Mental Health and Eastern Medicine


Healthy Living Blog by Dr. Tetreault, DAOM, L,Ac, RRT


Mental health illnesses have become a major issue and can date back to ancient days. The National Institute of Health (NIH) reveals one in five people suffer in the United States with some form of mental health issue. The major warning signs include erratic mood changes, socially withdrawing from others and activities, excessive anxiety that may affect having a normal lifestyle, severe disruptions in sleeping or eating patterns, and/or depression or irritability that is not short-lived.

Mental Health

There are many psychotherapeutic and pharmacologic medications used to treat various mental health diagnosis ranging from mood-stabilizing agents, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and electroconvulsive therapy. Also, psychoeducation and psychotherapy are often used as part of the western regimen for treating for mental health disorders. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) views mental and emotional health disorders as the origin cause as a disruption in the liver energy resulting in stagnation causing emotional stress such as frustration and anger Then other pathologies are mixed in which allows the accumulation of dampness or phlegm which affects the shen, or mind. Over time, this causes excesses and eventually overall deficiency of the heart and kidney energy resulting in malnourishment of the mind.

The most common patterns of mental health disorders range from liver qi stagnation with or without heat, obstruction of phlegm-qi complex, heart and spleen deficiency, lack of communication between the heart and kidney, restless organ disorder, yin and yang disharmony as seen in bipolar syndromes, and these are often found in combinations. Family history is very relevant to the occurrence of any mental disorder. Those with weaker constitutions are often susceptible to emotional stressors and have a much higher risk of occurrence. Treatment is done with both acupuncture and herbal formulas based on the patient’s individual assessment and diagnosis. For example, manic psychosis, if caused by phlegm-fire disturbing the heart is often treated with both Xie Xin Tang and Meng Shi Gun Tan Wan. So it is vital to assess one’s individual pattern to determine treatment. Treatment varies for a patient needing more yin nourishment and calming the spirit, then both Er Yin Juan and Ding Zhi Wan are two amazing herbal formulas to enhance the nourishment of yin, eliminate fire, and calm the spirit. We know that many chronic illnesses like depression can be caused by a wide variety of factors so treatment should also vary according to patient assessment with specific choices in acupuncture points and herbal formula remedies.

The diet is always a staple to any chronic disease whether physical or mental illness. The best foods are the ones that help create healthier brain chemistry. This would include eating complex carbohydrates from sources like vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Complex carbohydrates supply the brain with serotonin which is often the cause of both insomnia and depression. Good sources of protein which benefit the mind , or shen, include walnuts, eggs, beans, soy and lean poultry. Fatty cold-water fish is an amazing brain food and could be salmon, cod, or mackerel and others. If unable to consume fish three times a week then buy a good quality refrigerated fish oil. Ground flax seed will supply the body and brain with essential fatty acids which allows the mind to work more optimally.

Acupuncture treatments help many endorphins to be released in the brain and many meridians are utilized in the treatment of symptoms. The Lung meridian is often the choice to help ease anxiety and depression. The Urinary Bladder meridian is also often used if this is accompanied by fatigue or fear. Both Ren and Du meridians help provide proper balance to the mind, restore energy, release emotions, and are also used for post-stroke patients as well to facilitate neurological healing. However, points should be chosen based off patient presentation and assessment.

As far as supplements go, the major ones for the mind are 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), St. John’s wort, B-complex vitamins, ginkgo biloba, and a very good quality multivitamin is highly recommended.  It is vital to never hesitate to contact a mental health professional if you or a loved one has more than they can handle or contemplate suicide. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a 24 hour phone service availability : 1-800-273-8255  and should be utilized for more acute cases that need immediate attention.

Eastern Medicine recognizes that excessive emotions whether anger, joy, worry, grief, or sadness can actually over time injure the internal organs. These lead to disruptions in our normal mental and physical balance which disturbs the mind. Qi stagnation and blood stasis in the brain causes abnormal thinking and mental activities to occur. When this happens, optimal mental health cannot be managed and manic-depressive disorders can arise. However, there is much ancient wisdom that has now been modernized to assist with mental health through Eastern Medicine. Call today for your assessment and treatment. Let’s start your journey now to optimize both your mental and physical health. I look forward to helping you. Call 772-626-6419