Archive for tag: oriental medicine

Springtime Allergies

It is officially spring! Spring is the time of birth, where yang energy is full and abundant. For many people, however, spring and summer are seasons for allergies.

Allergies, or allergic rhinitis, are due to an over-reactivity of the immune system to certain allergens. During spring and summer, allergies are generally induced by wind-born tree, grass or weed pollen, and can cause such symptoms as: sneezing; nasal congestion; runny nose; watery, itchy, or red eyes; headaches; fatigue; and sometimes coughing and wheezing. When allergens and antibodies react in individuals with allergic rhinitis, their nasal mucosa becomes swollen and may obstruct drainage from the sinuses causing sinusitis in many people. Thus, sinus infections are a frequent complication and consequence of allergic rhinitis.

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While spring and summer are the seasons of the year that bring us outdoors, many people are unable to enjoy these warmer months due to uncomfortable symptoms. Chinese medicine can help bring relief of symptoms, correct imbalances of the immune system, prevent the occurrence of infection, and allow healing of tissues of the sinuses. 

From a Chinese point of view, allergic rhinitis is due to a deficiency of the Lung and Kidney's Defensive-Qi systems, combined with retention of chronic "Wind" in the nose. 

Allergic rhinitis often starts in early childhood, with a constitutional weakness, but it may also start later in life, with a progressive decline of Kidney-Qi. Lung and Kidney Qi Deficiency is the root of the problem, therefore, with herbal medicine and acupuncture, we strengthen and nourish these organs. The manifestation of the disease is Wind invading the Lung channel in the nose. This accounts for the acute attacks. With herbs and acupuncture, we clear the Wind, reduce congestion, and open the nasal passages. It is necessary to treat both the root and the manifestation in order to produce lasting results. 

The western treatment of allergic rhinitis relies mostly on the use of antihistamine agents. Unfortunately, antihistamines only treat the manifestations of the disease and not the root. In addition, they cause side effects such as dizziness, fatigue, insomnia, nervousness, dryness, and gastrointestinal disturbance. 

Chinese medicine offers allergy sufferers a way to strengthen their bodies and significantly reduce their symptoms, without unpleasant side effects. You do not have to spend another season living with allergies. 

Here are acupuncture points from my class notes and CAM book. I have clinically used these points in the clinic and I feel they are very effective in treating allergies, postnasal drips and colds. 

Wind-Cold Affecting the Lung

Treatment Points 

Main Points:

  • UB 12 - Main point for Wind Disorders
  • GB 20 - Expel Wind
  • GV 23 - Expel Wind from the Nose
  • UB 13 - LU Back Shu
  • LU 7 - Restore the Descending and Dispersing Function of the LU Qi 

Local Points:

  • Use various local points for the sinus issues: LI 20 a/or Yintang and Bitong (extra pt. - good local points for sinus issues

Wind-Heat Affecting the LU

Signs & Symptoms

  • Similar to general Wind-Heat as it presents with the common cold, however, there are more signs of an underlying KD a/or LU Deficiency
  • Patient may have: fever and chills w/fever predominating, slight sweating, runny nose w/yellow discharge, headaches, body aches, cough, itchy red eyes (heat), scratchy throat (wind) 

Treatment Protocol

  • Expel Wind-Heat
  • Restore the Descending and Dispersing Function of the LU Qi 

Treatment Points

Main Points:

  • UB 12 - Main point for Wind Disorders
  • UB 13 - LU Back Shu
  • LI 4 & LI 11 - used together to clear heat and move the LI 

Local Points:

  • LI 20 a/or Yintang - good local points for sinus issues
  • GB 20 & UB 2 - used together for itchy eyes 

Word to the wise: The treatment protocols mentioned above are to be used after a complete tongue and pulse examination. The effectiveness of these treatments may vary based on the differential diagnosis, while other points should be added or not used based on your patient history and complete examination. 

Thank you for your continued support of the AOM blog. Have a great week!

Fertility and TCM

If you, a friend, a family member, or a patient is trying to become pregnant, you may want to consider acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine. The enhancement of fertility has been at the heart of Traditional Chinese Medicine for over 5,000 years, and there has been great success with acupuncture and herbal medicine treating infertility. Below are real patient's questions that I have been asked in the clinic regarding fertility support. 

How does acupuncture improve fertility?

Acupuncture causes a reduction of stress hormones and a release of endorphins that produce a profound state of relaxation. Research has shown that women with elevated stress levels have significantly lower pregnancy rates. Regular acupuncture treatments result in the correction of the body's neuro-endocrinological activity resulting in hormonal regulation and balance. The insertion of needles in specific acupoints in the body increases ovarian and uterine blood flow. This increased flow stimulates ovulation and enhances growth of the uterine lining. Acupuncture supports implantation and growth of the embryo during the very crucial initial stages of fetal development. 

Photo of Fuke acupuncture points
Fuke 11.24 (Tung's Point)

How does herbal therapy improve fertility?

Herbs work to nourish and strengthen the body; assimilation of critical nutrients supports a healthy pregnancy. The quality of ovarian eggs and the thickness of the uterine lining are dependent on adequate nutrition. When present in the reproductive area, inflammation creates yet another obstacle to fertility, so acupuncturists prescribe specific herbs to reduce inflammation. Lastly, other select herbs are effectively used to regulate and balance hormone levels. 

Can TCM also help with infertility in men?

Yes, Traditional Chinese Medicine is commonly used to increase and improve the quality, motility and quantity of sperm. Since male infertility accounts for over 40% of infertility issues in couples, male partners are encouraged to partake in regular treatments to address potential sperm issues. Strengthening the male partner increases the odds of pregnancy. I often encourage couples to come in together for fertility support. 

Photo of Huanchao acupuncture point
Huanchao 11.06 (Tung's acupuncture)

Word to the Wise: Please be careful when treating women patients who are trying to get pregnant or have history of miscarriage; avoid acupuncture points ST12, GB21, LI4, SP6, UB60, UB67. These are very strong points that move the qi and blood. I often use these points: DU20, Zigong, Fuke 11.24 (Tung's point), Huanchao 11.06 (Tung's acupuncture) and sometimes auricular points in the ear uterus, endocrine, ovary, LV, KD, depending on the patient. I also remind fertility patient's that consistency is the key to successful fertility support along with a healthy balanced diet and exercises, such as Qi Gong and Tai Chi. In addition, I ask patient's to create a menses calendar to track their menstruation cycle and ovulation cycle.

Thanks for continuing to support of AOM blog. Remember spring is near!

Moxibustion Medical Therapy - Let’s warm up our channels

"A disease that may not be treated by acupuncture, may be treated by moxibustion." -- Miraculous Pivot

The Chinese medical therapy called moxibustion warms areas of the body and can penetrate to the muscles, tendons and bones. In Chinese we say "Jui" for moxibustion. Moxibustion helps to relieve pain, stimulate blood circulation, relax muscles, and induce a healthier flow of chi, or energy. By warming and opening the channels and collaterals, it assists the body's natural healing processes.

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Moxibustion therapy uses the herb, mugwort or Artemesia Argyi. The fuzz that grows on the underside of the mugwort leaf is made into moxa. The properties of moxa are bitter, acrid and warm. Acupuncturists and/or Chinese medical practitioners may use moxa directly on the skin and on top of needles. Most commonly, a roll of moxa, which can be smokeless, is held directly over an acupuncture point, causing the patient to experience a calming and warming sensation--never burning. 

Moxibustion is thought to predate acupuncture. As early as the discovery and use of fire, early man noticed that heat from their fires could be warming and curative. Before mugwort was chosen as the most effective substance for sustaining heat, hot stones or sand wrapped in animal skins may have been used for local hot compression.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), moxibustion is especially effective in the treatment of chronic pain conditions, weak immunity, low appetite, poor digestion, cold hands and feet, kidney failure, frequent urination, cold sensations, obstructed blood circulation, and various other health conditions. It is especially noted for its ability to help turn breech babies head down using acupuncture point UB67. Moxibustion treats and prevents diseases by applying the heat to acupuncture points. I have read that Chinese people use moxa on St36 daily to help prevent disease and maintain health. Remember, daily or weekly moxibustion over specific points can extend life by strengthening the patient's qi as well as digestive immune and circulatory systems.

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Word to the Wise: Please always ask your patient if they have high blood pressure, high fever, excessive or deficiency heat, diabetes, functional heart problems, psychological problems, and ask women if they are pregnant. We never use moxibustion on these patients. We also want to avoid the face, large blood vessels area, mucus membrane locations, ears, nose, mouth, throat, anus and vaginal area. In addition, according to the classic text, there are some acupuncture points recorded to which we do not apply moxa (DU15 and Du16, for example).

Thank you for you continued support of the AOM blog. Remember to stop by the clinic and ask about Moxibustion Medical Therapy today!