Treating Phobias With Acupuncture – Is There Any Point?

Many people may find it very difficult to believe that acupuncture is considered by some to be able to help treat phobias. This article investigates if there is any point in using acupuncture for phobias. Firstly let’s compare the difference between a phobia and a fear.

Phobia Definition

Originating from the Greek word Phóbos, which means either a fear or a morbid fear, a phobia falls into the scope of anxiety disorders and is different to a fear. A phobia is an irrational fear and is defined as:

"the manifestation of intense fears towards specific situations and objects, which in reality, produces minimal to no threat."

Fear Definition

Fear on the other hand is built into our natural survival response and is linked to the fight-or-flight response. All human beings and animals possess this instinct and it is crucial when dealing with a potential danger. It can help us escape or fight the danger that does exist in our current reality.

The Brain Plays A Starring Role

So fear is based in reality whereas a phobia is based only in the person’s perception. There are plenty of phobias that are commonly held amongst numerous people and there are also many different genres of phobias. Phobias can be social or specific. Yet like other types of anxiety and fear we know that there are several parts of the person’s brain which play key roles in the production of phobias, anxieties and fears.

Scientists study this starring role in order to understand how phobias and anxieties are created by the brain, so that they can be treated, as well as learning about the generation of new cells during a human’s life. Then it could be possible to stimulate new neuron growth for people with certain conditions, such as PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder).

Amygdala And Phobias

Part of the limbic system, the amygdale is shaped like an almond and lies deep in the brain. It is thought to process and interpret incoming signals, trigger anxiety and fear responses to the rest of the brain and store emotional memories. Therefore it is currently believed that it plays a role in phobias such as spiders and flying.

Hippocampus And Phobias

It is the hippocampus that has the job of encoding threatening events into memories. Some studies have shown that the size of the hippocampus is smaller in those who served in violent combat, as well as child abuse victims.

Acupuncture And The Brain

As the brain plays a huge part in creating phobias and other types of anxiety disorders, if acupuncture can’t treat the brain then how could it have any real affect on a phobia?

Acupuncture can treat the brain as the acupuncture points relating to the brain can be found on the human body. So in other words without taking any drugs, acupuncture can stimulate a reaction in the relevant parts of the brain to start the healing process.

It is considered that acupuncture can have a positive effect on brain chemistry. At the beginning of a treatment the needles stimulate blood flow locally, which has the knock on effect of an increase in both nutrients and immune cells. During acupuncture endorphins are also released.

The treatment will generally strengthen the nervous system as well as the immune and hormonal system. It will bring the entire system back into a more balanced and healthier state of being.

Experienced qualified acupuncturists will take the time to diagnose their patients using a range of TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) diagnostic tools and during this time will consider other relevant acupuncture points to needle. The root cause of the phobia plus any other knock on effects will be treated.

Top Reasons to Consider Acupuncture for Glaucoma Treatment

Millions of people in America and around the world are affected by glaucoma, a cluster of eye disorders that can result in optical nerve damage, peripheral vision loss and eventually blindness. This disorder usually progresses gradually and alternative therapies such as acupuncture for glaucoma can be effective in preserving the health of the optic nerve and vision, especially if the condition is diagnosed at an early stage.

What Causes Glaucoma?

There are different types of glaucoma and researchers are still in the process of understanding how each type of glaucoma causes damage to the optic nerve. For chronic open-angle glaucoma, it is understood that intraocular pressure gradually increases due to improper fluid drainage from canals in the eye. This leads to an accumulation of fluid that gradually damages the optic nerve and retina. Lack of blood flow to the optic nerve and retina is also observed in many types of glaucoma which gradually leads to retinal nerve cell damage and loss of peripheral vision even though the eye pressure does not go up. Acupuncture for glaucoma is a non-surgical method that can deliver positive results in the form of decreased intraocular pressure and improved fluid and blood circulation, especially when the eye drop caused so much irritation to the eyes and still cannot bring down the eye pressure.

Who is at Risk?

Anyone can develop glaucoma but some groups are at a higher risk than others. If you’re over sixty, an African-American over the age of forty, if you have near-sightedness, diabetes or a family history of glaucoma, you could fall in the high-risk category. Because glaucoma tends to progress gradually, it often remains undiagnosed and untreated before damage is already done. If you’re at a higher risk, it’s important to get your eyes examined by a qualified ophthalmologist every year to rule out the disorder or catch it at an early stage.

Treatment Options for Glaucoma

There are a wide variety of treatments for glaucoma including eye drops, laser surgery and conventional surgery to name a few. Acupuncture for glaucoma can be considered as a complimentary therapy to preserve and improve optic nerve health, vision and reduce the dry eyes. A combination of early detection, diet, acupuncture, Chinese medicines and medical treatment is the ideal plan to slow down the process of glaucoma and maintain the optic nerve function.

Positive Effects of Acupuncture

You might be wondering why acupuncture can be used to treat glaucoma and if it’s really worthwhile to try. Depending on patient’s condition and severity of glaucoma, an acupuncturist will develop an individual plan for each patient. A series of treatments (24 to 36) involving the use of very fine acupuncture needs at various points of the body may be recommended. Further treatment depends on how well your body responds. When done by a qualified and trained acupuncturist, acupuncture for glaucoma has many positive effects including decreasing intraocular pressure, improving fluid and blood circulation in the eye and improving peripheral vision. Considering all these benefits, acupuncture is a therapy worth considering for glaucoma relief and nerve regeneration.

If you’re ready to try this treatment, make an appointment with an experienced acupuncturist trained in Chinese medicine!

Fresh Bread Or Acupuncture

I walked past two bakeries on my way into my first acupuncture appointment; I stopped and took a deep breath. The deep breath was for several reasons: First, the smell of fresh baked bread coming from the bakeries stopped me in my tracks. It was comforting and familiar. Second, I was apprehensive and wanted to walk into a situation I knew. The deep breath was also because I was afraid to keep walking. I loved the idea of acupuncture, but now that I was walking towards the Community Acupuncture Center instead of acting on the urge to run as fast as I could into the bakery next door, I was second-guessing myself.

The unknown is always scary, but the stepping out of your comfort zone is the scariest and let me tell you – this was way past my comfort zone. However, my croissant thumbs started to hurt again and I was willing to try anything to alleviate the pain. “You’re gonna feel high when you leave,” “You feel stoned when you’re done,” “Acustoned,” were all things I heard when people described how I would feel when I was finished. However, having never been stoned or high before in my life, I had no idea what to expect.

After a brief intake and Trey guessing that I was a baker, he led me into a large open room with recliners (the kind Joey and Chandler had in Friends) lining the walls. The room was only lit with calming lamps and there was the familiar sound of massage music. As I picked a chair and put my stuff in the basket next to me, I was already feeling calm. I didn’t even feel the needles going in until Trey reached my thumbs; I almost jumped out of my skin and had to fight the urge to punch Trey in the throat. I, as calmly as I could, told him that really hurt and he apologized pulling the needle out slightly and instantly the pain was gone.

I laid back in my recliner, put the eye mask over my eyes and took a deep breath in and then let it out; this was going to be great. Suddenly, as I lay there with my eyes covered, all I could see was purple. The purple was swirling around like waves crashing against rocks. I felt like I was floating around inside the aurora borealis. As I just lay there watching all the purple and listening to the calming music I felt there, but not there.

I took off my eye mask, put my chair upright, signaling to Trey that I was done with my treatment. Trey came over, took the needles out, and I walked out of the room. On my way out I passed a clock, I had been sitting there for over an hour, but it felt like 15 minutes. I barely remember paying or making my next appointment, which apparently was four days later, but I do remember having the conscious thought that I was glad I only lived 2 miles from the place, because I wasn’t sure how exactly I was going to drive home.