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In East Asian medicine, there are 12 main pathways of qi. Imagine this as a pressurized network of rivers running through your body. A Traditional Chinese Medicine diagnosis requires me to evaluate whether you have an “excess” pattern, or a “deficiency” pattern. Think of an excess pattern as a dam in the river, and think of a deficiency condition as a section of river that is dried up. Of course, there is almost always both excess and deficiency. A dam in the river may cause dryness in other areas, and dry areas prevent the river from flowing freely.

For a patient who suffers from depression, an example of excess would be built up or repressed emotion resulting in a pattern called qi stagnation. An example of deficiency would be poor diet causing a deficiency of qi. I would also look at which organs are involved. For instance, the Liver is responsible for the overall smooth flow of qi in the body, so if there is an excess pattern, I would use the pathway associated with the Liver, and I would use points that drain excess.

Think of the acupuncture needle as breaking up the dam to allow the river to flow freely again. Often, I use herbal medicine to complement the acupuncture, as herbs are great for *tonifying.

Most of my patients walk out after their first treatment feeling a sense that life is flowing smoothly again. Our bodies are ecosystems, so as your energy shifts, every cell in your body responds to the shift. It’s beautiful to watch the circumstances surrounding the depression also shift. Remember that it’s a journey. I am not a guru, I do not know all of the answers, but I am here to support you as you navigate the rivers of life.

*There is not a direct English translation of the Chinese character to Tonify, but for practical purposes you can think of tonifying as boosting, supplementing, strengthening or adding when there is deficiency.