Part 2 in the Self-Care for Emotional Healing series (read part 1 here)
Guilt is heavy. Ever get a sinking feeling in your abdomen when you feel like you didn’t live up to your own standards? Or experience a sensation of something weighing on the conscience, like you were carrying something heavy? The weight of guilt has even been shown to make physically demanding tasks seem more difficult . And letting go of it can be tough.
In Chinese Medicine, the mind, emotions, and the body are intertwined, and we can use the points on the body to help resolve emotional issues. Some of the most powerful points for dealing with guilt are found along the Belt Vessel, the only major acupuncture channel that runs horizontally. As its name implies, the Belt Vessel encircles the waist, but drops lower in front as though weighted down. This channel is like a basement: a place to stash things we haven’t quite figured out what to do with, or that we’re not entirely proud of. We don’t go there very often, and it tends to get stagnant and damp. (“Dampness” is the Chinese Medicine term for energy that’s turbid, heavy, cumulative, and difficult to get rid of – yucky stuff.)
To lighten up that damp basement and clean out the stuck emotional energy from the Belt Vessel, first, conjure up what you want to let go of and extend a feeling of forgiveness towards yourself. Then, bring your fingertips and thumb together, and with firm pressure, massage the following points:
- Gall Bladder 41: on the foot, just outside the tendon that leads to the little toe, on the right side for women, on the left for men. This point opens the Belt Vessel.
- Liver 13: on the side of your torso, at the tip of the 11th rib
- Gall Bladder 26: just below Liver 13, at the level of the belly button
- Gall Bladder 27 or 28: On the low belly, just inside the hip bones
To enhance the treatment, apply a drop of essential oil to these points. Neroli, cardamom, sandalwood, or bergamot help the body resolve dampness and guilt while fostering a sense of peace. Since guilt tends to linger, you’ll want to work with these points for a few days in a row, then take a break. Repeat that cycle until you feel a sense of lightness and liberation.
 Day MV, Bobocel DR (2013) The Weight of a Guilty Conscience: Subjective Body Weight as an Embodiment of Guilt. PLoS ONE 8(7): e69546. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0069546
In the largest study of the effects of acupuncture for lower back pain in the US (published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, now JAMA, in 2009), it’s demonstrated that acupuncture is a more effective way of treating chronic low back pain than the standard conventional treatments of medication and physical therapy. Clearly, this finding is noteworthy in and of itself. Its findings are similar to those of the largest study on acupuncture for lower back pain conducted for insurance companies in Germany in 2008. It concluded that acupuncture helped improve lower back pain for at least 6 months, an effectiveness rate “almost twice that of conventional therapy.” 
If acupuncture has been shown to work staggeringly better than the current standard plan of care, why hasn’t it become THE treatment of choice, rather than seen as a “complementary and alternative treatment?”
The problem is that in both of these studies, patients in a control group who were given sham acupuncture treatments also experienced meaningful improvements, though not as significant as those who received real acupuncture. Critics drew the erroneous conclusion that because the sham treatments yielded positive results, the placebo effect must be the most important factor. It’s understandable that acupuncturists may shy away from bringing up research that may attribute part of our medicine’s success rate to the placebo effect: people are still largely naïve about the power of Chinese medicine, and we don’t want our very legit medicine to be perceived as something one needs to believe in. But the placebo effect is a factor in all forms of medicine whether it’s pills or receiving an acupuncture treatment. And the fact that acupuncture works on dogs and cats (who presumably don’t “believe in” acupuncture) demonstrates that there is clearly something beyond the placebo effect at work.
Returning to the lower back pain studies: let’s not overlook the fact that people got better. And that the patients who received real acupuncture got better results than they would have through conventional means. 60-80% of the public will experience lower back pain in the course of their lives (http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/low-back-pain). People should know that acupuncture is an outstanding treatment strategy, outperforming the standard of care for lower back pain. Share this, tweet it, post it on your blog, shout it from the rooftops and help those you care about make an informed choice.
 Haake M, MüLler H, Schade-Brittinger C, et al. German Acupuncture Trials (Gerac) For Chronic Low Back Pain: Randomized, Multicenter, Blinded, Parallel-Group Trial With 3 Groups. Arch Intern Med. 2007;167(17):1892-1898. doi:10.1001/Archinte.167.17.1892.
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