On our first encounter, Margaret explained about her unresolved grief following her husband’s short illness and sudden death two years earlier. Since then she had difficulty sleeping and she had to sleep with a weight on the other side of the bed where her husband used to sleep. She had a constant dull ache and tightness along the right GB (foot Shaoyang) meridian (between GB 21 and GB 2). She felt like she was being pulled in every direction by various family members and work commitments, as a result she had little time to stop and contemplate. She was very much a nurturing (Earth) type and was often too generous with her energy by helping others out, rather than looking after herself!
I used a comprehensive treatment but kept it to only 12 points, these were “Bringing Qi Home”, with St 25 (Tianshu) and the “abdominal Four Gates” i.e. St 24 (shoulder) and St 26 (hip). This prescription would help to nurture her and strengthen her Kidneys and Spleen. St 25 (Tianshu) the front mu point of the LI would help to strengthen the Lungs and allow her to start to process her grief. St 24 (Huaroumen) and St 26 (Wailing), the “abdominal Four Gates”, will enable moving qi throughout the body and would address stagnant qi so that the emotional impact of the previous years could finally start to be expressed. St 24 (Huaroumen) would help to send clear Yang qi to the head and shoulders, thus removing the constant tension in these areas.
I located two ahshi points that addressed the frontal headache (bilaterally, approximately 0.3 cun superior and lateral to Ren 12) and needled these to a depth of between 0.1 - 0.3cun, until the pain was gone (see Fig 1). The depth variation was to cover the different locations of the pain along the GB meridian.
Fig 1. Margaret’s first treatment
On the next visit Margaret proclaimed that she only had sporadic headaches which were reduced by around 75% in both duration and intensity. She also acknowledged that her sleep and energy were improved and that all symptoms had improved overall by 70-80%. She said that she had cried a lot and that she was finally able to accept grief and although it was not pleasant she knew that this was beneficial and a necessary part of the healing process!
On this occasion I used “Bringing Qi Home” the Ren 12 (Zhongwan) area had a number of superficial ahshi points, so these were needled with a 3 format string of needles which were left at a depth of 0.1-0.2 cun the other Ren points were inserted to a depth of 0.75 cun, St 25 (Tianshu) was needled bilaterally to a similar depth and knee point (AB 4) on the right was chosen to treat the upper Jiao / Burner and address the weak Lungs, using the Gen Trigram, I also used AB 4 on the left which is in the Qian Gua (Metal) and this point will also help to nourish the grief stricken lungs, these points were needled to a depth of 1 cun.
Fig 2. Margaret’s second treatment.
Margaret has continued to have treatments intermittently and has progressed well. I would rotate treatments and deal with grief problems as they present. The focus of each treatment is to strengthen the Kidneys, nourish the Spleen and Lungs and keep the stress levels to a minimum. I often use the following protocol: open the abdominal meridian system (AMS) for 10 mins, this treatment involves inserting 8 needles around the umbilicus at a radius of 0.5 cun out from the belly button. The needles are directed in towards the navel at an angle of 45 degrees depth is approximately 0.5 cun. This is an ancient prescription which can help to nourish the Kidneys, Spleen and Lungs. It balances the five elements and therefore the Zang Fu.
Pic 1. Margaret’s AMS opening (Lotus Flower) treatment.
I then used Ren 12 & 4 with Kid 13 bilaterally, and the “abdominal Four Gates”, St 24 (Huaroumen) and St 26 (Wailing), all to a depth of 0.5-0.7 cun.
Fig 3. Margaret’s third treatment.
Margaret’s anxiety and overall stress levels have reduced dramatically, sleep and her energy levels have improved and she no longer gets tension headaches along the Gall Bladder meridian. She feels more in control of her life, even though she still has family issues that demand her attention she is more able to do so without it consuming her. Margaret has regained an interest in life and the potential it offers, she has developed a zest for life and is much more social than the Margaret I first met. She now realises the importance of being able to say "No” sometimes, in order to preserve her health.This case shows the power of abdominal acupuncture to treat grief, not just physical pain level but also pain at an emotional and Zang Fu level.