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How to Treat MCAS With Acupuncture and TCM

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

 

MCAS symptoms dizziness
Dizziness and brain fog can be signs of MCAS.

Shortness of breath, dyspnea? SIBO or fungal infections? Sensitive to smells? Signs of orthostatic low blood pressure? Itchy skin rash or hives? Musculoskeletal pain, joint pain? These can be some of the many different MCAS symptoms. Acupuncture and TCM can offer alternative treatment for MCAS, or mast cell activation disorders. 

Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS) is a complex and often underdiagnosed condition characterized by the inappropriate activation of mast cells, which are immune cells involved in allergic and inflammatory responses throughout the body.

In short, mast cells are what cause people to have an allergic reaction to something. When mast cells encounter an allergen (or sometimes a medication, infection, or insect venom), antibodies inside them surface and send out “mediators.” Mast cells can produce hundreds of different types of mediators. These include histamine, leukotrienes and cytokines.

In MCAS, mast cells release excessive amounts of mediators, leading to a wide range of symptoms affecting various organ systems throughout the body. There are so many different mediators that science is not yet able to pinpoint which mediators may be causing which symptoms, in many cases.

This systemic activation of mast cells can occur spontaneously or in response to triggers such as stress, exercise, medications, infections, or environmental factors.

The symptoms of MCAS can vary widely among individuals and may mimic those of other conditions, making diagnosis challenging. There are five categories of MCAS symptom, affecting different parts or systems of the body:

MCAS rash, hives
Itchy skin rashes, hives, and other skin issues can be MCAS symptoms.

Skin-related MCAS Symptoms:
Itching (pruritus)
Hives (urticaria)
Flushing or redness of the skin
Rashes or eczema-like lesions
Swelling (angioedema), particularly of the face, lips, tongue, or throat

Gastrointestinal MCAS Symptoms:
Abdominal pain or cramping
Nausea and vomiting
Diarrhea or constipation
Acid reflux or heartburn
Bloating or abdominal distension

Respiratory MCAS Symptoms:
Wheezing or difficulty breathing (dyspnea)
Chest tightness or pain
Coughing or throat clearing
Nasal congestion or runny nose
Sneezing or postnasal drip

Cardiovascular MCAS symptoms:
Rapid or irregular heartbeat (palpitations)
Low blood pressure (hypotension)
Fainting or near-fainting episodes (syncope)
Fluctuations in blood pressure upon standing (orthostatic hypotension)
Raynaud’s phenomenon (abnormal blood vessel spasm in response to cold or stress)

Neurological MCAS symptoms:
Headaches or migraines
Dizziness or lightheadedness
Cognitive dysfunction or brain fog
Anxiety or panic attacks
Fatigue or malaise

These symptoms can vary in severity and may occur intermittently or chronically.

 

What Causes MCAS?

Medical science is unclear about the underlying cause of MCAS. Mastocytosis is a different mast cell disorder, in which people have an elevated number of mast cells. However, with MCAS, people have a normal number of mast cells; they just behave in an exaggerated manner when triggered. 

MCAS is “primary” when there is a particular genetic mutation, which may happen due to mastocytosis or monoclonal mast cell activation syndrome (MMAS,) in which there is a clonal line of mast cells.

In some cases, when a person also has a diagnosed autoimmune disorder, allergy, or infection the MCAS is considered “secondary,” meaning that the overactive mast cell activity may be stemming from that other primary condition.


A diagnosis of “Idiopathic MCAS” indicates that neither of the above factors is present. 

MCAS can begin at any point in a person’s life, including during childhood.

 

MCAS Treatment

MCAS muscle aches, joint pain
Joint pain and muscle aches can be MCAS symptoms.

Treatment for Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS) in Western medicine typically involves a combination of medications and lifestyle modifications aimed at stabilizing mast cells and alleviating symptoms. 

Antihistamines, such as H1 receptor blockers (e.g., loratadine, cetirizine) and H2 receptor blockers (e.g., famotidine, ranitidine), are commonly prescribed to reduce the effects of histamine released by mast cells. 

Mast cell stabilizers, such as cromolyn sodium, can help prevent the release of inflammatory mediators from mast cells and may be used as preventive therapy. In cases of severe or refractory symptoms, corticosteroids or leukotriene inhibitors may be prescribed to suppress the immune response and reduce inflammation. 

Medications to manage specific symptoms, such as gastrointestinal distress or cardiovascular symptoms, may be recommended. 

Lifestyle modifications, such as avoiding known triggers, managing stress, and following a healthy diet, may also play a crucial role in managing MCAS symptoms. 

It’s important for individuals with MCAS to work closely with their healthcare providers to develop a personalized treatment plan. Acupuncture and TCM can provide adjunct treatment for MCAS that address each patient’s unique symptoms and needs.

 

Can Acupuncture Help MCAS?

One of the central concepts of Traditional Chinese Medicine, which dates back many centuries, is that of the meridian system. The 12 meridians are channels of energy, or Qi, that flow throughout the body. Along the meridians are many acupoints: spots where Qi is activated when thin acupuncture needles or acupressure are applied to them. 

But do the meridians exist as physical entities, or are they metaphorical?  

Scientific research in the twentieth century sought to explain the various phenomena produced by the activation and manipulation of acupoints. It was found that both blood vessels and nerves are located near the acupoints in greater concentration than in other areas of the body. These studies suggested that acupuncture treatment functions through the vascular and nervous systems. 

Later, further studies showed that acupuncture has effects on the production and releasing of hormones, such as endorphins, which has a analgesic effect of reducing pain. 

The sensations that people feel as a result of acupuncture treatment cannot be fully explained by saying they are related to blood vessels, nerves, or hormones. Further questioning continued, asking if other cells or tissues could also be involved in how acupuncture works.

One female scientist, researcher, and professor in China, Jimei Song, hypothesized that activity around acupoints may be related to mast cell activation. This idea was Song’s Mast Cell Theory of Acupuncture (now called Song’s MC Theory for short, originally published in the Liaoning Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in 1977.

Chinese herbs for MCAS
Chinese herbs can help manage histamine response.

Studies suggest that when an acupuncture needle penetrates the skin, mast cells are released, which then in turn, affect the blood vessels and nerves, leading to both sensations experienced by the patient in the moments, and systemic effects on the release of histamines, serotonin, and other chemicals than go on to create systemic effects. This is now considered a milestone in TCM research.

Acupuncture has been shown to have a positive effect on histamine response. Specific Chinese herbal formulas have also been shown to be effective in dampening mast cell activation. Compounds found in some herbs can help inhibit the production of cytokines.

An acupuncturist is able to address the problem both at its root, and help take care of the wide variety of symptoms a person may be experiencing. Acupuncture treatment can help relieve problems like itchy skin rash, sensitivities, orthostatic low blood pressure, and joint pain, all in one treatment session. A personalized herb formula can be prescribed to suit each individual patient.

 

Acupuncture Near Me for MCAS in Los Angeles

MCAS can mimic many other conditions and be difficult to diagnose and treat. This is what makes acupuncture, herbs, and moxibustion excellent modalities for helping to relieve MCAS symptoms such as: dizziness, headaches, musculoskeletal pain, insomnia, anxiety, hives, GERD, IBS, interstitial cystitis bladder pressure, and more. Acupuncture and TCM can offer an adjunct or alternative treatment for MCAS symptoms.



 

*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 Sinusitis With Acupuncture and TCM

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

 

sinusitis, sinus pressure
Runny nose and sinus pain can be symptoms of sinusitis.

Stuffy nose, nasal congestion, sinus pressure or sinus headache? Lost your sense of smell? These could be sinusitis symptoms. Acute sinusitis is a sinus infection that can cause sinus pain, postnasal drip, and difficulty breathing. Acupuncture and TCM can help relieve sinus congestion and prevent chronic sinusitis.

The sinuses are four sets of hollow cavities inside the head (forehead, cheeks, and nose) that produce mucus and then allow it to drain through the nasal passageways. This process helps keep bacteria and allergens out of your nose. 

What causes sinusitis? Sinusitis occurs when a sinus infection causes the sinuses to become inflamed and not drain properly. This usually happens because of a viral infection, like the common cold, or a bacterial infection or fungal infection. A long-term candida infection can also contribute to the development of sinusitis.

Sinusitis can seem similar to rhinitis, also known as allergic rhinitis. Rhinitis refers to swelling and inflammation inside the nose, and can also cause symptoms like nasal congestion. The difference is that rhinitis is brought on by an allergic reaction—commonly “hay fever,” or seasonal allergies—instead of an infection, and rhinitis is centered in the nasal passages, rather than the sinuses.

Factors like allergies, asthma, structural blockages, or weakened immune systems can elevate the risk of someone getting sinusitis. When the sinuses are blocked, bacteria and other pathogens can proliferate more easily.

Acute sinusitis usually clears up on its own in about 10 days, although getting acupuncture treatment and herbs can help bring relief sooner.

If sinus pain, stuffed up nose, and yellow-green mucus are still present after two weeks, it may mean that there is an infection that isn’t clearing up.

People are more at risk for developing sinusitis if they have:

About 14% of Americans are diagnosed with chronic sinusitis every year; it’s one of the most common reasons that people will be prescribed antibiotics. However, if the sinusitis is occurring due to a viral infection, antibiotics are not really helpful.

TCM modalities of acupuncture, herbs, and moxibustion can help relieve symptoms of sinusitis and sinus pain, as well as helping to address allergies, asthma, clear up infections, improve immune function, and reduce inflammation.

 

Chronic Sinusitis and Nasal Polyps

Sinus headache and face pain can be signs of nasal polyps and chronic sinusitis.
Sinus headache and face pain can be signs of nasal polyps and chronic sinusitis.

It is fairly common for people with chronic sinusitis to also have nasal polyps. Nasal polyps develop when the nasal tissue becomes swollen and inflamed to such a degree that fluid-filled sacs form. 

If a person also suffers from allergies, then exposure to an allergen can cause the nasal polyps to become inflamed to the point that they block the nasal passages, causing difficulty breathing. When a person can’t breathe through their nose at night, in particular, it can lead to snoring and even sleep apnea.

Chinese herbal formulations that have antibacterial and antifungal properties can help to relieve overproduction of mucus and prevent nasal polyps from coming back.

Acupuncture treatment can also help people breathe easier and sleep better, stop snoring and relieve sleep apnea.

 

Top 5 Sinusitis Symptoms 

Sinusitis typically begins with the usual symptoms of the common cold. Then, instead of clearing up after several days, the symptoms get worse. Symptoms of sinusitis include:

 

  1. Stuffy nose: thick, yellow, or greenish mucus causes a runny nose
  2. Postnasal drip: when mucus drips down the throat. Postnasal drip can be particularly uncomfortable at night, when you’re trying to sleep.
  3. Nasal Congestion: A blocked or stuffy nose makes it hard to breathe through the nasal passages.
  4. Sinus headache or Facial Pain: Pain, tenderness, and pressure around the eyes, cheeks, nose, or forehead, especially intensified when bending over.
  5. Loss of smell: Altered sense of smell.

Other signs of sinusitis may Include:

 

Sinusitis Treatment

Medical treatment to help relieve symptoms of sinusitis typically involves:

  • Regularly spraying saline nasal spray (or saltwater) into the nose helps rinse the nasal passages.
  • Corticosteroid nasal sprays, such as fluticasone and budesonide, prevent and treat swelling in the nasal passages.
  • Over-the-counter decongestants in liquid, tablet, or nasal spray can help relieve nasal congestion. However, nasal decongestants should be used for a limited time to avoid rebound congestion.
  • If sinusitis is allergy-related, allergy medicines can alleviate allergy symptoms.
  • Acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or aspirin may be recommended to manage face pain and sinus headaches.
  • Antibiotics: Since acute sinusitis is often viral, antibiotics, which target bacteria, may not be immediately prescribed. Providers may adopt a “wait and see” approach, reserving antibiotics for severe, worsening, or prolonged cases.

 

For cases of sinusitis linked to allergies, immunotherapy, commonly in the form of allergy shots, may be recommended. Immunotherapy aims to desensitize the immune system to specific allergens, potentially reducing sinusitis symptoms triggered by allergies.

Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can provide a safe alternative treatment for sinusitis, without the side effects that some of these medications can cause.

 

Can Acupuncture Help Sinusitis?

Acupuncture for sinusitis
Acupuncture points on the head can help relieve sinus headaches and nasal congestion.

TCM has been used for centuries to treat sinus conditions. An acupuncturist will carefully observe each individual patient’s symptoms and experience to determine whether warming or cooling herbs are necessary to help relieve sinus congestion and treat the underlying cause of the problem.

According to TCM theory, sinusitis can result from external factors of wind and cold, which can weaken the lungs, preventing the lung system from doing its job of protecting the body from infections. In TCM, we say that the spleen produces phlegm, and the lungs store phlegm. 

In some cases, it is necessary to nourish the Spleen Qi in order to address underlying causes of mucus buildup and improve immune system function.

Specific acupuncture points can be very helpful for relieving sinus pressure, sinus headaches, and other symptoms of sinusitis. A few examples include Shen Ting (“Spirit Court”), Yin Tang (“Hall of Impression”), Ying Xiang (“Welcome Fragrance”), and Zhanzu.

One study of patients with sinusitis treated with acupuncture showed a 60% reduction in sinus pain, and significantly improved air flow. 

Another study showed that patients who had already had surgery for nasal polyps who received Chinese herbs in addition to conventional medical treatment had better quality of life, with less symptoms of nasal discharge, difficulty breathing, and bad breath.

A review of studies pertaining to TCM treatment for chronic rhinitis concluded that acupuncture is indeed an effective alternative or adjunct treatment for symptomatic improvement.

A study that offered acupuncture treatment and herbal formulations to help relieve nasal polyps found that this method helped prevent the recurrence of polyps.

 

Acupuncture Near Me for Sinusitis

Sinusitis, nasal polyps, and rhinitis are common conditions that cause a lot of discomfort for millions of people every year. If you or someone in your family is prone to recurrent infections that cause sinus pain and pressure, it may be time to try alternative medicine to help address the underlying causes of sinus headache and a constant stuffy nose and postnasal drip.





*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 Hay Fever With Acupuncture and TCM

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

 

hay fever, seasonal allergies, pollen
Seasonal allergies are usually triggered by pollen from plants.

Itchy eyes, runny nose and sneezing? These are some of the classic seasonal allergy symptoms, also known as allergic rhinitis, or hay fever. Acupuncture and TCM herbs can help relieve allergies, including pollen allergy symptoms.

Seasonal allergies affect about 20% of Americans. Allergic rhinitis is an immune system reaction to an allergen in the air that can be inhaled, like pollen from budding trees, growing grass, and plants like ragweed. Hay fever is a common term that typically describes being allergic to pollen.

“Pollen” are tiny seeds from plants that can be carried by the wind. When there is lots of pollen in the air, this is called a high pollen count. You can check the pollen count, like a weather report, to see when it is particularly high, and thus may affect people who suffer from seasonal allergies and asthma

While having an allergic reaction to common airborne allergens happens most often during the spring, summer, and early fall, when plants are giving off a lot of pollen, people can actually experience hay fever at any time of the year.

Similar allergy symptoms can occur due to exposure to dust mites, molds, and pet dander.

Acupuncture and TCM can help relieve the irritating symptoms caused by allergic reactions by helping to strengthen and balance the immune system so that it is not so easily triggered. 

 

Top 10 Seasonal Allergy Symptoms

Itchy eyes, watery eyes, allergy
Itchy eyes are a pollen allergy symptom.

The body’s histamine response causes inflammation of the mucus membranes in the sinuses and throat. The increased mucus production occurs in order to drive out the offending allergens.  

Pollen allergy symptoms are similar to those of the common cold. Signs of hay fever include:

  1. Sneezing
  2. Nasal congestion
  3. Runny nose, itchy nose
  4. Itchy eyes, watery eyes (allergic conjunctivitis)
  5. Itchy throat
  6. Postnasal drip
  7. Headaches, sinus pain
  8. Dark circles under eyes, puffy eyes, “allergic shiners”
  9. Fatigue, malaise, generally feeling under the weather
  10. Wheezing, coughing, trouble breathing

Skin rash is a less common symptom of seasonal allergies, but some people do develop a hay fever rash. The itchy allergy rash may look similar to hives: raised red welts on the skin.

 

Treatment for Hay Fever

The common medical treatment for hay fever is an antihistamine. Histamines are chemicals that occur naturally in the body as part of the immune response to allergens in the environment. The release of histamines is what leads to allergy symptoms like a runny nose and itchy eyes.

Antihistamines come in pill or spray form, and they block the histamine response, which can temporarily relieve the hay fever symptoms. However, these medications do have side effects, the most common of which is drowsiness. 

If someone is not getting relief from antihistamines, then corticosteroids, or steroids, may be prescribed. These work as anti-inflammatories, which in this case means that they reduce the swelling of mucous membranes. Steroids, too, can have significant side effects, especially when used over a long period of time.

Nasal sprays for allergies, like Flonase or Mucinex, are decongestants that are designed to be sprayed into the nose to help reduce allergy runny nose. Again, these may provide some temporary relief, but people can quickly get used to them, so they stop being effective.

Acupuncture and TCM offer an alternative treatment for allergies that can help relieve hay fever symptoms without side effects.

 

Can Acupuncture Help Hay Fever?

sneezing hay fever
Sneezing and nasal congestion are signs of hay fever.

According to TCM theory, allergies fall under the category of illnesses that are caused by “wind” as a pathogenic force that can invade the body. In the TCM view, hay fever occurs due to wind-heat getting into the lungs. 

Weakness of the kidneys and spleen can also contribute to hay fever; when they are sluggish, mucus tends to build up, and we become more easily fatigued.

When the defensive Qi is strong, it can protect us from cold, heat, wind, and dampness getting into the body and causing problems. Defensive Qi is roughly analogous to what we think of as the immune system in conventional medicine. 

TCM treatment for allergic rhinitis may include acupuncture, herbal supplements, moxibustion, and nutrition counseling. TCM can be used either as an alternative therapy for allergies, or as an adjunct treatment for hay fever, along with pharmacological treatment.

Chinese herbs have been used for many centuries to treat allergy symptoms. Now, we are able to see scientific evidence that these herbs, such as astragalus, magnolia flower, and licorice root, do actually have an effect on the immune response and histamine function by helping to regulate the production of chemicals like cytotoxic T-cells and immunoglobulin G. Compounds found in scutellaria root have been found to inhibit the production of inflammatory cytokines, and stephania root can help prevent anaphylaxis.

With Chinese herbal medicine, we are able to create customized formulas for each patient, depending on their particular presentation of symptoms.

Acupuncture is a highly effective modality for all types of allergies, from allergic rhinitis to atopic dermatitis or eczema, and can help relieve the nasal sinus symptoms that affect the eyes, nose and mouth if someone is allergic to pollen. It can also help reduce itching due to allergic skin rashes.

A clinical trial conducted at a hospital in China showed that a regimen of acupuncture and herbs resulted in over 90% of patients reporting that their nasal symptoms were greatly reduced.

Another published study showed that acupuncture reduced levels of Immunoglobulin-E, an antibody that is associated with allergy responses. 

A review of studies of acupuncture for allergic rhinitis showed that this treatment has both short-term and long-term efficacy.

TCM treatment for seasonal allergies allows us to get to the root cause of allergy symptoms and help prevent them from happening. In this way, acupuncture and herbs can function as preventive medicine for hay fever. Getting acupuncture periodically throughout the year can help you avoid allergy attacks when the pollen count is high.

Top 3 Tips for Hay Fever Prevention

Here are some things you can do to help prevent spring hay fever and relieve pollen allergy symptoms: 

  1. Avoid dairy food and cold foods, which promote more mucus production.
  2. Apply warm compresses to the face to soothe the eyes and nasal area.
  3. Use an air purifier in your home to keep allergens out of the environment.

To relieve allergies, emphasize more cooked foods that help warm the body.

 

Acupuncture Near Me for Hay Fever in Los Angeles Area, Santa Monica

The multifaceted approach of TCM makes it uniquely suited to help relieve seasonal allergy symptoms. Acupuncture can help reduce hay fever symptoms right away and help prevent allergies from knocking you down every time the pollen count is high. Please do not hesitate to seek relief from hay fever by giving acupuncture and herbs a try.



*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 Eczema With Acupuncture and TCM

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

 

hand scratching red skin on leg
Itchy, dry skin patches are a sign of eczema.

Itchy skin, dry skin? A bumpy skin rash that is raw from scratching it? Eczema, sometimes known as atopic eczema or atopic dermatitis, is a very common inflammatory skin condition. Acupuncture and TCM can help relieve itchy, scaly skin caused by eczema and skin allergy.

Eczema is a chronic inflammatory condition that flares up when triggered and becomes an allergic reaction rash. An eczema rash can look red and bumpy, or feel warm or hot to the touch. It can also show up as dry patches of skin that are rough and leathery, and can be brown or gray in color.

Scaly skin or eczema skin rashes that itch can appear anywhere on the body, but most commonly occur on the face, back of the neck, elbows, forearms, or backs of the knees.

Clusters of small, itchy fluid-filled blisters on the hands, fingers, or soles of the feet are known as dyshidrotic eczema, or dyshidrosis. This type of eczema can happen once, as an isolated incident, or become a chronic problem that keeps coming back.

 

What Causes Eczema? 

Eczema is a widespread condition that often shows up in early childhood. About 80% of people who have atopic dermatitis show signs of skin rashes by the time they are six years old. It is estimated that about 1 in 10 people have some form of eczema.

The exact cause of eczema is not known, but it is generally believed to be a combination of factors, including: genetics, overactive immune function, and irritants in the environment. 

Eczema is not contagious, but a person is more likely to experience allergic skin rash if allergies tend to run in their family. People who have hay fever, asthma, or are allergic to pet dander, pollen, or dust mites are more likely to have skin allergies like eczema, too, and possibly to pass these conditions on to their children.

 

Top 20 Eczema Triggers

red, bumpy eczema rash
Red, bumpy eczema rash is an allergic reaction.

Eczema rashes tend to flare up when triggered by exposure to some allergen or element in the environment, or even a stressful situation. Common triggers for eczema breakouts include:

  • Pet hair or dander
  • Pollen
  • Mold
  • Dust or dust mites
  • Insect bites
  • Wool
  • Synthetic fabrics like polyester or latex
  • Metals, like copper, nickel, or gold
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Detergents or soaps
  • Cleaning products
  • Dyes
  • Perfumes
  • Chemicals in cosmetics or skin care products
  • Frequent hand-washing
  • Too-hot or too-frequent showers or baths
  • Sweating
  • Cold, dry places
  • Humidity
  • Emotional stress, work stress, or pressure at school

 

6 Types of Eczema

Eczema can present itself in different forms, with different types of skin conditions. The most common kinds of eczema include:

  1. Atopic eczema or atopic dermatitis – dry, red, itchy, and/or bumpy skin

  2. Contact eczema – caused by touching some irritant

  3. Dyshidrotic eczema – marked by small, itchy blisters

  4. Hand eczema– dry, peeling skin on the hands due to exposure to irritants or wetness

  5. Neurodermatitis – thick, leathery, itchy patches of skin

  6. Nummular eczema or discoid eczema – round lesions on the limbs or torso

The itchiness caused by eczema rashes is called pruritus, and it can be very intense, even disturbing a person’s sleep. Scratching the affected skin can damage it further, though, and lead to infections, so it is very important to find an effective treatment for the itching.

 

Eczema Cream and Eczema Treatment 

eczema cream topical steroids
Eczema cream topical steroids are only a temporary solution.

Topical eczema cream is the most common treatment for atopic eczema. Topical corticosteroids are immunosuppressants in a cream form that help reduce inflammation and heal the itchy rash of an eczema flare up. However, when these topical steroid creams are used for long periods of time, they can make the skin thinner and more susceptible to bruising. Blood vessels may become more prominent (spider veins). Steroids inhibit the natural immune function of the skin, so a person may be more prone to skin infections.

Oral immunosuppressants like cyclosporine or systemic steroids may also be prescribed to treat eczema, but these, too, can only be used safely on a temporary basis, to help reduce the itchiness of a flare-up. Taking these medications for an extended period of time can have serious side effects, and they do not really address the root cause of eczema.

Acupuncture and TCM can be used as an alternative or adjunct eczema treatment, which can not only help relieve itching and help heal sores, but can help prevent flare-ups from returning.

 

Can Acupuncture Help Eczema?

The TCM theory of the Five Elements informs the way that we diagnose and treat each individual case of eczema. The root causes of eczema, or any skin rash, lie beneath the surface of the skin. 

In TCM, Heat, Wind, Dryness, and Dampness are considered pathogenic forces that can take hold in the internal organs and then affect the way that skin cells develop. Examples of TCM diagnostic patterns of eczema or atopic dermatitis include:

  • Brimming heat of heart and spleen
  • Heart and spleen deficiency
  • Spleen deficiency and dampness retention
  • Wind and dryness due to blood deficiency

Each person’s experience with eczema is different because of the particular environmental or emotional triggers involved in the outbreak. By closely observing the color, temperature, and overall nature of the skin rash or scaly, thickened skin, the acupuncturist will get clues as to which internal systems are affected. By asking detailed questions about the patient’s lifestyle, the TCM practitioner is able to make recommendations that will help prevent further flare-ups.

Acupuncture treatment for eczema has been shown to help relieve itching better than antihistamines, and can also help to reduce skin inflammation.

Chinese herbal supplements designed to help relieve itchy skin have been shown to help relieve pruritus and reduce swelling. These studies suggest that herbs may be just as effective as topical steroids, but without the negative side effects.

The integration of Western medical methods and TCM treatment for eczema can be more beneficial than pharmacological treatment alone. Short-term use of topical corticosteroid eczema cream to help reduce inflammation and itching can be paired with acupuncture and herbs to help prevent flare-ups from recurring.

 

Acupuncture for Eczema Near Me in West Los Angeles

We want you to feel comfortable in your skin. At Art of Wellness, our comprehensive training in Western medicine, TCM, herbal medicine, and nutrition allows us to create a highly personalized treatment protocol for each patient. Many of our patients can attest that getting acupuncture and taking herbs have helped them reveal clearer, brighter skin and find relief from the pain of rashes and blemishes. If you or someone you love is suffering with itchy skin or allergic reactions, please consider trying TCM treatment for eczema and skin allergy.




*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 Diarrhea With Acupuncture and TCM

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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.

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