TCM and Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis is an inherited disease that disrupts normal function of the epithelial cells in the body. Epithelial cells line the passageways of many of our vital organs, including the lungs, liver, kidneys, reproductive system and the skin. Those who have cystic fibrosis have a defective gene that impairs epithelial cell function. This can lead to a buildup of sticky mucus throughout the body that may eventually lead to lung damage and chronic coughing, affecting how patients with cystic fibrosis breathe and filter air, digest their food and absorb the nutrients from that food. In the United States alone, there are nearly 12 million people who suffer from this disease. Unfortunately, there is no known cure and most of those affected with the disease only live into their 20s and 30s. Current modern medicine treatments focus on increasing the quality of life by managing symptoms.

Traditional Chinese Medicine, TCM, can help cystic fibrosis sufferers. This medical system uses multiple modalities to treat the symptoms of cystic fibrosis. Everything from acupuncture to cupping can be utilized to help the patient and decrease the buildup of mucus throughout the body.

From the 400-plus acupuncture points on the human body, many are especially helpful for expelling phlegm and mucus, decreasing pain and helping to calm the central nervous system, all of which are symptoms of cystic fibrosis. If a cystic fibrosis patient is suffering from chest pain due to excessive phlegm buildup in the lungs, then regular acupuncture treatments can help decrease that pain and make it easier for the person to breathe.

In traditional Chinese medical theory, people are born with a limited amount of Qi (pronounced “chee”) or vital energy, and over time it is depleted. However, Qi can be regenerated by incorporating healthy living choices, like regular exercise, proper sleep and a healthy, balanced diet. Those who suffer from cystic fibrosis begin life with a smaller supply of Qi and this means it is vital for them to save as much Qi as possible. Because cystic fibrosis attacks the lungs and gastrointestinal tract, these areas immediately become deficient and weak. Regular acupuncture treatments can help by stimulating the body’s own healing mechanisms to preserve Qi.

Another modality frequently used in TCM is cupping. To perform cupping, oxygen is sucked out of a vessel, often a glass cup, creating negative pressure and then that vessel is placed on the body. The negative pressure will act like a suction cup and it will draw oxygen-rich blood into the tissues, which facilitates healing. Cupping can also draw out toxins and create drainage, which can help break up any phlegm in the lungs, thus decreasing pain in the chest area.

For those suffering from cystic fibrosis, combining TCM with conventional medicine can be a huge blessing, improving patients’ overall quality of life.

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Tired of Being Tired? Try Traditional Chinese Medicine.

There are many factors involved with fatigue. If you are overtired, Traditional Chinese Medicine might be able to pinpoint the culprit, give some extra pep and help you kick those afternoon blues.

In TCM the idea of treatment is to find the root of the problem instead of simply treating the symptoms. In the case of fatigue, there are many possible root causes to feeling tired including: stress, depression, over exercising, lack of sleep, poor diet, poor absorption of nutrients and vitamin deficiency. Of course, these can overlap and one can exacerbate the other.

In TCM, there are a few basic syndromes associated with fatigue.

  • Spleen Qi deficiency and dampness: This mainly comes from poor digestion and malabsorption of nutrients from an insufficient diet. Associated symptoms are a pale complexion, gas and bloating, to name a few. Dampness is excessive mucus and a feeling of heaviness in the head and body usually seen in overweight individuals. Since food is not transformed and transported well, food is not being absorbed adequately, which can lead to feeling sluggish. Treatment focuses on digestive issues and lifestyle choices to increase energy.
  • Blood deficiency: Similar to anemia, symptoms are pale complexion, dizziness and fatigue. Treatment focuses on building blood,herbal formulas and dietary advice.
  • Yin or yang deficiency: The body continually strives to achieve a yin and yang balance, as does everything in the universe. If there is an imbalance in one of these, there will be a relative change in the other. For example, if one is yin deficient the symptoms would include heat, dryness, sweating, irritability and thirst. This is seen typically in menopausal women, as the yin declines with hormone changes and normal aging.

    On the other hand, yang deficiency (common in male aging and low testosterone) would have cold signs such as feeling cold, having low energy, weakness in the legs and wanting to curl up. The lower yang energy influences the balance of yin. This is so the yin is relatively higher. Treatment consists of building the deficiency and balancing your yin and yang.

    In other terms, if it is a hormone imbalance, treatment would safely adjust hormone levels with safe and effective herbal formulas and acupuncture.

  • Shen disturbance: Shen refers to the mind and spirit. If one is stressed, angry and having anxiety, it may disrupt sleep patterns, which would cause fatigue. Unhappiness with one’s situation causes great emotional fatigue and lethargy. Feeling stuck causes stagnation in the liver channel and disrupts the free flow of energy. Treatment would include calming the mind and adjusting lifestyle choices.
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Acupuncture and Autoimmune Diseases

Autoimmune diseases are a collective group of disorders that plague nearly 50 million people in the United States today. When a person suffers from an autoimmune disease it means their own immune system is attacking the body and altering or destroying the tissues. Autoimmune diseases include things like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Crohn’s disease, pernicious anemia, multiple sclerosis, irritable bowel disease and Parkinson’s disease.

Conventional medicine can diagnose 100 different autoimmune conditions. Unfortunately, the treatments available to people with these disorders is not as plentiful through conventional medicine. It typically involves the use of pharmaceuticals that can have side effects that are as bad, if not worse, than the symptoms of the disease itself. And even worse, many people are told they have no options. This is where Traditional Chinese Medicine can be beneficial.

Acupuncture treatments are completely customizable. Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners don’t treat based on the Western medical diagnosis. They attack the disease based on its diagnosis in Chinese medicine. This means that they not only want to treat the symptoms, but also get to the root of the problem. This is much different from Western medicine with its one-size-fits-all type of treatments. The ability to treat each person as an individual with their own unique diagnosis is why traditional Chinese medicine is so successful.

Many factors play into an autoimmune disease. Traditional Chinese Medicine looks at the body as a whole, allowing the patient to get a more complete treatment, usually with better results. Since autoimmune diseases are thought to be a deficiency in people’s immune-system responses, TCM practitioners will work to restore and rejuvenate the factors that are vital for good immunity. These things include blood and the energetic life force known as qi (pronounced “chee”). There can also be underlying genetic factors involved in autoimmune diseases, so acupuncturists may also work on building up a patients essence or jing. Research has shown that acupuncture causes responses in nerve cells, as well as in parts of the brain. By utilizing acupuncture, those suffering from an autoimmune disease can, over time, reprogram their brains and cells to perform as intended.

The use of electroacupuncture may prove useful for people suffering from autoimmune diseases too. Electroacupuncture emits mild electrical stimulation to acupuncture needles. These light shocks trigger the body to produce hormones that suppress pain and inflammation. This helps raise endorphins circulating in the bloodstream. Endorphins are the body’s natural painkillers.

Chinese herbal formulas can also be very effective in the treatment of autoimmune diseases. Chinese herbs have specific qualities that can help boost blood, qi and jing. When acupuncture and Chinese herbs are combined, the effects can be quite favorable. The herbs will actually compliment the acupuncture treatments by extending the effects of the needles. Many times this will shorten the number of treatments required, as the patient will start to see results sooner.

Many people dealing with autoimmune diseases also experience high levels of stress because of their disorder. It can be very stressful trying to lead a “normal” life with severe pain and other symptoms. Studies show acupuncture is very relaxing, and it helps reduce excess cortisol levels in the brain that contribute to chronic stress.

As autoimmune sufferers start to see improvements with acupuncture treatments and herbs, they may also be able to do things they couldn’t before, like exercise. Exercising not only improves blood flow, but it also increases immunity. Exercise also increases the amount of endorphins in the body. So just by receiving regular acupuncture treatments and herbal supplements, those suffering from autoimmune diseases may be able to lead a much more normal life with a lot less pain and suffering.

If you are dealing with some type of autoimmune disease, consider giving Traditional Chinese Medicine a chance. The outcomes may be life changing.

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What is Stagnation Pain?

Most of the stagnation-types of pain involve traumatic injury or a palpable-pathogenic process. This is an area where acupuncture and its associated modalities truly shine, treating traumatic injury such as fractures, sprains, infection of tissue and acute pain efficiently and gently. After an acute injury has been assessed by urgent or primary care, come to us for a complete plan of care for immediate physical recovery when other modalities such as physical therapy are not yet indicated.

  1. Starting from the most superficial type of stagnation, Qi stagnationinvolves a type of movement that becomes stuck. Most often it manifests as a tendency to have shoulder and neck pain due to stress which goes away with conscious relaxation and mild exercise. In this case, the muscle tissue itself has not yet been affected. The most common treatments for Qi stagnation involve stress-relieving acupuncture, trigger-point and motor point acupuncture, massage and exercises. Qi stagnation is a component of all the other types of stagnation as well.
  2. The next level of stagnation involves the blood. A common example of blood stagnation is a muscle that has been tense and has formed a series of knots in the tissue, disallowing the full relaxation of the muscle, often present in low back and shoulder muscles. Blood stagnation is treated with strong local acupuncture, cupping and gua sha to physically move the blood. It often presents in combination with heat, cold, damp and phlegm stagnation.
  3. Heat is part of the inflammatory process, along with redness, swelling and pain. Heat stagnation can be a secondary effect of lingering blood stagnation that starts to become inflamed, or it can be a rapid onset inflammation or infection. Heat stagnation is treated with cooling techniques, using acupuncture distally to relieve heat and inflammation while applying cooling herbal poultices and/or liniments topically. Internal herbs can be used to treat infection and inflammation concurrently. Heat is often combined with damp and blood stagnation.
  4. Cold stagnation can either have a fast or a slow origin of onset, with the fast type of onset a physical exposure to cold causing the tissues to tense and the local cellular metabolism to slow down. This causes sharp stabbing pains similar to muscle cramps, accompanied by a deep ache. This can be seen with low back pain after a long bike ride with the low back improperly covered, riding through a cold and rainy environment. Cold stagnation is treated with warming topical liniments and poultices as well as heat packs and moxibustion combined with acupuncture to relax and warm the area. Cold stagnation is often combined with blood or phlegm stagnation.
  5. Damp stagnation involves swelling that is still soft, as in the puffiness after a sprain or around a repetitive-motion injury. This can be found around the shoulder blades from overuse of the arms or across the whole low back after intense physical labor. Dampness is treated with cupping, heat poultices, local acupuncture and constitutional body points for eliminating dampness.
  6. The most bizarre and deep-seated type is phlegm stagnation: a type of hard nodule or mass the center of a deep bruise, a fatty lipoma, or the swelling of vertebrae involved in arthritis. Blood and Qi stagnation must both exist prior to the formation of phlegm stagnation. This potentially takes the longest to resolve due to the need to diminish the tissue accumulation. Strong local acupuncture, plum-blossom acupuncture, cupping, gua sha, moxibustion and topical plasters and soaks are all used to treat this more difficult type of stagnation.

These six types of stagnation interact with each other and change over the course of an injury or illness.

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Five Reasons to Get Acupuncture for Low Back Pain

Statistics show eight out of 10 people will experience low back pain at some point during their life. Seeking medical treatment for back pain is very common. Typically back pain is fleeting and can be easily resolved with rest, heat and an occasional anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen. However, once the damage is done, the recurrence of back pain can be as high as 50 percent. Part of this is because as we age, things like muscles and tendons become less flexible and pliable. It is also very well known in the United States, people are too sedentary and this leads to excess weight gain that can create added pressure on the body, especially the low back.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a medical system that dates back nearly 3,000 years. But despite its age, TCM has a lot of validity to offer in the age of modern medicine. Thousands of studies have proven acupuncture, just one of the modalities used in TCM, can be very beneficial in the treatment of low back pain. Here are five reasons why someone should consider getting acupuncture to treat low back pain.

  1. Acupuncture has no harmful side effects. In comparison to most Western medical approaches to treating low back pain, acupuncture is the clear winner. There are no real negative side effects associated with acupuncture treatments. There can be a bruise or a little tenderness after the treatments, but that pales in comparison to the side effects from most pharmaceuticals or surgical procedures. Even regular ingestion of ibuprofen can deteriorate the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, eventually leading to ulceration.
  2. Acupuncture is personalized healthcare. One thing truly different about TCM is every patient is treated differently. There could be 10 people with the exact same Western medical diagnosis in an acupuncturist’s’ office, but they may all be treated differently. This is because not everybody’s root cause of the ailment is the same. This makes acupuncture treatments very personalized.
  3. Acupuncture reduces inflammation. Back pain is frequently accompanied by joint inflammation in the spinal column. Acupuncture promotes the release of vascular and immune-mediating factors that actually decrease inflammation. Usually when inflammation is decreased, so is pain.
  4. Acupuncture improves sleep. Low back pain can frequently disrupt sleep. With regular acupuncture treatments, not only is the pain and inflammation of back pain decreased, but so is the sleep interruptions due to the aforementioned pain. This is just one of the positive side effects of acupuncture.
  5. Get your life back. Regular acupuncture treatments can improve a person’s overall well-being. And when it comes to low back pain, life can be changed dramatically. People sometimes have to miss work due to the pain and lack of sleep caused by the pain. But acupuncture can change all of that, allowing people to resume regular everyday activities.

For anybody who has ongoing low back pain, the five reasons listed above should give you hope acupuncture can provide relief. Let us help you along your path to wellness.

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