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  • Writer's pictureAna M Toriello, AP, DOM

Finding Serenity: How Acupuncture Can Alleviate Anxiety

Treating Anxiety in Fort Lauderdale with Acupuncture

According to the National Institute of Mental Health about 31.1% of the U.S. population experiences an anxiety disorder as some point in their lives. It can affect every aspect of a person’s life, from work to relationships to daily functioning. While there are various treatment options available, including psychotherapy and medication, an all-natural approach gaining popularity is acupuncture and Chinese medicine.

Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) aims to rebalance the body through the use of thin, sterile needles, lifestyle changes, dietary counseling, supplements, and herbal medicine to provide long-lasting relief from anxiety symptoms. Toriello Acupuncture specializes in acupuncture for anxiety in Fort Lauderdale and has helped many residents of this vibrant city find the ability to regain control of their lives.

One of the reasons why acupuncture and TCM is such an effective treatment for anxiety disorders is that every treatment plan is personalized. Its therapeutic approach is based on in-depth differential diagnosis to understand the root causes of anxiety in each person. As an integrative medicine, we will work alongside your current anxiety treatments including therapy and pharmaceuticals.

In this blog post, we will explain anxiety from a TCM perspective and how it can help reduce symptoms of anxiety including feelings of dread, panic attacks, irritability, sleep issues, abdominal distress, and heart palpitations.

Anxiety Treatment Fort Lauderdale

Anxiety from a Traditional Chinese Medicine Perspective

What distinguishes TCM from conventional Western medicine is its holistic approach to health, which considers the interconnectedness of mind, body, and spirit. It looks at the body as one system with many parts, working harmoniously together. When one area gets blocked, it can lead to the whole system not functioning properly.

In TCM philosophy, Qi (pronounced chee) is the vital force that flows through the body, nourishing and sustaining all aspects of health. When qi becomes stagnant, deficient, or excessive, it can lead to disharmony in the body, manifesting as various symptoms, including anxiety.

The cause of anxiety is classified in TCM according to “patterns of disharmony” related to various organ systems and substances in the body, including blood, qi, and even phlegm. Most frequently, anxiety is associated with disorder of the Heart and to a lesser extent the Liver and Kidneys. Also note that when we talk about these organs in TCM, we are referring to their energetics, not an actual disfunction in the Western medical organ.

Here are some of the more common patterns with anxiety in traditional Chinese medicine:

Liver Qi Stagnation

Unresolved frustration, anger, resentment, stress, and repressed emotions can lead to Liver Qi stagnation, which impacts overall Qi circulation in the body and creates heat. Individuals with Liver qi stagnation anxiety may also experience trouble falling and staying asleep, PMS, headaches, sighing, nausea, poor appetite, pain in the rib area, abdominal distention, irritability, depression, and outbursts of anger.

Heart Qi and Blood Deficiency

This type of pattern usually arises after prolonged illness, poor diet, or blood loss, including childbirth. Individuals with Heart qi and blood deficiency may experience palpitations, shortness of breath, fatigue, dizziness, poor memory, insomnia, and a pale complexion. The anxiety is often mild and the person hides it well.

Kidney Yin Deficiency

According to TCM theory, the Kidneys govern the body’s Yin, which includes cooling, nourishing, and calming qualities. As we age, Kidney yin energy naturally declines, however due to overwork, poor diet, over-exercising, emotional stress, and lack of sleep can deplete that energy much more quickly. Symptoms of Kidney yin deficiency include decreased vitality, insomnia, night sweats, feeling of heat at night, restlessness, anxiety, and low back pain.

Heart-Spleen Disharmony/Spleen Qi Deficiency

The Spleen and Heart play crucial roles in regulating emotions and well-being according to TCM. Worrying, overthinking, major blood loss, irregular eating patterns, and a diet with too many cold, raw foods can lead to Spleen type anxiety patterns. Individuals may experience symptoms of anxiety such as circulating thoughts, worrying, and mood swings, as well as digestive issues including knots in the stomach, bloating, and loose stools.

Phlegm-Fire Harassing the Heart

This pattern typically arises from emotional stress, diet, and overexposure to external heat, which leads to a combination of dampness and heat in the body. Dampness and heat can then transform into phlegm which disrupts the heart and causes symptoms such as restlessness, palpitations, anxiety, insomnia, excessive dreaming, and a feeling of oppression in the chest. The anxiety is marked to the point of agitation and the person may be hyperactive and slightly chaotic.

How Does Acupuncture Work for Anxiety?

The above patterns of disharmony related to anxiety are only a few recognized by TCM and acupuncture. Through an in-depth health evaluation, and tongue and pulse diagnosis, the acupuncturist will determine where the root cause of anxiety is coming from and choose adequate points, herbal formulas, and recommend dietary and lifestyle changes to address the pattern of disharmony.

Acupuncture can help with anxiety symptoms by balancing hormones and neurotransmitters, reducing stress, and regulating body’s nervous system. The needles used can stimulate the release of endorphins and the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the flight or fight response experienced with anxiety. Since acupuncture aims to treat the root cause rather than the symptoms, you can experience a reduction in a wide range of symptoms, including digestive disorders, pain, and foggy thinking which may be associated with your anxiety.

How Long Does It Take for Acupuncture to Work?

Most patients will see a reduction of their anxiety symptoms after the first treatment. However, acupuncture treatments work cumulatively, meaning each treatment will build on the next. Generally, individuals with acute symptoms will need about 5 to 6 treatments while those with more chronic anxiety may need 8 or 10 treatments, as well as continued monthly maintenance sessions.

How well and quickly acupuncture works also depends on following dietary and lifestyle guidelines provided by your acupuncturist. The benefits of acupuncture can last for weeks, months, or years, depending on the severity of the condition and the patient’s medical history. Some patients may see longer-lasting benefits than others.

Tips to Relieve Anxiety at Home

While you wait to book to your appointment, here are five tips to help relieve your anxiety at home:

Eating a Balanced Diet

Each pattern of disharmony may require specific dietary guidelines, however cleaning up your diet can go a long way. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats such as olive oil and grassfed butter instead of canola or seed oils, can help balance hormones and provide the raw material necessary for the brain to make neurotransmitters. It is important to stay away from processed foods, as many of the preservatives and other ingredients used can lead to anxiety symptoms.

Daily Exercise

Exercise increases endorphins, the feel-good hormones, naturally. It can also work out excess energy related to anxiety symptoms, as well as move stagnant Liver qi. Just 30 minutes of walking every day can make a difference. You can also try yoga, which incorporates deep breathing, exercise, and stretching. There are plenty of free yoga flows to follow along to on YouTube if you feel shy or anxious about going to an in-person class.

Get Plenty of Sleep

Sleep deprivation can increase anxiety symptoms, so it is important to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep daily. TCM recommends being asleep before 11 pm for deep restful sleep. Make sure to follow proper sleep hygiene habits such as keeping your room dark, going to bed and waking at the same time every day, and avoid stimulants before bed such as caffeine, alcohol and large meals. You can also try natural supplements to help you sleep such as Magnesium Glycinate or melatonin. Get more tips on sleep on other blog here.

Herbal Tea & Essential Oils

Certain herbs including lavender, chamomile, and lemon balm have been shown to have a calming effect, plus are very safe to use. You can try these in a tea or using essential oils in a diffuser. A few drops of essential oils can be added to a carrier oil such as coconut oil and applied directly to the skin.


Regular mindfulness meditation can help reduce anxiety and depression by helping you focus your attention on the present moment. There are plenty of guided meditations online or you can focus on deep breathing as well. Practicing meditation helps the body get out of flight or fight and teaches it to relax more regularly. Some of our favorite types of mindful meditations for the beginner is Yoga Nidra, which there are plenty of videos on YouTube as well.

Acupuncture for Anxiety in Fort Lauderdale

Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture can be effective, side-effect free therapies for managing anxiety and stress. While it may not be able to get rid of the stressful triggers, acupuncture can help your body and mind’s response to it. This holistic approach to health, which takes into account the interconnectedness of mind, body, and spirit. Rather than simply treating symptoms, TCM seeks to address the root causes of illness and restore harmony to the entire being.

By understanding anxiety within the framework of TCM, individuals can gain insight into the underlying imbalances contributing to their symptoms and explore holistic treatment options that promote healing and well-being on a deeper level.

Toriello Acupuncture specializes in treating mental health disorders and issues, including anxiety. We will create a personalized treatment plan based on a thorough medical history and symptom intake and provide you with the proper dietary and lifestyle guidance. As an integrative health practitioner, Dr. Ana will always work alongside your other healthcare practitioners when needed, never pressuring you to stop any medications or other forms of therapy.

If you ready to take by control of your mental health, be sure to book an appointment or request a free consultation if you would like to discuss your unique case to learn more about what your treatment plan may look like. Feel free to call or text Toriello Acupuncture at (954)652-6618 with any questions.


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