Mental health

3 Chinese men figures
Our Chinese Medicine team at the Rozelle Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Centre (RACM) have a special interest in mental health.

What is good mental health?
“Good mental health is a sense of wellbeing, confidence and self-esteem. It enables us to fully enjoy and appreciate other people, day-to-day life and our environment” (Mental Health WA 2016.)

According to the World Health Organisation, mental health is “a state of wellbeing in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”

What is the difference between a mental illness and a mental health problem?
“A mental illness is a health problem that significantly affects how a person thinks, behaves and interacts with other people and may include: anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar and mood disorders, personality disorders, eating disorders, and depression.

One in 5 Australians will suffer from a mental illness in any given year.

A mental health problem also affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves, but to a lesser extent than a mental illness” (Mental Health WA 2016).

Significant hormonal imbalance as well as any state of chronic pain and discomfort may also affect mental health.

Our team endorses the recommendations of the Mental Health team of the Western Australian government, that includes lifestyle tips to promote positive mental health.

  • Talk about or express your feelings
  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat healthy meals
  • Get enough sleep
  • Spend time with friends and loved ones
  • Develop new skills
  • Relax and enjoy your hobbies
  • Set realistic goals
  • Talk to your GP or a health professional

Chinese Medicine (CM) theory and mental health

For more than two thousand years CM has studied the development of mental health problems and mental illness. A foundation of the ancient theory is that the mind and body are interconnected, and that there are seven emotional states, intrinsically connected to the health of the five main ‘yin’ organs.

The five yin organs and seven emotional states include:

  • Joy or lack of joy, which is associated with the heart and Shen
  • Anger which is related to the liver and Hun
  • Anxiety and fear which is related to the kidneys and Zhi
  • Obsessive thoughts and over worrying which is related to the spleen and Yi
  • Sadness or grief which is related to the lungs and Po

Importantly, treating the organs associated with the seven emotional states is the basis of the CM complementary support of mental health problems and illness.

Our team of Chinese Medicine practitioners are very interested in:

  • Stress and Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia

Stress and Anxiety

From 2009 the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) is conducting numerous research projects on Chinese Medicine including research into post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), on a cross cultural group who had experienced torture and war.

This is a long-term ongoing study that is showing promising outcomes in the treatment group.


The University of Technology Sydney (UTS) is conducting research into Depression and Chinese Medicine (CM) and while the research is ongoing for a number of years to come, the initial results are promising. At this stage the study has shown clinically and statistically significant reductions on the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) scores for the treatment group compared to the control or non-treatment group.

The average improvement is 15.5 points for the CM treatment group compared to 0.83 points for the control (non-intervention) group.


Chinese Medicine texts have discussed insomnia over many years and many research projects have been conducted on this subject over several decades. Our team of practitioners monitor best practice in this field and have a special interest in insomnia. The profession looks forward to larger high quality randomized clinical trials being conducted, in order to test evidence and efficacy.

1. Kurebayashi LF, Silva MJ. Rev Lat Am Enfermagem. Efficacy of Chinese auriculotherapy for stress in nursing staff: a randomised clinical trial. 2014 May-Jun; 22(3):371-8.
2. Recent advances of Ginseng research in China. Liu Chang-Xial; Xiao Pei-Gen. J. Ethonopharm. Vol 36, Issue 1. Feb 1992: 27-38.
3. British Acupuncture Council (18/11/2016) A to Z of Conditions for Depression
4. Kawashima K, Miyako D, Ishino Y, Makino T, Saito K, Kano Y. Anti stress effects of 3,4,5- Trymethoxycinnamic acid, an active constitution of polygala tenuifolia. Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin. 2004; 27(8): 1317-1319.
5. Imanshahidi M, Hosseinzadeh H. The pharmacological effects of Salvia species on the central nervous system. Phytotherapy Research. 2006; 20(6): 427-437.
6. Kim WK, Jung KW, Ahn NY et al. Anxiolytic effects of extracts of Albizzia julibrissin bark, in the elevated plus maize of rats. Life sciences 2004; 75(23): 2787-2795.
7. Mizoguchi et al. Saiko-ka-ryukotsu-borei-to, a herbal medicine, ameliorated chronic stress induced depressive state in rotorad performance. Pharmacology, biochemistry behaviour. 2003; 75(2):419-425.
8. Sniezek D, Siddiqui I. Acupuncture for treating anxiety and depression in women: A clinical systematic review. Med Acupunct. 2013 Jun; 25(3):164-172.
9. Q. He, J. Zhang, and Y. Tang, “A controlled study on treatment of mental depression by acupuncture plus TCM medication,” Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine, vol. 27, no. 3, pp. 166–169, 2007.
10. H. Zhao, X. Wan, and J. X. Chen, “A mini review of traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of depression in China,” American Journal of Chinese Medicine, vol. 37, no. 2, pp. 207–213, 2009.
11. F. Qu, X. Cai, Y. Gu et al., “Chinese medicinal herbs in relieving perimenopausal depression: a randomized, controlled trial,” Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, vol. 15, no. 1, pp. 93–100, 2009.
12. Fam Community Health. 2007 Apr-Jun; 30(2): 112-20. Acupuncture treatment for women with concurrent substance use and anxiety/depression: an effective alternative therapy? Courbasson CM1, de Sorkin AA, Dullerud B, Van Wyk L. Aut.
13. Butler L, Pilkington K. Chinese herbal medicine and depression:The evidence. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. (2013), Article ID 739716, 14 pages.
14. Park SW, Kim YK, Lee JG et al. Anti-depressant like effects of the traditional Chinese medicine Kami- Shoyo-San in rats. Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences. 2007; 61(4): 401-406.
15. S. Y. Niu, N. Li, H. You, S. X. Shi, and C. M. Liu, “Effect of integrated therapy of Chinese and western medicine on differentiation of symptoms and signs of patients with depression,” Chinese Journal of Clinical Rehabilitation, vol. 10, no. 39, pp. 7–9, 2006.
16. Joint Formulary Committee. British National Formulary. Edition 58. London: Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain and British Medical Association, September 2009.
17. Auricular acupuncture for primary insomnia: a systematic review based on GRADE system. Tan et al., Zhong guo Zhen Jiu. 2014 Jul;34 (7) 726-30.
18. Huijuin C, et al. Acupuncture for insomnia: A systematic review of randomised controlled trials. J Altern Complement Med. 2009 Nov; 15(11): 1171-1186.
19. Chen HC, Hsieh MT. Clinical trial of suanzaorentang in the treatment of Insomnia. Clinical therapeutics. 1985; 7(3):334-337.
20. Mental Illness and Health (WA Health).
21. Stress Management (Mayo Clinic, US).