Acupuncture for Insomnia - Treatment Protocols

General Approaches

Acupuncture For Insomnia - Treatment Protocols

Acupuncture treatment protocols are generally directed towards the deeper root of a persons set of health issues, not at each individual issue. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, treatment is generally directed towards the individuals diagnostic pattern(s) and their primary issue is only a part of the information required to approach the correct patterns to treat (see "treating the cause vs. the symptoms" for an introduction to this process.).

In designing an acupuncture protocol for insomnia, one might find one or a combination of the following patterns: heart blood deficiency, heart yin deficiency, kidney yin deficiency, liver and gallbladder damp heat, liver fire, spleen blood deficiency, spleen qi deficiency among many other possibilities and possible combinations.

Below you will find some of the more common tcm diagnoses and acupuncture treatment protocols for insomnia and related sleeping disorders. There are many ways to approach the treatment of this condition within TCM. Our presentation describes foundational approaches that would need to be further tailored in most cases to be effective for a given individual.

  • Differentiation:
  • LV Fire - Excess
    • Signs & Symptoms:
      • Insomnia, usually somewhat chronic, with overall signs of LV Heat - irritability, excessive anger, possibly sub costal pain and/or bitter taste in mouth.
      • Tongue: Red w/yellow coat
      • Pulse: Wiry
    • Treatment Points:
      • Valaskatagis Point Selection:
      • LV 2 - drain liver heat
      • PC 7 - regulate the shen
      • HT 7 - regulate the shen
      • GB 44 - dream disturbed sleep
      • UB 18 - liver shu
      • Anmian - extra point for insomnia/sleep issues
  • Phlegm Heat - Excess
    • Signs & Symptoms:
      • Insomnia with phlegm signs - sensation of fullness in the chest, poor digestion/appetite, dizziness, nausea along with heat signs such as a bitter taste in the mouth.
      • Tongue: Greasy coating that is yellow (heat) or white (deficiency)
      • Pulse:Slippery
    • Treatment Points:
      • Valaskatagis Point Selection:
      • CV 12 - tonify spleen
      • ST 36 - tonify Qi
      • ST 40 - resolve phlegm
      • ST 45 - clear heat, calm mind
      • HT 7 - regulate shen
      • GV 20 - clear head
      • Anmian - extra point for insomnia/sleep issues
  • SP Qi & Heart Blood Deficiency
    • Signs & Symptoms:
      • Insomnia, usually with dreams, along with deficiency signs such as poor appetite, poor memory, fatigue a/or palpitations.
      • Tongue: Pale w/thin white coat
      • Pulse:Thin, weak
    • Treatment Points:
  • KD Yin Deficiency
    • Signs & Symptoms:
      • Insomnia with difficulty falling asleep a/or waking often along with Yin deficiency signs - heat in the five hearts (hands, feet, chest), palpitations, night sweats, dizziness a/or poor memory. Possibly with KD deficiency signs such as sore lower back a/or knees.
      • Tongue: Red w/little or no coat
      • Pulse:Rapid, thin
    • Treatment Points:
      • Valaskatagis Point Selection:
      • KD 3 - tonify yin
      • KD 6 - tonify yin
      • HT 7 - regulate shen
      • PC 7 - regulate shen
      • SI 3 - night sweats, calm mind - possibly w/HT 6 (instead of HT 7) for strong night sweats
      • Anmian - extra point for insomnia/sleep issues
  • Heart & Gall Bladder Deficiency
    • Signs & Symptoms:
      • Insomnia with an overall timid/shy nature - easily frightened, inability to make decisions, etc.
      • Tongue: No specific tongue, possibly pale w/teethmarks
      • Pulse:Wiry, thin
    • Treatment Points:

The information on our site is drawn from our own lecture notes and clinical experience. The following lecture notes were consulted within this section:

  • St. John, Meredith: New England School of Acupuncture, Etiology and Pathology Lecture Notes
  • Valaskatgis, Peter: New England School of Acupuncture, Etiology and Pathology Lecture Notes

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