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"Kristin Hersh at Roskilde Festival (1998)" by Hunter Desportes, used with permission under CC BY 2.0. Source.

Rocker Kristin Hersh Overcomes Bipolar Disorder Through Acupuncture

Who doesn’t love the indie rock band, Throwing Muses?  I, myself, particularly loved the song, “Not Too Soon” from the album, The Real Ramona.  The emergence of Riot Grrrl, a movement that started in the early to mid-1990’s, and celebrated women coming into their awareness, strength, and love of music in the underground scene, intersected with the release of this album.  I remember playing it on my portable CD player.  Yes.  A walkman, of sorts.  And, yes.  It was a time, during the paleolithic era, when you put the whole CD in there, just to listen to the one song.  Let it be known that I carried a couple of CDs in my messenger bag when I traveled in the NYC subways.

Throwing Muses is fronted by rocker, Kristin Hersh, and was a popular cult indie band she created when she was just 14 years old.  She grew to have an impressive career, fronting bands Throwing Muses and 50FootWave.

When she’d recorded her first album, she was also diagnosed with bipolar disorder.  In a recent interview by the Herald Scotland, Hersh explained that she had suffered the torments of bipolar disorder for about 25 years, and had always concluded that it was a death sentence for her.  She found many venues of treatment for her illness to be futile.

It was only 25 years later when she tried acupuncture, and found great relief.  She said, “My understanding of acupuncture was that it’s subtle.  I’d no idea that they could treat bipolar disorder with it.  It’s mind blowing!”  She is finding life much more manageable these days, and gets regular acupuncture treatments.

People are aware that acupuncture is effective for physical pain management.  But, most folks don’t realize that acupuncture is rooted in very spiritual aspects that stabilize emotional well-being, as well.  Some points can release grief, others can address anger, just to name a few of what the more than 300 acupuncture points can treat.  There is usually no cut and dried prescription across the board of what points would be best to use, since it is up to the practitioner to diagnose the patient’s individual medical history, what they present with, pulses, and tongue, etc.

In Lonny S. Jarrett’s book, Nourishing Destiny: The Inner Tradition of Chinese Medicine, he describes properties of the point, Pericardium/Heart Protector-8 (also commonly known at PC-8), “Heart Protector-8 may rekindle the fires of a heart that has grown weary from the pain of past disappointments and betrayals.”  PC-8 is also one of the thirteen Ghost Points listed in the Thousand Ducat Formulas by the great 7th century physician Sun Si-miao for the treatment of mania disorder and epilepsy.  This point is called “Laogong (Ghost Cave)”.

Pericardium Meridian of Hand JueYin Yin. PC-8 is on the hand.

In fact, I had used PC-8 as one of various in a point prescription to treat a particular patient’s schizophrenia.  Acupuncture does not claim to cure any illness, but it can certainly assist the body, and spirit, to move forward with self-healing.  What my patient presented was complex; but, after a few regular treatments, where he came in at least twice a week, every week for about 3 or 4 weeks, he reported that he wasn’t hearing voices anymore.  This was especially good to hear, because those voices were telling him to kill people.  I’d say this is a good thing!

Kristin Hersh has just published her book, Rat Girl, which chronicles a year in her life, covering motherhood, bipolar disorder, and life as a punk rocker.  Perhaps in a next memoir she’ll be able to include acupuncture as well?


Copyright © 2011 by Alcantara Acupuncture & Healing Arts. All rights reserved. You may quote, copy, translate and link to this article, in its entirety, on free, non-donation based websites only, as long as you include the author name and a working link back to this website. All other uses are strictly prohibited.

All information on this website is my own opinion, and not to be taken as medical advice. Reliance on any information provided on this website is solely at your own risk. Please refer to your medical practitioner before making any medical decisions.


  1. Nicole
    August 4, 2011

    What a great post. Your writing is so great!

  2. Alcantara Acupuncture
    August 4, 2011

    Thanks, Nick! I’m glad you liked it, and am looking forward to your next “Raising An Only” post!


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