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Chinese Acupuncture for treatment of Psychiatric and mental illnesses

Dr. Emad Tukmachi
Clinical Director of Acumedica Clinics
The acupuncture has proved beneficial in treatment of many psychiatric diseases and mental disorders such as: Neurasthenia, Psychoneurosis, Schizophrenia, Depression, Behavior problems of children, Drug addictions and Mental States associated with old age. These disorders are being successfully treated in China with the use of acupuncture supplemented in some cases with drug therapy at dosage levels usually less than used in Western countries.

The acupuncture points selection

The selection of acupuncture points in psychiatric conditions requires much specialized knowledge and clinical acumen in evaluating the patient’s condition. Treatment should be given twice weekly until the condition is controlled; this may take 20 sittings or more, and then booster treatments should be given every week for some months. The acupuncture therapy is usually tried in our clinics without DRUG THERAPY. However, we believe it can also be profitably combined drug therapy, where indicated.
A much misused term, it is generally used as a label for lassitude not attributable to any recognized organic illness. It is often encountered in persons having anxiety neurosis and tension states with tiredness as the main symptom. Other associated symptoms are: Nervousness, Irritability, Anxiety, Depression, Insomnia, Headaches and Sexual disorders. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine this disorder may be due to:
1. An upward attack of the hyperactive yang of the liver due to an insufficiency of water to nourish the wood (dysfunction of the kidney affecting the liver).
2. Retention of damp-phlegm, which causes mental cloudiness.
3. Deficiency (Xu) of the qi and the Blood, which causes insufficiency of the “sea of marrow” in the head. (The brain is known as sea of marrow in Traditional Chinese Medicine).
The main characteristic of neurasthenia is mental excitement and physical tiredness with any but has no basis of organic disease. In Chinese medicine, neurasthenia is mental excitement, aneuria, physical tiredness with no basis of structure disease but related to insufficiency of vital energy and blood in heart and spleen or asthenic yin causing excessive pyrexia, failure of the heart, kidney integrating as well as stagnation of Qi due to depression of the liver and internal stagnation of phlegm. The treatment of this disorder is by applying a mild reinforcing-reducing method or reinforcing method in stimulating the manual acupuncture. However, Electrical acupuncture can be added by using saw-tooth wave stimulation for 20-30 minutes. A course of treatment which consists of at least 12 acupuncture sessions is needed for over 6weeks.

Schizophrenia (or “split mind”) is a type of functional psychosis or mental derangement characterized by a pattern of symptoms such as:
Delusions (e.g., of the patient’s own importance, persecution by others), Disorders of Thought, Hallucinations (usually of hearing) and General Lassitude. This condition is mainly occurred in young and middle age persons.
The acupuncture therapy can improve the mental fragmentation, illogic, disconnected emotional responses, delusions and a breakdown of the line between fantasy and reality in schizophrenia. The recent clinical study has shown that acupuncture would improve the daily functions such as sleep and reduced other signs and symptoms such pain, depression and mental disturbances due to hallucinations.
There is selection of acupuncture points used for treatment of this condition. Sometime mild electrical stimulation at the rate of about 5 pulses per second (Frequency) may be given twice weekly for 4-6 weeks and it may be continued thereafter with one weeks’ rest and review.
This condition may be described as a disorder of mood which is deeper and longer that what would be normally expected from that particular person. There is general impairment of all mental process and of physical functions such as: appetite, sleep, sex and work.
In what is called reactive depression, the patient reacts to external events to a greater extent and for longer than the circumstances warrant. Where the reasons for the misery seem to arise from within the patient himself it is referred to as endogenous depression. It should be noted that severe depression may be a symptom of other more serious mental illness like Maniac-depressive psychosis. It is known that about one in five people have some sort of clinical depression in their life.
These people have sadness, negative thought, hopelessness, irritability and a disturb sleeping pattern.  The Acupuncture has been proved to have an irreplaceable effect in treating depression and its symptoms, when compared with modern medicine and its antidepressive treatment. However, the curative effects of acupuncture for depression are impossible to confirm
The absence of sexual drive in the male may be either to organic or more usually to psychological factors.  When it is due to organic factors (e.g., Diabetes Mellitus, Alcoholism and Tabes Dorsalis) the underlying cause may have to be treated first. The premature ejaculation (or too early emission of semen) during intercourse may be a precursor to impotence and is associated with a general debility of the patient.
In acupuncture treatment of premature ejaculation the patient is usually undergoing a full health assessment to see how his energy is ticking along. In Traditional Chinese Medicine the erectile difficulties and premature ejaculation may result from a variety of different causes. However, in most cases the main cause is the ‘Yin deficiency’  and there will be some other knock-on signs and symptoms –  such as warm hands and feet at night, feeling of heat in the afternoon, hair loss, mild sweating in the evening or sore and stiff lower back.
Premature ejaculation often results from a weak function of the kidney if stress or anxiety is not the cause. A weak kidney means an insufficiency of Yin, Yang, or both. Yin and Yang are the essence of life and represent the womanish and mannish side of it respectively. The signs of Yin or Yang deficiency are well defined in TCM and Chinese acupuncture that work efficiently to relieve them are well documented. Therefore, the sign of kidney deficiency and its cause in premature ejaculation is the weakness and soreness of the lower back and knees. It typically worsens after sexuality or masturbation. Among the kidney deficiency, two patterns, Yin or Yang deficiency, are often observed. But in Yang deficiency pattern, signs often include loss of sex desire or libido, cold feeling in the limbs even in the summer, lassitude, and/or pale face. While in Yin deficiency pattern, signs may include sweat, hay fever, dizziness, thirst, and/or tinnitus. The sex desire may be normal or even high but the erection is not firm.
The treatment of drug addiction with acupuncture is a field with much promise. The pioneering work of H.L. Wen and S.Y. Cheung at the Neuro-Surgical Unit of the Kwong Wah Hospital - Hong Kong, has shown that relieving the drug withdrawal syndrome and counteracting drug addiction can be successfully done with acupuncture.
Electrical pulse stimulation of acupuncture needles is carried out in all cases. Wen and Cheung have recently adopted a method in which they commence with three and half hour sitting using similar points and electrical stimulation. They believe that the maximal elevation of the body’s own endogenous opiates helps as a booster to commence the therapy. Better long term results are claimed using this newer technique. The results of this new technique have not been published. Psychological supportive therapy is important to obtain good results. By far the best results for the treatment of addictions are obtained with acupuncture
Acupuncture has proved to be of great benefit for recovery and psycho-social rehabilitation in addictions with a supportive component of a substance abuse treatment. The main characteristic of acupuncture is to enhance the overall functioning: 
1.. it helps in treating resistant patients to other therapies.
2.It relaxes the patient by reducing both the anxiety and agitation and to calm down the patient and refine the receptive behavior.
3. It helps develop an inner meditative core in even the most troubled and fearful persons.
 Ear acupuncture is the main method of treatment used in addiction. The treatments are generally given twice weekly for these patients. 
If you want to know further about the treatment of various addictions by Traditional and Western Acupuncture and its effectiveness, please contact ACUMEDICA CLINICS