Insomnia is a common symptom in a variety of mental illnesses and in China, patients are often described as suffering from insomnia or restlessness when in the West, the condition might be diagnosed as chronic depression or schizophrenia.
Insomnia according to Chinese Medicine is considered to be connected with the heart, kidneys, liver and stomach, but particularly with the heart, which houses the shen, or spirit. The Chinese Medicine view is that the spirit cannot rest, either because there is heat in the heart, or as a result of weakness in the kidneys caused by fire and water being out of balance. The heart is the organ of fire, while the kidney is the water organ. Water normally subdues fire, but if the kidneys are weak there is not enough water to do this and the fire can get out of control.
Overeating, or indigestion caused by a weak stomach, can also lead to insomnia. In Chinese Medicine, patients will never be given tranquillizers of sleeping pills. Instead, the doctor will try to find out the particular cause. Herbs regularly used are fleece-flower stem, poria, wild jujube seed. The herbs do not sedate the patient, but appear to have a beneficial effect on the nervous system.
Sleeping on a gypsum pillow is a familiar Chinese do-it-yourself remedy for mild cases, and there is an effective do-it-yourself acupressure, massage and exercise routine which a doctor can demonstrate to patients. Acupuncture is widely and often very effectively used in the treatment of insomnia caused by depression and related emotional problems.
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