Abdominal acupuncture used to treat anxiety and marijuana dependency

Marijuana Blues

Marc had always lived with some mental health problems. From a young age he was anxious and didn’t like too much attention. He became more and more anxious as he got older and now at 27 years of age he was suffering with severe anxiety, paranoia and anger. He had frequent digestive problems and bouts of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), which he managed, in recent months by eliminating wheat from his diet. His self esteem was low, especially after a recent car crash which had left him in constant pain, mainly down his left lumbar area and into the right Huato Jiajii area at L-3, L- 4. He also had upper back, neck and shoulder tightness and pain. This constant pain led him to consume a significant amount of “weed” (Marijuana) which aggravated his anxiety and paranoia. 

He was also abusing his anxiety medication Xanax, which on some days he would just consume like candy! The shoulder tension, neck and back pain, combined with his increased use of marijuana and pills added to his stress levels and he was prone to Shaoyang headaches every day. His sleep had never been good, as far back as he could remember and recently he was suffering with excessive night sweats. Many of his symptoms seemed to be worse since he had started to reduce his marijuana habit. He was now using about half an ounce (14 grams) of high potency (factory grown) weed a week. This was down from one ounce (28 grams) a week. 

On our first meeting Marc was feeling very nervous and the anxiety almost prevented him from coming to his appointment. He was only one week into his reduced weed regime, and he was paranoid and frustrated as his sleep was very disturbed with horrendous night sweats. 

The first treatment 

I used Abdominal Meridian System (AMS) opening treatment for fifteen minutes to rebalance his immune, hormonal and nervous system by working on the lungs, spleen and kidneys. It is like rebooting his system. Eight needles (Bagua) placed within a 0.5 cun radius around the umbilicus like the main directional points on a compass starting from North to North East. Then East etc., and working all the way around in a clockwise manner, one needle for each Gua of the Bagua. Once all needles were inserted superficially they were directed towards the wall of the umbilicus at a 45 degree angle to a depth of approximately 0.5cun or until I observed the needle behind the wall of the navel (being careful not to puncture through the wall). 

After the needles were removed I checked with Marc as to how his pain was. At this stage he only had tightness and discomfort in the  lumbar area.

I was confident that he would continue to see a reduction in his pain as it was already obvious due to his posture, which had changed significantly and he looked much less tense. I continued the treatment with "Heaven & Earth" Ren 12 (Zhongwan) and Ren 4 (Guanyuan) and Kid 13 (Qixue) to help reduce the anxiety and further nourish the kidneys. This prescription would also open the spine and nourish the lower back, thus easing his pain there further. I also used LI 4 (Hegu) in a reducing manner, and tonified Kidney 7 (Fuliu) to help stop the night sweats. Marc was planning on completely stopping his marijuana habit over the course of the next week. 

When Marc was leaving he said he felt very relaxed and was smiling. He said he was delighted that he had not let his anxiety prevent him from coming in for acupuncture.

 The Second treatment 

Three weeks later I saw Marc and he said that his mind was very calm for a number of days after the acupuncture. He was not overthinking and worrying the way he normally did ( he described it as being like his “head was switched off!”) and his level of anxiety was noticeably reduced. The night sweats had ceased completely since his last visit. Marc was feeling stronger and more confident and he was now fully weaned off the weed. His back pain was reduced to and much more bearable level and he only occasionally needed to use some over the counter pain killers. He was not getting so many headaches and the intensity of them was reduced.

He had started a new job and was actively working on his recovery. Although he was still using 1 to 3 Xanax a day he was using them in a proper manner (as directed by his doctor) to help to control his anxiety. This was a huge change for him he was taking them with food rather than just popping 5 to 6 pills at a time at a time in order to get “out of it”! 

As he was doing so well on this occasion I just used "Heaven & Earth" Ren 12 (Zhongwan) and Ren 4 (Guanyuan) with the "Abdominal Four Gates" St 24 (Huaroumen) & St 26 (Wailing) with  Kid 17 (Shangqu). The logic here was that "Heaven & Earth" Ren 12 (Zhongwan) and Ren 4 (Guanyuan) would nourish the pre heaven Qi and continue to address the low level anxiety while also helping with his “will power” to stay off marijuana.  The"Abdominal Four Gates" St 24 (Huaroumen) & St 26 (Wailing) would continue to stabilise his emotional state while bilateral St 24 Shoulder (Huaroumen) and Kid 17 (Shangqu) would work on the residual upper back and neck pain. 

Fig 1. Illustration of Marc's second abdominal treatment.

St 26(Wailing) Hip pt would ease the lower back pain also and ease any muscular tension or spasm in the lumbar region. Marc’s digestion had been relatively stable and I encouraged him to eat more unprocessed food with lots of variation to include more vegetables, natural yogurt and pickled foods to encourage a more diverse and healthy microbiome (gut bacteria) throughout his intestines. I used St 25 (TianShu) to help his digestion and to also help with his detoxification process.

 Once again he floated out of the door after 20 minutes needle retention and he was happy to know that there was a lot he could do to maintain his improved health.

Marc’s Final treatment

Our last encounter was 4 weeks later and Marc was going from strength to strength. He was sleeping well had a clear head with little or no anxiety. He was still off weed and was starting to reduce his Xanax daily dose. Marc was delighted that the neck and shoulder problem was almost gone. The headaches were now a rare disturbance for him and his lower back issues seemed to be a thing of the past. He was now a member of a local gym and was enjoying the challenges of getting physically fit.

The prescription used was "Heaven & Earth" Ren 12 (Zhongwan) and Ren 4 (Guanyuan) with bilateral Kid 17 (Shangqu) and St 24 Shoulder (Huaroumen). I encouraged Marc to move his neck and shoulders as he had the needles in, and I adjusted the depth until he could feel the muscles soften and relax. I had to add one ahshi point midway between and slightly superior to Kid 17 (Shangqu) and Ren 10 (Xiawan), (see fig 1). This had the desired affect at quite a superficial depth and Marc once again drifted off. When the treatment was finished he commented (in a very colourful way) on how powerful acupuncture was. I agreed whole heartedly. 

Conclusion

The pace at which Marc turned his life around was incredible really. Each time I saw him he was better, physically, mentally and emotionally. Abdominal Acupuncture was able to reduce his pain enough to allow him to take the plunge and move on with his plan to stop smoking marijuana. His anxiety eased so much that he felt empowered and confident enough to seek employment, thus boosting his self esteem and also reducing his use of Xanax medication. 

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