The very mainstream and widely read blog recently published “Calming The Shen: A Chinese Medicine Approach To A Good Night’s Sleep” by Dr. Patricia Fitzgerald. Here is an excerpt from the article.
“An approach that can also aid in the quest for a good night’s sleep is that of Chinese Medicine. This ancient healing system has offered relief to the sleep challenged for thousands of years. While new to many, Chinese Medicine is mainstream in China, and it is used today for a wide range of conditions by an estimated one-fourth of the world’s population.
The Chinese Medicine Approach to Sleep
Insomnia comes in various forms, such as trouble falling sleep, difficulty staying asleep, and having dream-disturbed sleep. When a Chinese Medicine practitioner is gathering information to put together a treatment plan, the pattern of the sleep disturbance as well as health and lifestyle issues will be taken into consideration.
A Chinese Medicine practitioner might use the term “calm the shen” when describing a treatment principle. “Shen” is best translated as the spirit of the person in a nonreligious sense. When evaluating Shen, the Chinese Medicine practitioner is looking for the emotional state and presence (or lack) of radiance, calm, and balance. Often with sleep disturbances, the patient will be experiencing patterns of stress, anxiety, or agitation. Chinese Medicine would call this “disturbed shen.”
Acupuncture is the insertion of needles into specific points of the body to reduce pain, to promote relaxation, and to treat various health concerns. Insomnia and sleep disorders are common reasons why people visit an acupuncturist.
The World Health Organization (W.H.O.) lists insomnia as a condition for which the therapeutic effect of acupuncture has been shown. Continuous research is underway to evaluate the effectiveness of acupuncture for sleep issues. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine published a review of randomized controlled trials of acupuncture treatment for insomnia. After looking at 46 randomized trials, the conclusion was that acupuncture appears to be effective in the treatment of insomnia, and larger, rigorously designed trials are warranted.
Chinese Herbal Medicine
There are many traditional Chinese herbal formulas to help regulate the sleep pattern. A formula is chosen for each person based on their symptoms, constitution, and medical history. It is best to have a licensed medical practitioner select the proper formula. Some herbs that are used in these formulas include Suan Zao Ren (Sour Date Seed), Bai Zi Ren (Arborvitae Seed), Fu Shen (Poria Paradicis), and Wu Wei Zi (Schizandra Fruit).”
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