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How to Treat Dysmenorrhea With Acupuncture and TCM

By Xiaomei Cai, L.Ac., Ph.D. & Qineng Tan, L.Ac., Ph.D.

 

dysmenorrhea painful period cramps
Painful period cramps are dysmenorrhea symptoms

Menstrual cramps, unbearable period pain? Severe period cramps and period back pain are dysmenorrhea symptoms. Acupuncture and TCM offer a way to help with cramps and provide period cramp relief.

About 80% of women report having menstrual cramps and painful periods at some point in their lives. Over 40% of women regularly experience PMS cramps, or cramps before period. For some women, the pain is mild enough to tolerate. For others, severe period cramps are truly debilitating, leading to missed days of school or work.

Primary dysmenorrhea is when the period cramps are a result of prostaglandins (hormones) causing the uterus to contract forcefully to expel its lining. For some people, this action leads not only to pelvic pain, but can radiate to cause severe lower back pain, hip pain, or even pain in the legs.

Secondary dysmenorrhea is when severe menstrual cramps are related to another condition, such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids, or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). About 1 in 10 women between the ages of 15-49 experiences endometriosis, which can cause excruciating pelvic pain during period, and negatively impact fertility. As many as 60-80% of women have fibroids, although many do not know it.

The severe period cramps may feel like a constant ache in the lower abdomen, or more like a gripping or throbbing pain that comes and goes.

Acupuncture and TCM offer an alternative way to treat period cramps and get period pain relief. 

 

Top 5 Dysmenorrhea Symptoms

 

menstrual cramps pain during period
Menstrual cramps and pelvic pain can disrupt your life every month.

In addition to menstrual cramps and back pain during the period, some women experience other symptoms of dysmenorrhea, including:

  1. Nausea
  2. Diarrhea
  3. Headaches
  4. Dizziness
  5. Fatigue

Some women also experience vaginal cramps or ovary pain during period. This may be due to inflammation or scar tissue around the ovaries or ovarian cysts swelling.

How to Help Period Cramps

Generally, doctors will treat dysmenorrhea OTC pain medication, or NSAIDs like Ibuprofen, to relieve menstrual cramping due to primary dysmenorrhea. They may prescribe hormonal birth control, such as oral contraceptives (birth control pills), birth control patch, birth control implant, injection, or vaginal ring.

Hormonal birth control helps relieve period pain because it blocks ovulation and reduces the amount of prostaglandins being produced. However, this medication is not particularly helpful for those who may wish to get pregnant, or those who experience unpleasant side effects from birth control. 

 

Possible Side Effects of Hormonal Birth Control

Many people may find that hormonal birth control causes side effects such as: 

Potentially serious side effects may be more common the older a woman is, or the longer she remains on birth control; these could include: blood clots, gallbladder disease, heart disease, or even stroke.

If severe menstrual cramps are not relieved with pain medication, further investigation may be done to determine if there is some other condition causing pelvic pain. 

Endometriosis is also usually treated with pain medications and contraceptives, or with Nupron, which suppresses the period. In severe cases, surgery may remove the patches of endometrial tissues. However, with both of these treatments, the endometriosis and severe period pain often come back.

Birth control, pain medications, and even surgeries may temporarily reduce painful cramps, but they are only masking the deeper problems. TCM and acupuncture can help get rid of menstrual cramps because they address the root cause of the pain.

 

Can Acupuncture Help Get Rid of Period Cramps?

Acupuncture for period pain dysmenorrhea
Acupuncture can help relieve painful period cramps.

In TCM, we look at organ systems as working together in harmony. Pain usually occurs because there is some imbalance in one or more of the major organ systems. Dysmenorrhea is usually considered to be related to Qi and/or blood stagnation, and often a deficiency of the kidney, liver, or both. In TCM, the liver controls the storage and distribution of blood, so it is central to the process of menstruation.

Dampness and cold are pathogenic forces that can be disruptive to the smooth flow of Qi related to menstruation. Being in a cold, damp place or eating too many cold or damp foods can cause blood stagnation in the abdominal area that leads to painful cramps.

Emotions can also play a significant role, as in TCM we see feelings of anger or depression causing liver stagnation. Deficiency of Qi can happen when a woman has gone through a lot, emotionally and physically, possibly through giving birth, or having stresses put on the reproductive organs.

Scientific research has shown that acupuncture has an effect on the production of key hormones like serotonin, estrogen and progesterone. When we use acupuncture points to balance the function of the liver, kidney, and other organ systems, these chemical changes occur naturally. We also use herbs to get vital nutrients into the blood that we can’t get from food.

Acupuncture is effective for treating conditions like endometriosis, uterine fibroids, and PCOS, as well.

Acupuncture treatment and herbal remedies for endometriosis and fibroids have been shown to reduce prostaglandin levels, which helps to relieve painful cramping and also to regulate cycles.

A study of endometriosis patients with dysmenorrhea who received electroacupuncture, the cure rate was 94.4% with low recurrence at the one-year checkup. Another study found that auricular acupuncture was effective 91% for mild to moderate menstrual pain.

TCM herbal formulations have been shown to be highly effective at relieving period pain. They work on the TCM principles of removing blood stasis to reduce swelling and relieve painful cramps.

When we are working to influence the menstrual cycle—in this case, to relieve painful cramping—it is usually best to have acupuncture treatment regularly for about three months. This way, we have time to balance the hormone fluctuations that occur during each phase of the cycle.

 

Top 3 Tips for Natural Relief from Period Cramps

 

Your acupuncturist can help give you personalized nutrition advice to help with your unique situation. Most people who are having trouble with painful periods can help themelves by trying these tips:

 

  1. Get more Omega-3 fatty acids in your diet – good natural sources include fish, flax seeds, and walnuts. You can also try taking fish oil, cod liver oil, or a vegan omega-3 supplement.
  2. Reduce consumption of ice-cold foods and beverages – icy drinks, ice cream, and raw foods can all cause a cooling of the uterus, which contributes to painful cramps.
  3. Avoid mucus-producing foods – foods that are more difficult to digest lead to mucus and stagnation in the organs. Reduce fatty foods, fried foods, and red meat.

 

Acupuncture Near Me for Dysmenorrhea in Los Angeles, Santa Monica

 

TCM has been used to treat menstrual difficulties and all types of gynecological issues for many centuries. The doctors at Art of Wellness in West L.A. bring special expertise in both TCM and western medicine gynecology and have partnered with the top women’s health and fertility specialists in Los Angeles. We have over 30 years of experience helping people regulate their menstrual cycles and experience more comfortable periods.







*This article is for education from the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine only. The education provided by this article is not approved by FDA to diagnose, prevent, treat and cure human diseases. It should not stop you from consulting with your physician for your medical conditions. Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on Qi, which is an invisible force that usually cannot be observed by modern science. Because science focuses on testing ideas about the natural world with evidence obtained through observation, these aspects of acupuncture can’t be studied by science. Therefore acupuncture and Chinese herbs are often not supported by double-blind, randomized trials, and they are considered alternative medicine therapies in the United States.

 

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How to Treat Diverticulitis With Acupuncture and TCM

By Qineng Tan, L.Ac., Ph.D. and Xiaomei Cai, L.Ac., Ph.D.

 

diverticulitis pain in left abdomen
Pain in lower left abdomen can be a sign of diverticulitis.

Pain in lower left abdomen? Stomach pain or pain in lower abdomen? Nausea, vomiting? Constipation or diarrhea? These may be diverticulitis symptoms. Acupuncture and TCM offer a way to help relieve diverticulitis pain and restore normal bowel function.

Diverticulosis refers to the presence of small sacs or pouches of tissue inside the large intestine, most often the colon (colonic diverticulitis), which are called “diverticula.”

Diverticulitis refers to the condition that occurs when the sacs become inflamed and infected. Diverticulitis causes pain and other symptoms like bloating and pain in left abdomen that might feel better after you pass gas or have a bowel movement.

Diverticular disease is becoming more and more common and is particularly widespread amongst older people, with at least half of all people over the age of 60 showing signs of diverticulosis.

While medical science has not definitively determined why people develop diverticulosis, it is believed to be due to eating a diet that is low in fiber and high in fatty foods like red meat.

Sedentary lifestyle (lack of exercise), being overweight or obese, smoking cigarettes, and regular use of anti-inflammatory medications or OTC pain medications (NSAIDs) may also be factors in the development of diverticulosis.

Many people have diverticulosis but are unaware of it because they don’t have any symptoms. It is only when the diverticula become infected and inflamed that diverticulitis treatment becomes necessary.

Acupuncture and TCM offer an alternative diverticulitis treatment that can help relieve pain and reduce inflammation in the colon.

 

Top 5 Diverticulitis Symptoms

 

diverticulitis pain in abdomen
Diverticulitis pain may be constant or come and go.

Diverticulitis symptoms are believed to occur because something like a bit of undigested food or stool becomes trapped inside one of the diverticula, and then bacteria start to grow, causing an infection. 

While a person can have diverticulosis for a long time without any signs, symptoms of diverticulitis may come on suddenly and be quite severe.

The common signs of diverticulitis include:

  1. Abdominal pain or cramping, particularly pain in lower left abdomen—although in Asian countries, pain in lower right abdomen seems to be more prevalent. The pain may be constant, or it can come and go.
  2. Nausea and/or vomiting
  3. Fever and/or chills
  4. Constipation or diarrhea
  5. Rectal bleeding, bloody stool

Sometimes diverticulitis may cause a total lack of appetite and sudden weight loss, as a person just stops feeling like eating anything.

Diverticulitis can sometimes lead to more serious complications, like an abscess—which is when the infected area swells and fills with pus—or perforation of the bowel wall. These kinds of issues may require surgery.

 

Diverticulitis Treatment

Some other gastrointestinal disorders can present with symptoms that are similar to those of diverticulitis, such as: colitis or inflammatory bowel disease, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), or bowel obstruction. Gynecological problems like endometriosis, an ovarian cyst, or an ectopic pregnancy could also cause severe pain in the lower left abdomen. A UTI could also cause acute abdominal pain.

Diagnosis of diverticulitis will usually begin with a doctor feeling the abdomen for signs of tenderness, then they will order tests (blood tests, urine tests, and/or stool tests) to check for infection. Once other problems have been ruled out, a CT scan may show the diverticula (infected sacs/pouches in the large intestine). 

There is some debate about when to perform a colonoscopy in cases of diverticulitis, as the procedure can cause perforations of the intestinal lining to become worse. Usually, a colonoscopy is recommended several weeks after a person has recovered from an acute attack of diverticulitis.

Because diverticulitis is usually caused by an infection, the most common medical treatment is a course of antibiotics, along with rest and pain relievers, until the acute symptoms have abated. A liquid diet may be indicated until the situation improves, with the gradual reintroduction of solid foods.

Recommendations will usually include that a person quits smoking (if they smoke) and makes changes in their diet: especially eating less meat and fatty foods and increasing fiber intake. It used to be common for doctors to tell their patients not to eat foods like popcorn, seeds, or nuts, under the assumption that small, hard kernels might become trapped in the diverticula and cause irritation. However, more research has shown that eating these types of foods does not seem to cause flare-ups of diverticulitis.

If these treatments do not help to relieve diverticulitis pain, or if a complication like an abscess or perforation in the colon wall develops, surgery may be necessary. The most common surgery for diverticulitis is a colon resection, which involves removing the part(s) of the large intestine that have been damaged. Sometimes it is not possible to repair the colon completely, and in these cases, a person may have to have a colostomy.

Acupuncture and TCM offer an alternative or adjunct treatment for diverticulitis that can help reduce inflammation in the bowel and relieve abdominal pain.

 

Can Acupuncture Help Diverticulitis?

acupuncture treament diverticulitis
Diverticulitis treatment with acupuncture

An acupuncturist will make a TCM diagnosis based on where and what kind of abdominal pain and other diverticulitis symptoms a patient is experiencing. According to TCM theory, pain and problems with the digestive organs can be related both to stagnant Qi (life energy) or blood in that area, and the presence of a pathogenic force like dampness, heat, or cold. 

The quality of diverticulitis pain and how it changes when you eat or move your bowels will provide clues as to what the root cause is.

In TCM, the spleen is considered to be responsible for turning nutrients into energy; when it is not functioning well, a person may have diarrhea. Strengthening the spleen is usually an important part of TCM treatment for diverticulitis and other digestive disorders.

Your acupuncture practitioner can help relieve symptoms like nausea, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, and stomach pain, while also helping to heal and strengthen the lining of the intestines and reducing inflammation. Boosting immune function will help prevent further infections.

It is generally necessary for a person with diverticulosis to make changes in their dietary habits. While increasing intake of fiber and fluids is important, there are probably even more specific foods that are triggering the dysfunction of the gastrointestinal system, creating excess heat or dampness in the internal organs. TCM nutrition views all foods as having properties that either cool or warm the body. So, your acupuncturist will be able to advise you on what food program will work best to balance your health.


In general, nourishing broths, soups, and well-cooked vegetables with lean proteins and whole grains with plenty of fiber are the best diet for people with diverticulitis. Avoid cold, raw foods, fatty foods, red meat, and dairy.

 

Acupuncture Near Me for Diverticulitis In West Los Angeles

Acupuncture and TCM provide an effective way to treat abdominal pain and gastrointestinal disorders of all kinds. At Art of Wellness, we have over 35 years of experience helping people find pain relief and improve their digestive health.



*This article is for education from the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine only. The education provided by this article is not approved by FDA to diagnose, prevent, treat and cure human diseases. It should not stop you from consulting with your physician for your medical conditions. Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on Qi, which is an invisible force that usually cannot be observed by modern science. Because science focuses on testing ideas about the natural world with evidence obtained through observation, these aspects of acupuncture can’t be studied by science. Therefore acupuncture and Chinese herbs are often not supported by double-blind, randomized trials, and they are considered alternative medicine therapies in the United States.






Posted in Acupuncture, Diet, Digestion, Digestive Disorders, Inflammation, Nutrition, Pain, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Uncategorized, Weight Loss, What We Treat | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on How to Treat Diverticulitis With Acupuncture and TCM

How to Treat Diarrhea With Acupuncture and TCM

By Qineng Tan, L.Ac., Ph.D. & Xiaomei Cai, L.Ac., Ph.D.

 

Diarrhea, stomach cramps, abdominal pain
Diarrhea, stomach cramping & abdominal pain can be helped with acupuncture.

Chronic diarrhea, explosive diarrhea, diarrhea after eating? Diarrhea may be related to IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), or an IBD (inflammatory bowel disease), or a reaction to a food allergy, parasites, or stress. Acupuncture and TCM offer an alternative diarrhea treatment, so you can get relief from stomach pain and diarrhea.

 

Why Do I Have Diarrhea?

There can be many different causes of diarrhea, also known as loose stool. Acute diarrhea, which only lasts one or two days, will usually go away on its own.

Watery diarrhea that lasts a few days is usually due to food poisoning. Eating something that was rotten, or not cooked properly to destroy bacteria, can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Watery diarrhea can also happen when you have some type of viral infection, such as the “stomach flu.”

Chronic diarrhea, or persistent diarrhea, which lasts for weeks, or bouts of diarrhea that come and go frequently, may be related to IBS symptoms, IBD symptoms, Celiac disease, or some other problem. 

More than 6% of adults in the U.S. report having chronic diarrhea. Chronic diarrhea in children is also a serious health concern worldwide. 

 

Top 10 Causes of Diarrhea

Diarrhea is a common condition that everyone experiences sometimes. Usually it is temporary, but it can become persistent and serious enough to require diarrhea treatment. The most common reasons a person experiences loose bowel movements include:

  1. Bacterial infection, traveler’s diarrhea, food poisoning, unsafe drinking water
  2. Viral infection, such as rotavirus, viral gastroenteritis, stomach flu
  3. Parasite infection, such as giardiasis
  4. Food allergy, food intolerance, food sensitivity, Celiac disease
  5. Reaction to medications like antibiotics, antidepressants, or Metformin
  6. Reaction to radiation therapy, cancer treatment
  7. IBS – diarrhea, constipation, and stomach cramps are common IBS symptoms 
  8. IBD – colitis or Crohn’s disease, inflammatory autoimmune disorders that affect the gut
  9. Malabsorption of food, poor absorption of nutrients
  10. Menstrual cycle or Perimenopause – changes in hormones/estrogen can cause diarrhea

Certain foods can cause diarrhea, including: too much coffee, artificial sweeteners like mannitol and sorbitol, and red food coloring. Magnesium supplements can also cause loose stools.

If diarrhea lasts more than a few days, it is important to seek healthcare advice. Chronic diarrhea can lead to dehydration and fatigue, and may be happening because of some more serious condition that needs to be addressed.

 

What Causes Chronic Diarrhea?

diarrhea loose stool sign of IBS or IBD
Frequent diarrhea may be a sign of IBS or and IBD.

Bouts of diarrhea that keep recurring can be a symptom of disorders such as:

 

  • IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) – the most common IBDs are ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. IBD symptoms usually include bloody diarrhea and abdominal pain. IBDs can cause chronic or recurring diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration, fatigue, and weight loss. IBDs can be mild, or so serious that they cause long-lasting damage to the gastrointestinal tract.

 

  • Ulcerative colitis – an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation and ulcers, or open sores, in the lower gastrointestinal system, including the colon and rectum.

 

  • Crohn’s disease – an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation mainly in the small intestine, but can affect any part of the GI tract. 

 

  • IBS – Irritable bowel syndrome can seem similar to IBDs, also causing recurring bouts of diarrhea and stomach pain. However, IBS is considered a functional gastrointestinal disorder. It is quite common. People with IBS symptoms may have alternating bouts of diarrhea and constipation. People who tend to have more diarrhea-dominant IBS have “IBS-D.”

  

  • Celiac disease – an autoimmune disorder in which a reaction to eating wheat gluten causes serious inflammation of the GI system, leading to abdominal pain, bloated stomach, diarrhea, malnutrition, fatigue, and skin rashes.

With these conditions, diarrhea is brought on periodically—sometimes alternating with constipation, as in some cases of IBS—by factors having to do with the diet or stress, or with autoimmune processes.

Some surgeries that affect the gastrointestinal organs—like gastric bypass, gastric sleeve, or gallbladder removal—can cause chronic diarrhea.

Chronic diarrhea can be caused by an inability of the intestinal walls to absorb nutrients, and/or of the walls of the colon to absorb liquid. It may also be due to excessive action of the intestine in terms of peristalsis, the squeezing of the intestine to move matter through.

 

Diarrhea Treatment

Acute diarrhea usually goes away on its own in a day or two. Often, people will use OTC remedies for diarrhea and stomach pain, such as Immodium or Pepto-Bismol.

If you have been experiencing persistent diarrhea and seek medical advice, a doctor will perform tests to figure out what is causing the diarrhea, and will offer electrolyte fluids to help with dehydration. Blood tests or a stool test will show if the diarrhea is due to a bacterial infection or parasitic infection.

If chronic diarrhea is determined to be related to a medication you are already taking, then that may need to be adjusted.

Discovery of IBS or an IBD usually involves more diagnostic testing, including a colonoscopy and/or endoscopy, to see if there is inflammation or blockage in the GI tract.

Medical treatment for IBS may involve being offered antispasmodic medications that relax the intestinal walls and slow down the movement of the bowels and can help relieve stomach cramps and abdominal cramping. Dietary changes and behavioral therapy may be recommended.

Pharmacological treatment for IBDs like colitis and Crohn’s usually involves taking a combination of anti-inflammatories and immunosuppressants, to reduce inflammation in the gut and to block the inappropriate autoimmune responses that are triggering the inflammation. Unfortunately, steroids and medications like Xeljanz can cause other side effects and health problems. 

Medical treatment for chronic diarrhea may help relieve symptoms and reduce the frequency of bouts of diarrhea, but it does not necessarily address the underlying causes of diarrhea. 

Acupuncture and TCM offer an effective alternative treatment for diarrhea that is more suited to each patient’s individual situation.

 

Can Acupuncture Help Diarrhea?

 

acupuncture treatment for diarrhea IBS IBD
Acupuncture treatment can help relieve diarrhea.

Chronic diarrhea, according to TCM theory, is usually considered to be related to the health of the spleen. In TCM, the organ systems all interact harmoniously, unless there is imbalance. The imbalance of one organ system may throw off other systems, leading to various symptoms. 

In TCM, the spleen is responsible for breaking down the nutrients from food and converting them into energy. If the spleen is not functioning properly, watery stool is often the result. Diarrhea, stomach pain, and other symptoms may differ from person to person, depending on how the spleen is interacting with the liver, stomach, or kidneys.

Common Chinese Medicine diagnosis patterns for chronic diarrhea include:

  • Spleen Deficiency with Liver Qi stagnation: mucus in the stool, abdominal pain, cramping, gassiness, bloated stomach, irritability, and feelings of depression 

 

  • Spleen Deficiency with Stomach deficiency: watery stools, poor appetite, feeling full quickly, stomach distended after eating, pallor, and fatigue

 

  • Spleen Deficiency with Kidney Deficiency: diarrhea in the morning, partially digested food in the stool, abdominal pain, lower back pain, knee pain, feeling cold

 

Acupuncture treatment for diarrhea, which may include moxibustion and herbs, aims to support the health of the spleen and other organs. Acupuncture has been shown to help relieve diarrhea and constipation related to IBS. Acupuncture treatment can also help with reducing stress and anxiety, which are common triggers for IBS symptoms.

Acupuncture can also help with diarrhea due to IBDs like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease by reducing inflammation and helping to balance immune responses. TCM treatment for Crohn’s disease or colitis, incorporating nutrition and herbal supplements, can help improve the gut biome and strengthen the lining of the intestinal walls.

Acupuncture for Diarrhea Near Me, Los Angeles, West L.A., and Santa Monica

TCM treatment with an experienced acupuncturist near me can be very beneficial for anyone dealing with ongoing gastrointestinal distress. Both adults and children can find relief from diarrhea, constipation, stomach cramps, bloating, and abdominal pain related to conditions like IBS, IBDs, or celiac disease through acupuncture and herbs. At Art of Wellness, we have over 30 years of experience helping people with gastric disorders of all kinds.



*This article is for education from the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine only. The education provided by this article is not approved by FDA to diagnose, prevent, treat and cure human diseases. It should not stop you from consulting with your physician for your medical conditions. Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on Qi, which is an invisible force that usually cannot be observed by modern science. Because science focuses on testing ideas about the natural world with evidence obtained through observation, these aspects of acupuncture can’t be studied by science. Therefore acupuncture and Chinese herbs are often not supported by double-blind, randomized trials, and they are considered alternative medicine therapies in the United States.

Posted in Allergies, Autoimmune Disease, diabetes, Diet, Digestion, Digestive Disorders, Immune System, Inflammation, Menopause, Moxibustion, Nutrition, PMS, Stress, Stress & Anxiety, Uncategorized, Weight Loss, What We Treat | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on How to Treat Diarrhea With Acupuncture and TCM

How to Treat Dermatitis With Acupuncture and TCM

By Xiaomei Cai, L.Ac., Ph.D. & Qineng Tan, L.Ac., Ph.D.

 

itchy skin dermatitis eczema
Itchy skin might be some type of dermatitis.

Itchy skin, dry skin irritation, or skin rash? Dermatitis is a broad term that covers many skin problems, including eczema, heat rash, diaper rash, and other kinds of skin allergy. Acupuncture and TCM offer a way to treat dermatitis, eczema, and itchy skin conditions.

The medical term “dermatitis” can refer to many types of skin irritation that involve inflammation. Inflamed skin can cause itching, redness, dryness, and rashes. A dermatitis itchy skin rash is caused by an inflammatory response related to the immune system.

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a common inflammatory skin condition; over 30 million people in the U.S. have some type of eczema. Eczema can show up as early as a few weeks after birth in some babies, or during childhood, or during adulthood.

While what exactly causes atopic dermatitis to occur in some people is not completely understood, it is generally accepted that it is a combination of genetic, immunological, and environmental factors.

Dermatitis is not contagious; it is not passed from person to person. However, you are more likely to be susceptible to dermatitis or eczema if other people in your family have it, or if there is a family history of allergies and asthma.

Eczema and other forms of dermatitis tend to “flare up” when a person is exposed to some sort of trigger and has an allergic reaction. This could be due to something in the environment, or some product or plant that touched the person’s skin. It can also be due to internal causes, like an autoimmune problem, excess heat in the body, or emotional stress.

Signs of Dermatitis:

  • Itchy dry skin rash skin irritations (pruritus)
  • Red rash, red bumps on skin
  • Rash like a burn
  • Blisters
  • Thick skin, hard skin, swelling
  • Scaly skin, creasing skin 
  • Crusty sores, painful skin sores
  • Bleeding rash, oozing skin rash
  • Flaking skin (dandruff)

Symptoms of dermatitis can come and go. Scratching at itchy patches or blisters associated with dermatitis can cause a skin infection, so it is important to manage and control this condition.

Acupuncture and TCM herbs can help relieve itchy skin and inflammation, while also helping to balance the immune system to prevent further eczema flare ups.

Top 10 Types of Dermatitis

skin rash dermatitis eczema neck
Dermatitis rash on back of neck

Many different conditions can cause dermatitis—meaning, inflammation of the skin. Different kinds of dermatitis include:

  1. Atopic dermatitis – also known as eczema, marked by dry, itchy, red patches of skin.
  2. Contact dermatitis – this is when a skin rash breaks out due to exposure to some kind of external irritant, such as a cosmetic product, piece of jewelry, or plant like poison ivy.
  3. Seborrheic dermatitis – flaking skin, also known as dandruff, occurs mostly on oily areas of the skin.
  4. Dyshidrotic dermatitis – (also called dyshidrotic eczema or pompholyx) small, itchy, fluid-filled blisters that appear on the soles of the feet or palms of the hands, or the tips of the fingers or toes. The blisters may break out due to exposure to an allergen or when hands and feet are often wet or sweaty.
  5. Diaper rash – a red rash that forms on a baby’s bottom or perineal area due to contact with the diaper and frequent wetness.
  6. Neurodermatitis – (also called lichen simplex chronicus) is a type of eczema marked by one or two very itchy, scaly patches that can become thickened and leathery – most often affects an area on the neck, ankle, arm, or groin. Neurodermatitis can itch so intensely that it affects a person’s sleep, and can be triggered by stressful events.
  7. Nummular dermatitis – (also known as discoid eczema) is marked by round, coin-shaped lesions that appear on the limbs or torso. These lesions can become infected with scratching, and may be related to poor circulation.
  8. Perioral dermatitis or Periorificial dermatitis – pink scaly patches or pustules that form around the mouth. This occurs more commonly in young women. Some doctors believe it may be related to candida, and/or influenced by hormones.
  9. Stasis dermatitis –  (also called venous stasis dermatitis) itchy, scaly, discolored skin around the lower legs and ankles, due to poor circulation and blood pooling in the lower extremities.
  10. Dermatitis herpetiformis – a bumpy, blistered skin rash (looks similar to a herpes outbreak, but is not actually related to herpes simplex) that is related to celiac disease, triggered by ingesting gluten or wheat. 

Psoriasis can look similar to eczema, but it is a separate condition that can coexist with various types of dermatitis. Rosacea redness can also look similar to dermatitis, but is a distinctly different condition that can occur at the same time as dermatitis. 

What Causes Dermatitis?

A combination of the immune system reacting to irritants in the environment, and genetic predisposition.

Common environmental factors that can contribute to dermatitis include:

  • Chemicals
  • Air pollutants
  • Fluoride in water or toothpaste
  • Fragrances, perfumes, air freshener
  • Fragrances in skin products, cosmetics, lotions, soaps
  • Tobacco smoke

Other conditions that may occur simultaneously with dermatitis include: depression, anxiety, insomnia, allergies, and asthma.

Eczema Treatment

There are many different types of medical treatment for dermatitis. Some are topical—meaning, applied to the skin. Others are taken in an oral pill form, or injected into the skin.

Topical corticosteroid creams, which can help reduce skin inflammation, are the most common treatment for eczema and dermatitis. These can help reduce itching and swelling. However, prolonged use of topical steroids can cause side effects like thin skin, spider veins, and acne. Steroids can affect growth in children, and can cause eye problems like glaucoma or cataracts in older people.

Steroids that are taken orally, like Prednisone, can help control systemic inflammation for a time, while patches of scaly skin heal. However, there are many serious side effects associated with taking steroids for a long time, and it is also possible to experience a “rebound effect.” This means that the dermatitis symptoms come back even stronger when a person stops taking the steroid medications.

Calineuron inhibitors and JAK inhibitors are designed to stop certain chemical processes in the body related to immune responses. They can help block immune system reactions to calm the dermatitis skin problems. 

There are many new types of treatment for eczema being developed. Phototherapy, or light therapy, using ultraviolet (UV) light, may be tried when topical treatments are not working for eczema that is widespread over the whole body. However, this kind of therapy can cause prematurely aging skin, changing skin pigmentation, and potentially increase the risk of skin cancer.

Acupuncture and TCM herbal supplements offer a way to treat eczema without any damaging side effects.

Can Acupuncture Help Dermatitis and Eczema?

One of the core concepts of TCM is the 5 Elements Theory, according to which organs of the body correspond with seasons and weather conditions. According to this theory, eczema and other kinds of dermatitis arise due to imbalances within the internal organ systems affected by external conditions, such as Wind and Heat. 

The lungs, especially, are connected to the skin in the TCM system. The lungs can be affected by excess heat or stagnation in the liver. Thus, an itchy red rash on the skin is actually an expression of a deeper, more complex internal condition. Therefore, it is necessary to treat dermatitis and eczema not only with topical creams, but to use acupuncture and herbs to balance all of the organ systems.

The acupuncturist gets clues about which internal organs are out of harmony by observing the eczema symptoms: the type of rash or scaly skin, the color and temperature. Each individual case of dermatitis is unique, triggered by different irritants, and arising from a person’s overall state of health.

One study showed that acupuncture treatment worked better than antihistamines for helping to reduce the itchiness of atopic dermatitis pruritus. Acupuncture also helps to reduce inflammation and overall stress.

Studies done in China to determine the efficacy of an herbal formulation developed for eczema showed that it worked well to reduce itching and recurrence of rash.

As systematic review of over 350 studies on acupuncture for eczema showed the patients who were given acupuncture treatment instead of conventional treatment experienced better overall symptom reduction and quality of life.

Top 5 Tips to Prevent Dermatitis Itchy Skin

after bath dermatitis
Bathe in warm water and moisturize afterwards.

There are things you can do to help prevent eczema flare-ups from occurring and avoid recurrent rashes.

  1. Do not bathe in very hot water. 
  2. Keep showers short and warm, and use gentle cleansers, without strong chemical perfumes. 
  3. Do not scrub your skin during or after the shower, while drying. Pat gently.
  4. Use moisturizer frequently to maintain a protective layer on your skin. 
  5. Wear long pants and sleeves when hiking and adventuring. Wear gloves when gardening.

Acupuncture Near Me for Dermatitis in Los Angeles and Santa Monica

Acupuncture can help relieve itching, aid in the healing of lesions, help stimulate healthier immune responses, and reduce stress. TCM treatment can also be sought as a safe treatment for children with eczema, or during pregnancy, as it is free of negative side effects.

TCM can also help patients with other skin conditions, including signs of aging, acne, hives (urticaria), rosacea, and psoriasis.





*This article is for education from the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine only. The education provided by this article is not approved by FDA to diagnose, prevent, treat and cure human diseases. It should not stop you from consulting with your physician for your medical conditions. Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on Qi, which is an invisible force that usually cannot be observed by modern science. Because science focuses on testing ideas about the natural world with evidence obtained through observation, these aspects of acupuncture can’t be studied by science. Therefore acupuncture and Chinese herbs are often not supported by double-blind, randomized trials, and they are considered alternative medicine therapies in the United States.

Posted in Allergies, Autoimmune Disease, Facial Rejuvenation, Immune System, Inflammation, Liver, Skin, Skin Care, Stress & Anxiety, Uncategorized, What We Treat | Tagged , , | Comments Off on How to Treat Dermatitis With Acupuncture and TCM

How To Help Dependence on Hydrocodone and Other Opioid Pain Medication With Acupuncture and TCM

By Qineng Tan, L.Ac., Ph.D. & Xiaomei Cai, L.Ac., Ph.D.

 

opioid pain medication dependence
Opioid pain medications can cause side effects and lead to dependence.

Many people are prescribed strong pain medication when they are in need of pain relief. Opioid drugs may help relieve pain, but they can also create a physical dependence as a person develops a tolerance for the painkillers. Acupuncture and TCM offer an alternative to opiate drugs  and opioids like Codeine and Vicodin for treating pain, and a way to help treat both opioid dependence and addiction.

We often hear in the news that the U.S. is facing an “opioid epidemic.” Recent statistics suggest that over ten million Americans may have an opioid use disorder. CDC data showed that over 75,000 people died from opioid overdoses in 2021.

Some of the most commonly used pain medications include:

  • Oxycodone (Oxycontin)
  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin)
  • Oxymorphone
  • Morphine
  • Methadone
  • Fentanyl
  • Codeine
  • Tramadol
  • Buprenorphine

Opioid medications are also known as “narcotics.” “Opiate” drugs are derived naturally from the poppy plant. These include: opium, codeine, and heroin. “Opioids” are synthetically produced in a lab. These include: oxycodone and fentanyl.

People are prescribed opioids or opiates to help them deal with severe pain, but the medications themselves can then become the primary cause of suffering in their lives. Roughly a quarter of people who are prescribed opioid pain medications end up misusing them.

Opioid misuse can mean different things, like: taking more than the prescribed dosage, using someone else’s medication, or continuing to take the medication even though it is having a negative impact on your health and life.

Dependence on opioids is different from addiction, and it is possible to experience drug dependence with or without also having a substance use disorder. 

When a person becomes dependent on a medication, it means that they require a certain dose of that substance in order to avoid withdrawal symptoms. This is why these medications are closely monitored by the prescribing medical doctor, so that the dosage is carefully controlled. A person may need to be slowly weaned off the medications when they are no longer necessary, so as to avoid withdrawal.

It is also possible for a person to develop an addiction to opioids, as they stimulate the release of endorphins, which help to block pain signals and produce positive feelings. When this process is repeated over and over, the body starts producing less endorphins naturally, and a higher dosage of the opioid medication is required to produce the same effect; this is what we mean by “tolerance” to the drug.

Addiction to opioids—or an opioid use disorder—is more likely the longer a person takes them—for example, for a chronic pain condition. Other factors, like depression or anxiety, high levels of stress at work or home, and use of other substances like tobacco and alcohol, can also play a role in addiction risk.

It can be difficult, even for doctors, to distinguish between physical dependence and addiction. Addiction is usually defined by “abuse” or “misuse.” When a person feels that they cannot live without the medication, though, there is clearly a problem. 

Acupuncture and TCM may play an important role in helping both individuals, and society as a whole, overcome dependence on opioid pain medications because it addresses the problem in several ways.

Top 10 Reasons Acupuncture Is a Good Alternative to Opioids for Pain Relief

acupuncture pain management
Acupuncture can help relieve pain.

Acupuncture has a natural analgesic effect and can help relieve severe pain and chronic pain, without negative side effects. 

  1. Acupuncture and other TCM modalities are an effective alternative for pain relief. 
  2. Acupuncture can be used to treat both acute pain and chronic pain.
  3. Acupuncture can help reduce the need for opioid-like medications after surgeries, by helping relieve postoperative pain.
  4. Acupuncture and herbs can help postoperative wounds heal more quickly.
  5. Acupuncture can help cancer patients by providing pain relief and additionally helping to relieve nausea and mitigating other side effects of cancer treatment.
  6. Acupuncture provides pain relief without negative side effects.
  7. Acupuncture can help individuals who are trying to stop taking opiates avoid withdrawal symptoms.
  8. Acupuncture can help alleviate cravings for addictive substances.
  9. Acupuncture helps to effect the release of endorphins naturally, which provides the same good feelings as drugs initially do.
  10. Acupuncture can be a more cost effective way to treat pain and addiction than other methods.

Treatment for Opioid Dependence

methadone opioid dependence
Acupuncture can help people reduce their need for pain medication.

Methadone Maintenance treatment (MMT) is widely used to treat opioid addiction or dependence. This method involves replacing the opioid drug with methadone, which is a synthetic opioid, so it acts on the same centers of the brain, which helps to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. This can help people wean themselves off of pain medications or heroin. However, there can be side effects, and MMT does not help everyone stop using or misusing opiates or prescription pain medications.

Long-term use of opioids can be detrimental to a person’s overall health, both mentally and physically. Hydrocodone side effects and oxycodone side effects can include: drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, constipation, irregular heartbeat, and increased risk of respiratory problems for people with asthma or COPDs like emphysema or chronic bronchitis.

Mental health issues and opioid misuse often go together. People who suffer from depression or anxiety are much more likely to use opioids to treat pain and then become emotionally dependent on them.

Overall, evidence suggests that pharmacological methods for treating opioid misuse are not very successful. TCM and acupuncture offer an alternative treatment for opioid dependence.

Can Acupuncture Help Relieve Pain Better Than Opioids?

While there is still much to be done in the way of scientific research to demonstrate exactly how acupuncture is able to effect changes in the body and help relieve pain, there is ample enough evidence to convince the medical community that acupuncture does, indeed, have a significant analgesic effect. For two decades now, the WHO has recommended acupuncture and TCM for many different pain conditions, including: 

Acupuncture may work so well to relieve pain because it appears to have an effect on the central nervous system and opioid peptide neurotransmitters, including endorphins. This means that acupuncture works on the opioid receptors in the brain.

One study of patients who were in methadone treatment for opioid dependence found that people who received acupuncture were able to reduce the amount of methadone they needed.

A study on patients who had lumbar spine surgery to help severe back pain showed that acupuncture worked well as a postoperative analgesic.

Acupuncture Near Me for Pain Management and Opioid Dependence in Los Angeles

It is absolutely necessary for so many people to find pain relief when they have an acute condition, or a chronic pain condition, or are in treatment for cancer or other serious illness. Serious pain causes mental anguish as well as physical limitations. Acupuncture and TCM offer an alternative treatment for pain management that helps not only to block pain, but also to relieve stress and anxiety. At Art of Wellness, we have over 30 years of experience helping people to manage pain safely and effectively.



 

*This article is for education from the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine only. The education provided by this article is not approved by FDA to diagnose, prevent, treat and cure human diseases. It should not stop you from consulting with your physician for your medical conditions. Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on Qi, which is an invisible force that usually cannot be observed by modern science. Because science focuses on testing ideas about the natural world with evidence obtained through observation, these aspects of acupuncture can’t be studied by science. Therefore acupuncture and Chinese herbs are often not supported by double-blind, randomized trials, and they are considered alternative medicine therapies in the United States.



Posted in Back Pain, Mental Health, Migraines, Migraines & Headaches, Pain, Stress & Anxiety, Uncategorized, What We Treat | Tagged , , | Comments Off on How To Help Dependence on Hydrocodone and Other Opioid Pain Medication With Acupuncture and TCM
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