How Traditional Chinese Medicine Helps Support Your Mental Health
Acupuncture Internal Medicine Lifestyle

How Traditional Chinese Medicine Helps Support Your Mental Health

In a society where stress and anxiety have become all too common, it is easy to feel like we are supposed to just power through and keep going. But what happens when those feelings become too much to handle and start taking a toll on our mental health? 

It is important to recognise the signs of declining mental health — which can manifest as both psychological and physical symptoms — such as feeling sad or down, having excessive fears or worries, and experiencing changes in eating habits. 

Then, seeking help from professionals like psychiatrists and counsellors is always a good idea. Traditional methods such as counselling or medication can be helpful, but there are also other complementary approaches worth exploring. 

One of them is Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) which is widely practised in Singapore. Although TCM is known for managing common ailments and pain, it is often overlooked as an approach to supporting mental health and promoting overall well-being. 

In this article, we will explore how TCM can support mental health, offering a holistic approach to well-being that complements Western medicine. With a growing interest in alternative and complementary approaches to mental health, understanding the benefits of TCM can be a valuable tool for individuals seeking to support their mental and emotional wellness — keep reading to find out more. 

Part 2 – TCM’s Perspective on Mental Health

2.1 How TCM Views and Approaches Mental Health

While most people visit a TCM clinic for common physical ailments like a sore throat or feeling ‘heaty’, few realise that TCM can also be a valuable resource for supporting mental health. 

The theories and principles for managing mental health issues in TCM come from the Huang Di Nei Jing, a classic book of medical knowledge that has been passed down for thousands of years. In line with the teachings of the Nei Jing, the fundamental nature of all entities is determined by the delicate interplay between opposing forces known as Yin and Yang. When this balance is disrupted, it can lead to changes which may manifest as symptoms or signs of disease.

Based on this principle, TCM utilises a holistic approach by focusing on the patient’s general condition, lifestyle and habits, and not just the disease. This allows registered TCM physicians to consider other factors that may contribute to the decline of a patient’s mental health.  

For instance, if a patient’s insomnia is caused by digestive problems, dietary changes may help. TCM recognises different syndromes associated with depression, such as stagnation of the Liver Qi, malnourishment of the heart spirit, or deficiency of the Heart and Spleen, among others.

TCM remedies then aim to restore the balance between Yin and Yang, thereby enhancing the body’s natural state of well-being. 

However, it is also essential to note that TCM is not a cure-all and in cases of severe mental health symptoms such as suicidal tendencies and hallucinations, it is still crucial to seek medical attention from mental health specialists. 

TCM can complement Western medicine in most cases, providing a more comprehensive approach to promoting overall well-being.

2.2 What Affects Mental Health, According to TCM

What-Affects-Mental-Health-According-to-TCM-tcm clinic singapore


The mind and body are intimately connected and imbalances between the body’s Qi, spirit and mind can have a profound impact on a person’s overall health. When the flow of Qi is blocked, weak or excessive, it leads to not just physical health problems but also results in a decline in emotional and mental health. 

Additionally, TCM categorises five common and powerful emotions — anger, joy, grief, worry and fear — felt by humans, as the Five Wills (五志). Each of these wills corresponds to one of the body’s organs. The Liver is most strongly impacted by anger, the Heart by joy, the Lungs by grief, the Spleen by worry, and the Kidneys by fear.

These emotions are considered normal and healthy as long as they are expressed in moderation. Unfortunately, when they become excessive or prolonged, they may lead to imbalances that affect mental and physical health. For example, worry can cause Spleen Qi deficiency and result in anxiety and overthinking. 

The Five Wills are not the sole cause of a decline in mental health. However, TCM believes that emotions and physical health are closely linked and improving one’s mental health requires addressing the underlying imbalances in the body and mind.

When seeking an improvement in mental health at a TCM clinic in Singapore, a physician will first conduct a thorough evaluation before suggesting treatments. They will assess the quality of the patient’s Qi and Blood, examine their physical body, and inquire about their sleep patterns, bowel movements and other relevant information. This detailed diagnosis helps the physician identify any imbalances in the patient’s body and mind, and tailor a treatment plan that addresses their specific needs.

Learn more: What to Expect at Your First TCM Clinic Visit

2.3 Common Conditions That Can Take a Toll on Mental Health

In TCM, emotions and thoughts are considered to be directly connected to physical health and vice versa. Therefore, it is not uncommon for certain conditions or life cycles to take a toll on mental health. For instance, undergoing a stressful or challenging period in life such as postpartum stress, having fertility issues, going through menopause or experiencing chronic pain can increase the risk of mental health conditions or cause a decline in one’s mental state. 

Learn more: TCM Fertility Treatment: How Traditional Chinese Medicine Can Promote Fertility

Postpartum stress may lead to depression or anxiety, while fertility issues can cause feelings of hopelessness and anxiety. Menopause, a natural biological process, may cause mood swings, hot flashes and insomnia, all of which impact mental health. Chronic pain can also lead to depression and anxiety, especially when the pain is long-lasting and difficult to manage. 

Thankfully, TCM for fertility and other conditions can help to manage these common issues and make going through different life stages less stressful, which can have a positive effect on mental health. Furthermore, TCM’s holistic approach to treatment can also address any underlying imbalances that may be contributing to mental health issues. 

Part 3 – Getting Mental Health Back on Track With TCM

3.1 TCM Therapies to Boost Mental Health and General Well-Being

TCM Therapies to Boost Mental Health and General Well-Being-tcm clinic singapore


Unlike modern medicine which often relies on pharmaceutical drugs, TCM uses natural remedies such as herbs and acupuncture to promote physical and mental health. These remedies have been used for centuries to manage a wide range of ailments and have shown to be effective in promoting general well-being without the risk of harmful side effects. 

• Herbal Medications

Herbs prescribed by a registered TCM physician can help repair and balance organ functions, promoting overall health by restoring Qi balance. Some commonly used herbs for supporting mental health include Ginseng, Dong Quai and Astragulus. While these herbs do not directly impact the brain, they have a positive effect on mental well-being by boosting energy, stimulating blood circulation and combating fatigue. 


Acupuncture is a TCM therapy that involves inserting fine needles into specific points on the body to stimulate and balance the flow of Qi. Targeting Liver Qi stagnation activates the body’s self-adjusting system and helps to balance emotional and mental health. In fact, studies have shown that acupuncture can significantly reduce the degree of certain conditions, such as post-stroke depression. Moreover, as a natural remedy, it reduces the risk of side effects that come with conventional medications.

Learn more: Acupuncture vs Dry Needling: What Are the Differences?

Cupping/Gua Sha

Cupping uses suction cups while gua sha utilises scraping tools to create a vacuum-like effect on the skin and muscles, promoting the healthy flow of Qi. By releasing tension in the muscles of the neck and back, these therapies can help to ease physical discomfort and improve sleep quality, both of which can have a direct impact on mental well-being. The relaxing and soothing effects of these therapies can help to reduce stress and anxiety, further improving mental health and promoting overall well-being.


Moxibustion is a TCM therapy that involves burning mugwort near specific acupuncture points on the body. This stimulates the flow of Qi and blood in the body, allowing Yin and Yang energies to come into balance. However, it should be noted that moxibustion is usually avoided in patients experiencing excessive anger, as it may add more heat or fire to the body, potentially aggravating the condition.

Tui Na

Tui na is a type of Chinese therapeutic massage that focuses on specific areas of the body to open up the meridians and promote healthy Qi flow, which in turn can calm both the mental and emotional states of a person. It involves various techniques such as kneading, rolling, and rubbing to stimulate acupuncture points, increase blood circulation, and relax the muscles. By regulating the flow of Qi, Tui Na can help to alleviate stress, anxiety, which can result in an improvement in mental well-being.

 Lifestyle Advice

In addition to the various therapies and remedies, registered TCM physicians often emphasise the importance of making lifestyle changes to promote mental health and general well-being. This could involve recommendations on exercise routines, dietary adjustments according to your element, and strategies for improving sleep habits.

3.2 TCM Tips for Improved Mental Health

TCM places emphasis on the interconnectedness of the body, mind and environment which is why physicians do not just focus on treating symptoms, but also on promoting overall health and well-being. 

Various practices and lifestyle tips from dietary changes to mindfulness exercises can make a positive impact. Here are some tips for improved mental health, backed by TCM physicians.

Do not be afraid to take herbal medications

Herbal medication is a key aspect of TCM that focuses on restoring the internal harmony of organs and harmonising the flow of Qi and Blood in the body. It also addresses imbalances which can help to prevent panic attacks and also improve overall bodily functions. Unlike Western medicine which often focuses on treating symptoms, TCM herbs aim to address the root cause of the problem, offering a holistic approach to improving mental health.

Prevention is better than cure

The concept of “prevention is better than cure” is highly valued in TCM. The emphasis is on maintaining good health and preventing illness, rather than waiting for a problem to occur and then seeking treatment. 

One approach is to massage targeted acupoints such as the Yin Tang, Feng Chi, Nei Guan, He Gu and Tai Chong — this helps to improve circulation, reduce tension and stress, and promote relaxation. 

Another key aspect of prevention is by consuming healthier foods. In TCM, food is seen as medicine, and certain foods are believed to have specific healing properties. A registered TCM physician may recommend foods such as goji berries, spinach and sweet potatoes. These foods are believed to nourish the blood and promote healthy brain function.

Stress is seen as a significant contributor to disease and imbalance in the body. Techniques like meditation, deep breathing and tai chi can calm the mind and reduce stress levels.

Give acupuncture a chance

Give acupuncture a chance-acupuncture singapore

The stimulation of specific acupoints during acupuncture has been found to activate the release of natural pain-relieving chemicals in the body, which can help to reduce tension and promote a sense of relaxation. Besides that, acupuncture can also relieve muscle tension and improve circulation, enhancing sleep quality in return. 

Fun fact: Acupuncture can also be used for boosting fertility, in conjunction with IUI or IVF treatments, boosting the chances of conceiving. This may help to reduce the anxiety and stress from not being able to conceive, leading to improved mental health.

• Practise mindfulness

Meditation and deep breathing exercises are essential for reducing stress and improving mental health. These practices help to quiet the mind and bring a sense of calm and balance to the body. Practising mindfulness regularly can also enhance overall well-being and reduce the risk of declining mental health.

• Get sufficient sleep

In TCM, getting enough quality sleep is essential for maintaining healthy Qi flow throughout the body. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, avoiding electronic devices before bedtime and creating a comfortable sleeping environment can help promote healthy sleep patterns.

• Be one with nature

Be one with nature-tcm clinic singapore

In TCM, the healing power of nature is recognised and it is believed that spending time outdoors can have a positive impact on mental and emotional health. Activities such as gardening, hiking or simply taking a walk in a park while breathing in the fresh air and taking in the sights and sounds of nature can have a bigger impact than you might think.

• Seek out professional TCM care

Professional TCM care can be a valuable way to promote healing and balance in the body for those experiencing a decline in their mental health. TCM clinics in Singapore offer a range of therapies including acupuncture, cupping and herbal medicine that help address mental health concerns effectively. It is worth considering seeking out TCM care as a complementary therapy to achieve a well-rounded approach to mental health.

3.3 Answering Frequently Asked Questions About TCM and Mental Health

As interest in alternative and holistic health practices grows, more and more people are turning to TCM to support their mental health. However, there are often many doubts and misconceptions about TCM and how it can help improve mental health. 

In this section, we will be answering some frequently asked questions about TCM and its role in promoting mental wellness.

1. When should I seek TCM help if I have mental health concerns?

It is recommended to consult a registered TCM physician at a TCM clinic as soon as possible because early intervention can lead to more successful outcomes. 

2. What can I expect during a visit to a TCM clinic for addressing a decline in mental health?

The process of seeking TCM to improve mental health is similar to visiting a TCM clinic for common health conditions. Typically, patients will first undergo a consultation to help the physician diagnose the condition and develop a personalised treatment plan that addresses mental health concerns. Treatment then commences after the consultation. 

3. Within what time frame can one expect to see improvements in mental health through TCM?

The length of TCM treatment for mental health issues varies for each individual and the severity of their condition. Generally, an improvement in symptoms can be experienced within a few sessions. However, for some individuals, maintenance sessions may be necessary to maintain the progress achieved. It is advisable to discuss the expected timeline with the TCM physician, as they can provide a more personalised assessment based on the patient’s specific needs and progress.

4. Is TCM suitable for everyone seeking improvement in mental health?

Professional TCM care can be a complementary treatment to speed up the recovery process, but it is also important to note that it should not replace Western medicine or expert advice, especially in more severe cases. It is important to consult with a qualified TCM practitioner and discuss your medical history and current conditions before proceeding with any treatments. 

5. Can TCM treatment modalities be utilised as preventative measures in promoting mental well-being?

Yes, TCM treatment modalities can be used as preventative measures in promoting mental well-being. TCM places a strong emphasis on balancing the body’s internal energy, or Qi, to maintain overall health and prevent the onset of illnesses, including mental health issues. This can involve incorporating TCM practices such as regular acupuncture sessions, massage, herbal remedies, and lifestyle changes into your routine. Additionally, managing stress levels and maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine can also be beneficial in preventing a decline in mental health.

6. Are there any potential side effects associated with TCM therapies for mental health?

When performed by a registered TCM physician, treatments for mental health are generally safe and have minimal side effects. However, some individuals may experience mild soreness or bruising at the site of acupuncture needles and after cupping or gua sha. These side effects are usually not a cause for concern and will resolve on their own. 

7. Are TCM therapies covered by insurance?

This can vary depending on the insurance plan and the specific TCM therapies received. It is important to check with your insurance provider to see if TCM therapies for mental health are covered. 

8. Is TCM suitable for children and adolescents with mental health concerns?

Yes, TCM can be used to manage mental health concerns in children and adolescents. However, it is important to work with a licensed TCM physician who has experience working with younger patients. 

Heal Your Mind, Body and Soul With TCM

Heal Your Mind, Body and Soul With TCM-tcm clinic singapore

Mental health is just as important as physical health and we must take care of both to achieve overall well-being and happiness. It is also crucial to recognise that seeking support for mental health concerns is not a sign of weakness, but rather an act of self-care and strength. 

This is where TCM comes into play — it is a natural and non-invasive way to promote mental health, making it an excellent approach to complement Western treatments. The variety of TCM treatment modalities, paired with the right dietary and lifestyle changes can help individuals achieve long-term mental wellness. 

At Thomson Chinese Medicine, a TCM clinic in Singapore, we offer a wide range of treatment modalities for both physical and mental health concerns. Our approach is to target the root cause of imbalances, with the philosophy that mental health is interconnected with physical health and other aspects of well-being.

Learn more: Debunking 5 Common Misconceptions About TCM in Singapore

In addition to addressing mental health concerns like anxiety, depression and stress, TCM services for sub-health issues that can impact mental well-being, such as sleep, digestion and weight management, can be considered. These services are designed to help individuals achieve optimal health and balance, supporting their mental and emotional well-being as well as their physical health simultaneously. 

Our team of knowledgeable TCM physicians believes in a tailored approach, working closely with patients to develop a treatment plan that addresses their unique needs and concerns. With a focus on natural and non-invasive treatment modalities such as acupuncture, herbal medicine, and dietary changes, we strive to help our patients achieve long-term health and wellness in all aspects of their lives.

Get in touch with us to find out more!

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