Polyvagal Theory through the Lens of Chinese Medicine

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According to polyvagal theory, the parasympathetic nervous system has two distinct branches: the ventral and dorsal branches of the vagus nerve. The dorsal vagal circuit triggers a shutdown defense system in response to trauma or chronic stress. This self-preservation mechanism can result in chronic symptoms of feeling isolated, hopeless and disconnected. From a Chinese medicine perspective, this cold, desolate emotional landscape closely correlates with signs of an imbalanced water element, or Kidney deficiency. This article explains polyvagal theory and how acupuncture and other Chinese medicine modalities can be utilised to treat a nervous system that has become stuck in survival mode.
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Author Vanda Huang
JCM Issue JCM126/58
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