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.
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
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 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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