Dear Doc Misha Blog Watchers:
This the beginning of a series on this blog for with liver disease who are experiencing mental, emotional and somatic issues associated with anxiety, depression and insomnia.
Support the Shen – Part One
Today I am going to focus on the psychological and somatic (body) symptoms that may appear when a person has some type of liver disease. And, give you some acupressure points you can start to use at home.
Anxiety, depression and insomnia symptoms are often found in people suffering from hepatitis or liver disease of any type. Also, people undergoing interferon treatment and chemotherapy of various types have discomfort associated with these issues.
In Chinese Medicine, the mind\body\spirit is understood to be one entity. A peaceful mind and spirit are inseparable from the health of the body. As healthy a body as possible is part and parcel of a balanced mind and spirit. Depression, anxiety and stress-related disorders are not singled out as symbols of an embarrassing failure of character, as they too often are in Western cultures. Instead, they are seen as a manifestation of a network of responses that are physical, spiritual and psychological.
In Chinese medicine theory, Shen (loosely translated as Spirit) imbalances are usually caused by internal emotional disharmonies (traumas such as abuse and neglect) and by suppression of emotions (caused by denial and inability to contend with or express feelings).
There are two types of Shen imbalances: Disturbed Shen and Lack of Shen. Disturbed Shen causes forgetfulness, disorientation, memory lapses, insomnia and lackluster eyes. Extreme disharmony is associated with severe psychiatric disorders. Lack of Shen is associated with a flat affect and inability to communicate. Lack of Shen presents the classic, “The lights are on, but no one’s home.”
Insomnia, anxiety, depression, chronic headaches, digestive disturbances, alcoholism, panic attacks, schizophrenia and psychosis may all be manifestations of various degrees of Shen imbalance.
Massage and Acupressure to Support the Shen
Self-massage is soothing to the Shen and provides a period of pleasure and relaxation. One example is acupressure massage. Every day you can massage Liver 3, Pericardium 6, SiShenCong–four points on the crown of the head and Yintang, between the eyebrows.
Liver 3 is on the top of the foot in the depression towards the body at the junction of the 1st and 2nd toes. Pericardium 6 is palm side of the forearm, 3 of your fingers width above crease of the wrist, between the wrist/arm tendons.
Probe around the point until you feel tenderness and a slight emanation of energy. Apply a steady, even pressure, press down–don’t stab–and then rock your finger gently around the point. Alternate holding the point steadily for about 10 to 30 seconds, with periods of active massage.
In addition, receiving a professional massage once a week will provide the kind of thorough Shen relaxation on areas that is difficult to do for yourself. You should choose the style of massage that is most soothing to you.
Look for Part Two on Support the Shen. I will continue to give you hints using diet, meditation, exercise, herbs and nutritional supplements.
See you soon!
Yours in health,
Doc Misha (Misha Ruth Cohen, OMS, L.Ac.)