SpeakUp Sponsor Spotlight, Greg Dow, L.Ac. at Centered

Imagine trying to concentrate on something important while in the middle of a raging hurricane, the volume of background noise is amplified to a deafening high level, so you can’t even hear when people are talking to you, stress hormones are coursing through your body giving you the idea that every little task you face will be life or death. Now imagine that this happens several times per week with no provocation.

Anyone who lives with generalized anxiety disorder knows that it is not just the anxiety symptom alone that is the problem. Anxiety affects every aspect of your life experience, from your ability to concentrate, to your ability to get ahead in life, to sleep soundly, to causing symptoms that can manifest as pain, digestive issues, racing heart, breathing issues, and a wide range of other problems.

I suffered with crippling anxiety most of my life. Because of the lack of public education about mood disorders in schools when I was growing up in the early 90’s, I went through most of my adult life believing that my experience was a normal thing for everyone, that life is hard, and you just have to dig in and deal with it.

It wasn’t until I was in my early thirties that I discovered that what I was experiencing wasn’t a normal human experience, that what I was experiencing was a chronic anxiety disorder that can be corrected with the right approach. For me, the game changer began when I realized that I had a problem and It was all right to ask for help.

At first, I looked toward conventional medicine for solutions. Behavior therapy and relaxation techniques were helpful tools, but the medications I was put on didn’t offer more than temporary relief, and they had side effects.

Out of desperation, I started to go to an acupuncturist who had a great reputation in my area. I was surprised and thrilled to see immediate mood improvements with my acupuncture sessions. After a course of treatments, I began to see my life in a much different light. I still had stressors, but I realized that I didn’t have to react to everything. Triggers that would previously result in panic attacks became small problems that I knew I could handle. I have to say that without getting help from a doctor of holistic medicine, I wouldn’t have had the confidence and resolve to make changes in my life, to follow a path that is more rewarding, one that brings me joy every day.

I was so inspired by my acupuncture treatments that I decided to dedicate my life to learning about natural medicine and helping others who have similar debilitating health issues. I completed a graduate degree in Chinese Medicine from a four-year medical school in Boulder, Colorado. It was there that I learned that symptoms like anxiety don’t happen in a vacuum. Anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders are just the tip of the iceberg in a larger picture of interconnected health issues which can all be resolved by treating the root cause of the issue.

When we have poor blood circulation, chronic inflammation, digestive problems, just to name a few, these issues can result in symptoms like depression, anxiety, concentration problems, sleep disorders, pain, and breathing issues. A doctor would prescribe medications for each of these individual symptoms, but we have a different approach with holistic medicine. We look at the big picture in health so that patients see lasting relief.

I am thrilled to say that I am now using the techniques that brought me so much relief to help others with similar problems. Today I use acupuncture, diet, and lifestyle coaching, combined with potent plant medicine to treat the underlying root cause of my patient’s mood disorder, and in doing so, they see reduction in several related health symptoms at the same time, and long-lasting relief rather than just symptomatic changes.

If you pay attention to the little clues, you begin to see how everyone experiences a slightly different expression of anxiety and depression symptoms. I treated a woman with severe anxiety a few years ago. It was only through taking the time to ask the right questions that I realized that she had been experiencing severe gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), constant nausea, and other health problems stemming from a gallbladder removal. I explained to her that her long history of acid reflux was causing the anxiety. The vagus nerve is very close to the esophagus and is involved in both esophageal and gastric function. Her reflux was creating inflammation and heat locally which was agitating this nerve, resulting in anxiety and sinus inflammation. I treated her with acupuncture and herbal medicine to regulate her stress response, boost her liver function, resolve her inflammation, reduce her body temperature, and a gallbladder bile supplement to stop the GERD symptoms from coming back. The results were astounding, as she began to see more and more relief from the therapy, her body temperature dropped back to normal, all of her digestive and sinus symptoms resolved, and today she is free of anxiety.

Other cases of anxiety have completely different underlying causes. I remember treating an athletic middle-aged man who was experiencing panic attacks at night. He couldn’t figure out what was triggering the attacks, but when I checked his pulse and asked more questions about seemingly unrelated symptoms, it became clear that he had an issue with blood circulation that was worse at night when his heart rate was slowing down. I treated him with acupuncture and herbal medicine that helped his heart work a little more efficiently and increased blood flow throughout his body. As the treatments progressed, he reported that he was feeling the difference.  His hands and feet began to warm up immediately as blood flow increased, he began to experience increased energy, better sleep, and his concentration improved.  Throughout the treatment process his panic attacks gradually decreased in severity.  Today he is happy to report that his panic attacks have resolved.

If you know anyone who experiences anxiety or depression, you should encourage them to speak up and get the help that they need. When the burden of these disorders is taken off our shoulders, life becomes so much easier and carefree. There are solutions for mood disorders. Regardless of whether or not acupuncture is the right choice for you, do not give up. Keep looking, solutions are out there. CKG Foundation offers its support and guidance so that you don’t have to go at it alone.