Sarcoidosis and Acupuncture

In this week's blog I wanted to share an interesting case that I am currently treating in the veterans' clinic in Lombard. A Vietnam veteran came into the clinic three weeks ago for acupuncture to help with sarcoidosis. He is a 56-year-old black male who was diagnosed sarcoidosis two years ago.

Sarcoidosis is a disease that results from a specific type of inflammation of tissues of the body. It can appear in almost any body organ, but it starts most often in the lungs or lymph nodes. The cause of sarcoidosis is unknown. The disease can appear suddenly and disappear, or it can develop gradually and go on to produce symptoms that come and go, sometimes for a lifetime.

2013-09-24_sarcsympt

As sarcoidosis progresses, microscopic lumps of a specific form of inflammation, called granulomas, appear in the affected tissues. In the majority of cases, these granulomas clear up, either with or without treatment. In the few cases where the granulomas do not heal and disappear, the tissues tend to remain inflamed and become scarred (fibrotic). (Mayo Clinic, 2012)

My patient has sarcoidosis in both eyes and has completely lost vision in one. He has sarcoidosis in his spinal cord and lungs. As a result, he is hemiplegic and has suffered many complications. The patient feels that this is result of Agent Orange he inhaled when he served in the Marine Corps during one of his tours in Vietnam.

My patient's symptoms are shortness of breath, fatigue, skin rashes, poor vision, blindness, tinnitus, weight loss, depression, and arthritis in the joints. He also has bowel issues and a Foley catheter, and has a history of diabetes and high blood pressure controlled by medication. He is currently taking over 20 different medications prescribed by the VA hospital.

Acupuncture Points

Acupuncture therapy for sarcoidosis is aimed at draining excess and especially resolving phlegm accumulation. ST-40 (fenglong) is a well-known example of a point used to transform phlegm-damp. Acupuncture may be especially suited to addressing individual constitutional patterns and symptomatic manifestation of the disease (e.g., one might add GB-23,zhejin, in cases of sarcoidosis yielding difficult breathing), while herbal therapies can be used to address the more general characteristics of the disease.

In addition, I have been working with my patient on dietary counseling and Tui Na for arms, hands and shoulders. After the first treatment, my patient has shown improvement with his posture range of motion, and says he feels better after each treatment.

Resource sites: Mayo Clinic 2012 and Subhuti Dharmananda, PhD, director, Institute for Traditional Medicine, Portland, Oregon, May 2000.

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