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Acupuncture for Emotional Trauma and Mental Illness

Classical Acupuncture for Emotional Trauma and Mental Illness: How The 8 Extraordinary Vessels and Luo Vessels Help Move Stored Emotions in the Body. 

Classical Acupuncture, also known as the Complement Channels, has over two thousand years of practice rooted in the classical texts and oral traditions of the Jeffrey Yuan lineage and Ann Cecil Sterman approach to Chinese medicine and acupuncture. It involves the precise insertion of fine needles into specific points on the body and can be used to address a broad range of physical and emotional conditions. For people experiencing challenging emotions and seeking holistic trauma therapy, classical acupuncture, specifically, The 8 Extraordinary Channels and Luo Vessels, can offer support in a unique way.

The 8 Extraordinary vessels are a set of pathways that connect the body’s major meridians and organs. They are thought to be the deepest and most fundamental aspects of the body’s energy system, and they are often used to address deeper, chronic issues like intergenerational and childhood trauma. By targeting specific points along The 8 Extraordinary vessels, acupuncturists can help release blockages, promote greater flow and balance of qi, fluids, and blood, allowing the body to heal and restore itself on a deep level.

The Luo vessels are said to play a significant role in the storage and circulation of emotions in the body. Each Luo Mai vessel is associated with a specific emotion, and when that emotion is triggered, the corresponding vessel may become full, and as a result, the person may experience emotional and physical disturbances. By targeting these specific channels, acupuncture offers the body an invitation to shift and release the stored emotions and tension that may become trapped in the body over time.

Recent research has supported the efficacy of acupuncture for emotional trauma. One study published in 2019 in the journal, Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice found that acupuncture significantly reduced symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in veterans (1). Another study published in 2020 in the Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies found that acupuncture was effective in reducing anxiety and depression symptoms in patients with a history of childhood trauma (2).

During these treatments, emotional release is a common phenomenon that can occur. This can manifest in various ways, including a tingling sensation, a sense of deep relaxation, or a feeling of release. Some individuals may cry, laugh, or experience other intense emotions. These physical responses are a sign that the body is releasing stored emotions and processing unresolved trauma.

Classical Acupuncture fosters a deeper somatic awareness, empowering us to take an active role in our healing and well-being. Instead of feeling disconnected and in conflict with our bodies, it encourages a profound sense of reverence and curiosity for the signals our bodies send us. By learning to listen and respond to these signals, we gain insight into our physical and emotional experiences and can make positive changes that promote a more integrated and fulfilled sense of self. Acupuncture is a gentle, non-invasive form of treatment that can be used in conjunction with other therapies, including trauma informed talk therapy. By working together, these modalities can help to address emotional trauma and mental illness on multiple levels, creating a more comprehensive and holistic approach to healing (3).

 If you are interested in exploring acupuncture as a treatment option, consider booking an appointment with Tiana Demetriou or one of our other registered acupuncturists. They can work with you to develop a personalised treatment plan to address your unique needs.

Written by Tiana Demetriou



Huang, W., Howie, J., Taylor, A., & Robinson, N. (2019). The Efficacy of Acupuncture for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 35, 224-236.

  1. Kuo, S. Y., Chen, C. Y., Liang, C. M., & Huang, Y. H. (2020). The Effectiveness of Acupuncture on Anxiety and Depression among Women with a History of Childhood Trauma: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Study. Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies, 13(5), 155-161.
  2. MacPherson, H., & Asghar, A. (2012). Acupuncture Needle Sensation: The Emergence of a Grounded Theory from Data Gathered in a Qualitative Study. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 18(3), 235-243



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