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Finding Mind-Body Balance with Acupuncture and Herbs


Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can complement psychotherapy and nutritional counseling in the treatment of eating disorders.

While traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) healing methods might not be everyone’s cup of herbal tea, they are a viable complementary treatment option.

TCM practitioners focus on bringing a patient’s body back into balance and reestablishing the right relationship between the mind, body and spirit. The body’s energy systems are thought to have physical, mental, emotional and spiritual effects, so a problem in one energy system can have cascading consequences, disturbing the other energy centers as well.

Eating disorders frequently involve an imbalance in multiple energy systems. Two that are commonly weak with eating disorders are the spleen/stomach and the liver/gall bladder systems.

Spleen and Stomach Imbalance

The spleen and stomach are representative of the Earth element, or the energy of being grounded and centered. Signs of an Earth energy weakness are:

  1. Over-analyzing the self.
  2. An inability to receive any form of nourishment, including physical and emotional.
  3. Worries and obsessive thoughts about body image.
  4. Physical symptom of bloating, constipation or diarrhea, nausea, irregular menses and chronic fatigue.

A TCM treatment using acupuncture and herbs can strengthen the Earth energy of the spleen and stomach, helping the mind and body prepare to accept the nourishment it needs and deserves.

Liver and Gall Bladder Imbalance

The liver and gall bladder are representative of the Wood element, or the energy of growth, expansion, planning and outward movement. Signs of a Wood imbalance are:

  1. Having a distorted body image.
  2. Difficulty imagining change or setting goals.
  3. Social anxiety.
  4. Frustration with self; depressive symptoms.
  5. Physical symptoms of headaches, muscle tightness and tension, and painful periods.

A TCM treatment with acupuncture and herbs is designed to soothe the Wood element energy, preparing people to move forward with their treatment and their lives.

Bringing Individuals Back into Balance

The physical nature of TCM treatments serve not only to rebalance and integrate an individual’s energy systems but also to help people with eating disorders connect with their bodies in a positive way. The treatments create positive body sensations, feelings of well-being and tranquility.

Herbal medicines and acupuncture are not believed to heal people. Practitioners use them to help people heal themselves. They work with a patient’s own resources, reminding his or her mind and body how to live in harmony.

Source: Treating Eating Disorders with Traditional Chinese Medicine