Trauma – Part 3: Trauma in Chinese Medicine

Now that we have learnt about trauma in the last two posts. I am going to dive in a bit deeper to the Traditional Chinese Medicine side of things and explain how acupuncture can help someone who has been through a traumatic event.

There is actually a very significant overlap between Western and Eastern Medicine. Western psychologists call it ‘PTSD’ or ‘dissociative states’. Eastern practitioners call it ‘Shen disturbance’. But it doesn’t matter whether its diagnosed in Western Medicine or Eastern Medicine, the symptoms are the same.

  • Disconnected from Here and Now
  • Spacing out
  • Lack of connection to ones self
  • Memory distortions
  • Unclear mind
  • Dream disturbed sleep/ nightmares
  • Insomnia
  • Over/under reactions

In Chinese Medicine, trauma is stored in the ‘Lower Spirits’ this is the body and emotions as well as our instincts and autonomic nervous system (ANS). Many people don’t even remember a trauma, but acupuncture can help bring those memories up in a safe and healthy way. Emotions are not a bad thing, in moderation they are great – but it becomes a trauma when your body can no longer return to center by itself.

There are five spirits, each is connected to one Yin organ. They include the Heart(Shen), Spleen(Yi), Liver(Hun), Kidney(Zhi), and Lung(Po). You can think of the spirits as people; if the spirits experience fright/fear, they will scatter. And that is when a stressful event becomes a traumatic event in Chinese Medicine. Shen is the monarch of the spirits – I imagine it like a person strutting around, making sure everything is in place. When you experience a trauma, Shen leaves the Heart and then pretty much all chaos ensues. The other Spirits no longer have a guide so they don’t know what to do. They are kind of like sheep in that sense – they are comfortable following their leader, once their leader is gone no one knows what’s going on or what to do, so they go in all different directions. Once the Monarch (Shen) has left and the other four spirits have scattered, we have no sense of self and can not return to equilibrium – this is trauma in Chinese Medicine. Simply said, Shock scatters the Qi. The goal is the bring Shen back to the Heart and to return the body to equilibrium.

Acupuncture treatments can help someone work through a traumatic event in a variety of ways.

  • It “Bypasses the frontal lobes to open a direct link to cellular memory…”.
  • Balances the Autonomic Nervous System (for patients in hyperarousal).
  • Supports Adrenals.
  • Calms the Amygdalae.
  • Releases endorphins.
  • Allows energetic communication with the body through needles, sometimes talk therapy doesn’t help because the patient can’t/doesn’t’ want to recall the traumatic event. The needles can help a patient remember the event.
  • Helps patients become more aware of self care and mindful self awareness.
  • Helps patients develop positive relationship to body and touch.
  • Helps with physical symptoms resulting in trauma such as; digestive disorders, anxiety, depression, muscle tension, insomnia, etc.

I am not going to go into the different possible treatments, because it is different for each patient. But if you have more questions about what a treatment would look like for you; please call or text me at 403-741-8898 or book a complimentary 15 minute consultation to find out more information.

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Additional Blog posts in Trauma Series

Trauma – Part 1: What is Trauma?

  • Online February 1, 2018

Trauma – Part 2: Physical Symptoms of Trauma.

  • Online February 8, 2018

Trauma – Part 4: Therapies other than Acupuncture.

  • Online February 22, 2018

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Resources:

Trauma and Recovery in The Context of Chinese Medicine – Darren Tellier

Healing Trauma: A Five Spirit Approach – Lorie Eve Dechar

The Psyche in Chinese Medicine – Maciocia

When the Body Says No – Gabor Mate

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https://suicideprevention.ca/need-help/

https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/findhealth/results.aspx?type=service&id=25&locationCity=Stettler&radius=50#contentStart

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