tissues. This increased oxygen flow eliminates waste products from inside the body and enhances recovery from diseases. Chinese medicine also decreases the stress hormone cortisol, lowers blood pressure, reduces heart rate, and relaxes muscle tissue.

For more information about how Chinese medicine can help those suffering from stress and anxiety, please call (800) 729-0941. Pacific College of Oriental Medicine