Traditional Chinese Medicine can work to help treat the many symptoms and underlying causes of bipolar disorder. Through dietary, herbal, body manipulations like acupuncture and massage, mind/body work like qi gong or tai chi, and personal one-on-one connection with practitioners, TCM offers a many forms of healing.
While mental health is often considered a separate issue from physical well-being, the two have always been linked in the practice of traditional Chinese medicine. Because of the importance placed on the mind in traditional Chinese medicine, there are many methods available within the profession that are geared toward the renewal, healing, and upkeep of mental wellness.
In TCM, psychiatric disorders frequently relate to energetic disharmonies involving the ‘Five Spirits’. These are the Hun (the noncorporeal spirit), the Po (the corporeal spirit), the Zhi (the will), the Yi (the intellect) and the Shen (the mind and the connecting spirit).
Here is a study titled “Traditional Chinese Medicine as a Basis for Treating Psychiatric Disorders: A Review of Theory with Illustrative Cases” which shows that TCM principles could integrate well with other systems, including western medicine, as a form of treatment for mental disorders.
The approach of TCM relies on certain herbal combinations and comprehensive changes in diet and daily habits.
Chinese herbs can work as effective medicine, while avoiding any harmful side effects. When using herbal medicines in conjunction with conventional drug therapy it is very important to work with a practitioner who understands how to combine the treatments safely.
According to a review published in 2013 in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, there is not enough evidence yet to support or rule out Chinese herbal preparations, concludes But some combinations may benefit mood disorders.
Wei Liu, LaC, writes in his advice article, Traditional Chinese Medicine for Depression, that “The Chinese herbal formula Mood Smooth (Jia Wei Xiao YaoWan) has been in use for six hundred years in China to deal with depression. The Chinese call this old remedy “the happy pill” because of its well-known anti-depressant effect.” Liu also writes about other common herbal remedies for depression, including spleen tonic herbal formula, known as Bu Zhong Yi Qi Wan, kidney nourishing herbal formula, known as Jin Gui Shen Qi Wan, and many other medicinal herbs that are used with different patterns of depression, treating the organs that may correspond to the emotion.
Source: Pacific College of Oriental Medicine
Qi Gong is a movement based Chinese healing art form. Qi Gong was largely an art used by monks in China. When practiced daily, it can be used to treat any physical or emotional condition. The forms are simple and involve balanced right and left movements coordinated with breath. Qi gong can heal the connection between the mind and body, making it uniquely useful as a treatment for the imbalance resulting from bipolar disorder. When used in conjunction with acupuncture, qi gong becomes an extremely powerful way to balance the brain and heal the body at the same time.
Here are some additional resources that discuss traditional Chinese medicine:
The Pacific College of Oriental Medicine has an article that describes Traditional Chinese Medicine and Psychiatric Disorders.