Acupuncture

How to Manage IBS Diet With Acupuncture and TCM

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

IBS abdominal pain
Pain in the abdomen that moves around may be a sign of IBS

What is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)? IBS is a chronic gastrointestinal problem that causes uncomfortable changes in the body’s elimination process. One day you’re constipated, then a day or two later, you may have diarrhea. Pains move around the whole abdominal area, and your belly feels full and tight with excess gas. IBS treatment typically involves taking medications and following a special IBS diet, but many people continue suffering with no IBS cure. In this article, we’ll talk about how to get rid of IBS naturally with acupuncture and TCM.

IBS is a common digestive problem that can cause a lot of pain and anxiety around your daily bathroom habits. IBS can cause stress and even depression, compromising your ability to live life without worrying about when you’re going to have to go to the bathroom. Conversely, stress and anxiety function as triggers for bouts of IBS, so the problem becomes cyclical.

This gastrointestinal problem is called Irritable Bowel Syndrome because people who suffer from this disorder seem to have a more sensitive intestinal tract that is highly reactive to IBS triggers. Sometimes this condition is referred to as “spastic colon.” People who have primarily loose stools as a result of this condition are said to have “IBS-D” (diarrhea-predominant IBS), while people who suffer more from sluggish bowels have “IBS-C” (constipation-predominant IBS). 

Many people never seek help from their medical providers for IBS treatment, perhaps because they think their discomfort is normal. The ever-changing nature of IBS means it’s hard to get a handle on what is actually happening. The pain in the gut seems to move around all the time, and bathroom habits can feel totally unpredictable.

IBS Causes

According to conventional medicine, there is no one specific cause for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Having a more highly reactive intestinal tract may be due to many factors, some more clearly mechanical in nature, others more having to do with psychological factors. Inflammation in the gut, gastroenteritis, stressful or traumatic situations, heightened sensitivity to movements and sensations within the abdomen, and miscommunications of the autonomic nervous system between the digestive organs and brain may all play a role in IBS.

We usually think of serotonin as being a hormone in the brain that affects mood and the ability to fall asleep. But serotonin is a neurotransmitter that also plays a key role in the function of the gut, affecting how the intestines move and secrete gastric juices, as well as how we viscerally perceive these functions. Changes or abnormalities in serotonin release or uptake seem to be one of the issues related to IBS.

Top 5 IBS Triggers are:

  1. Stress
  2. Abnormal levels of serotonin in the digestive tract
  3. An infection or abnormal level of bacteria in the digestive tract
  4. Strong reactions to certain foods/Celiac disease
  5. Weak colon muscle action

IBS involves, on some level, problems with both the motor function of the bowel itself and the extent to which a person is physically aware of “stuff going on” in their intestines and colon. Inflammation from infections or hormone changes caused by the menstrual cycle can also directly affect bowel motility. Those same things can cause a person to be hypersensitive to every little movement of the intestines, making them feel like painful cramps.

IBS and Gut Health

The balance of gut bacteria, or “flora” in the intestines, has been more recently shown to play a vital role in overall health. Gut bacteria are instrumental in the proper functioning of the immune system and the assimilation of nutrients from our food. The balance of the gut flora can be disturbed by taking antibiotics or a gastric infection, such as norovirus or other flu-type illnesses. Medical science is still making strides in learning how the health of the gut is very closely connected with the brain. It is becoming clear that gut health is inextricably related to mental health. 

abdominal pain
IBS can cause abdominal pain, bloating, and cramping

We know that stress, both chronic and acute, can cause all kinds of health issues. The mind-body connection is particularly apparent when it comes to IBS triggers. Feelings of anxiety create a ripple effect through the middle of the body, affecting the whole digestive system, causing pain and volatile action. Fear, shame, and even feelings of panic about having to run to the bathroom keep the whole process in a repeating loop. 

IBS treatment often involves antibiotics or probiotics, but this has not been shown to be effective long-term. Many times doctors will prescribe medicines for anxiety (like Valium or Atavan) or depression to help provide IBS relief. However, these pharmacological treatments do not really address the root causes of the syndrome, and they may cause negative side effects, and sometimes create a dependency on the medication.

Top 5 Signs of IBS

A syndrome is a collection of symptoms that often appear together for which there is no clear medical explanation. According to conventional medicine, irritable bowel syndrome is evident when a person has frequent abdominal discomfort, which could mean a “stomach ache” or cramping, and bouts of constipation or diarrhea, or sometimes both, in alternation. In other words, IBS is signified by changes in the frequency or consistency of bowel movements, accompanied by marked discomfort before having them. 

Top 5 Symptoms of IBS are:

  1. Abdominal pain
  2. Bloating and excess gas
  3. Constipation and/or diarrhea
  4. Mucus in the stool or other irregularities
  5. Nausea

IBS is more common among women than men. This may be due to fluctuations in hormones that affect the chemical balance and muscle action of the intestines. Women may experience more IBS symptoms in conjunction with their menstrual periods.

Conventional treatment for IBS typically involves the offering of various medications to deal with these symptoms. Anti-spasmodics may be used to help reduce cramping and contractions in the bowel, and anti-diarrheal medications such as Imodium may slow down the movements of the bowel, but these IBS medications do not help to restore true balance to the digestive system.

How to Treat IBS With Acupuncture

TCM and acupuncture work according to holistic principles, meaning that we are careful to look at the whole picture of what is going on with a person: emotionally, spiritually, physically, nutritionally, and energetically. According to TCM philosophy, the spleen is the organ responsible for processing our food and turning it into energy. IBS treatment with acupuncture is a matter of aligning the communications between the Shen (the mind) and the Spleen. Deficiency of the spleen is the primary TCM diagnosis for most patients with IBS symptoms. It is equally important to address problems of the Shen at the same time. 

The most common TCM differentiations of IBS patterns are:

  • Spleen Deficiency with Liver Qi stagnation: symptoms of this condition include diarrhea, mucus in the stool, abdominal pain, cramping, gassiness, bloating, irritability, and depression with lots of heavy sighing.
  • Spleen Deficiency with Stomach deficiency: shows symptoms like watery stools, feeling of fullness and distension after eating, poor appetite, a pale complexion and fatigue.
  • Spleen Deficiency with Kidney Deficiency: symptoms include diarrhea, especially in the morning, partially digested food in the stool, aches and pain in the abdomen, lower back, and knees, with a sense of coldness.

Moxibustion is a TCM treatment used in addition to acupuncture to treat IBS. One study showed that acupuncture treatment combined with moxibustion to get rid of IBS was extremely effective for reducing both the discomfort and frequency of bowel movements.

Another study that tested both herbal formulations and acupuncture treatment on patients with IBS showed that both methods were effective at reducing symptoms.

Acupuncture treatment will also focus on reducing stress, anxiety, and fatigue. Acupuncture has been shown to help restore the balance of serotonin levels, as well.

IBS Diet According to TCM

Stomach 37 acupressure point
Stomach 37 acupressure point

Chinese herbs, as always, are also integral to the successful treatment of IBS. In the TCM philosophy of healthcare, nutrition is considered to be just as important as acupuncture, moxibustion, herbal formulae, and other forms of therapeutic treatment. Herbs are a way to get nutrients into the body that are not necessarily present in the foods we commonly eat. TCM practitioners are trained extensively in the energetic and nutritional values of food and will spend time working with patients to modify eating habits and focus on a special IBS diet. Apart from reducing common problems like excessive coffee and alcohol intake, your acupuncturist will work with you to discover which foods act as IBS triggers for you and help you to make the most beneficial modifications to your IBS diet plan.

Top 5 Acupressure Points to Help IBS

Acupressure can be a very effective means how to treat IBS naturally yourself. Acupressure uses the same collection of points located along the meridians of the body as acupuncture to help eliminate blockages and encourage blood and Qi to move freely through the body. These points located along the spleen, bladder, stomach and “conception vessel” meridians can help provide IBS relief. The conception vessel meridian runs up the front and center of the torso, from the pubic area to the mouth. Also known as the “Sea of Yin,” this channel is instrumental in directing all the yin energy in the body. As it is very exposed, this energy center can feel vulnerable, and may be where we tighten up, hunch over, and try to hide and protect ourselves. Tension along this channel can be a major energetic factor in the cramping and spasming actions of IBS.

Try these top 5 acupressure point for IBS relief:

  1. CV6 – located two finger-widths beneath the navel, gently rubbing this point with circular motions helps to relieve belly pain, cramping,
    Spleen 4 acupressure point
    Spleen 4 acupressure point

    and constipation.

  2. CV12 – located at the midpoint between the lower end of the sternum and the navel, rubbing this point in a circular motion can help relieve gas pain, bloating and acid reflux.
  3. SP4 – located on the inner edge of the foot, right above where the arch begins, stimulating this spleen point can help relieve gastric spasms and diarrhea.
  4. UB25 – these two points in the lower back, right beneath LV-4, can help relieve abdominal distension, constipation, and lower back pain.
  5. ST37 – also known as the “Upper Great Hollow,” these points are located along the outside edges of the shin bones, a few inches below the knees. Pressing firmly here can help relieve abdominal pain, constipation and diarrhea.

Acupuncture Near Me for How to Solve IBS 

If the IBS signs described here sound familiar because you or someone you know has been suffering from frequent abdominal discomfort and constipation or diarrhea, or both, it is important to seek help and advice from your healthcare providers. When conventional IBS treatment doesn’t seem to be helping, acupuncture and TCM may help you find IBS relief. Call us at Art of Wellness to get started with an IBS diet plan and course of acupuncture treatment.

 

*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.

How to Treat Ringing in the Ears With Acupuncture

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

ringing in the ears
ringing in the ears may be a sign of other problems

How do I stop ringing in my ears? Why do I have ringing in one ear sometimes, ringing in the left ear or ringing in the right ear? Constant ringing in ears can impact the ability to work, sleep, and live life normally. The fear that you may be going deaf or never be able to shake that humming in ears can even cause depression. Can acupuncture help ringing in the ears? The good news is: yes, it can!

We’ve all experienced that annoying buzzing in ear and temporary hear loss at some point, probably after a loud music concert or working with power tools. But ringing in the ears, also known as tinnitus, that persists long term may be a sign of other health problems. 

What is tinnitus? When you seek advice from your doctor, he/she will explain it in detail. Tinnitus is the medical term for the perception of a buzzing sound or ringing in the ears, which might be intermittent or persistent. The sense of humming in the ears or ringing in one ear is common; roughly a third of the population has experienced it at some point in their lives. Acupuncture can be an effective treatment for reducing the volume and insistence of tinnitus symptoms.

Constant ringing in the ears is not really considered a medical condition in and of itself; tinnitus is caused by other underlying problems. Hear loss and the perception of sounds that other people can’t hear, sometimes more like a clicking or hissing, may be due to some malfunction of the auditory nerve that connects the inner ear to the parts of the brain that perceive sounds. 

Tinnitus is correlated with chronic stress. Many military veterans suffer from tinnitus due to the frequent very loud, explosive noises they are exposed to during training and combat. Depending on the severity, ringing in the ears can seriously impact a person’s ability to function. Is tinnitus curable? Modern medical science does not have a definitive solution. It may be worthwhile to seek out alternative methods to treat ringing in right ear or ringing in left ear. Acupuncture treatment can help ringing in the ears to fade. 

Top 10 Causes of Ringing in the Ears

Most people who suffer from high pitched ringing in ears have experienced some damage to the cochlea, the sensitive cells of the inner ear, because of loud sounds. When a person is exposed to very loud noises over a long period of time, permanent damage to the inner ear can occur. But ringing in ears causes can include several other medical conditions.

The main tinnitus causes are:

  1. Prolonged exposure to loud noises
  2. Head or neck injuries, such as whiplash
  3. TMJ that irritates the auditory nerve
  4. Circulatory problems like high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease
  5. Meinere’s disease (a syndrome marked by tinnitus, vertigo, deafness, and a sensation of the ears being clogged)
  6. Age-induced hearing loss (deaf)
  7. Infection in the ear
  8. Overproduction of earwax
  9. Foreign object obstructing the ear canal
  10. Congestion of the head and nose due to cold, flu or sinus infection

Certain medications can cause ototoxicity, which damages the sensitive cochlea of the inner ear. Ototox damage can be caused by chemotherapy or by some antibiotics. Loss of balance and the ability to hear sounds with high frequencies are other signs of ototoxicity

Conventional Tinnitus Remedies

Currently there is no medical tinnitus cure. Mild cases of ringing in the ears due to head congestion or a brief exposure to loud noises will likely resolve themselves in time. Tinnitus caused by something blocking the ear canal, such as excess earwax, buildup of dirt or hair, a small object or even simple head congestion can be cleared up by removing the blockage.

If the symptom of ringing in the ears is determined to be caused by a mechanical problem (like TMJ), trauma, or injury, then that must be healed in order to resolve the tinnitus. 

Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialists may treat tinnitus with vasodilator drugs, which dilate the blood vessels in the ear in the hopes that increased blood flow will help heal damaged cells. Unfortunately, these medications for tinnitus can have some negative side effects, including heart palpitations, headaches, lethargy and anxiety in some patients. Injections or intravenous application of lidocaine to the inner ear has been used as a remedy, but this treatment has also caused side effects such as vertigo and nausea, and in some patients, it worsened their tinnitus. Lidocaine itself may cause ototoxicity, and therefore increase the chances of hearing loss.

ringing in the ears
constant ringing in the ears can make it difficult to function

People with a persistent problem of both hearing loss and ringing in right ear are often recommended hearing aids, which help to increase the volume of external sounds, so that the perception of internal noises is reduced. In other cases, people may use electronic sound-masking devices that create ambient “white noise” to help cancel out the sound of humming or ringing in left ear. 

Sometimes people are referred to a therapist for cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which helps people learn to cope with the condition. Tinnitus retaining therapy (TRT) is specifically designed to help people learn to ignore the constant background noise through habituation.  Often people are prescribed psychiatric medications for depression and anxiety to help them sleep better and feel less distressed by the sensation of constant ringing in ears.

Ringing in the ears that persists over time can and should be addressed with alternative therapies if these methods are not improving a person’s quality of life.

Does Acupuncture Help Ringing in the Ears?

Tinnitus is believed to be related to the somatosensory nervous system, which gathers signals from the sensory organs of the head and face and communicates them to the brain. When neck or head trauma, circulatory problems, nerve damage, dental work, or other events cause damage to the auditory nerves or the cochlea of the inner ear, signals can begin to misfire. Hyperactive firing of the auditory nerves can lead to the “phantom sounds” of tinnitus. 

According to TCM theory, problems such as tinnitus are caused by imbalances of the energies of the body. Sometimes there is excessive energy or heat arising in one organ system, and/or a deficiency of energy or blood flow in other organ systems. In TCM, we would usually consider ringing in the ears to be related to one of the following differentiations:

  • Excessive, rising liver heat
  • Excessive liver and gallbladder heat
  • Phlegm-fire stagnation
  • Kidney essence deficiency
  • Blood-Qi deficiency

Often patients demonstrate a combination of two or more of these excesses and/or deficiencies. Excessive conditions tend to show irritability, headaches, and dizziness. The ringing in the ears is loud, and comes on suddenly. With deficient conditions, the onset of the noise is low, more like a whooshing or humming that comes and goes, and may be accompanied by poor memory and focus.

ringing in the ears can disturb your sleep
ringing in the ears can disturb your sleep

After listening carefully to learn exactly how the patient’s symptoms are presenting, an acupuncture practitioner will use a specific combination of acupoints at each session to dispel blockages and bring the energies into harmony. Acupuncture treatment works on tinnitus by improving blood flow to the affected areas, helping to promote regeneration of nerve tissues, calming anxiety, reducing the effects of chronic stress, and improving sleep.

TCM uses herbal formulae to support the work of the acupuncture treatment. For tinnitus, the TCM practitioner will choose herbs to help boost circulation of blood and Qi, clear heat in the liver, strengthen the kidneys, and calm the mind.

One study showed that patients receiving acupuncture treatments reported a significant reduction in the severity and loudness of ringing in the ears when compared with patients being given a placebo treatment. 

Another study at a hospital in China showed that treatment led to a marked improvement of overall hearing capability, reduced loud ringing in ears, and reduced depression.

Tinnitus that is caused by mechanical problems such as TMJ or a whiplash injury to the neck can also be helped by acupuncture treatment by focusing on reducing inflammation and pain in those areas that are impacting the auditory nerves.

Top 3 Tips for Self Care of Ringing in the Ears

If you are suffering from tinnitus or mild deafness, it is important to make some lifestyle modifications so that you can get past the sensation of humming in ears.

  1. Cut out caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco. It is well known that these chemicals contribute to tinnitus.
  2. Protect your hearing. When going to a loud concert or using power tools, wear ear plugs.
  3. Reduce stress and make rest a priority. Chronic stress leads to many health problems, and ringing in the ears is another sign that you may need to focus more on exercise, meditation, mindfulness, and quality time devoted to relaxing the mind and body.

Acupuncture Near Me for Ringing in the Ears

If you or someone you know is suffering from constant ringing in the ears, please see your doctor to have your hearing checked, as well as screening for any cardiovascular, thyroid, or other potential problems impacting your hearing. If conventional treatments do not bring relief of tinnitus symptoms, then we encourage you to call us at Art of Wellness and try an alternative approach to tinnitus remedies.

 

*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.

How to Treat Panic Attacks With Acupuncture and TCM

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

Dr. Tan treating a patient
Acupuncture treatment can relieve panic attack.

A panic attack is a sudden, overwhelming sense of fear that causes an intense emotional and physical response, often including trouble breathing, heart or chest pain, sweating, and dizziness. One way to get help for panic attacks and relieve the effects of long-term stress is with acupuncture and TCM.

Anyone might have one or two panic attacks in their lifetime. When a person has attacks frequently, they may be diagnosed with panic disorder. Most typically, this disorder arises when a person is in early adulthood, but panic attacks can also occur in children and adolescents. For people who experience panic attacks, quality of life can be greatly reduced, as the haunting worry that another episode may come on unexpectedly at any time may cause them to begin limiting their activities. In some cases, panic disorder with agoraphobia, a psychological condition in which a person is so afraid of entering into situations where they feel unsafe that they begin to avoid going out, go hand in hand together. Panic attacks are also often related to anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive behaviors. 

When a person seeks out medical care, panic attack treatment usually involves a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and prescription psychiatric medications like antidepressants (zoloft for panic attack) or tranquilizers. This combination of therapy may help reduce the frequency and severity of panic attacks, but these types of drugs can come with side effects and start a dependency. TCM and acupuncture offer natural remedies for panic attack that work quickly; many patients begin to feel better after their very first treatment.

Top 10 Signs of a Panic Attack

A panic attack comes on suddenly, instilling an intense feeling of dread that typically peaks within ten minutes, then begins to dissipate.

A panic attack is medically defined as involving at least four of these symptoms:

  • Accelerated heart rate, palpitations, sensation of heart pounding or racing
  • Trembling, shaking
  • Sweating, hot flush, or chills
  • Feeling that you can’t catch your breath or are choking
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Nausea, upset stomach
  • Feeling faint, dizzy, light-headed
  • Numbness or tingling (paresthesia)
  • Feeling detached
  • Fear of losing control or dying

The symptoms associated with panic attack are very scary and similar to other, potentially life-threatening conditions, such as a heart attack or an asthma attack. People with panic disorder often feel they must organize their lives around the fear of having another attack. Some people may repeatedly seek out emergency care when in the throes of an attack because they are very seriously afraid that they may be dying.

Panic Attack Causes

The exact cause of panic attacks is not completely understood by medical science. In some instances, panic attacks are brought on by specific psychological triggers, such as having to take a test, flying, or being in a crowded or tight space. Some people experience a panic attack while driving. But many people have panic attacks for no apparent reason, sometimes even being awakened from sleep with a racing heartbeat (nocturnal panic attack or panic attack in the middle of the night). It is believed that some people are more prone to extreme stress responses, and this condition does seem to run in families, so genetics may play a role. The physical signs of stress and anxiety are the body’s way of reacting to danger. The sympathetic nervous system causes the adrenal glands to produce hormones that stimulate that “fight or flight” feeling of energy. When a person has gone through a prolonged period of chronic stress, or experienced a trauma, the system can become unbalanced, and he or she may feel an extreme version of this chemical response flooding the body, even though there is no immediate danger. 

How Is Panic Disorder Different From Anxiety?

Panic disorder is considered to be a type of anxiety disorder, but it is differentiated from Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Panic attacks are similar to anxiety in the sense that both can cause emotional feelings of fear and dread and physical sensations of a fast heartbeat and difficulty breathing. They are both health conditions related to the long term mental and physical effects of stress. The difference is that a panic attack is more extreme in its intensity and lasts for a short period of time, whereas anxiety is a pervasive, uncomfortable feeling that goes on and on. 

Panic Attacks During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is an emotional time, and most women have some feelings of worry. However, some women experience more serious anxiety and panic attack while pregnant. These feelings should definitely be addressed, as documented studies have shown that women who suffered panic attacks during pregnancy were more likely to experience preterm birth and/or deliver an infant who is small for their gestational age.

Panic episodes may also manifest during the postpartum period, especially among women who have just given birth to their first child. This may be at least partially due to the sudden fluctuation of hormones that occurs after birth. Acupuncture and natural herbs for anxiety and panic attack offer an effective way of dealing with panic attacks during pregnancy and after.

How to Stop Panic Attacks With Acupuncture

L-3 the Great Surge acupoint
Stimulate L-3 the Great Surge acupoint to relieve anxiety and panic

The idea of a mind-body connection is still rather new in western medical thought, but the belief that the physical, emotional, and spiritual are all inextricably intertwined has been part of Traditional Chinese Medicine theory for thousands of years. According to TCM, emotional energy can build up in the body; if it isn’t released, it can cause imbalances. 

Fear causes Qi, the life force energy that flows through the body, to move downwards; this is what causes sensations of light-headedness and disorientation. Fear is related to the kidneys, which are involved in the release of adrenaline and cortisol in response to stressors. Anger and frustration are related to the liver, grief is related to the lungs, and worry is related to the spleen. After a thorough consultation to understand the nature of an individual’s panic attack patterns, an acupuncture practitioner may choose points to work upon the appropriate organ systems to encourage the smooth flow of Qi. Acupuncture treatment has been shown to help balance levels of cortisol and serotonin, which will help even out the emotional state and regulate the body’s stress responses.

Herbal supplements and nutrition are key components of comprehensive TCM management of panic attack. Your acupuncturist will likely formulate a specific combination of herbs that will help support the kidneys and other organs, as well as giving directions as to what foods will be most and least beneficial to help resolve the chronic effects of stress underlying the panic disorder.

Top 5 Tips for Calming Down From a Panic Attack

Dr. Cai Tai Chi 1
Tai Chi helps you focus on breathing to calm your mind and body

The best help for panic attacks is to focus on breathing. Disciplines that help you learn how to control breathing and be present in the moment, such as meditation, Tai Qi, and yoga, are excellent for helping to prevent a panic attack trigger from leading to a panic attack severe enough to disrupt your life.

  1. Practice breathing: find a type of breathwork that you find inspiring. It might be a simple meditation app that you use before bed at night, or it might be a challenging yoga practice that takes you outside of your comfort zone. It can be therapeutic to learn to breathe through discomfort so that when you are triggered, you can be more adapted to coping with a panic attack.
  2. Acupressure: stimulating specific acupressure points on the body can help relieve stress and dissipate panicky feelings. One good point to try for acupressure for panic attack is L-3, sometimes called the “Great Surge,” which refers to big rushes of energy that move up through the body when we feel stressed. This point is located on the top of the foot, between the tendons of the big and second toes, about an inch up from the base of the toes. Pressing deeply into this area and rubbing helps to control feelings of anxiety. This point is useful for times when you are in the middle of something (maybe a Zoom meeting?), as you can use the toe or heel of one foot to press the L-3 point on the other foot.
  3. Eat foods high in B vitamins: B vitamins support the nervous system, so it’s important to emphasize them in your diet. Foods high in B vitamins include: leafy greens, beans, turkey, salmon, eggs, and nutritional yeast.
  4. Avoid sugar, coffee, and alcohol. These substances create excess heat in the body, which can contribute to feelings of anger and frustration. Alcohol and panic attacks, and caffeine panic attack can be helped by drinking more water and herbal teas instead.
  5. Self-talk: Many people with anxiety, depression, or panic disorder are stuck in a loop of thinking negative thoughts. When a panic attack strikes, a person start thinking, “this is a disaster,” or “I’m dying.” Practice telling yourself what to say for preventing a panic attack, such as “this is just anxiety,” or “this will be over soon.” Look for something near you to focus on instead, and ground yourself by naming it. 

There may be no simple panic attack cure, but with acupuncture treatment and herbs, good nutrition, exercise, and positive affirmation, it is certainly possible to reduce the frequency and severity of panic attacks.

Acupuncture Near Me to Help for Panic Attacks

If you or a loved one suffer from panic attacks, make an appointment with your doctor for medical advice. You can also seek alternative medicines and or treatments, such as acupuncture and TCM in your area. At Art of Wellness, our doctors have over 30 years of experience helping people overcome stress, anxiety, and panic attacks naturally.

 

*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.

How To Prevent Miscarriage With Acupuncture and TCM

By Xiaomei Cai, L.Ac., Ph.D.

Dr. Cai treating a patient
Acupuncture treatment can help prevent miscarriage

Miscarriage is the spontaneous loss of pregnancy. While it is not talked about much, it is very common; 10-20% of pregnancies end in early miscarriage. TCM and acupuncture methods, well-known for helping women with infertility issues, can be used successfully to prevent threatened miscarriage.

Sometimes called spontaneous abortion, miscarriage at 12 weeks or earlier is often due to chromosomal abnormalities in the developing fetus. In some cases, miscarriage or recurrent miscarriages are caused by the mother’s health condition. 

While miscarriage is common, and very early miscarriage, sometimes called chemical pregnancy, may even go unnoticed, women who have experienced this should seek out care. The spontaneous ending of pregnancy is emotionally difficult no matter the circumstances, and hormone imbalances can cause other problems if left unaddressed. Acupuncture treatment and TCM herbal supplements can help support a full recovery and lay a healthy foundation for getting pregnant after miscarriage.

Signs and Symptoms of Miscarriage

While some bleeding in the first trimester is common (about 20% of women experience this), it can be an indication that the pregnancy is at risk. 

Other signs of miscarriage include:

  • Vaginal bleeding that is brownish or bright red
  • Discharge that include clots
  • Cramping or pain in the abdomen or lower back area, similar to menstrual cramps
  • Contractions in the uterus that occur every 5-20 minutes, similar to labor pains
  • Decrease in other early pregnancy symptoms, such as nausea and breast tenderness

In some cases, a miscarriage occurs without any signs of cramping or bleeding at all. Sometimes referred to as a missed miscarriage, missed abortion, or silent miscarriage, in this situation, a woman may not discover that she has miscarried until a doctor finds that there is no fetal heartbeat and checks via ultrasound and/or testing for HCG (pregnancy hormone) levels.

What Causes Miscarriage?

A positive pregnancy test usually can’t confirm a pregnancy until the third or fourth week, once implantation has occurred. It is estimated that miscarriage at 4 weeks or earlier, or when a fertilized egg has not successfully implanted, happens in up to 70% of conceptions. Miscarriage at 6 weeks or later is much less common; only about 5% of pregnancies end once this time when the heartbeat can be detected has passed.

Maternal age is one risk factor (20% of women over 35 might miscarry, while as many as 80% of pregnant women over 45 might miscarry). Chromosomal abnormalities in an embryo are more likely when a woman is older. The other most common reasons for a miscarriage to occur include:

  • Hormonal imbalances – due to PCOS, low progesterone, diabetes, thyroid condition, etc.
  • Thin or nutrient-poor endometrial lining
  • Autoimmune issues
  • Structural issues of the cervix or uterus, polyps, fibroid
  • Exposure to toxins
  • Smoking, alcohol, use of drugs

One of the primary reasons that a woman might miscarry during the second trimester is cervical insufficiency. In this case, there may be no prior symptoms, but the miscarriage begins with pressure or the water breaking. Once this weakness of the cervix has been discovered, doctors can treat this condition and protect subsequent pregnancies by making a “circling” stitch in the cervix at around the 12th week. 

Recovering from a Miscarriage

The extent to which a woman may need medical intervention during miscarriage varies, depending on how advanced the pregnancy. If the pregnancy was still in the very early stages, and there is heavy bleeding, then the uterus may empty itself. However, if things have progressed further into the first trimester, and miscarriage at 12 weeks or thereabouts occurs, a woman may need medical attention to help expel all of the tissues from the uterus. This may be accomplished with medication (misoprostol, sometimes combined with mifepristone), taken orally or as a suppository, which will cause more cramping and the expulsion of the fetal and placental tissues. In other cases, it may be necessary for a doctor to perform a D & C (dilation and curettage), in which the tissues are surgically removed from the uterus.

Conventional medical treatment for miscarriage unfortunately does not offer much in the way of healing. The hormonal and emotional effects of a miscarriage can be profoundly upsetting. Feelings of grief, disappointment, and loss are very real, and if unresolved, can affect a woman’s mental and physical health going forward. Your acupuncture practitioner can provide holistic alternative care to help you recover from miscarriage. A program of acupuncture treatments, herbs, and caring support will focus on reestablishing a good flow of Qi and blood to the reproductive system while alleviating stress and anxiety. Balancing the hormones and emotions allows for the menstrual cycle to return to normal, and strengthens the organ systems so that subsequent pregnancy will start from a place of peak heath.

Can Acupuncture Help Prevent Miscarriage?

bed rest may be recommended
Bed rest may be recommended to help prevent miscarriage.

According to TCM theory, the vital energies–Jing (or essence), Qi (life force energy), Yin (female/cool energy) and Yang (male/warm energy)–must be balanced for optimal health, and this is especially true when a woman is preparing to bring a new life into the world. The quality of eggs and sperm depend on it. Naturally, as a woman ages, there will be some depletion of these energies, and this can be exacerbated by lifestyle habits: stress, overwork, diet, lack of sleep, etc. 

Overall, TCM recognizes 4 differentiations of conditions that can lead to miscarriage:

  • Kidney deficiency – Women with this type of deficiency may have experienced a late menarche (delayed first period), irregular cycles, anovulatory cycles (don’t always ovulate), long cycles. A woman might have been born with a kidney deficiency or it can develop due to exhaustion, heavy labor, or excessive sexual behaviors.
  • Blood or Qi deficiency – This condition is related to the digestive system, when the stomach and/or spleen are not bringing enough nutrients to support and nourish the embryo.
  • Excess Heat – If internal fire is too strong, it causes bleeding. This can cause the placenta to become detached and uterine contractions to begin, causing miscarriage.
  • Injury – a fall or accident or excessive sexual activity during pregnancy can irritate the uterus, causing contractions.

Other causes could include: medications, antibiotics, food poisoning, or exposure to environmental toxins. Based on the presenting symptoms, an acupuncturist will determine which differentiation and create a treatment plan to address root causes. We can help to prevent miscarriage when there is spotting or cramping by calming the uterus to stop contractions and bleeding. Bed rest may be recommended, involving no exercise, no sexual activity, and no heavy labor.

The most effective preventive treatment happens pre-pregnancy. If a woman has one or two miscarriages or even three or more (habitual miscarriage), it is important that we take action to prevent problems before conception. Three months of treatment will prepare the body well to insure a full-term pregnancy. Ideally, a woman who is ready to get pregnant would seek acupuncture treatment and herbs to help strengthen all aspects of the reproductive systems for at least a few cycles before conceiving.

Acupuncture treatment can help prevent miscarriage by:

  • Balancing hormones
  • Treating PCOS
  • Improving the quality of endometrial lining
  • Calming contractions early in the pregnancy
  • Improving blood flow and preventing clotting
  • Regulating immune responses
  • Reducing stress and anxiety

Top 5 Tips to Prevent Miscarriage 

mint tea
try chrysanthemum or peppermint tea as a cooling alternative

Self care is always important, but during pregnancy, it is especially vital to prioritize your health and wellness. The need to eat and rest appropriately cannot be overemphasized during this crucial time.

  1. Eat cooling foods – During pregnancy, women carry more heat in the body and often feel hot. It is best not to have anything too spicy; spicy food can encourage bleeding and trigger contractions. Cooling foods include: cucumbers, melons, citrus fruits, celery, leafy greens, soy and mung beans, eggs, millet, buckwheat, whole wheat.
  2. Avoid warming foods – Warming foods raise yang energy and body temperature. Be moderated from: deep fried food, coconut, leeks, onions, roasted walnuts, pistachios and pine nuts, and spices like cinnamon, cloves, pepper, ginger, garlic, mustard, chili pepper, or add more cooling food if there is warming food.
  3. Stay away from alcohol and coffee. Try chrysanthemum tea or peppermint tea as an alternative. 
  4. Make sure you are getting the right balance of calcium and magnesium. Most people get more calcium than magnesium. Foods high in magnesium include spinach, beans, brown rice, and fish like halibut and salmon. 
  5. If you experience bleeding or cramping, cease all activities, including manual labor, exercise and sex.

Acupuncture Near Me for Miscarriage Prevention

At Art of Wellness, our doctors have over 30 years of expertise in women’s healthcare through TCM and acupuncture. We specialize in helping women fulfill their dream of a healthy, full-term pregnancy from infertility treatment, to miscarriage prevention and complete pregnancy care. If you or someone you love is concerned about threatened miscarriage, please contact us to arrange an initial consultation and get started with a treatment plan right away.

We recommend that any woman who is seeking to start a family should begin partnering with her TCM practitioner before conceiving–ideally, for three months or menstrual cycles. This allows for any underlying health issues that may affect things to be addressed and gives the best chance for a full-term, healthy pregnancy.

 

*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.

How to Treat Neuropathy With Acupuncture and TCM

By Qineng Tan, L.Ac., Ph.D.

neuropathy in feet
neuropathy can cause pain and tingling in the hands and feet

Neuropathy pain and tingling, often in the hands or feet, is caused by damage to the nervous system. Dysfunction of the sympathetic nervous system can also interfere with autonomic internal processes like blood pressure and digestion. Relieve the effects of nerve damage with integrative care that includes acupuncture and TCM.

Neuropathy refers in general to the dysfunction or disease of one or more nerves, causing pain, sensitivity, and/or degenerative atrophy in parts of the body, usually the extremities. The most common form of neuropathy is peripheral neuropathy, in which damage to the peripheral nervous system–the signalling system that allows the brain and spinal cord to communicate with the rest of the body–leads to a breakdown in communication. 

Peripheral neuropathy is believed to affect about 30 million people in the U.S. In some cases, neuropathy causes severe pain and can be disabling. Neuropathy in feet may be the most recognizable form of this condition, but different kinds of nerve damage can affect many parts of the body.

Symptoms of neuropathy vary widely from person to person, so it can be challenging to get a specific diagnosis. Some types of neuropathy develop slowly over many years (chronic neuropathy), while others can come on quite suddenly (acute neuropathy). There is currently no cure for neuropathy, and conventional medicine has limited ways of addressing the underlying causes of most neuropathies. Medical treatment mostly focuses on relieving painful symptoms with medications.

Studies have shown that acupuncture and TCM present an effective form of complementary or alternative treatment that can work upon the deeper dysfunctions that led to the degeneration of the nervous system in the first place.

Symptoms of Neuropathy

The signs of neuropathy can be subtle or severe, and appear in widely different combinations. The most common symptoms of peripheral neuropathy include:

  • Tingling or numbness in hands and feet
  • Burning or sharp pains in the limbs
  • High sensitivity to touch, temperature
  • Conversely, an inability to sense temperature or external pressure–loss of sensation
  • Lack of coordination, balance, tendency to fall
  • Muscle twitching, cramping, or weakness
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness when rising to standing position
  • Problems with control of the bladder and/or bowel
  • Loss of sexual function
  • Unintentional weight loss

Diagnosis of neuropathy usually involves a combination of electrodiagnostic tests to measure the electrical activity of nerves and muscles and blood tests to determine deficiencies, toxicity and/or abnormal immune responses. Quantitative Sensory testing can help determine the extent of nerve damage that exists, and Autonomic testing can assess whether there is damage to the autonomic nervous system, which controls things like blood pressure and sweating to manage body temperature.

Top 10 Types of Neuropathy

In general, the major types of neuropathy are known as: peripheral, proximal, cranial, autonomic and focal. There are over 100 different kinds of specific neuropathies that affect different parts of the body in various ways, depending on where nerve damage has manifested. The most common types are discussed in detail below. 

  1. neuropathy carpal tunnel syndrome
    carpal tunnel syndrome is a type of compression neuropathy

    Peripheral neuropathy – The peripheral nervous system transmits messages from the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body.The somatic nervous system is made up of the cranial nerves and spinal nerves, which send messages between the brain and the periphery regarding voluntary movements, such as rising, walking, and picking up objects. When these systems sustain damage and become compromised, symptoms such as tingling, burning, numbness in the extremities, extreme sensitivity to touch, muscle weakness, loss of balance and coordination, or even paralysis can result.

  2. Autonomic neuropathy – The autonomic nervous system controls the body’s basic functions, such as the pumping of blood, the emptying of the excretory organs, and the digestive processes. When the small fibers of nerves lose their function, the fine movements necessary for the contraction of blood vessels are compromised, leading to inabilities of the organs to perform their usual activities.
  3. Sympathetic Nervous System Neuropathy – The sympathetic nervous system controls the body’s ability to react under urgent circumstances, triggering the “fight or flight” response. The rush of hormones causes a rise in heart rate and extra blood to flow to the muscles. Problems with the nerves that control this response are especially common in patients with diabetes and can have a negative impact on cardiovascular function, impairing coronary blood flow.
  4. Central neuropathic pain syndrome – due to damage to the central nerve system or spinal nerves, usually caused by a spinal cord injury, brain injury, or stroke. Can cause sharp, burning pain in localized areas, or throughout the body. Sometimes accompanies other chronic conditions like multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease.
  5. Compression mononeuropathy – Damage to a single nerve can cause pain, numbness, and/or loss of use of a specific part of the body, as in carpal tunnel syndrome, which affects the hand, wrist and arm, cubital tunnel syndrome (ulnar neuropathy), in which ulnar nerve entrapment compresses the ulnar nerve of the elbow, radial tunnel syndrome compressing the radial nerve, and femoral nerve dysfunction, which affects the leg, causing numbness in thigh or femoral nerve pain.
  6. Neuropathic arthropathy or Charcot’s Joint – a progressive condition that causes severe damage to the bones, cartilage, and soft tissues of joints, usually the ankle and foot area. This extreme form of arthritis occurs when a person has nerve damage to the extent that they cannot feel the grinding of bone on bone.
  7. Neuropathies of the 12 Cranial Nerves – damage to the nerves of the brain and brainstem can lead to dysfunction of the muscles that manage the movements of the eyes (optic nerve), or Bell’s Palsy, which affects the muscles of the face. 
  8. Thoracic and Lumbar Radiculopathy – A rare type of neuropathy, pinching or damage of the spinal nerves can cause pain around the chest (thoracic) or pain that radiates from the lower back (lumbar).
  9. Proximal Neuropathy – causes pain and weakness in the muscles of the hip, thigh and/or buttock, usually on just one side of the body.
  10. Unilateral Foot Drop – compression of the peroneal nerve in the leg causes difficulty in lifting the front part of the foot. People with this type of neuropathy, sometimes called “drop foot,” may drag their toes along the floor as they walk.

What Causes Neuropathy?

Chronic neuropathy is usually a secondary condition related to some other form of chronic disease. Diabetes is the most common and well-researched cause of neuropathies. Upwards of 60% of people with diabetes experience some form of nerve damage. Over time, high blood sugar levels cause weakening of the blood vessels that provide nutrients to nerve endings.

The main factors that can lead to various neuropathies include:

  • Diabetes 
  • Traumatic injury that damages nerve tissues
  • Side effects of medications or chemotherapy
  • Autoimmune and inflammatory conditions
  • Cardiovascular disease – narrowing of the arteries 
  • Kidney problems
  • Poor diet, overuse of alcohol 
  • Exposure to toxins

Damage to peripheral nerves is a common side effect of chemotherapy treatment for cancer. Many people who undergo chemotherapy experience some form of neuropathy that continues long after the round of treatment has ended.

Medical treatment of neuropathy often involves the management of the related chronic conditions, especially diabetes, with lifestyle changes. Proper management of diet can certainly help prevent and improve neuropathy symptoms, but it is difficult for most medical practitioners to spend much time counseling patients on nutrition and behavioral modification. Medications such as Lyrica, Neurontin, Cymbalta and Elavil are often prescribed to help manage the painful symptoms of nerve damage. These can help dull pain, but do not fundamentally treat the condition, and possible negative side effects include leg swelling, weight gain, and fatigue.

Acupuncture and TCM offer a safe alternative for treating neuropathy symptoms stemming from diabetes, chemotherapy, inflammatory and other conditions.

How Does Acupuncture Help Neuropathy?

According to TCM theory, peripheral neuropathy is related to dampness hampering the smooth flow of Qi and blood to the limbs. Acupuncture treatment, therefore, will focus both on resolving the underlying condition causing the dampness to accumulate and clearing the blockages in the energy pathways (meridians) so that Qi and blood can move freely again.

Nutrition is an integral part of TCM, and a qualified acupuncturist will be able to give specific advice for each individual on how to modify diet to help address underlying conditions affecting the health of the nervous system. Your acupuncturist will likely also introduce herbs that provide additional nutrients to balance the system. These medicinal herbs are sourced from plants and contain properties we do not get from the and vegetables we eat on a daily basis. TCM considers herbal supplements to be an important extension of the diet to enhance health.

One study conducted with patients with Type 2 diabetes compared results of patients using medications only versus those who also received acupuncture treatment. The acupuncture group saw vast improvement over the medication-only group, not only in relief of painful symptoms, but in disability scores as well.

A study comparing a group of patients who got acupuncture versus those who received sham acupuncture showed that the people who had real treatment showed improvement in sensory and motor function in a fifteen-day period.

Another study designed to look at the long-term effects of acupuncture on neuropathy pain showed that people who had received ten weeks of acupuncture treatment were able to reduce their use of medications, and the majority of patients reported that they were still feeling the benefits up to a year later.

neuropathy foot massage
Check and massage feet every day

Top 5 Tips for Care of Neuropathy in Feet

People with neuropathy are highly susceptible to seemingly small injuries to the feet that can quickly turn into serious infections. Because sensation is diminished, sometimes a small stub is not felt until it has already become problematic.

  1. Wash feet and dry them carefully every day. Check for any sores or swelling, and address immediately with ointment and appropriate bandaging.
  2. Massage your feet every day. Rub the tops and bottoms until they are warm. This encourages circulation and stimulates good sensitivity.
  3. Wear socks and shoes that provide support and cushioning without compression or irritation.
  4. Move the feet regularly. Even when you must sit for long periods, make a point of removing your shoes to stretch and wiggle your toes. Elevate the feet when possible.
  5. Don’t go barefoot or wear flimsy shoes. It is so easy to injure the feet this way, and you may not be conscious of a small abrasion until it is already infected.

Acupuncture Near Me for Neuropathy 

Our doctors at Art of Wellness have over 30 years of experience helping patients with chronic pain and neurological conditions. If you or a loved one has been suffering with neuropathy pain, please contact us to set up an initial consultation. We partner with you and other members of your healthcare team to provide the very best in integrative care.

 

*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.