Theory

Chinese Herbal and Acupuncture Treatment Protocols for Depression - Formulas, Protocols, TCM Diagnoses


Depression - Basics

Depression is both a diagnosis and a symptom which includes other diagnoses such as, but not limited to, manic depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and dysthymia.


Depression - Diagnostic Patterns

The Chinese Medicine treatment of depression generally involves arriving at the appropriate TCM diagnosis or pattern. This pattern within the individual is what treatment is based on not the general condition (see treating the cause and not the symptoms).

The following patterns may represent the underlying contributing factors for the development of depression:



Depression - Acupuncture Protocols

The treatment of conditions with acupuncture can be a complicated endeavor that should only be undertaken by individuals with a deep understanding of the underlying Chinese Medicine theory (and/or whatever system being used for treatment). There are many approaches, but generally speaking few viable approaches are involved on a point to condition basis. Rather using proper diagnostic procedures the patients diagnostic pattern is ascertained and that is what is treated. The protocols listed here exemplify some of these clinical approaches.

The following Acupuncture Treatment Protocols May Be Used With Depression


Depression - Tam Healing - Tong Ren Protocols

Tong Ren Therapy is the energy healing/medical qi gong aspect of the Tam Healing System. The areas of focus for depression that we would use in Tong Ren techniques form the basis for our acupuncture treatments as well. Generally you would mix these primary points with points specific to the patients underlying TCM pattern and then our tuina (medical massage) would be largely focused on these points as well.

The following Tam Healing/Tong Ren Therapy Protocols May Be Used With Depression


Depression - Formulas From Our Store

The following herbal formulas are potentially useful in the process of treating depression. For a complete list from our store with more details see our depression formula section.


Depression - Questions

Need treatment options for depression and not finding the information you need?

Using our forums our staff and our community may offer guidance with regards to the treatment of depression.



Depression - Related Acupuncture Points

The following (11) acupuncture points may be useful for depression. A subset of these could potentially be useful with acupressure stimulation and/or tongren therapy methods as well.

Generally treatment would be based on the TCM patterns listed above instead of selecting points by function alone, (see general points selection rules.)



Depression - Related Chinese Herbs

The following (2) chinese herbs may be useful for depression. In most cases, however, treatment with Chinese Herbal Medicine is done with herbal formulas based on the TCM patterns listed above instead of selecting herbs by function alone. When available, relevant formulas will appear below and/or in the store listings above.



The following (9) Formulas TCM Herbal Formulas May Be Useful For Depression

Chai Hu Jia Long Gu Mu Li Wan

  • Bupleurum, Dragon Bone, and Oyster Shell Formula
    • Palpitations, anxiety, restlessness, agitation/irritibility, and insomnia from heat due to liver yang or fire.
    • Mental disorders such as including biopolar and schizophrenia resulting from distrubed shen.
    • This formula is useful for treating symptoms of addiction recovery.
  • Calm The Spirit
  • Sedate and Calm the Spirit

Chai Hu Shu Gan Wan

  • Bupleurum Powder to Spread the Liver
    • Hypochondriac pain with possible breast tenderness.
    • Irregular menstruation and or amenorrhea, PMS symptoms that result from liver qi stagnation.
    • Irritability and or depression may also manifest as the emotional component of liver qi stagnation.
  • Harmonize
  • Regulate and Harmonize the Liver and Spleen

Gan Mai Da Zao Wan

  • Licorice, Wheat, and Jujube Formula
    • Anxiety/depression/manic issues with a tendency towards losing self-control (crying fits, excessive yawning, etc.) that result from the combination of heart yin deficiency and liver qi stagnation.
    • Insomnia, possibly with vivid dreaming and heart palpitations.
    • Post-partum depression and milder symptoms of menopause.
  • Calm The Spirit
  • Nourish the Heart and Calm the Spirit

Jia Wei Gui Pi Wan

  • Augmented Restore The Spleen Decoction
    • A combination of jia wei xiao yao wan and gui pi wan - similar effects but with more spleen qi and blood tonification.
    • A range of stress related issues - essentially mixes of stagnation with underlying deficiencies.
    • Potential uses with immune / idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) and other bruising/bleeding issues with appropriate diagnostic factors.
  • Harmonize
  • Regulate and Harmonize the Liver and Spleen

Jia Wei Xiao Yao Wan

  • Free and Easy Wanderer Pills
    • Derived from the base formula, xiao yao wan, an important formula for liver qi stagnation with herbs added to clear heat.
    • Liver qi stagnation - menstrual issues, painful cycles, irregular cycles, breast distention, PMS, acne.
    • A range of mild to moderate psychological issues arising from liver qi stagnation such as anxiety, depression, panic disorder, insomnia, anger issues, etc.
    • Physical symptoms from liver qi stagnation such as headaches, tightness in the chest, cold hands and feet, various eye issues.
  • Harmonize
  • Regulate and Harmonize the Liver and Spleen

Si Ni San Wan

  • Frigid Extremities Powder Pills
    • Coldness in the limbs with simultaneous heat in the body.
    • Irritibility, possibly with fullness in the chest or epigastrium. 
  • Harmonize
  • Regulate and Harmonize the Liver and Spleen
  • Cautions
    • Not for cold extremities from yang or Blood deficiency.
    • Use with caution or avoid in very weak patients who cannot sustain the movement that this formula creates.

Wen Dan Wan

  • Warm the Gallbladder Formula
  • Anxiety, depression, insomnia, palpitations, vertigo, dizziness, nausea and/or vomiting, insatiable hunger, chest oppression, seizures, bitter taste in mouth, slight thirst.

    Pulse will be rapid and slippery or wiry depending on the level of phlegm and the Tongue will be greasy with a yellow coat.

  • Treat Phlegm
  • Clear Heat and Transform Phlegm

Xiao Chai Hu Tang Wan

  • Minor Bupleurum Decoction
    • Shao Yang Syndrome (or "lesser yang stage") - alternating fever and chills, hypochondriac pain, irritability, bitter taste in mouth, poor appetite, nausea.  Often used for illnesses (chronic or short-term) such as the flu, etc. that have "cleared" but not completely.  People will describe not feeling quite right or having a range of low level symptoms for months or longer after a particular illness.  Instead of fever and chills alternating they may manifest with cold extremities and warm interior or other variations.
    • A range of liver related conditions including malaria, jaundice, hepatitis, liver cancer, meniere's disease, general protection from medicines that may harm the liver, etc. among issues with other digestive organs - pancreatitis, stomatitis, gastritis.
    • Liver/speen disharmonies resulting in broader issues such as depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, menstrual irregularities (PMS, cramping, etc.).
    • Other general immune issues such as the common cold, flu, tonsillitis, general seasonal allergies with the right underlying factors.
  • Harmonize
  • Regulate and Harmonize the Liver and Spleen
  • Cautions
    • Use with caution with yin and/or blood deficiencies.
    • Avoid cold, raw, and spicy foods while taking xiao chai hu tang.

Xiao Yao Wan

  • Free and Easy Wanderer
    • Depression, anxiety, Headache, vertigo, hypochondriac pain, fatigue, poor appetite, bitter taste in the mouth.  In women - PMS, breast distention, irregular menstruation, fertility issues.
    • The Pulse will be wiry and deficient and the Tongue will be pale-red/purplish.
  • Harmonize
  • Regulate and Harmonize the Liver and Spleen



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