Whether you have occasional trouble falling asleep, trouble staying asleep or severe insomnia, acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine may have help for you. Recently, I have had a few patients with severe insomnia come to me hoping for relief. Often anxiety and depression accompany sleeplessness. It becomes a vicious cycle – the more you can’t sleep, the more anxious and depressed you become. And the more anxious and depressed you are, the more difficult it is to sleep peacefully. Insomnia starts to affect every aspect of your life – job, health and relationships.
One of my patients has had a history of going days without sleep, and has recently been given the Western medicine diagnosis of being bipolar. After her first traditional acupuncture treatment, she felt very relaxed and was able to get one good night’s sleep. She was thrilled and jokingly said she wished she could just wear the needles home.
When she said that, a light bulb went off for me and I remembered a scalp acupuncture treatment that was taught to me by Susan Johnson. Susan is a Master Tung acupuncture practitioner and generously shares her knowledge from over 20 years of acupuncture experience. She often uses this prefrontal scalp treatment for severe insomnia, anxiety, depression and even bipolar patients. I thought it would be perfect for this patient. And for severe insomniacs, Susan does send her patients home with the needles. The longer the needles are retained, the stronger the sedating effect will have.
Susan calls this her three-head needle, or five-head needle treatment. The five needle treatment is a little stronger than the three needle treatment. The first needle is inserted subcutaneously, slightly posterior to DU23. Slide the needle towards the nose for about one inch. Then two (or 4) more needles are similarly inserted to either side of DU23, depending on whether you are doing the three-head needle treatment or the five-head needle treatment. The needles are spaced about an inch to an inch and a half apart. Being inserted subcutaneously, it is usually easy to hide the needles in the hair. I instructed my patient to leave them in all day, removing them just before bed. She agreed to return the needles to me the following appointment for proper disposal. She called the next day to say the it was the best night’s sleep she had had in a long time.
I used this same treatment on another patient last week who also was going thru some emotional turmoil and walking the floors every night. I inserted the needles and had her lie on my table to rest. When I returned to the treatment room, tears were silently rolling down her cheeks. She was surprised that this was happening to her and asked if that was normal. Patients will often have an emotional release with any energy work, including acupuncture. Yes, it is very normal. She called me the day after the treatment and said that there was a noticeable improvement. She still woke up quite often during the night, but was able to fall back asleep.
Using this scalp acupuncture treatment is a very good way to jump start an insomnia treatment program. Based on the individual’s constitution and other signs and symptoms, additional acupuncture points and herbal formulas may be indicated.
About the Author:
Joyce Marley is a licensed acupuncturist who provides acupuncture therapy in New Hartford, NY. She writes Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) health articles about acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine.