Acupuncture Continuing Education

Shen Calming Herbal Formulas


Herbal Medicine for Psychological Disturbances


Beijing botanical gardens features a wide variety of plants and herbs.


A combination of acupuncture and herbal medicine is highly effective in ameliorating manic depression, bipolar disorder, panic attacks, PTSD (post-traumatic stress syndrome, palpitations, irritability, vertigo, restlessness, seizures, mania, depression and general anxiety. A synergistic effect exists between the treatment modalities wherein the acupuncture treatment exerts an immediate action on the channels thereby allowing for a more rapid absorption and effective action for the herbal medicines. Acupuncture and herbal medicine also serve as complementary adjunct therapies to conventional pharmaceutical approaches and therapies. In these cases, acupuncture and herbal medicine help to prevent toxic reactions to medications and other unwanted side-effects.

The blog posting entitled Panic Attacks and Acupuncture covered a variety of acupuncture points used for the treatment of mental and emotional issues. Today, I want to take at look herbal formulas less commonly used in the clinic. Common use finds many Shen calming and orifice opening herbal formulas that resolve a variety of conditions. Favorites include Chai Hu Long Gu Mu Li Tang, Suan Zao Ren Tang, Tian Wan Bu Xin Dan, Zhen Zhu Mu Wan, Yang Xin Tang, An Shen Tang and Gan Mai Dai Zao Tang. Hardly exhaustive, clinical favorites include many more formulas such as Shui Dan An, An Shen Bu Xin Wan, Jiao Tai Wan and others.

Let’s take a look at formulas that are a little less common. An Shen Yuan Zhi Wan is used in cases of Heart and Gallbladder Qi deficiency. Indications include insomnia, dream disturbed sleep, palpitations and timidity. This Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) herbal formula functions to tonify Qi and sedate Shen. Effectively, An Shen Yuan Zhi Wan soothes mental processes and quells emotional disturbances. An Shen Yuan Zhi Wan contains: Fu Ling, Fu Shen, Ren Shen, Yuan Zhi, Shi Chang Pu and Long Chi. Yuan Zhi Wan contains the same ingredients as An Shen Yuan Zhi Wan and is prepared with different dosages and preparation techniques. Ding Zhi Wan is similiar except that Zhu Sha supplants Long Chi.

When ordering herbs it may be more difficult to find Long Chi than the more common Long Gu. For psychological disturbances, Long Chi has a significantly stronger function to sedate Shen and is preferable. Long Chi is fossilized animal teeth whereas Long Gu is fossilized animal bone. Long Gu is preferable when its astringent properties are needed for the treatment of conditions such as hyperhidrosis (both spontaneous and night sweating), vaginal discharge, spermatorrhea, chronic diarrhea, epistaxis and uterine bleeding.

I use a combination of Zhi Gan Cao Tang, Gui Zhi Gan Cao Long Gu Mu Li Tang and Suan Zao Ren Tang for the treatment of atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter due to chronic anxiety or stress. This hybrid formula is appropriate when there is Heart Yin and Yang deficiency combined with Heart and Gallbladder Qi deficiency. The formula also addresses Yin deficiency with Yang Uprising and digestion issues. Indications accompanying the heart irregularities include night sweating (especially on the upper part of the body), frequent urination at night, gas and difficulty with digestion. Often, patients for whom this formula is most appropriate have diverticulitis and take several medications for anxiety and heart beat irregularities. For these patients, the pulse is often irregularly irregular, the Heart position is deficient and the Liver position is excess. The formula contains: Suan Zao Ren, Long Chi, Mu Li, Zhi Mu, Zhi Gan Cao, Fu Shen, Gui Zhi, Dan Shen, Mai Men Dong, Sheng Di Huang, Ren Shen, Chen Pi and Sheng Jiang. Classically, Zhi Gan Cao Tang is indicated for the treatment of irregular pulses. This variation addresses common clinical complications including dream disturbed sleep, fear, fright and anxiety.

A great formula for the treatment of sleep disturbances is Hu Po Duo Mei Wan. This formula contains Hu Po, Dang Shen, Fu Ling, Ling Yang Jiao and Gan Cao. This formula tonifies Qi and Blood, clears the heat and calms the Shen. It is appropriate for the treatment of Blood deficiency and Liver heat. The primary use of this formula is for the treatment of insomnia.

I strongly urge a modification of this formula to protect endangered antelopes. Do not use Ling Yang Jiao, antelope horn. Some replace Ling Yang Jiao with Shan Yang Jiao, mountain goat horn. In many ways, this simply shifts environmental pressure onto wild goat populations although goat is also widely domesticated. Sources matter. Try to work with a supplier that is reputable and diligent concerning this issue. Animal domestication for harvesting purposes has its own set of humanitarian concerns as we have seen with tragic Asiatic bear gallbladder farming.

I suggest trying plant based alternatives to Ling Yang Jiao from the Liver Calming - Wind Extinguishing category. There is no perfect solution to this issue. Even amoung plant derived alternatives there are environmental concerns. Gou Teng with Tian Ma is a nice alternative but depletion of wild Tian Ma has been an enormous concern. Moreover, much of the farmed Tian Ma does not have the medicinal strength of the wild Tian Ma once available only a few years ago. Shi Jue Ming, abalone shell, combined with Gou Teng is considered a viable alternative to Ling Yang Jiao. Again, Shi Jue Ming and even Mu Li, Zhen Zhu and Zhen Zhu Mu bring up a wide variety of concerns. Also consider Bai Ji Li and Jue Ming Zi as alternatives.

Acupuncture Continuing Education Credits

 

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