Research Update: Acupuncture and TCM for Motivation
A study published by the Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine looked at the holistic effects of acupuncture treatments. The study looked at how acupuncture treatments were conducted and evaluated. One of the areas this study looked at is how acupuncture influences the function of the brain. By using functional MRI imaging, the researchers were able to see certain areas of the brain were stimulated during the acupuncture treatments. The anterior insula and striatum, areas involved in motivation processing, were very responsive to the treatments. The study confirmed acupuncture on specific points can activate motivation centers in the brain, thus leading to increased physical motivation in the participants.
Everybody experiences times where they have no motivation. Lack of motivation can be caused by many things: weather, depression, nutritional deficiencies, rejection and even not exercising.
Lacking motivation can be detrimental to your health. Even though everybody knows they should be exercising and eating right and getting proper sleep, many of us choose not to. This becomes a bad habit that can actually develop into depression, fatigue, insomnia and even nutritional deficiencies that can cause even worse physical problems. We tell ourselves we don’t have time or we have no motivation or willpower. These are just stories we tell ourselves. EVERYBODY has time to care for themselves. It’s just a choice we have to make.
Acupuncture can help put the pep back in your step when it comes to motivation. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), lack of motivation is considered some sort of blockage along the energetic pathways that run throughout the body. Most commonly, this affects the gallbladder and liver pathways. Over time, this lack of motivation frequently develops into depression. When the body is depressed, nothing seems possible. But the fact of the matter is that, there are underlying causes to depression that begin with the lack of motivation.
The reason TCM works so well at addressing and correcting motivation problems is because it addresses the body holistically. When people go to their doctor and tell them that they have no motivation, they are frequently prescribed antidepressants. But the problem with antidepressants is they don’t address the underlying causes of the issue. TCM looks at everything: the body, the mind, the environment and the emotions. This allows for treatments to be customized to the needs of the patient instead of a one size fits all approach.
As mentioned, the liver and gallbladder pathways are most commonly associated with lack of motivation. When either or both of these pathways become blocked, motivation dissipates and people become depressed. One of the first things that happens is emotions become involved and send signals to the digestive tract. This is why many times, people who lack motivation or who have developed depression have no appetite. Energy comes from eating healthy foods. But when we have no appetite, we tend to crave things like sweets and carbohydrates because they give us the “emotional high” that temporarily sedates the depression and lack of motivation. But this quickly goes away and we end up right back where we started.
The gallbladder pathway is important when motivation is lost. The gallbladder pathway is associated with courage and decisiveness. Lack of motivation causes most people to not be decisive. The inability to decide or act or the lack of motivation to act is associated with a weakness of the gallbladder system. Regular acupuncture treatments can help with this issue, as well as moving energy along both the liver and gallbladder pathways, thus restoring balance to the body and increasing motivation.