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Fatigue is a number one health concern in modern city living - can TCM and acupuncture help?

Updated: Jun 16, 2019


Photo by Roman Laschov @romanlaschov

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) sees fatigue as a result of imbalance. Just like in any complementary medicine system, before commencing a treatment, a good TCM practitioner will take way more time than a Western medical doctor to diagnose and deeply understand the root cause of the imbalance that causes a disease. Analysing the illness and all the symptoms from various perspectives allows us to understand where in the patient’s body or mind an imbalance originated in the first place and then manifested in a physical form, as pain or illness. In this line of thought, a person is being seen holistically: as a physical body as well as emotions, thoughts and subtle energy (Qi). Then there is ying and yang, or masculine and feminine sides of every person regardless of their gender. There are subtle energy centres.


Did you know that before you sign up for your acupuncture or TCM therapy session, you can kick start your healing process yourself? After all, it’s you who is your ultimate doctor. You can begin by answering yourself a few questions about your health. For instance, are you experiencing fatigue because you are overstimulated (too busy, too much information, multitasking - ‘ying’ in TCM) or understimulated (uninspired, bored, stuck in the routine - ‘yang’ in TCM)? Is it hormonal (adrenals, thyroid, pineal glands)? Or simply coming from your lifestyle? Can there be an unresolved trauma determining that you feel tired in certain situations? Can it be anxiety, stress, or fear disguising itself as a fatigue? These and more factors are taken into consideration, before acupuncture needles are going to be applied.


Acupuncture itself can help. With insertion of acupuncture needles, the TCM therapist will adjust the energy flow into the centres of your psycho-physical and energetic body systems to restore the equilibrium. Acupuncture can calm your adrenal glands, stimulate thyroid, balance sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, activate or lessen the secretion of chemicals (serotonin, melatonin, norepinephrine, adrenaline)  in the endocrine system. The science is absolutely on-board with TCM, and when we are talking about Qi we talking about it as a part of and not separate from anatomy or physiology.


Living in modern cities can increase fatigue because of triggers like air pollution, light and noise pollution, constant streams of information we have to deal with in a fast and efficient way. Does it mean that TMC doctor will prescribe moving out of central London?! Well, ideally, yes! But if you can’t or don’t want to, don't worry, the key here is to be well prepared and ready to face all those big city triggers in a constructive way.


In order to brush that tired look off your beautiful face, during the acupuncture session, in addition to a treatment itself, you will be advised to adjust your nutrition or take up yoga, qui gong, meditation. Some herbs and supplements are a must.


And to finish with, here are some top TMC tips for fighting fatigue:


  • Stay away from too much coffee, because it exhausts your body on the long term- try ginger, ginseng root or sweet wormwood supplements instead.


  • Swap some of your intensive gym, weights and endurance training for a slow Tai Chi or a yoga class.


  • Find time to indulge in slow eating (home-cooked, ideally) where your senses and soul are being nourished.


  • If you have to eat fast food, do so, but do not let it be a cold sandwich from the fridge - there are plenty of healthy fast food eateries around, so you have no excuse, really. Mix in a glass of freshly squeezed fruit/vegetable juice.


  • Give and receive to keep balance. Don’t just look after others - get someone look after you, or, even better, look after yourself: pamper yourself with long, warm bath on a rainy day, take a walk in the nature on a sunny day, get a massage, get that extra time to have good sleep (by saying no to someone’s birthday drinks if you have to, yes, exactly that!), pursue a creative hobby, write a journal.


Oh yes, and do get an acupuncture session, you’ll walk out rejuvenated, relaxed and inspired. It’s a promise!


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