Beating Stress and Staying on Task with Traditional Chinese Medicine

by Marianne Talkovski, L.Ac, LE |

Beating Stress and Staying on Task with Traditional Chinese Medicine

According to standard definition, stress can be defined in many ways, but what is important is how it affects our bodies and health. Stress can be any physical, chemical, or emotional factor that creates physical and mental tension.

Stress actually does have a function in our bodies. Stress is the body’s way of signaling for help or a break in the routine. If we ignore these signals, we will definitely create imbalance in our body which contributes to illness.

The Role of Cortisol in Stress

Cortisol is the hormone most closely related to stress. Cortisol is a big component of the “fight or flight” response we feel when we are scared or threatened. In small bursts, cortisol is helpful. However, when stress becomes chronic, then the cortisol levels become elevated. This puts the body in a constant state of being on edge, eventually causing insomnia, depression, anxiety, digestive issues, and even mental illness.         

Traditional Chinese Medicine and Stress Management

Traditional Chinese Medicine provides many ways of combating stress and keeping our minds focused. Here are just a few examples of how this ancient medical system can help.

We begin with acupuncture.  Acupuncture acts as physical therapy for the nervous system. Tiny needles retrain the nervous system and brain to behave as they should normally. For the nervous system to act and respond accordingly, cortisol has to be at normal levels and only used when a true “fight or flight” situation occurs. Studies show acupuncture does this. 

Acupuncture helps to lower stress by keeping heart rate normal. When the body is under stress, the heart pumps the blood faster than usual, and in rare instance, a person may suffer from heart palpitations. Our heart rate is closely to our valgus nerve. If the valgus nerve gets triggered, so our heart rate will also change. Our arms and hands have specific acupressure points that help to calm the valgus nerve and our heart.

Acupuncture Points for Stress and Focus

If acupuncture isn't an immediate option for you, consider "acupressure", which involves applying pressure to specific points on the body to stimulate natural healing response, address pain, and promote relaxation and well-being (you can read more about acupressure here). 

Below are points that your Acupuncturist might stimulate to address stress in your life, or which you can gently massage on your own. 

  • Yin Tang: Located directly between the inner edges of the eyebrows.  It is a reflex point of the pituitary gland. Yin Tang calms the mind and relaxes the body by helping control hormone secretions.

  • Kidney 1: This point, located on the bottom of the foot, at the junction of the anterior one-third and posterior two-thirds of the line connecting the base of the second and third toes and the heel. Kidney 1 can sedate and calm the mind, while also regulating blood flow to the upper part of the body, aka the brain. 

  • Du-20: This point is located on the top of the head, midway between the apexes of both ears. Du-20 has been noted to improve mental clarity and awareness, while also enhancing memory.
Chinese Herbal Formulas for Stress and Focus

Combinations of herbs, known as formulas, are used frequently in Traditional Chinese Medicine theory.  Below are two formulas that I often recommend in times of stress or when mental clarity are needs:

  • An herbal formula known as Bu Nao Wan is frequently prescribed for people who have memory problems related to weakness in the "kidney system" of Chinese Medicine theory. Several of the herbs in this formula have been used for centuries to calm the mind and improve focus. 
  • Xiao Yao San is another popular Chinese herb al medicine formula that is used frequently to address stress.  This formula is known as “Free and Easy Wanderer” because it helps remove any "stagnation" in the energetic pathways that can lead to stress and difficulty focusing or staying on task. 

Nutrition for Stress and Focus: Focus on Your Kidneys

Proper nutrition is vital for everyone. Being the vital organ of the body, it is relevant for stress and clarity. Being the source of our living, if it gets affected so will be our health.

Foods like black beans, kidney beans, asparagus, plums, blueberries, and blackberries are all beneficial for strengthening the kidneys.  

As you can see, Chinese Medicine is a great way to deal with stress. If you are having difficulties dealing with stress, contact me to see what we can do to get you back on track.

Care Consideration: Just a reminder that the above information is not a substitute for medical care and is not a substitute for medical advice or recommendations from a healthcare provider.  This information is not intended to treat, mitigate, or cure any disease. That said, we encourage you to connect with an Acupuncturist in your community to learn more about this and other Traditional Chinese Medicine options. If you’ve got questions about Chinese herbal medicine or getting started with an Acupuncturist, feel free to connect with us on

Marianne is a licensed acupuncturist and esthetician specializing in facial acupuncture and Chinese face reading. She is very passionate about organic skin care and holistic nutrition, so much so that she is also a skincare educator for top resorts and spas. Her main goal with her clients is to help each of them feel beautiful, from the inside-out. You can learn more at

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