Skip to Content

Category Archives: TCM Lecture Note

What Happens to the Body When It’s Stressed?

Greenleaf Clinic Stress Symptoms and Treatments



When asking “Do you have a lot of stress?” a common answer given to us at consultations is “Is there anyone who doesn’t?” Obviously it is impossible to be completely without stress since it is a reaction to the various stimuli we are exposed to simply by living. However, it is important to remember that the body’s response to stress has a certain tendency and can be found at different levels.


Normally stress can be found in 3 stages: Alarm Stage, Resistance Stage, Exhausted Stage. The alarm stage is when our body’s autonomic nerves are temporarily excited. If you get out of the situation causing stress, you will recover, but if you continue to get stressed, your symptoms will worsen. When you are in this phase you will lose your appetite or get depressed during your menstrual periods. Another symptom is an overreaction to stimuli such as vision, sound, and touch — which is commonly seen in PTSD patients. These symptoms make patients easily irritable and prone to show signs of anger. Eastern medicine treats these symptoms with drugs such as Radix Bupleuri and Rhizoma Cyperi.


In the resistance stage, the body falls into an aggressively resistant state due to being exposed to stressful situations for too long. A common reason for this kind of stress is due to blood congestion or lack of blood in certain areas in the body. Areas blood tend to congest in are the brain, heart, liver, and muscles. If the blood were to congest in your brain, you will experience symptoms such as dizziness and headache. If the blood were to congest in the heart, heart rate often goes up and causes patients to feel stuffy. When the blood congests in the liver, the pressure on the diaphragm increases, making it uncomfortable to breathe. Too much blood in your muscles causes immense sweating and causes you to feel extremely thirsty. To treat these conditions we use Ramulus cum Uncis Uncariae and Flos Chrysanthemi for the brain, Rhizoma Coptidis and Fructus Gareniae for the heart, Radix Bupleuri and Radix Scutellariae for the liver, and Gypsum Fibrosum for the muscles.


The areas where blood circulation decreases can generally be divided into the gastrointestinal tract, kidney, and the lower abdominal cavity. When blood circulation in the gastrointestinal tract decreases, the digestive function also inevitably becomes abnormal. Eating makes you bloated, nauseous, and also causes acid reflux or heartburn. Kidney abnormalities are often shown through problems with urination. You can urinate too much or not enough. You might frequently get bladder infection. In the case of the lower abdominal cavity, for females, it can cause problems in the uterus, ovary, or vagina. Medications used include Rhizoma Atractylodis and Cortex Magnoliae Officinalis for the gastrointestinal tract, Poria and Rhizoma Alismatis for the kidney, and Fructus Evodiae and Fructus Foeniculi for the lower abdominal cavity.


Lastly, the exhausted stage is when fatigue builds up and release of the hormone cortisol dramatically decreases. When cortisol release is decreased, blood circulation is hindered and metabolism is reduced, causing the body’s energy to fall. You feel extreme exhaustion, mental helplessness and lack of motivation. Your eyes become tired easily and your complexion becomes pale and you feel lightheaded. For females, menstrual flow could suddenly decrease. Appetite also decreases. The immune system becomes weaker so you catch colds more frequently, have no strength in your voice and lose your voice easily. There are many cases where the blood pressure has dropped as well. Medications used include Radix Angelicae Sinensis and Rhizoma Chuanxiong for increasing blood circulation, and Radix Astragali and Radix Aconiti Lateralis Preparata for improving metabolism and strengthening myocardial contractility to increase blood pressure.


The way our body responds to stress is extremely diverse. Treatment also needs to diversify according to these various responses. This is an obvious conclusion, but it is much easier to treat a patient who is in the reactive than the resistant stage, and resistant than in the exhausted stage. It is necessary to check whether the body is currently in the reactive stage, when it starts reacting sensitively to stress, or whether it is in the resistant stage of extreme imbalance and decline in blood due to extended exposure to stress. This is because if the body reaches the exhausted stage, the treatment period becomes longer. Therefore, we need the wisdom to take care of the health of our body and mind during the resistant stage when the body still has enough resilience and resistance to fight. We hope your body and mind are always healthy with Eastern medicine.

0 Continue Reading →

Dry Mouth, Dizzy Eyes & Frequent Sighs

Dry mouth, Dizzy Eyes, Sighs Greenleaf Clinic



Julie is a working woman in her 20s. She is very ambitious when it comes to her work so she always has the urge to fulfill all tasks by herself in a perfect manner. She knows how to take care of tasks fully by herself and has a strong sense of self-esteem. Starting from a few months back, Julie became generally tired and began to lose her appetite. This was a clear result of her stressful work life and the lack of rest she was able to get. Her mouth was dry and every morning she tasted a bitter taste in her mouth. Her lips were also dry which forced her to apply lip balm to prevent her lips from getting chapped. Her eyes were strained and on the days where she had to stare at her computer screen for long periods of time, her vision was foggy. On the days where she had to talk a lot, she easily became exhausted which made her want to speak less even when she was back at home. She became easily irritated, sighed frequently and had a hard time eating due to her lack of appetite.


Now, what is happening to Julie's body?


Our body responds to stress in three stages – the alarm stage, resistance stage, and exhausted stage. Julie is showing symptoms of the alarm stage in which her autonomic nerves are stimulated. In this stage, symptoms worsen in certain stress situations. For example, more work makes you lose appetite and sigh more. They also overreact to stimuli such as vision, sound, and touch. There is even the possibility of your eyes getting dizzy and suffering from tinnitus. There is also the symptom of getting irritated and easily emotional.


However, the human body is so diverse that the reaction patterns do not appear in such common symptoms at all times. An easy example is that there are many people who eat more when they are stressed. Animals generally do not eat when they get hurt or sick, which is to temporarily increase the body's ability to resist. People are similar to animals in many ways, so it is common for us to react like that as well, but modern people have such a large area in the brain that they generally eat more.


As an Eastern medicine doctor, the first step is to look at the common symptoms. One of the most common symptoms is a dry and bitter mouth. Our saliva is secreted with an appropriate amount of IgA, an immune substance that contains sugar, and when the secretion decreases, the mouth tastes bitter. The resulting bitter taste in the mouth means that the immune system has weakened. The next symptom to look into is dizzy eyes. This symptom can be showcased in a various ways from tired eyes to dim and impaired vision, and the inability to read clearly. In particular, there are quite a few patients who say that their eyes get tired easily when they see objects passing by quickly. Some say when they get in a car, they have to close their eyes to feel relaxed or that they cannot sit on the reverse seat on a train.


Finally, the last symptom that must be checked is whether patients sigh often. Most people are unaware of themselves sighing so it is common for patients to double check with their close friends and family. Stress affects the flow of lymphatic fluid from the chest or the flow of portal vein blood, and it is inferred as a symptom that causes a slight change in the pressure of the diaphragm, which is a good indicator for checking stress. In addition, when we check the patient's stomach, we always press under the ribs to check the degree of pain, which is also a good indicator of the body's condition of sighing.


When these major symptoms are identified, we use a drug called Radix Bupleuri. Along with Radix Bupleuri, the drug Radix Paeoniae Alba is often used to relieve mental stress such as anxiety, tension and depression. Radix Bupleuri is widely used in this field as it is also used as a cold medicine for children due to its strong anti-inflammatory effects, in addition to neuropsychiatry, and is proven to be effective for liver disease. It is the second most widely studied herbal medicine after ginseng. Half of the patients we see in my clinical trial are mostly treated with Radix Bupleuri. If you get tired from stress, experience a dry mouth and a loss of appetite, and frequently sigh, we recommend visiting an Eastern medicine clinic. The diseases of the reactors are easily treated and can be prevented from turning into larger diseases in advance.

0 Continue Reading →

Drinking Only Water Can Still Cause Vomiting

Greenleaf Clinic Acupuncture and Herb Treatment for Vomiting



Phillip, who called last week to ask about gastrointestinal issues, finally visited our clinic. We were expecting Phillip to describe symptoms of indigestion or heartburn based on our phone call, but in the one week between his visit and our phone call, his symptoms evolved into vomiting. Phillip further explained that while he expected to vomit when eating food, he found that he also vomited even when only drinking water — so much so that he had already lost more than 5 kg. In general Phillip did not experience any gastrointestinal issues. He was a healthy man in his 20s who ate well, slept well and had healthy bowel movement. This prompted us to ask him what could possibly cause a healthy man like Phillip to begin vomiting. He answered that he began to have a fever and a sore throat when his stomach caused him to feel nauseous which ultimately led to him beginning to vomit. After starting to vomit, Phillip said he only drank water but to no avail. Phillip ended up going to the emergency room to have a blood test and receive fluid IV injection. However, this did not stop the vomiting. Phillip said he desperately searched on the internet and realized that the only option he had not explored was an acupuncture clinic which is why he called our Eastern medicine clinic.


Patients who have not eaten properly, are barely fighting off dehydration, and have met with their doctor only to get a fluid IV injection without mitigating their symptoms are extremely desperate when they come to our clinic. Phillip was no different. He looked exhausted and despite his condition, still seemed to have reservations on whether or not Eastern medicine could help alleviate his symptoms. Although Phillip’s symptoms were serious, we told him not to be too concerned as his symptoms were very famous and common in the history of Eastern medicine. Dehydration followed by vomiting often appeared after an epidemic or a severe case of the flu. Typically the dehydration starts from extreme cases of sweating, so just to be sure we asked Phillip, “Did you sweat a lot during the early stages of the cold?” To which he replied that he experienced a lot of sweating when he began to throw up.


If you summed up Phillip’s case, he had a fever accompanied by a sore throat which evolved layered to extreme sweating and vomiting. Additionally attempting to hydrate with water still caused vomiting even if he did not eat food. To understand this from a physiological perspective, cold sweat and vomiting is due to an imbalance of electrolytes (potassium, sodium, etc) in the body. In general, electrolyte imbalances can cause a multitude of issues but in Phillip’s case, it prevented the absorption of water. Imagine this: your stomach is already full of water because the body is unable to intake the water into the bloodstream. But because you feel thirsty, you add water to the stomach that is already full. There is no way out other than up, which is why Phillip began to vomit. Additionally, the blood vessels begin to dry as the body is unable to absorb the water. This causes the body to send signals to the brain that you need to drink more water which is why you feel thirsty despite the water piling in your stomach.


These symptoms can be treated through the following medications: Poria, Polyporu, Rhizoma Atractylodis Macrocephalae, Rhizoma Alismatis and Ramulus Cinnamomi. Poria and Rhizoma Atractylodis Macrocephalae help the uptake of water from the gastrointestinal tract into the bloodstream while Polyporu and Rhizoma Alismatis help the uptake of water cycle properly into urine. Ramulus Cinnamomi expands blood vessels to increase the efficiency of the water to urine cycle. To summarize, this solution allows the uptake of water into the bloodstream and ensures that water is cycling efficiently from water to urine.


Phillip, who came in as a desperate patient, was prescribed a simple acupuncture treatment supplemented with eating Go-rei-San little by little. In these cases you should never gulp down water. Instead, like with the Go-rei-San, it was important for Phillip to let the water sit in his mouth as he drank little by little. This was so effective that by the next day Phillip was already ready to drink water. The day after, he was fine eating porridge. Still concerned, we had Phillip book an appointment for five days later. However, we got a call from Philip saying that he had made a complete recovery and was back to normal. Phillip said his conditions were gone and that he did not need any more treatment and so that we decided to terminate treatment right then and there. As we can see from this example, the effects of Eastern medicine on the after effects of a complex cold or epidemic are often surprisingly fast and effective.

0 Continue Reading →

Heartburn: Why It Occurs & How To Treat It

Greenleaf Clinic Heartburn Why it occurs and how to treat it



Many people who have neuropsychological symptoms such as insomnia and anxiety commonly complain of heartburn. Conversely, patients who come to our clinic for heartburn end up diagnosed with insomnia and anxiety. This is because gastrointestinal and neuropsychological disorders are inextricably linked. People who say “I have heartburn” will burp frequently and say that they are experiencing acid reflux. This generally causes bloating and indigestion. A common complaint is a stuffy and painful chest, accommodated by a squeezing or burning pain. This pain is a result of gastric acid reaching the esophagus. This is often confused with heart pain thus earning its name “heartburn.”


So why is this happening? There are many explanations, out of which the body’s response patterns to stress, especially through blood circulation, are the easiest to understand. When our bodies are stressed for a long time, they become resistant. Picture this scenario. If a bear were to appear in front of me, my body would go into a fight or flight response. In order to maximize my effectiveness, my body needs to increase blood flow to my muscles. One point to remember is the blood flow to the heart increases as the heart output increases. When blood is concentrated to our muscles, blood is consequently limited for the gastrointestinal tract. Because your body is fighting for life or death, thoughts of hunger are naturally inhibited and the digestive tract movement is slowed.


The bottom line is, when blood is concentrated to the heart and other muscles, blood is pulled away from the gastrointestinal tract. If blood supply is unable to be readily supplied to the gastrointestinal tract, then it is only a matter of time before various gastrointestinal disorders such as reflux esophagitis, gastric ulcer, duodenal ulcer, and others occur. These in turn can cause an unspeakable amount of symptoms, such as indigestion, heartburn, constipation, and diarrhea to name a few.


The same was true for Judy, who could not fall asleep due to stress. Upon visiting our clinic, she explained that she had an upset stomach. This was caused due to her being in a state of excitement. It is called a state of excitement and not a fever because the actual temperature does not rise, but due to blood rushing the body seems heated as the face turns red easily and the tongue appears in a deeper shade of red. Judy’s heart rate was about 85 beats per minute, whereas the average person has a heart beat of 72 beats per minute.


There are cases like Judy when fever is seen due to pure excitement and other cases like Helen, when the body itself is cold but the insides fill with heat. Like Judy, Helen could not sleep and experienced heartburn. However, Helen always felt cold and had diarrhea instead of constipation. In Eastern medicine, diarrhea while feeling cold is often associated with having a cold. Thus, Helen had both a fever and a cold.


Consequently, Judy and Helen were both treated with a medicine called Rhizoma Coptidis. Rhizoma Coptidis is a very bitter herbal medicine. So much so that China has a saying for it, “life is bitter like ‘Rhizoma Coptidis’”. Despite its bitterness, it is very effective and is the first medicine that comes to mind for patients whose bodies get excited due to stress and cause inflammation in the stomach (heartburn, indigestion, etc.). Most patients who use Rhizoma Coptidis are extroverted and are commonly characterized by their tendency to speak very quickly. Judy was separately prescribed a medicine for constipation called Radix et Rhizoma Rhei to control her fever and inflammation, whereas Helen was separately prescribed ginger to treat her fever and cold. Both patients were relieved of their insomnia and heartburn without any difficulty.


Gastrointestinal diseases are often not treated well through ambulatory prescription medication. This is especially true when the symptoms are associated with stress. In these cases, it is better to consider Eastern medical treatment as it takes into the consideration of both the body and mind as one. This is one of the greatest advantages of Eastern medicine.

0 Continue Reading →

“Doctor, I Have Indigestion”

Relieve Indigestion with Herbs and Acupuncture, Greenleaf Clinic



This is one of the most common complaints we receive at the clinic. However, because digestion can have many causes, it is crucial to have a more in-depth discussion with the patient. Indigestion is caused either by the congestion and inflammation of the solar plexus or by the bloating of the chest which induces a feeling of stuffiness. The first step is for the doctor to determine if the patient is suffering from indigestion stemming from the chest or from the solar plexus. Usually the next phase of indigestion is the restlessness of the stomach which is caused by gas build up. This however, is not just a sensation but is due to your stomach actually expanding from the gas. Consequently, you experience stomach aches when you are suffering from indigestion. These stomach aches, however, can have many differences: a poking, aching, twitching, or squeezing pain. Some complain of frequent burping – to the extent that it causes embarrassment in their daily lives.


So how do we sort out and treat these various symptoms? There is generally one symptom to focus on – the presence or absence of inflammation. Generally most people experiencing severe indigestion symptoms come to our clinic after a gastroscopy and/or an abdominal ultrasound. Some patients will say “Doctor, I saw my test results and have been told that I am okay.” In this case, the person is experiencing functional digestive disorder. In this digestive disorder, there is no inflammation because the indigestion is not caused by physical ailments but by emotions. The main focus for this next section is functional digestive disorder.


Our bodies get nervous when we are stressed. If a brown bear were to appear, we would run with the stakes of life and death. When your body is in a fight or flight response, you cannot afford to send blood to your gastrointestinal tract because most of the blood needs to be sent to your heart and muscles to keep you moving and alive. This also makes the secretions of mucus and gastric acid weaker, making digestion difficult, which is why indigestion can occur even when an endoscopy indicates that the patient does not have inflammation.


Ellen was a patient who always complained of indigestion and of a swollen upper abdomen. She would explain that sometimes she would feel nauseous and often experienced motion sickness. Ellen was a worrisome person and had a lot of thoughts. However, due to her personality, she had difficulty expressing herself and sharing her thoughts. She was sensitive to her relationships with people to the extent where she would have difficulty falling asleep. She also often got cold and complained that she felt depressed. Regardless, she took it up on herself to get an endoscopy but was told that there were not any problems.


Ellen is a typical case of dysfunctional digestive problems with no indication of inflammation. In Ellen’s case, the first symptom to treat were her emotional problems. In Eastern medicine, there is a very famous drug called ‘Poria’. It is a germ nucleus that grows like a lump on pine roots. It is most commonly used to aid proper urination, but it can also be used for patients who are easily surprised and are prone to have their heart pounding. We use it to treat neurological digestive disorders, panic disorder, and depression. For Ellen, it was not about treating the inflammation of the stomach, but stabilizing her emotions first.


Ellen was also prescribed acupuncture treatment to supplement her antiseptic medication containing Poria and ginger. Since then, not only has her digestion improved but her insomnia and depression have also been relieved. As her psychological state stabilized, order was brought to her digestive system. Thus, even if a stomach disorder is caused by stress, the treatment medication and methods differ greatly depending on the presence of inflammation and the body’s response to stress. This is one of the many reasons why Eastern medicine is highlighted in modern society for having customizable medicine.

0 Continue Reading →

Menstrual Cramps

Greenleaf Clinic Menstrual Cramp Herbal Medicine Remedies



Mary had terrible menstrual cramps. Even with painkillers, the first and second days of her menstruation would always negatively impact her regular daily activities. Her menstrual blood was dark and contained a lot of blood clots. Mary had an office job and a large portion of her stress came from her work. She found it difficult to have any sense of freedom at her job most likely due to her perfectionist personality, which she acknowledged. Whenever she would feel frustrated or worried, she would lose her appetite and have digestion problems. Her eyes also became easily tired and dry, making her afternoons much harder to get through.


When patients come to us with stress-related issues, there are certain questions we always ask.


The first is regarding symptoms in the chest area. We ask whether they feel any type of chest tightness or tension. Breathing is also an important factor to consider. We check for symptoms related to any deep breathing problems or shortness of breath.


Second, we ask if patients often experience mouth dryness. There is a difference between drinking a lot of water and having a dry mouth. There are many patients who suffer from a dry mouth even if they are drinking water. We also check how moist their lips are. For those that have a dry mouth, we always recommend that they apply lip balm to maintain moisture on their lips as well.


Third, we ask patients if they often get dizzy. Whether they experience motion sickness from long car rides or from sitting on SkyTrain seats that face the opposite direction from which the SkyTrain is moving are relevant questions to ask. It is also helpful to consider whether the patient suffers from tired or dry eyes.


The reason we ask these three sets of questions is to determine whether to prescribe them Radix Bupleuri. Although there are many other types of medicine to relieve stress, our experience shows that Radix Bupleuri is the most commonly used. Radix Bupleuri has the capability to restore blood circulation in the liver and facilitate secretion in the gallbladder. If patients possess all three or even two of the symptoms listed above, we consider this medication as a form of treatment.


In Mary’s case, it is quite difficult to treat her menstrual cramps by just relieving her stress levels. Because menstrual cramps result from problems in blood circulation in the uterus, other medicine is needed to solve this issue. There are many different types of medicine that helps in promoting blood circulation in the uterus, but we prefer to use Semen Persicae and Cortex Moutan. These two are easy to mix with other medicine and go well with Radix Bupleuri.


So in conclusion, we gave Mary Radix Bupleuri to relieve her stress levels, and Semen Persicae and Cortex Moutan to improve her blood circulation in the uterus. Simply relieving stress does not relieve menstrual cramps. Similarly, just improving the blood circulation in the uterus does not completely solve the issue with menstrual cramps as well. It is important to be mindful of both aspects and treat them together in order to have the best outcome.

0 Continue Reading →

Diarrhea: Is It the Same for Everyone?

Treatment for Diarrhea



We had a patient named Mike (alias) who suffered from severe diarrhea. Every time he ate a meal or endured a stressful incident, he would experience diarrhea. Given these circumstances, he strangely still had an appetite for food and ate regularly. It was difficult for us to identify any signs of stomach aches or an upset stomach for Mike. His situation seemed to be limited to the large intestine. Other symptoms Mike experienced were disrupted sleep and hot body temperatures, possibly resulting from his sensitive personality.


Another patient with a shy personality, Janey (alias), suffered from diarrhea just like Mike. However, in contrast to Mike’s condition, Janey experienced a loss of appetite every time she had to focus on something. Janey generally did not like eating a lot and her mouth would often become dry, leading her to frequently drink water. Although she was very sensitive to stress and would frequently sigh as a result, she did not have much trouble sleeping. She stated much of her stress and hardships came from her perfectionist personality at work. She would frequently get hot from her high body temperatures, but also despised the cold weather.


Mike and Janey are patients who display an evident relationship between stress and diarrhea, which is identified as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Both possess sensitive personalities and are easily affected by stress, which result in symptoms of diarrhea. However, if you look closely, there lies a difference between the two patients. Mike has a good appetite and does not have many stomach problems, while Janey does not have much of an appetite and does not like to eat. Mike has sleeping problems, while Janey has no major discomfort when sleeping. What is the difference between Mike’s and Janey’s diarrhea?


First, it is important to understand the basics of diarrhea. Diarrhea occurs primarily because there is too much water in the intestines. For example, there is the possibility of experiencing diarrhea after drinking milk. In this case, enzymes are lacking to fully digest the milk. When the milk is not absorbed in the small intestine, our intestines attract moisture which triggers diarrhea. As a result, we do not want to keep indigestible substances in our bodies for long periods of time. On the other hand, you could also view the situation as a problem with stimulation and not absorption. Think about food poisoning – bacterial toxins are a major cause of excessive intestinal moisture production.


Next, we can observe any inflammation of the intestinal mucosa. When an inflammation in the intestinal mucosa occurs, moisture absorption is reduced and secretion is more frequently triggered. The intestinal tract’s movement also becomes more rapid, causing diarrhea. This is the case of Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, etc. Finally, the change in bowel movement may cause diarrhea due to insufficient moisture absorption which is critical to note. Think about the times you ate cold food and experienced diarrhea after. Our bodies shiver to raise the body temperature when we are cold. In severe cases, our teeth even chatter. What do you think happens when the gastrointestinal tract becomes cold? Similarly, the gastrointestinal tract ‘shakes’ to raise the temperature, which causes excessive bowel movement. Eventually, as the intestine becomes cold, the moisture is not properly absorbed and causes diarrhea.


Now back to Mike and Janey’s situations. Although Mike’s case is not as severe as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, we can predict an inflammation of the intestinal mucosa or very sensitive mucous membranes. The reason this is predictable is because vibrations of the sympathetic nerve were apparent. In the cases where the sympathetic nerve is affected by a nervous state, disrupted sleep and fast pulses, skin problems and mucous membrane problems tend to appear easily. Mike displayed redness in his face, fast speech and a sensitive personality. There was also a tendency for his face to easily become red when his skin was slightly irritated or scratched.


Janey was sensitive and easily became stressed but she frequently sighed, her mouth would get dry and she complained of heat in her chest, while her lower abdomen felt slightly cold. If the whole body is not sensitive and the heat is drawn to one side, the body is likely to become cold on the other side. The heart will be hot, but the stomach will be cold. For Janey, diarrhea occurred because the cold triggered severe bowel movement.


Janey was sensitive and easily became stressed but Despite all the similarities between stress-induced diarrhea, the approach and treatment differs depending on the body's response. We gave Mike Rhizoma the strong anti-inflammatory drugs Coptidis, Radix Scutellariae, and more, to relieve the sensitivity and inflammation of the intestinal mucosa. Janey was treated with Radix Bupleuri to relieve the heat in her chest and with Rhizoma Zingiberis to warm her bowels and treat her diarrhea.

0 Continue Reading →

Anxiety Symptoms & Treatments for Youth

Youth Anxiety Treatment



A highly reserved male high school student visited our acupuncture and herb clinic with his father. The student was always an athletic individual, but one day when he entered the gym, his heart began pounding and his legs started shaking. This reaction would consistently appear every time he entered the gym, which resulted in the student being unable to participate in any of the practices. It appeared these symptoms would only emerge in the gym and not anywhere else. What was strange was the student would experience these symptoms even though he did not face any possibly relevant issues such as conflict in relationships or a dislike for exercising. Soon after, he met with his family doctor and was recommended some medication, however, he believed that due to this young age and the need to stay active, visiting an acupuncture and herb clinic may be more beneficial.


Unsurprisingly, there are many cases where teenagers still in their physical and mental growth stage often experience similar symptoms in similar situations. Whether there is an upcoming test, a large sports match or a grand presentation to prepare for, many people in this age group experience a pounding sensation in their heart, sweaty feet and nervous shaking. It is completely normal when placed in these situations, to feel these symptoms, and there are cases where some individuals experience the symptoms more severely than others. Once these situations pass, most people quickly return to their normal state and daily lives with no problems.


Youth Anxiety Symptoms


Identifying the reason for these symptoms is not difficult. These symptoms occur because the sympathetic nerves work excessively as the body reacts to such high states of tension. Imagine a hungry bear standing right in front of you. As your body increases the blood supply in the muscles to run away, your heart pumps at a rapid rate. Appetite is severely reduced as you have to constantly be aware of your surroundings and sleep is the last thing on your mind. Truthfully in this situation, what is the point of worrying about eating and sleeping when your main goal is to simply stay alive?


Treatment is divided into two categories. There are two ways to stabilize the sympathetic nerve: to immediately approach and suppress the stimulated sympathetic nerves, or to increase the power of the parasympathetic nerves to control the sympathetic nerves. The two options would be similar to for example, if there is a fire you can either put the fire out with water or remove all possible substances that can burn from the premises and cut off the oxygen supply. In clinical trials, whether the patient is an introvert or extrovert can be a critical factor in deciding the method of treatment. In this case, the student displayed an introverted personality, a slow pulse rate, and many other factors supported the decision of controlling the sympathetic nerves through targeting the parasympathetic nerves. The best herbal medicine when approaching the parasympathetic nerves is Poria. We chose Poria as the main medicine to treat the patient and acupuncture was administered twice a week. After about two weeks of treatment, the symptoms began to ease and a month later, the treatment ended without any disruption to practice.

0 Continue Reading →

My Chest Feels Tight: Can Eastern Medicine Help?

Eastern Medicine Treatment



A college student came to our acupuncture clinic after feeling chest tightness and congestion. As the student was explaining the hardships, her voice tone was not very high and she did not talk that much. It turned out, she was also experiencing severe depression and was having trouble sleeping at night. She explained how her face was often hot with a fever and she would often lose her appetite. She also had difficulty studying due to her frequent headaches and dizziness.


Chest tightness is a common symptom for neuropsychiatric patients who suffer from insomnia, depression, panic disorder, and so on. In severe cases, patients feel the urge to even want to give a slap to their chest in attempt to relieve the tightness. For those with mild chest tightness, frequent sighing is also a common symptom. These symptoms are indicators of congested chest circulation in the blood vessels or lymph nodes, and the presence and absence of these symptoms are also used to identify neuropsychiatric disorders.


Patients who complain of chest tightness are treated with several different methods. It is important to analyze whether this tightness is correlated with feelings of anger or feelings of depression. In this case, since the patient complained about chest tightness and depression, prescriptions of ‘Fructus Gardeniae’ and ‘Fructus Aurantii Immaturus’ were ideal treatments. Fructus Gardeniae helps relieve congestion in the blood vessels and helps to promote bile secretion. Fructus Aurantii Immaturus helps to shrink the heart muscle and increase cardiac output to promote circulation in the chest. It also helps with digestion by promoting the movement in the intestines. Synephrine, which is in the components of Fructus Aurantii Immaturus, is currently being researched and developed as a new antidepressant because of its strong antidepressant capabilities.


After taking Fructus Gardeniae and Fructus Aurantii Immaturus, most of the patient’s symptoms disappeared. However, physical symptoms are caused by psychological symptoms resulting from a specific source. The patient in this case was experiencing a long-standing feud with her parents. Even after taking the prescribed medicine, the patient was treated for a considerable period of time with Eastern medicine to resolve this root of the issue.

0 Continue Reading →

Panic Disorder & Anxiety: Is the Mind or Body First?

Greenleaf Acupuncture Clinic



There was a female patient who came back to Vancouver after completing university in Toronto. A strange environment, difficult relationships with peers, study hardships, and more, contributed to the challenging times there. Eventually, at some point, her heart began beating rapidly, she was always nervous and her hands began to tremble. She was always an athletic individual but after she began experiencing these symptoms, she would strangely only sweat below her waist, which made her situation even more difficult. Her mind was foggy and her front bangs felt extremely heavy on her head. Whenever she met someone new or became very stressed, her symptoms would worsen. Although she experienced severe anxiety, she never became depressed or angry. Luckily, her sleep was not affected.


This patient was suffering from a general panic disorder, however, there was one thing that was different from other patients – she was experiencing anxiety and rapid heartbeat but she was still sleeping well. In most cases, when stress and anxiety worsen, patients are not able to sleep well. Sleep is a factor that is automatically associated with these two symptoms in the majority of cases. Panic disorder, depression and insomnia are almost often considered a package in terms of symptoms. However, if sleep does not appear to be a problem, then Eastern medicine doctors seriously consider one thing. We have to determine whether these symptoms are caused by a very sensitive body and mind that cannot overcome stress or whether they are caused by other physical imbalances. Long story short, is the mind or body first?


Panic disorder and depression are all mental problems so many of you may be wondering why the body appears here. Nevertheless, our bodies are not so simple that even if mental stress is not severe, these physical symptoms can appear. For example, there are many cases where patients suddenly start to feel nervous and experience panic disorder after undergoing gallbladder removal surgery. Panic disorder and insomnia are prone to the aftermath of traffic accidents, which are technically mental illnesses resulting from physical shock. If you are dehydrated, you will feel dizzy and feel as if you are seeing things, and if your constipation gets worse, it will be natural to feel restless. In fact, constipation and any accompanying mental illnesses are likely to worsen when constipation also becomes worse. These ‘body’ symptoms are usually triggered ahead of any ‘mental’ symptoms for most cases.


This patient, who returned from Toronto, expressed that her symptoms started after experiencing stress, but because her sleep was not affected, we began to question whether her symptoms arose due to physical factors. Her condition of only sweating from the waist down was especially unique so once we asked her more about this symptom, she stated that Toronto summers are very hot and humid so exercising in the summer was difficult for her. She even said that one time, she sweat so much that she was on the verge of fainting and after that incident, she began sweating only from below her waist. Sweat, rapid heartbeat and panic disorder are all key information when it comes to finding a solution for trained Eastern medicine doctors.


When the body sweats too much and gets too damaged, there are cases where the heart beats very rapidly in attempt to restore the body. Most patients experience normal body fluid levels after drinking enough water, but there are also patients that continue enduring rapid heartbeat even after sufficient water intake. This is because the fluid levels are normalized but the pressure in the heart is habitually high. In this case, it is important to expand the capillaries in the fingertips and toes by dispersing pressure. In Eastern medicine, Ramulus Cinnamomi is the correct medicine for this role, which keeps the hands and feet warm.



Herbal Medicine



As a result, we prescribed this patient to take the herbal medicine, Ramulus Cinnamomi. We predicted that if the severe heart palpitations stop and the pressure disperses, then the panic disorder and strange sweating condition will be solved. After taking the herbal medicine, the predictions were accurate and treatment was ceased as all symptoms disappeared. The physical symptom of the heartbeat caused by excessive sweating brought about the mental symptom of anxiety, and the mental symptom was naturally eliminated when the physical symptom was resolved.

1 Continue Reading →