The 5 Best Acupuncture Points for Anxiety
Published on July 14, 2015 by Dr. Caitlin Gordon
There are dozens of acupuncture points for anxiety. Anxiety can be treated with a huge range of acupuncture point combinations based on the underlying pattern, which is unique to each person. However, these five acupuncture points for anxiety represent the ones I use most in my clinic. Depending on your specific symptoms and experiences as a person, your treatment will be different. Points used to help your anxiety will likely change from treatment to treatment as your symptoms shift.
Acupuncture points help treat anxiety by activating the nervous system, specifically the parasympathetic nervous system, which reduces cortisol stress hormones. Acupuncture also produces endorphins, natural pain-killing opioids and other feel-good chemicals in the brain. Chronic anxiety creates deep neural pathways that can be hard to change. By spending 1-2 hours each week in a state of relaxation, you are helping to create a new neural pathway and stop reinforcing the anxiety tract. Medications for anxiety are often highly addictive and have dangerous withdrawal symptoms, such as severe rebound anxiety. Acupuncture can achieve long-lasting results without negative side effects.
1. Heart 7
This point is located on the ulnar side of the wrist and works to calm the shen, or “spirit”. When we have repressed emotions or sleepless nights, or even if we dream vividly we may have an imbalance called “Heart Fire” in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Other symptoms of heart fire including racing heart, palpitations or heart flutters, sweating at night, high blood pressure, red-tipped tongue, and red face. This imbalance is treated by calming the heart, which Heart 7 does beautifully.
2. Governing Vessel 24
This point is located just within the hairline in the center of the forehead. It works to calm the nervous system by sending energy down. Racing thoughts and “monkey brain” can make it hard to relax, and this acupuncture point helps direct that nervous energy down and out. For extra sedation, I often use it with Du 20, also pictured.
3. Pericardium 6
This point is located on the inside of the wrist about 3 inches from the crease. It is well known for helping with nausea, and many of the magnetic bracelets sold for car and sea sickness work by stimulating this point. In addition to treating nausea, this point opens the chest and the heart. The pericardium is the protector of the heart, and sometimes when we are anxious, we are overprotected and guarded. This point counteracts the contracting energy of anxiety.
4. Ear Shenmen
This point is located in the ear. Ear points might seem scary, but they are super relaxing! This point calms the spirit by helping the body shift into parasympathetic or “rest and digest” mode. In contrast to “fight or flight” mode, activating the parasympathetic system causes cortisol stress hormones to drop, resulting in reduced anxiety. The central nervous system is easily accessed by ear points as the nerves go directly to the brain center. Learn more about ear acupuncture.
My favorite of the acupuncture points for anxiety, this point is located between the brows. In Hinduism and yoga, this is often referred to as the third eye. Anatomically this area is located over the pineal gland which helps regulate melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone responsible for restful sleep and healthy sleep/wake cycles. This point is particularly powerful at treating insomnia due to overthinking.
Read more about Acupuncture for Anxiety.
*There is one important omission, which is an ear point I use that targets the Vagus nerve. This corresponds closely to the “liver” point in the ear. I didn’t include it because I use a different technique than standard acupuncture. But, read more about how the vagus nerve treats anxiety!
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