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by E.Qi.Librium Herbs

Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress. It helps one deal with a tense situation in the office, study harder for an exam, keep focussed on an important speech. In general, it helps one cope. But when anxiety becomes an excessive, irrational dread of everyday situations, it has become a disabling disorder. Ansiedad


The anxiety disorders discussed in Western medicine are:

•     generalized anxiety disorder
•     panic disorder
•     obsessive-compulsive disorder
•     post-traumatic stress disorder
•     social phobia (or social anxiety disorder)
•     specific phobias.

Each anxiety disorder has its own distinct features, but they are all bound together by the common theme of excessive, irrational fear, worry and dread.

A chronic state of anxiety is usually called Generalized Anxiety Disorder. The essential characteristic of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is an excessive uncontrollable worry about everyday things. This constant worry affects daily functioning and can cause physical symptoms.

GAD can occur with other anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, or substance abuse. GAD is often difficult to diagnose because it lacks some of the dramatic symptoms, such as unprovoked panic attacks, that are seen with other anxiety disorders; for a diagnosis to be made, worry must be present more days than not for at least 6 months.

Physical symptoms may include:

•     Muscle tension
•     Sweating
•     Nausea
•     Cold, clammy hands
•     Difficulty in swallowing
•     Jumpiness
•     Gastrointestinal discomfort or diarrhea
•     Irritability, feeling on edge
•     Tiredness
•     Insomnia

A panic attack is defined as the abrupt onset of an episode of intense fear or discomfort, which peaks in approximately 10 minutes, and includes at least four of the following symptoms:

•     a feeling of imminent danger or doom
•     the need to escape
•     palpitations
•     sweating
•     trembling
•     shortness of breath or a smothering feeling
•     a feeling of choking
•     chest pain or discomfort
•     nausea or abdominal discomfort
•     dizziness or lightheadedness
•     a sense of things being unreal, depersonalization
•     a fear of losing control or "going crazy"
•      a fear of dying
•     tingling sensations
•     chills or hot flushes.


"Anxiety" is a modern term that does not have an exact equivalent in Chinese medicine. I shall discuss the view of anxiety in Chinese medicine according to the following topics:

a) Chinese Disease Entities Corresponding To Anxiety

There is no Chinese medicine term that corresponds exactly to what we call "anxiety" but several ancient Chinese disease entities closely resemble anxiety. The two main disease entities that correspond to Anxiety are:

•     "Fear and Palpitations" (Jing Ji)
•     "Panic Throbbing" (Zheng Chong)

Both these conditions involve a state of fear, worry and anxiety, the first with palpitations and the second with a throbbing sensation in the chest and below the umbilicus. "Fear and Palpitations" is usually caused by external events such as a fright or shock and it comes and goes: it is more frequently of a Full nature, "Panic Throbbing" is not caused by external events and it is continuous: this condition is usually of an Empty nature and is more serious than the first. In chronic cases, "Fear and Palpitations" may turn into "Panic Throbbing". In severe cases, "Panic Throbbing" may correspond to panic attacks. Despite the name "Fear and Palpitations", such states of fear and anxiety may occur without palpitations.

b) Rebellious Qi Of The Penetrating Vessel (Chong Mai)

There is a third Chinese condition that may correspond to anxiety and especially to panic attacks and that is the condition of Rebellious Qi of the Penetrating Vessel (Chong Mai) causing the symptom of "internal urgency" (li ji).

One of the most common pathologies of the Penetrating Vessel is rebellious Qi and "internal urgency" (Li Ji): this has been recognized since the times of the "Classic of Difficulties" (Nan Jing). Chapter 29 of the "Classic of Difficulties" says: "The pathology of the Penetrating Vessel is rebellious Qi with internal urgency (li ji)."

"Internal urgency" indicates a feeling of anxiety and restlessness: in severe cases, there may be panic attacks with palpitations. On a physical level, it may also be interpreted as an uncomfortable, tight sensation from the lower abdomen radiating upwards towards the heart.

Palpitations is frequently associated with the anxiety or panic attacks deriving from rebellious Qi of the Penetrating Vessel because this vessel flows through the heart. This type of anxiety or panic attack may also be accompanied by a throbbing abdominal sensation which is also due to rebellious Qi of the Penetrating Vessel in the abdomen. From this point of view, Rebellious Qi of the Penetrating Vessel could be considered as a form of "Panic Throbbing" (Zheng Chong).

Rebellious Qi of the Penetrating Vessel causes various symptoms at different levels of the abdomen and chest. It causes primarily fullness, distension or pain in these areas. By plotting the pathway of the Penetrating Vessel, we can list the possible symptoms of rebellious Qi of the Penetrating Vessel starting from the bottom:

•     Cold feet
•     Fullness/distension/pain of the lower abdomen
•     Hypogastric fullness/distension/pain
•     Painful periods, irregular periods
•     Fullness/distension/pain of the umbilical area
•     Fullness/distension/pain of the epigastrium
•     Feeling of tightness below the xyphoid process
•     Feeling of tightness of the chest
•     Palpitations
•     Feeling of distension of the breasts in women
•     Slight breathlessness
•     Sighing
•     Feeling of lump in the throat
•     Feeling of heat of the face
•     Headache
•     Anxiety, mental restlessness, "internal urgency" (li ji).

c) "Palpitations" In Chinese Diagnosis

On the subject of "palpitations", it is worth explaining what this term indicates. If we ask most Western patients whether they have "palpitations", most of them will reply in the negative because they think that by "palpitations" we mean "tachycardia", i.e. a rapid beat of the heart. In reality, "palpitations" denotes simply an uncomfortable, subjective sensation of the heart beating in the chest: it has nothing to do with the speed or rate of the heart.

Therefore, when I want to ask a Western patient about this symptom, I do not ask "Do you get palpitations?" but ask instead "Are you sometimes aware of your heart beating in an uncomfortable way?" If we ask in this manner, we will see that palpitations is a more common symptom than we think. 

3. DIFFERENTIATION AND TREATMENT tratamientos ansiedad

a) Heart And Gall-Bladder Deficiency

Clinical manifestations
Palpitations, anxiety, timidity, easily frightened, lack of self-assertion, easily discouraged, cannot sit or lie down, insomnia, waking up early in the morning.
Tongue: Pale.
Pulse: Weak.

Mental-emotional profile
This person is timid, shy and lacking in drive. He or she is easily discouraged and finds it difficult to make decisions. The anxiety is mild.

Treatment principle
Tonify the Heart and Gall-Bladder, calm the Mind.

i. Acupuncture
HE-7 Shenmen, HE-5 Tongli, BL-15 Xinshu, Ren-14 Juque, G.B.-40 Qiuxu, ST-36 Zusanli.

Three Treasures remedy
Breaking Clouds
Breaking Clouds tonifies and lifts Qi and strengthens the Heart and Gall-Bladder.

b) Heart-Blood Deficiency

Clinical manifestations
Palpitations, anxiety, dizziness, pale face, insomnia, poor memory, tiredness.
Tongue: Pale and Thin.
Pulse: Choppy or Fine.

Mental-emotional profile
This person is most likely to be a woman, pale, depressed and anxious. The anxiety is mild and she hides it well.

Treatment principle
Nourish Heart-Blood, calm the Mind.

i. Acupuncture
HE-7 Shenmen, Ren-14 Juque, ST-36 Zusanli, SP-6 Sanyinjiao.

ii. Herbal therapy
Tonifying the Spleen Decoction Variation

Three Treasures remedy
Calm the Shen
Calm the Shen is a variation of Gui Pi Tang and it nourishes Heart-Blood and calms the Mind.

c) Kidney- And Heart-Yin Deficiency With Empty Heat

Clinical manifestations
Palpitations, anxiety that is worse in the evening, mental restlessness, insomnia, night-sweating, feeling of heat in the evening, five-palm heat, dizziness, tinnitus.
Tongue: Red without coating
Pulse: Floating-Empty and Rapid.

Mental-emotional profile
This person is more likely to be middle-aged. The anxiety is marked and is experienced more in the evenings. In women, this type of anxiety is markedly aggravated with the onset of the menopause. There is a characteristic restlessness and fidgetiness.

Treatment principle
Nourish Heart- and Kidney-Yin, clear Empty Heat, calm the Mind.

i. Acupuncture
HE-7 Shenmen, Ren-14 Juque, KI-3 Taixi, Ren-4 Guanyuan, SP-6 Sanyinjiao, HE-6 Yinxi, KI-7 Fuliu.

ii. Herbal therapy
Heavenly Emperor Tonifying the Heart Pill

Three Treasures remedy
Heavenly Empress
Heavenly Empress nourishes Heart- and Kidney-Yin, clears Empty Heat and calms the Mind. Please note that although this remedy is part of the Women's Treasure range, it is equally suitable for men as it is a variation of Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan Heavenly Emperor Tonifying the Heart Pill.

d) Lung- And Heart-Qi Stagnation

Clinical manifestations
Palpitations, anxiety, a feeling of distension or oppression of the chest, depression, a slight feeling of a lump in the throat, slight shortness of breath, sighing, sadness, chest and upper epigastric distension, slightly purple lips, pale complexion.
Tongue: slightly Pale-Purple on the sides in the chest area.
Pulse: Empty but very slightly Overflowing on both Front positions.

Mental-emotional profile
This person is anxious but also worried and sad. They will tend to be pale and speak with a weak voice. The anxiety is experienced in the chest.

Treatment principle
Move Qi in the Heart and Lung, relax the chest, calm the Mind.

i. Acupuncture
HE-5 Tongli, HE-7 Shenmen, P-6 Neiguan, Ren-15 Jiuwei, Ren-17 Shanzhong, LU-7 Lieque, ST-40 Fenglong.

ii. Herbal therapy
Pinelia-Magnolia Decocción.

Three Treasures remedy
Open the Heart
Open the Heart moves Qi of the Heart and Lungs and calms the Mind. It has a special action on the chest and it is therefore particularly indicated when there are chest symptoms such as a feeling of tightness or oppression of the chest.

e) Heart-Blood Statis

Clinical manifestations
Palpitations, anxiety, insomnia, agitation, poor memory, chest pain.
Tongue: Purple on the sides (chest area).
Pulse: Wiry, Choppy or Firm.

Mental-emotional profile
This person will tend to be middle-aged. The anxiety is experienced more in the evening and often also in the middle of the night, when they might wake up with a panicky feeling.

Treatment principle
Invigorate Heart-Blood, eliminate stasis, calm the Mind.

i. Acupuncture
HE-5 Tongli, P-6 Neiguan, Ren-14 Juque, Ren-15 Jiuwei, LIV-3 Taichong, SP-6 Sanyinjiao.

f) Phlegm-Heat Harassing The Heart

Clinical manifestations
Palpitations, anxiety, insomnia, dreaming a lot, feeling of oppression of the chest, sputum in the throat, slightly Amanic@ behaviour.
Tongue: Red, Swollen with sticky-yellow coating.
Pulse: Slippery-Rapid.

Mental-emotional profile
In this case, the anxiety is marked, to the point of agitation. The person may be hyperactive and slightly chaotic.

Treatment principle
Resolve Phlegm, clear Heart-Heat, calm the Mind, open the Mind's orifices.

i. Acupuncture
P-5 Jianshi, HE-8 Shaofu, Ren-12 Zhongwan, ST-40 Fenglong, ST-8 Touwei, G.B.-13 Benshen, Ren-15 Jiuwei, Du-24 Shenting.

ii. Herbal therapy
Warming the Gall-Bladder Decoction

Three Treasures remedy
Clear the Sould
Clear the Soul clears Heat and resolves Phlegm from the Heart and Lungs and calms the Mind.
Settling the Soul
Settling the Soul clears Heat and resolves Phlegm from the Heart and Liver, calms the Mind and settles the Ethereal Soul.


By Giovanni Maciocia