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Chinese Medicine for Depression and Anxiety

Chinese Medicine for Depression and Anxiety

TCM Herbs and Acupuncture for Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety

Information on this site is provided for educational purposes and is not meant to substitute for the advice of your own physician or another medical professional. We make no claims as to efficacy or safety of herbs or herbal medicine appearing on this site. Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. 

Causes of Depression and Anxiety: Most of us see depression and anxiety as brain problems caused by abnormal brain chemistry. Pharmaceutical drugs are used to alter the brain’s chemistry, creating the feeling of normalcy. Traditional Chinese medicine understands depression and anxiety as problems caused by constraint of emotion in the chest. We believe that changes in brain chemistry are secondary to and in some cases a consequence of this emotional constraint. Chinese Herbs for Depression and Anxiety help to create emotional space in the chest.


Herbs for Depression and Constraint of Chest Energy

Loss, the memory of loss, repressed expression, and other events will cause constraint in the chest, restraining the normal flows of qi and blood in the central and upper body. We call this liver qi stagnation.

This constraint of chest energy can also lead to heat in the heart, a condition of overstimulation with symptoms such as anxiety and insomnia. Even some more serious conditions such as panic attacks, heart arrhythmias, and even some forms of psychosis have their origins in liver qi stagnation.

To Treat Liver Qi Stagnation: Vigorously Move the Qi of The Chest.
Though drugs are effective in relieving depression, relief can also be obtained by physically freeing the qi of the chest and releasing this energy. Push-ups work as well as Prozac.
Other ways to release the chest include boxing, breathing exercises and yogic techniques, massage, forceful crying and wailing, and almost any upper body exercise. Results are instantaneous and can last for hours or days.

Herbs for Depression and Anxiety
Chinese herbs for depression and anxiety all move the liver qi (qi of the chest ). Taken alone, these herbs may exert only a mild effect. In certain combinations, however, the results can be quite powerful.

Chai hu, or bupleurum, is the best known of these herbs. Though it is classified as a surface relieving herb, which might be used for colds, etc., its most common use by far, is to move the qi of the chest (the liver qi). Its ability to do this is greatly enhanced by combining it with a small amount of mint (bo he).
He huan pi or he huan hua, mimosa bark or flower (albezzia) is classified as a heart nourishing herb. When combined with DAN SHEN (salvia miltorrhiza), it strongly moves the qi of the chest.

Other herbs used in these formulas include poria (fu shen), red dates (hong zao), and wheat berries (fu xiao mai). Oyster shell (mu li), fossil bone (long gu), amber (hu po), and loadstone (ci shi) are considered strong stabilizing agents, and are administered for limited periods of time to stabilize the spirit.

Chinese Medicine for Depression and Anxiety
Free and Easy Pill (also known as xiao yao wan)

When under stress, qi (energy) tightens in your chest. This protective reaction is triggered by events in our life or events in our memory.

Free & Easy Pill reduces feelings of stress by helping to release tension in the chest. Based on a 900-year-old formula, It uses bupleurum (CHAI HU) and other natural substances to relieve chest constraint and to promote the free flow of Qi in the chest.

Shen Clinic TCM consult page

Other Herbs for Depression, Stress, and Anxiety Include

Jia Wei Xiao Yao Wan

Smiling Buddha Powder

Chai Hu jia Long Gu Mu Li Wan

An Shen Ding Zhi Wan



Studies have suggested that treating depression with acupuncture has a positive effect on depressed patients, particularly when used in combination with psychotherapy and herbal treatments.

Findings suggest that using acupuncture could be as effective as other types of treatments for relieving depression symptoms such as psychotherapy and drugs. While these results are promising and the United Nations World Health Organization has approved acupuncture as a treatment for depression, further clinical trials with larger samples are deemed necessary to endorse this new hope for relief.

Allen, J. J. B. (2000). Depression and acupuncture: a controlled clinical trial. Psychiatric Times Online, 22, 3.
Tian, C. H. (2002). Acupuncture treatment for depression. New England Journal of Traditional Medicine, 1, 4-7.

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