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Chinese Medicine

How to Treat Chronic Fatigue Syndrome With Acupuncture and TCM

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

 

chronic fatigue syndrome
When you have CFS, sleep doesn’t feel refreshing.

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), also known as myalgic encephalitis (ME/CFS), is a condition marked by extreme fatigue that doesn’t get better, even with rest, and gets worse with physical and mental exertion. Chronic fatigue is not well understood by medical science, but acupuncture and Chinese medicine for chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms can be an effective treatment option.

People with chronic fatigue syndrome are always tired, even after getting a normal amount of sleep, and the condition persists for weeks, months, or years. Other chronic fatigue symptoms include body aches, cognitive problems, vision problems, and emotional or mental health problems, like depression and anxiety.

If a person feels tired all the time, with no medical explanation, for six months or more, and has several other chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms like dizziness, difficulty concentrating, headaches, or sensitivity to light, then they might be diagnosed with CFS, or myalgic encephalitis (ME CFS).

By definition, a syndrome is a collection of symptoms that often appear together in combination, for which the exact explanation is unknown. Chronic fatigue has been considered a syndrome for some time, but has more recently been given the designation of a “disease;” hence, the newer term “myalgic encephalitis,” which refers to muscle pain and inflammation of the brain and spinal cord.

Chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms can be very similar to those of fibromyalgia. People with fibromyalgia also experience severe fatigue, but the primary symptoms of fibromyalgia are musculoskeletal pain that comes and goes all over, especially in “tender points” around the major muscles and joints, along with swelling and inflammation. It is possible to have both ME/CFS and fibromyalgia.

Women are much more likely to have chronic fatigue than men. MECFS can begin to appear at any stage of life, but most usually develops in adulthood. It is estimated that up to 90% of people who have chronic fatigue go undiagnosed.

ME/CFS is a serious and disabling condition that can interfere with even the most basic daily activities. People with chronic fatigue may be able to participate in some events where they exert themselves mentally and/or physically, but afterwards, they will feel completely wiped out and have to take time to recover, often confined to bed. This is called post-exertional malaise (PEM).

Top 10 Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Symptoms

ME CFS chronic fatigue
Dizziness and headaches can be signs of chronic fatigue.

The most common ME/CFS symptoms include:

  1. Fatigue, tired all the time, weakness
  2. Sensitivity to light
  3. Trouble concentrating, hard to focus, memory problems, confusion
  4. Dizziness, especially when getting up from lying down
  5. Headaches
  6. Muscle aches, body ache, muscle weakness, joint pain
  7. Enlarged lymph nodes in neck or armpit area, sore throat
  8. Tired after exercise or mental exertion (post-exertional malaise)
  9. Depression, mood swings, moodiness
  10. Insomnia, sleep problems 

Other signs of chronic fatigue syndrome may include: fever, abdominal pain, weight loss or weight gain, allergies, rash, rapid heart beat, and night sweats/hot flashes.

What Causes Chronic Fatigue?

The cause of ME/CFS is not known. Immune system dysfunction, the aftereffects of having a virus, and psychological factors have all been associated with the development of chronic fatigue.

Some people begin to have symptoms of chronic fatigue after having a viral infection, such as Epstein Barr, mononucleosis, or herpes.

While it does seem that some people who suffer from CFS also have immune system problems, chronic fatigue is not considered to be an autoimmune disorder in and of itself.  As with other conditions like lupus or fibromyalgia, CFS sometimes appears after a person has gone through some sort of emotional trauma or physical injury. 

Some people with chronic fatigue have hormone imbalances related to pituitary hormone, adrenal hormone, or hypothalamus hormones, but it is not understood how these might be related to their condition. Diabetes, anemia, or hypothyroidism can also create hormonal imbalances that can contribute to chronic fatigue.

In some cases, chronic fatigue could be due to a sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea or chronic insomnia. Long-standing mental health issues like depression, anxiety, or PTSD can interfere with sleep and hormone responses, contributing to the chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms.

Treatment for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Symptoms

tired all the time fatigue
Feeling exhausted after mental or physical activity is called post exertional malaise (PEM).

There is no clear treatment protocol within conventional Western medicine for ME/CFS. A doctor may diagnose myalgic encephalitis if they have ruled out other possibilities and then try to recommend medications or various types of therapy to help people deal with the symptoms of chronic fatigue.

Pain relievers or NSAIDs will often be the standard recommendation for handling ME/CFS related pain like headaches or muscles aches. 

Doctors may prescribe antidepressants as a way of helping patients cope with depression and anxiety related to chronic fatigue. However, these medications can sometimes cause side effects that will exacerbate the chronic fatigue rather than helping it.

Some doctors have tried treating CFS with antiviral medications, corticosteroids, or thyroid hormone medications. None of the pharmacological interventions that have been used to treat chronic fatigue syndrome have proved to be very effective.

Thus, many patients with ME/CFS consider turning to alternative medicine or complementary therapies to relieve CFS symptoms. Acupuncture is now widely recognized as an alternative therapy for chronic fatigue. 

Can Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Help Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Traditional Chinese medicine is well suited to treatment for ME/CFS. Overall, TCM philosophy pays close attention to the subtle balance of energy, known as Qi, within the body as a whole, as well as within the various organ systems. By observing the specific symptoms each person experiences as part of chronic fatigue syndrome, we can pinpoint which organ systems are deficient and need strengthening. 

Classic TCM patterns related to chronic fatigue diagnosis include:

  • Spleen Qi deficiency
  • Liver Qi stagnation
  • Kidney deficiency
  • Yin deficiency
  • Heat toxicity
  • Phlegm obstruction/dampness

Latent heat and dampness are sometimes the long-term effects of a viral infection or other illness, or a long period of emotional stress. These conditions originate from an external pathogenic factor, but then cause a series of imbalances which weaken the kidneys and other organs over time. Acupuncture treatment and herbs can help reduce inflammation and strengthen Qi.

A TCM doctor will choose acupuncture points and a combination of herbs that will help harmonize the affected systems. With herbs, we are able to get nutrients into the body beyond what you can do with foods alone. A balanced diet that cools heat and tonifies the organs will also be important for recovering strength and energy.

One controlled trial found that four weeks of acupuncture treatment led to improvements in CFS symptoms. 

A systematic review of studies regarding acupuncture treatment for ME CFS showed a reduction in the severity of fatigue.

A study using acupuncture and moxibustion treatment for CFS showed a 90% effective rate, with half of the patients feeling that their CFS was “cured.”

Another study involving acupuncture and moxibustion found that the moxa treatment in particular became more and more effective as treatment sessions continued past the 10th treatment. Moxibustion was shown to have an effect on the vagus nerve, which controls the parasympathetic nervous system.

How long it takes to get results from acupuncture treatment for chronic fatigue will vary from person to person, depending on how long the person has been experiencing CFS, and how deeply the organ systems are affected. TCM treatment has a cumulative effect which strengthens over time and several sessions.

Acupuncture Near Me for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) in the Los Angeles Area

ME CFS is far more common than statistics show, because many people suffer in silence and invisibility. Now, many people are struggling with chronic fatigue after having COVID-19. TCM modalities like acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and moxibustion, can help relieve fatigue, depression, mental fogginess, poor sleep, and other symptoms of CFS. If you or someone you love has been feeling exhausted for months without improvement, it may be time to consider trying acupuncture for chronic fatigue.



*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 Meningitis With Acupuncture and TCM

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

meningitis headache
A sudden, severe headache and aversion to bright light can be a sign of meningitis.

Fever, vomiting, stiff neck, skin rash, aversion to light, bad headache? These are possible early signs of meningitis. Bacterial meningitis can become very serious very quickly—and even be deadly—,so it is important to be aware of meningitis symptoms. Acupuncture and TCM can provide adjunct treatment for meningitis in addition to conventional medicine.

Meningitis is a general term for any kind of swelling or inflammation in the tissue that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. These membranes are called the meninges. Sometimes called “spinal meningitis,” this type of inflammation is most often caused by either a bacterial infection or viral infection, but other things can cause meningitis, too.

The bacteria and viruses that can cause meningitis can be spread from person to person in the same ways as most colds, flus, and other infections. If you suspect you may have bacterial meningitis, it is important to seek treatment right away. Similar to encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), this illness can progress quickly, sometimes causing seizures and even death. 

Even after meningitis moves past an acute phase, many people will suffer from after effects and complications of meningitis, like headaches, vision or hearing problems, or cognitive issues. TCM and acupuncture can help people recover more fully from the effects of brain swelling due to meningitis. 

Top 5 Types of Meningitis:

Swelling in brain can be caused by meningitis bacteria, or can manifest due to a virus or some other condition. Causes of meningitis can include:

  1. Bacterial meningitis – meningitis can be triggered by various bacteria, such as the kinds that cause strep throat, pneumonia, tuberculosis, and colds and flu. This type of meningitis can become serious, even causing death if left untreated. Symptoms usually appear quite suddenly, and can worsen in a matter of hours. 
  2. Viral meningitis – Viruses that can cause meningitis include non-polio enteroviruses, herpes virus, West Nile, Epstein-Barr, measles, mumps, and chickenpox/shingles viruses. Typically meningitis caused by these types of viral infection is milder than bacterial meningitis. Certain types of meningitis are also associated with HIV/AIDS.
  3. Certain types of cancer – if a cancer tumor, such as a brain tumor, or a breast cancer tumor, begin to break apart and move through the body, they can get into the meninges and cause carcinomatous meningitis.
  4. Lupus – sometimes meningitis can be part of an autoimmune response that affects the central nervous system, such as occurs with Lupus.
  5. Injury to the head or spine, brain surgery – swelling around the brain can be caused by some kind of external physical trauma

Meningitis can also be caused by a fungus or parasite that gets into the body.

The effects of meningitis, especially bacterial meningitis, can be very serious, so if you see a combination of symptoms from those listed below, you should seek urgent medical attention.

Top 10 Meningitis Symptoms:

meningitis in children
Signs of meningitis in children include irritability, not eating or sleeping.

Brain swelling symptoms or symptoms for meningitis can include:

  1. Fever
  2. Nausea and/or vomiting
  3. Stiff neck, neck stiffness 
  4. Severe headache
  5. Meningitis rash on any part of the body: small red spots, red blotches, blood blisters
  6. Aversion to bright light
  7. Fatigue, sleepy, hard to stay awake
  8. Confusion, delirious, foggy head, difficulty concentrating
  9. Seizures
  10. No appetite or thirst

In infants and young children, signs of meningitis might include: crying, not wanting to eat, hard to wake up, high fever, stiffness in the body, swelling or bulging on the top of the head (fontanel).

There are a few types of meningitis vaccine, or meningococcal vaccine, which can help to prevent bacterial meningitis. 

Diagnosis and Treatment for Meningitis

When a patient presents with these types of symptoms, a doctor will probably want to err on the side of caution and test for bacterial meningitis, since time is of the essence when treating what could be a very serious condition.

meningitis diagnosis
Checking for swelling in the brain and spinal cord for meningitis diagnosis.

Blood tests, CT scan, or MRI may all be used to check for signs, but a spinal tap to collect cerebrospinal fluid is considered the definitive way to confirm a diagnosis of bacterial meningitis. 

Bacterial meningitis is treated with antibiotics and corticosteroid medications to get rid of the bacterial infection and reduce swelling.

Viral meningitis will not respond to antibiotics. Some doctors may prescribe steroid medications to reduce swelling.

It can take longer to figure out what is causing swelling in the brain if it is caused by some other factor, such as a fungal infection, or in relation to an autoimmune disorder. In some cases, a doctor may choose to start treating with antibiotics and/or antivirals until the root cause is determined.

Even after meningitis treatment, some people will continue to have after effects, some of which can even lead to disability. Cognitive problems with memory and concentration, vision problems, headaches, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), dizziness, problems with balance and coordination, and even seizures, can be some of the long-term effects of meningitis. Acupuncture and TCM can be very helpful for treating these lingering symptoms of meningitis.

Can Acupuncture Help Meningitis?

In Traditional Chinese medicine, we classify many infectious diseases—including cold and flu, strep throat, chicken pox, SARS, tuberculosis, and meningitis—as “warm” diseases. When these types of external pathogens get into the body, they cause fever, which depletes the Yin (cool, liquid) energy of the body. The TCM approach, then, is primarily to clear the heat.

acupuncture meningitis
Acupuncture treatment for meningitis.

TCM has its own way of looking at symptoms occurring in a pattern, from which we deduce what kind of pathogenic forces are creating disharmony. The TCM view of meningitis is that it relates to an invasion of Heat that leads to a deficiency of Yin energy. A pattern of symptoms that includes: fever, red skin rash, irritability, confusion, and trouble sleeping would indicate that pathogenic heat is depleting the body of fluids and affecting the pericardium, which in TCM means “protector of the heart.”

When these symptoms are present, we know that there is inflammation causing swelling of tissues and preventing the smooth flow of nutrition and Qi to the vital organs. Chinese herbs and acupuncture can help reduce inflammation that causes symptoms of meningitis.

Chinese herbal formulations that go back centuries can also have antibacterial and antiviral effects.

Acupuncture treatment can not only help, then, the root cause of meningitis, but can also deal with the symptoms many people experience as a result of swelling in the brain, such as headaches, dizziness, and spasms.

Acupuncture Near Me for Meningitis – Los Angeles Area

Meningitis is a condition that needs urgent care because it can be a very serious illness in the short-term. Meningitis can also lead to long-term effects that are debilitating. Acupuncture and TCM can provide relief and recovery from meningitis 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 Pneumonia Symptoms With Acupuncture and TCM

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

lungs pneumonia
Pneumonia occurs when the air sacs at the ends of the bronchial tubes become inflamed.

Persistent cough with green or yellow mucus? Chest pain when you cough? High fever, sweating, trouble breathing? It’s important to know the signs of pneumonia, a serious lung infection that can be caused by bacterial infections or viruses like the flu, COVID-19, or even the common cold. You should seek medical help if you believe you have pneumonia; acupuncture and herbs can be considered as integrative care to help relieve symptoms of pneumonia.

The term pneumonia refers to an infection in the lungs that causes inflammation in the alveoli, or air sacs. These air sacs are clustered like fruits around the ends of the branches of the bronchial tubes that extend deep into the lungs. The alveoli inflate and deflate like tiny balloons. They are responsible for taking the oxygen from the air you inhale and depositing it into the bloodstream. When they become inflamed and filled with fluid due to infection, it is hard to breathe. If pneumonia infection is so severe that your body is not getting enough oxygen, then it can become quite dangerous.

Pneumonia can be caused by a variety of infectious bacteria or viruses, and often develops after, or in the tail end, of some other type of illness. A pneumonia infection can range in seriousness from mild to very severe. Bacterial pneumonia requires treatment, especially for people who are considered high risk, or it can be potentially life-threatening. Acupuncture and TCM offer an effective adjunct to conventional pneumonia treatment, allowing people to recover more quickly and fully.

Early Signs of Pneumonia

pneumonia persistent cough
A persistent cough with mucus and chest pain may indicate pneumonia.

In many cases, you start out having a cold, flu, or some other illness, and then it “turns into” pneumonia, as your lungs become inflamed and filled with pus or mucus. Symptoms of pneumonia include:

  • Cough with green or yellow mucus
  • High fever
  • Sweating
  • Trouble breathing, breathing fast
  • Fatigue
  • Fast heart beat
  • Chest pain, especially when coughing
  • Feeling confused or delirious
  • Lips and/or nails turn blue
  • Loss of appetite

Signs of pneumonia in children may be different that symptoms of pneumonia in adults. There may be coughing, wheezing and high fever, but there may also be vomiting and/or diarrhea, especially if the infection is in the lower part of the lungs. Children are at risk for becoming dehydrated under these circumstances.

Walking pneumonia symptoms are generally milder than other types of pneumonia, similar to symptoms of the common cold, like a low grade fever and hacking cough. A person may not feel so seriously ill that they can’t go about normal activities: hence the name “walking pneumonia.”

Pneumonia can affect just one one lung, or both. When both lungs are infected, it is called bilateral pneumonia, or double pneumonia. This does not necessarily mean the case is more severe.

Is Pneumonia Contagious?

Some types of pneumonia are caused by exposure to bacteria or viral particles in the air or on surfaces. Germs that cause colds and flu can lead to some people developing pneumonia, while other people could be exposed to those same germs and not get pneumonia. It really depends on a person’s constitutional health and immune system.

Other kinds, like fungal pneumonia or aspiration pneumonia, are not caught through contagion. They develop because of some substance, other than germs, getting into the lungs.

hospital acquired pneumonia
Sometimes people get pneumonia after being hospitalized for some other condition.

Some types of bacterial pneumonia would not be passed from person to person in normal day-to-day contact, but they may occur when a person is in a weakened state and/or an institutional setting. For example, klebsiella pneumoniae is a type of  bacteria that normally lives in the intestines and doesn’t cause illness. However, in a hospital, it is possible to be exposed to this type of bacteria via a worker’s hands or contaminated equipment, such as a catheter or ventilator. If this bacteria then reaches the lungs, it can cause pneumonia symptoms. 

Many people “catch” pneumonia when they are in a hospital or rehab setting. Sometimes, people develop pneumonia after being on a ventilator as treatment for some other illness or while recovering from surgery. When this happens, it is called hospital-acquired pneumonia, or health care-acquired pneumonia.

Top 5 Pneumonia Causes

Pneumonia can be caused by various types of infections: bacterial, viral, or fungal. 

  1. Bacterial Pneumonia – also called pneumococcal pneumonia, or streptococcus pneumonia, this is the most common type of pneumonia, and is caused by strep germs that cause upper respiratory illnesses. Almost a million Americans get this kind of pneumonia every year. It can happen at the tail-end of a cold or flu, or after having surgery or being hospitalized for some other reason. People with respiratory problems like asthma or emphysema are at higher risk, as are people who are immunocompromised.
  2. Viral Pneumonia – this is caused by an influenza virus or respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). This is the type that children may get more often. If a person who already has heart disease or lung disease, or someone who is pregnant, develops pneumonia after a flu, it can be very dangerous. 
  3. Mycoplasma Pneumoniae (Walking Pneumonia) – this type of pneumonia is caused by a bacterial strain. This usually affects younger people who are living, working, or going to school, and is often mild enough that people think they just have a cold. This is sometimes called “atypical pneumonia,” but that doesn’t mean it isn’t common.  
  4. Fungal Pneumonia – it is possible to get this kind of pneumonia if you are exposed to certain fungi in the environment, like those that live in soil and cause “valley fever,” or fungi that are found in bird droppings. 
  5. Legionnaires Disease –  legionella is a bacteria that can live in water or soil, and is sometimes present in plumbing, air conditioning systems, pools, or jacuzzis. People can sometimes breathe it in while gardening. If an at-risk individual breathes in this bacteria, they may develop a kind of pneumonia that also causes body aches. In some cases, people may go into septic shock or kidney failure.

People who have weakened immunity due to conditions like HIV/AIDS, or because they are going through chemotherapy for cancer, are at heightened risk for developing pneumonia, as are people who have trouble swallowing due to neurological conditions like stroke, Alzheimer’s disease/dementia, Parkinson’s disease, or ALS

Smoking or using other drugs can also increase the risk of aspiration pneumonia, which can occur if a person breathes something–such as saliva, vomit, or food particles–into their bronchial tubes instead of swallowing it.

People with pre-existing lung conditions like emphysema/COPD or Cystic Fibrosis (CF), or other chronic illnesses, like diabetes, are also at higher risk for getting a serious case of pneumonia.

Medical Pneumonia Treatment

pneumonia lungs x-ray
X-rays will show inflammation in the lungs.

It is important to seek treatment if you believe you have pneumonia, because it can become very serious very quickly. First, doctors will do testing to determine what is causing the pneumonia. They will probably perform an x-ray to see where the lungs are inflamed. 

Bacterial forms of pneumonia are typically treated with antibiotics, usually some form of amoxicillin. Pneumonia antibiotics cannot help if you have viral pneumonia, although some doctors may recommend medicines like Tamiflu, to help with symptoms. 

Recovering from pneumonia takes time, no matter what kind of medication you take. It is normal to feel very tired, possibly for up to a month, or more. Rest, and drink lots of liquids, reduce your workload, and accept help whenever possible.

Acupuncture treatment and Chinese herb preparations can be very helpful for helping facilitate a more comfortable recovery from pneumonia.

Can Acupuncture Help Pneumonia?

According to TCM theory of disease, pneumonia is considered an invasion of the lungs by dampness and heat that leads to the production of phlegm. Wind and heat cause the fever and chills and sweating associated with the pneumonia.

TCM treatment for pneumonia can help on multiple levels: first, by addressing the infection in the lungs, second, by alleviating respiratory and gastrointestinal symptoms, and third, by helping to offset any negative side effects of conventional medical treatments.

Chinese herbs in powder form
Chinese herbs in powder form.

Chinese herbal formulations can help to clear heat and congestion from the lungs, reduce fever, and relieve coughing. One study observed two groups of pneumonia patients: both groups were given conventional antibiotics, but one group also received acupuncture herbs, which increased the total effectiveness rate by 10%.

Acupuncture was found to help patients who were hospitalized with severe pneumonia, reducing the amount of time they needed to be on ventilator machines and improving their symptoms.

Another study of children being treated in the hospital for pneumonia found that those who had acupuncture treatment had shorter hospital stays and needed less medication.

TCM works effectively as preventive medicine, so coming in for a regular “acupuncture tune-up” can help you avoid the seasonal colds and flus that can turn into pneumonia. It can also help immunocompromised people and those at higher risk of aspiration pneumonia due to neurological conditions avoid becoming ill.

Acupuncture Near Me for Pneumonia 

If you are experiencing fever, chest pain when coughing, extreme fatigue, sweating, and/or looking blue around the lips, do not hesitate to get medical attention. Pneumonia requires urgent care. Once diagnostics have determined whether you have bacterial pneumonia or some other type, then it can be beneficial for you to add integrative care in the form of acupuncture and herbs to your recovery program. TCM methods can help clear phlegm from your lungs and help you regain your strength.

 

 

*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 the Common Cold With Acupuncture and TCM

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

common cold acupuncture
The common cold is an infection that mainly affects your nose and throat.

Sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion, cough? How can you tell if it’s a cold symptom, a flu, COVID-19, mononucleosis, croup, or maybe an allergy? All of these illnesses can cause fatigue and a stuffy nose. The common cold, however, does not cause a high fever, and the cough is usually mild, not a persistent cough. Acupuncture and TCM herbs offer a highly effective way to relieve common cold symptoms.

A cold is a kind of viral infection that affects your upper respiratory tract, centering mostly in the nose and throat. Different viruses can cause the common cold; rhinovirus is the most common kind of cold virus.

You can catch a cold virus when you are near someone else who sneezes or coughs, and you get droplets containing the virus into your own nose, mouth, or eyes, or you touch something they coughed or sneezed on, and then touch your own face.

Young children and people with weakened immune systems are more prone to catching colds, as are people who smoke. You’re more likely to catch a cold if you spend a lot of time in crowded places, like schools, airports, public transportation, etc. More people get colds during the winter, because more people are packed together indoors, but cold-causing viruses are circulating all through the year.

You will start feeling cold symptoms within a few days of being exposed to the virus. Typically, without any medical intervention, a cold will last about a week or ten days. For some people, though, a cold can lead to other, more serious infections, like an ear infection, asthma and wheezing, sinusitis/sinus infection, bronchitis, or even pneumonia.

Cold symptoms aren’t so much caused by the virus, but by the workings of the body’s own immune system to expel the virus. Coughing and a runny nose are the body’s way of getting the virus out of the respiratory system. While the common cold doesn’t necessarily require any medical treatment, it is best to take steps to strengthen your immune system and clear the virus as soon as you can.

Chinese herbs and acupuncture treatment are an excellent way to shorten the duration and lessen the severity of a cold. Regular acupuncture treatment also functions as preventive medicine, so that you and your family don’t catch cold nearly as often.

Top 10 Common Cold Symptoms

common cold sneezing stuffy nose
Sneezing, stuffy nose, and sore throat are the most common cold symptoms.

How can you tell if you have a cold or a flu? Usually, cold symptoms are more centered in the nose and throat, and are milder than flu symptoms. A flu is more likely to cause serious fatigue, chills and fever, and body aches than a cold is. 

The typical symptoms of common cold include:

  1. Runny nose, stuffy nose, nasal congestion
  2. Sneezing
  3. Sore throat
  4. Cough
  5. Post-nasal drip
  6. Watery eyes
  7. Headache
  8. Body aches
  9. Low grade fever
  10. Fatigue, feeling tired

Sometimes people differentiate between head cold symptoms and a chest cold. A head cold describes the way most rhinovirus colds manifest in the upper respiratory organs: with a stuffed up nose, sniffling, headaches, and a red, sore throat.

If the cold “moves” down into the chest, causing inflamed bronchial tubes, and mucus production in the lungs, this is called acute bronchitis. This feels more like chest congestion, with a more persistent cough. Once a cold turns into bronchitis, you are more likely to have a serious cough, with or without coughing up phlegm.

How Is the Common Cold Usually Treated?

The accepted wisdom is that there is no cure for a cold; you just have to do whatever you can to make yourself more comfortable while the illness runs its course. Antibiotics only help get rid of bacterial infections. They do not help when you have a viral infection.

While it is true that there is no medication you can take to get rid of a cold, there are many remedies, both traditional home remedies for cough, and popular over-the-counter medicines and health store supplements that claim to take care of your cold symptoms.

common cold remedies
Hot soup is a popular remedy for a cold.

Many people swear by things like Vitamin C, Zinc lozenges, or echinacea preparations. Other people will tell you to drink hot honey water and eat chicken soup. All of these natural cold remedies may have some benefits. At least, they don’t do any harm.

Other cold medicines may do more harm than good. Cough suppressants and nasal decongestants actually work against your body’s natural defenses. Your body is producing mucus and the cough reflex in order to expel the virus and keep it out of your lungs. Repressing these natural immune responses can prolong your cold. 

Nasal decongestants like Sudafed can cause a fast heart rate and jittery feelings, especially in young children. Cough syrup with antitussive properties, or cough suppressant, can have negative side effects besides just making you drowsy or irritable. Some cough medicines can interact with other medications, making them inappropriate for people who have problems like high blood pressure, enlarged prostate (BPH), or glaucoma.

Trying to power on through your days with the help of OTC cold relief medications, caffeinated drinks, and sugary cough drops, without getting the rest you need, is not a good idea. Getting extra rest and drinking plenty of fluids are definitely tried and true ways to get over your cold.

Consider that acupuncture and herbal medicine developed over centuries of TCM tradition can help address cold symptoms without any side effects, and may help you recover more quickly than rest alone.

TCM for Colds: How to Get Rid of a Cold Fast

TCM cupping acupuncture
Cupping treatment helps move Qi, blood, and lymph to relieve congestion.

In TCM we consider some conditions to be external, meaning that they come from outside the body, in the form of pathogenic factors like heat, cold, wind, and dampness. Based on the environment, and the types of symptoms, we determine whether a cold follows a pattern of a cold-wind type, or a heat-wind type, or sometimes a hot-damp type as might occur during the summertime. An acupuncture practitioner will then base the treatment on the pattern of cold presented.

Acupuncture treatment influences the immune system’s response, and since that is what is actually causing the symptoms of a cold, the use of acupuncture points for cold and sore throat can really have a positive effect on reducing cold symptoms.

Cupping is a TCM modality that may be used to help treat colds and other respiratory conditions. Cupping helps to relieve congestion and gets lymph and blood circulation moving.

When you come in with a cold, your TCM provider will tailor your acupuncture treatment and prepare an herb formula specific to your needs. That said, our patients who have been coming into Art of Wellness for many years know that there is a

TCM herbs for colds
Take Yin Chiao pills at the first sign of a cold.

standard formula that is excellent for “knocking out” a cold if you can catch it at the very beginning. Right when you begin to feel that tickle in the back of your throat, that is the time to reach for your supply of Yin Chiao pills!

Ginger tea, made by simply slicing a bit of fresh ginger and steeping it in hot water, is also a great way to stop a cold in its tracks, before it gets worse.

Acupuncture Near Me for Common Cold in Santa Monica, West LA

Making time for regular acupuncture “tune-up” visits can help keep your body and mind balanced and your immune system in good working order. In the ancient TCM tradition, acupuncturists used to treat their patients for free when they caught a cold type illness, because it meant they hadn’t done their job of boosting immunity well enough. Prevention is certainly the best medicine when it comes to colds and flus. When you do begin to feel the first signs of a cold, though, it isn’t too late. Come in for a treatment, or call us at Art of Wellness to order some herbs to be shipped to you. We can help you get over your cold symptoms quickly.

 

 

*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 Mononucleosis With Acupuncture and TCM

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

mono Epstein Barr virus chronic fatigue
EBV can lead to mono and chronic fatigue.

Fatigue, fever, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, rash? These might be mono symptoms. Mononucleosis, often referred to as “mono,” is an illness caused by the Epstein Barr virus, also known as “EBV.” Epstein Barr is a very common contagious virus. An EBV infection sometimes leads to mononucleosis symptoms. Acupuncture and TCM herbs can help relieve mono symptoms in adults, teens, and children.

Mononucleosis is an infectious disease caused by the Epstein Barr virus. EBV is one of the family of herpes viral infections. Most people (over 90%) are infected with EBV at some time in their lives, but many aren’t aware of it.

How is mono contagious? Epstein Barr spreads through body fluids, especially saliva. This is why mononucleosis is sometimes called the “kissing disease.” You can catch EBV by sharing a cup or bottle, for example. It can also be spread through sexual contact, sharing needles, blood transfusions, or organ transplants.

The Epstein Barr virus can be present for several weeks before a person starts showing any mononucleosis symptoms. Often people will have the virus, but not show any Epstein Barr symptoms at all. During that time, they may be contagious and able to pass the virus to others.

Mono symptoms can take a while to develop, and may not be recognized right away as anything other than a simple cold or flu. For some people, especially children, EPV will cause a short-term illness that seems like a common cold. However, some people, especially teenagers and young adults, will develop mononucleosis, which causes serious fatigue and other symptoms.

Mono may clear up in a few weeks, but for some people it can drag on for months. Sometimes mononucleosis turns into a long-standing illness, causing extreme fatigue that just doesn’t seem to want to go away.

As with other viruses, like herpes simplex or varicella/chicken pox, which can later lead to shingles, EBV can stay in the body in a dormant state for a long time. Some people with weakened immune systems may have EBV reactivate and cause illness again, or cause them to be contagious to others again. 

It is now believed that reactivation of the Epstein Barr virus may be an underlying cause that contributes to some chronic autoimmune disorders, like ME/CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome), lupus, MS, celiac disease, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and hyperthyroidism.

There is really no specific medical mono treatment. Doctors and patients will usually treat it the same as they would a cold, recommending rest and over the counter medicines to reduce fever and pain while they wait it out.

Acupuncture and Chinese herbs offer a more comprehensive way to deal with the fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, and muscle aches associated with mononucleosis. TCM treatment can also boost the immune system so that an Epstein Barr viral infection doesn’t lead to more serious illness or autoimmune disorders later on.

Top 10 Mononucleosis Symptoms

mononucleosis fatigue
Mono can cause extreme fatigue.

Many people contract the Epstein Barr virus and are never aware of it, either because they experience no symptoms, or the symptoms are similar to those of a mild cold or flu. How do you know if you have mono? Mononucleosis symptoms develop differently in each individual, but the most common Epstein Barr symptoms include:

  1. Fatigue, extreme fatigue, tired all the time, exhausted, feeling weak
  2. Foggy head, difficulty concentrating
  3. Sore throat
  4. Swollen lymph nodes, swollen glands in the neck and armpits
  5. Fever, high fever
  6. Headaches
  7. Rash, skin rash, mono rash, viral rash 
  8. Loss of appetite, no appetite
  9. Muscle pain, joint pain
  10. Abdominal pain, swollen spleen, enlarged spleen, enlarged liver

Mono affects the liver and spleen, sometimes causing swelling, jaundice, and even a kind of temporary mono hepatitis. In rare cases, EBV can cause serious liver problems, leading to acute liver failure, and the need for a liver transplant.

EBV can also cause further complications, like swollen tonsils, anemia, low blood platelet count, and inflammation of the heart. Epstein Barr sometimes leads to other nervous system disorders, like: viral meningitis, encephalitis, and Guillain-Barre syndrome.

The TCM approach to Epstein Barr virus can provide a natural remedy for mononucleosis symptoms, and work to strengthen the immune system, as well as the liver and spleen.

Can Acupuncture Help Mono?

fatigue headaches mono
Mono headaches and chronic fatigue can drag on for months.

We now know that mononucleosis is caused by a specific viral infection. Most people get this virus, but relatively few people have a full-blown case of mononucleosis. Most people who do get mono have it when they are teenagers, or in college. Why do some people get mono and others don’t? It has to do with the immune system. People who have a weakened immune system are more likely to get mono, and more likely to have mono for a long time. In some cases, the virus takes a deep hold in the body, and can be triggered again some time later, causing more illness. 

Acupuncture and TCM healing modalities can work well for diseases that can be hard to treat with conventional medicine. Chinese herbs and acupuncture treatment can help address the specific cold and flu-like symptoms of mono, like sore throat, fever, headache, muscle ache, headaches, and skin rash. Acupuncture treatment can also help to restore normal function of the spleen and liver. Finally, acupuncture treatment can be used as an ongoing preventive care to build up the immune system. 

This means also taking steps to address mental and emotional well-being. It is now understood that autoimmune disorders can be triggered by life stress, mental health disorders like anxiety or depression, or post-traumatic stress. This means, if a person has had EBV, has weakened immunity, and then goes through some difficult period, event, loss, or illness, they may have an increased chance of developing an autoimmune disorder, like chronic fatigue. 

By taking a proactive attitude in addressing Epstein Barr and mononucleosis, and working holistically to address underlying problems with the immune system, TCM herbs and acupuncture treatment can help prevent EBV from showing up later in the form of an autoimmune disorder. 

Not much scientific research has yet been done to show how acupuncture helps EBV or mono. However, more medical doctors are beginning to recognize that Eastern medicine can offer benefits for illnesses like mononucleosis, Epstein Barr, and other diseases.

One clinical study of children treated with conventional medicine versus TCM herbal formulations showed that the herbs helped children recover from EBV symptoms like swollen tonsils more quickly.

Acupuncture Near Me for Mononucleosis/Epstein Barr Virus – West Los Angeles

TCM has developed methods for treating illnesses of all kinds over many centuries; the paradigm for categorizing diseases and what causes them is different than that in Western medicine. Thus, we are able to look at each person’s symptoms and constitution on an individual basis, and provide treatment so that they feel better and their organ systems actually get stronger. The doctors at Art of Wellness have over 35 years of experience helping people overcome lengthy illnesses and chronic fatigue.

 

*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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