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Chinese Medicine

How to Treat Addiction With Acupuncture and TCM

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

addiction, substance use disorder
Most people with substance use disorders (SUDs) need help to quit.

Are you, or is someone you love, struggling with alcohol addiction or some other substance abuse problem? Alcoholism, drug addiction, and other issues like porn addiction problems or food addiction can be helped with TCM treatment. Acupuncture for addiction can help people overcome the physical symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, and help them deal with the mental and emotional aspects of substance abuse recovery. 

Drug use, drinking, and smoking are behaviors that are widely practiced and deeply ingrained in our modern society. If we consider tobacco smoking and alcohol consumption in addition to “harder” drugs, then over 60% of the population uses some type of addictive substance on a regular basis.

Substance use disorders (SUDs) are a major health concern worldwide. It is estimated that over 20 million Americans are currently suffering from some type of addiction to drugs or alcohol. While addiction can happen to people of all ages, young people are especially at risk for substance abuse. When teens and young adults start binge drinking or abusing drugs, it can have a serious effect on their brain development and increase their chances of developing a substance abuse problem.

More recently, the surge of opioid use has dramatically increased the number of people who are dangerously dependent on prescription painkillers or deliberately misusing opioid medications like fentanyl or Oxycontin. People can become addicted to opioid medications in a short period of time. Accidental overdose is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S., which has contributed to the recent decline in average life expectancy.

Even moderate drinking and use of recreational drugs can affect a person’s overall health, sleep habits, and fertility. There are many benefits to reducing your alcohol consumption, or choosing to go through an alcohol detox or a designated period of sobriety, like “Sober October” or “Dry January.” A TCM herbal detox with acupuncture treatment can help improve your vitality and get rid of nagging health issues.

If you know you have a serious problem with addictive behaviors, though, you will probably need some sort of treatment and support system to help you get sober and recover physically and mentally from substance use disorder.

What Causes Addiction?

opioids, oxycontin, prescription painkillers
Some prescription painkillers are highly addictive.

When we talk about addiction, we are usually referring to the relationship of the body and mind to psychoactive substances such as: alcohol, nicotine, marijuana, heroin, cocaine, amphetamines, methamphetamine, hallucinogens, etc. The chemical composition of these substances causes them to have a profound effect on the brain chemistry of human beings.

Unfortunately, many drugs that are prescribed by doctors to help relieve pain and other symptoms of illness are habit-forming, too. When people try to stop taking the medication they’ve been using to help with post-surgical pain, for example, or to help them sleep, or to relieve situational depression and anxiety, they find they can’t just “quit.”

Even “milder” substances like caffeine and sugar, which many people consider to be a regular part of their daily diet, can be abused to the point that they become detrimental to your health. And, of course, we all know how hard it is for people to quit smoking. Nicotine is one of the most addictive substances out there.

Most of these drugs affect the way the brain produces dopamine and other neurochemicals. When you stop drinking or using the drug, the brain is not ready to go back to its old ways of creating and releasing dopamine. There is a period of adjustment, during which symptoms of withdrawal can make a person very uncomfortable, or even violently sick. 

Certain behaviors, like scrolling through social media websites on your phone, or looking at pornography, or even engaging in sexual activity, can also be addictive because of the way they impact dopamine production and other brain activity.

There has been a lot of shame and stigma attached to alcoholism and addiction. Sometimes, people live in denial of the fact that they are too heavily reliant on drinking or using drugs to help them cope with stress. Alcohol abuse or drug abuse are still considered by some people to be personal problems, having to do with a lack of willpower or gratitude.

We now understand that addiction is a disease, and that it can be difficult and actually dangerous for people to try to stop using some drugs without some form of treatment. Doctors and mental health professionals are trained to help people safely recover from substance abuse, and treatments exist to provide relief from drug withdrawal symptoms. In addition to the 12 step program Alcoholics Anonymous, which provides emotional support through group interactions, many other clinics and rehab centers provide care for those trying to stop using drugs and alcohol.

hard alcohol, drinking
Acupuncture and herbs can help with alcohol detox.

Still, most people find that recovering from addiction is extremely difficult, probably the hardest thing they have ever tried to do. Many people, no matter what kind of treatment they receive, or how many times they go through a 12 step program, still relapse. First a person needs to decide that they are ready to commit to recovery. Then, finding the right support is crucial to success.

TCM methods of acupuncture and herbs offer an alternative or adjunctive treatment for addiction. Acupuncture treatment has been shown to help patients suffering from alcoholism and depression, reducing cravings and symptoms of withdrawal and improving mental health.

Acupuncture can help people overcome substance abuse, addressing both the physical effects of drug use with an effective alcohol detox or drug detox, and the emotional problems most people face when they begin recovery treatment.

Top 10 Symptoms of Withdrawal from Alcohol Dependence and Drug Abuse

Withdrawal is the body’s reaction when a person stops using drugs or alcohol after having been ingesting them regularly for a significant period of time. When the body and brain have become addicted to a substance, the physical and emotional need for that substance can cause a severe reaction when a person stops abruptly, making it very difficult for a person to resist using again. Withdrawal symptoms can vary, depending on what type of substance you’ve been using, and how long you’ve been using it. 

Symptoms of withdrawal include:

  1. Tremor, hands shaking, body shaking, seizures
  2. Anxiety, depression, agitation, feeling jumpy, irritability, delirium, hallucinations
  3. Watery eyes, tearing, runny nose
  4. Hot flashes, chills, hot flushes, hot and cold, sweating, clammy skin
  5. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  6. Muscle cramps, muscle aches, muscle pain, muscle tension 
  7. Dehydration
  8. High blood pressure, fast heartbeat, irregular heartbeat, palpitations
  9. Anxiety, depression, overwhelming negative emotions
  10. Insomnia, trouble sleeping, restlessness

Other signs of withdrawal can include: trouble concentrating, memory loss, foggy headedness, pupils dilated, loss of appetite.

Some medical detox programs are designed to help people gradually taper their use of drugs like amphetamines or sleep medications so as to minimize withdrawal symptoms. Treatment centers, such as a methadone clinic, may use certain approved medications to help relieve cravings when people are coming off of heroin or prescription pain medications.

Acupuncture and other TCM treatments can serve as an alternative or adjunct treatment to help alleviate withdrawal and help people survive through the toughest parts of recovery.

Top 5 Ways Acupuncture Can Help Addiction

phone internet addiction
Internet addiction is also related to dopamine production.

The relationship between Chinese medicine and alcohol goes back many centuries. As early as 1600 B.C., we have records of alcohol being used in medicinal preparations and for its anesthetic properties. Problems with overuse of alcohol, however, are also a longstanding part of Chinese culture, so TCM has developed treatments to help people reduce their consumption of alcohol.

According to TCM philosophy, too much alcohol creates excessive heat in the body, and disturbs the balance of Yin and Yang. In conventional medicine, the focus tends to be on how alcohol abuse impacts the liver. In TCM, we see that binge drinking also taxes the stomach and spleen, and encourages dampness to take hold. Thus, acupuncture treatment for alcohol addiction will often focus on clearing heat and dampness from the organ systems, while strengthening the stomach and spleen.

TCM takes a holistic approach to treating Substance use disorders, meaning we focus not only on the physical symptoms of withdrawal, but also on the emotional, mental, and spiritual problems associated with addiction. 

Most people become dependent on drugs or alcohol because they are already experiencing some form of emotional struggle or mental health issue. When the substance is taken away, those feelings come up to the surface again, demanding attention. For many people, the anxiety and depression they face when they quit drinking or using drugs is overwhelming. 

Some people may avoid 12 step programs, an AA meeting, alcohol rehab, drug addiction centers for substance use disorders, or even one-on-one talk therapy because they are not ready to talk about the trauma that triggered their anxiety or depression. Acupuncture treatment can be very helpful for anxiety and depression, without having to delve into these conversations.

TCM treatment for addiction works on multiple levels:

  1. Detox –  TCM has a history going back for many centuries of actively seeking to remove toxic substances from the body to improve both physical and mental health. The practice of using Chinese herbs used in combination has been developed to be highly effective as a detox from all kinds of drugs. A TCM detox treatment program uses acupuncture treatment as well as herbs taken internally (as a tea or capsule) and used externally (detox patches) to draw toxins from the body, providing a deep cleansing for the liver and other organ systems. 
  2. Reduces cravings – whether the problem is nicotine, alcohol, opiates, food, or some behavior like engaging with porn, the use of auricular acupuncture and applying pressure to acupressure points on the head and ears for cravings can be very effective.
  3. Withdrawal Symptoms – Acupuncture has been shown to help people with symptoms of opioid withdrawal, heroin withdrawal, and prevent relapses.
  4. Mental Health – people who were treated with acupuncture for addiction reported that it helped them feel more confidence in their ability to quit. Acupuncture helps relieve anxiety and the negative effects of stress.
  5. Sleep aid – many people start using drugs in the first place because they have trouble sleeping. When people quit drinking and using drugs, they can suffer from insomnia and restlessness. Acupuncture is an excellent modality for helping people to relax and experience deeper, higher quality sleep.

Acupuncture has been shown to have an effect on neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, which are involved in the brain processes that make certain substances so addictive.

Several types of Chinese medicines based on herbal formulation have been tested and approved for treatment of opiate addiction in China.

Studies have shown that electro-acupuncture, and auricular acupuncture can reduce cravings, and alleviate anxiety related to drinking cessation.

Acupuncture for Addiction Treatment Near Me in Los Angeles Area

Addiction can be devastating for individuals and their loved ones, but substance abuse and other kinds of addictions can be overcome with time, dedication, and the right treatment plan. At Art of Wellness, we are ready to become part of your support team, providing consistently excellent health care through acupuncture and herbs, as well as being there for you when you need emotional support. We want our patients to think of our clinic as a second home, where they can find peace and strength to help them overcome their substance use disorder.

 

 

*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 Essential Tremor With Acupuncture and TCM

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

essential tremor, hand shaking
Hand shaking is the most common sign of essential tremor

Shaking hands, body shaking for no reason, head shaking, feel wobbly when you’re walking, maybe your voice quivers when you speak? These could be signs of Essential Tremor (ET). Essential tremor is a neurological condition, often mistaken for Parkinson’s disease, which causes rhythmic shaking of parts of the body, especially the hands. Acupuncture and TCM are an effective way to treat symptoms of essential tremor.

Essential Tremor (ET), also called “kinetic tremor” or “benign essential tremor,” is a chronic nervous system disorder that causes hand tremors, trembling hands, head shaking, body tremors in the arms or legs, and can also affect the voice. The hand shaking most often happens when you try to perform some simple, yet specific task that requires coordinated movements or using tools, such as shaving, writing, or pouring liquid into a glass.

Essential tremor is the most common type of movement disorder, affecting about 4% of older adults, although it can happen at any age. The causes and progression of ET are not fully understood by medical science.

Tremors are categorized into two main types of tremors: resting or active. A resting tremor is when the body shakes even at rest. Active tremors are when there is shaking when a person is attempting to make voluntary movements. Essential tremor is a type of active tremor. 

“Postural tremor” refers to an active tremor that occurs when a person is trying to maintain a position, like standing with the arms outstretched, and cannot do it without shaking. An “internal tremor” is a person’s feeling that a quivering or shaking sensation is taking place inside their body, that cannot be seen by others.

Essential tremor is often misdiagnosed as Parkinson’s disease, but, in fact, essential tremor is much more common than Parkinson’s (20 times more common). Like Parkinson’s, essential tremor causes hand shaking, but ET is different in that symptoms usually occur when you’re actively trying to do something, whereas Parkinson’s tremor occurs even when your limbs are at rest. Parkinson’s also typically involves non-motor symptoms as well as motor symptoms.

Other conditions can also cause hand tremors. Vascular parkinsonism, a neurological disorder that is the result of small strokes, causes blockage of blood flow in the brain. Both Parkinson’s and vascular parkinsonism can cause a distinct type of tremor that involves the thumb and fingers brushing together slowly, sometimes called a “pill-rolling tremor.”  Asterixis is another kind of motor control disorder that causes muscles to jerk, resulting in a characteristic hand-flapping gesture, sometimes referred to as “liver flap.”

There are many other conditions that can also cause tremors, including: hyperthyroidism, multiple sclerosis (MS), stroke, liver or kidney disease, and alcohol addiction. Anxiety or panic attacks can also cause a temporary tremor or shakiness.

Essential tremor seems to run in families sometimes, but many people begin to experience tremors for no apparent reason. It is theorized that ET may be caused by something genetic, or it may be caused by neurodegeneration–the gradual degradation and death of cells in the brain. 

Acupuncture, combined with other TCM modalities such as moxibustion and herbs, is a good method for reducing hand tremors and other symptoms of essential tremor, as it has been demonstrated to have positive effects on the generation of cells in the brain and nervous system, as well as reducing stress and anxiety.

Top 5 Essential Tremor Symptoms

hands shaking, hand tremors
Do your hands tremble when you’re trying to hold an object?

Very mild symptoms of essential tremor, such as having trouble threading a needle, often begin to show up when a person is in their 40s. Then, as time goes on, the symptoms of ET become more obvious:

  1. Tremor, especially in hands, that is most noticeable when you’re trying to do something
  2. Head nodding that you can’t control
  3. Shaking on one side of the body more than the other
  4. Voice quivers or voice is shaky when you speak
  5. Tremor gets worse over the years

Some medications (amphetamines, corticosteroids, or asthma medications) or stimulants like caffeine may make the tremors more noticeable. Some people find that the tremor lessens when they drink a moderate amount of wine or other alcohol. Stress, strong emotions, too much exertion, low blood sugar, or being dehydrated can make the tremor more pronounced.

Essential Tremor Treatment 

There is no specific test that shows whether a person has essential tremor. Diagnosis is based on observation of symptoms, and the use of testing to rule out other disorders, such as thyroid disease or Parkinson’s. 

Medications are used to treat tremors with varying levels of success. Propranolol and Atenolol are beta-blockers that can be helpful for some people with ET. Primidone or Topamax are anti-seizure (anti-epileptic) drugs that can also be prescribed to help relieve shaking. In many cases, these medications are not very helpful for relieving the tremors. Doctors may try anti-anxiety medications like Valium, Ativan, or Klonopin. Botox injections have also been tried as a medical treatment for essential tremor.

In some cases surgery to remove parts of the thalamus has helped stop severe tremors, but there is a high risk with this type of brain surgery. Nowadays, when drugs do not seem to provide relief from tremors, people may be referred for a thalamic deep brain stimulation therapy, in which electrodes send an electrical impulse to the brain to interrupt the faulty signals leading to involuntary shaking.

Acupuncture treatment is another way to stimulate brain activity, having a positive effect on neurotransmitters in the brain and reestablishing connections throughout the nervous system.

Can Acupuncture Help Essential Tremor?

Dr. Cai Tai Chi 5
Tai Chi exercise can help tremor.

According to TCM theory, the symptom of hand tremors generally originates from the liver and kidney systems. Liver blood deficiency and kidney deficiency are closely related, and can lead to rising Liver Yang, and Liver Wind. It is the pathogenic factor of wind that causes the hand shaking. We use acupuncture treatment and herbs to nourish the liver and kidney so that wind is subdued and yin and yang energies are balanced.

One study compared groups of people with ET who were treated with medication (Propranolol) versus patients treated with both acupuncture and medication. The results showed better results for the patients who received the combined therapies.

A hospital study in China showed that a combination of acupuncture treatment and herbal formulation had an over 80% efficacy rate for patients with benign essential tremor.

A recorded case study of a woman treated with acupuncture for tremor showed that she was better able to write and hold objects, and that the improvements were maintained even a year after she had completed acupuncture treatment.

Best Exercise for Hand Tremors

Regular exercise is important for everyone, especially as we age, in order to keep our physical and mental faculties strong and agile. Exercises that can be beneficial for people with essential tremor include:

  1. Regular cardiovascular exercise and light strength training
  2. Tai Qi
  3. Yoga
  4. Meditation
  5. Puzzles, math games, brain teasers, word searches, etc.

Acupuncture Near Me for Essential Tremor in West Los Angeles, Brentwood area

If you’ve started to notice your hands shaking, voice trembling, or that you’re feeling unsteady on your feet, don’t wait until the situation gets worse. Acupuncture treatment can help reduce the frequency and severity of hand tremors, and prevent essential tremor from progressing. The TCM doctors at Art of Wellness have over 35 years of experience treating all kinds of neurological disorders and helping people maintain their quality of life as they get older.

 

*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 Oligospermia With Acupuncture and TCM

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

low sperm count, oligospermia, male infertility
Acupuncture can help men produce healthy sperm.

If you and your partner have been trying to get pregnant but it hasn’t happened yet, maybe you are concerned that it could be due to male infertility, or low sperm count, also known as Oligospermia. Male factor infertility is an issue in 40-50% of cases when a couple is having trouble conceiving. Acupuncture and TCM herbs offer a male infertility treatment that can help improve sperm production, increase sperm count, and help men produce healthy sperm.

Infertility in men is more common than you might think. Statistics show that infertility increasing worldwide is an issue, as many couples are having trouble conceiving. Roughly one in ten couples find that they are not able to get pregnant without some form of fertility treatment. Most men don’t know they may have this problem until they are trying to get their partner pregnant and things aren’t working. When couples go in for a female and male infertility test, about half of the time they find that male fertility is compromised. The cause of infertility in male can be due to many variables, so it may take more testing to discover why there is a problem. In many cases, infertility in men and women is never fully explained medically.

You can take a sperm count test at home, but that doesn’t tell you the whole story. A fertility test for men, or semen analysis, performed through a doctor will give you more information about sperm motility, sperm shape, the concentration of sperm in your semen, the Ph balance of the semen, and other details that may help to determine if there is a problem with male factor infertility. Other, more specific tests can show: swimming speed and direction, whether there are antisperm antibodies (ASAs) present, the sperm’s effectiveness at breaking through the outer wall of an egg, etc. Of men who are experiencing problems with infertility, about ten percent have azoospermia, which means a sperm count of zero, or no sperm in the semen. This can happen due to genetic conditions, radiation or chemotherapy treatments, use of some drugs, or anatomical abnormalities.

One of the most common causes of infertility in men is varicoceles, which are swollen veins in the testicles, similar to varicose veins. Varicoceles are not always noticeable, and often don’t cause any problems. However, they can block proper blood flow in the testicles, cause the temperature of the scrotum to rise, and have a negative impact on sperm production. This condition can be treated with surgery to repair the veins, or redirect blood flow to healthier veins.

Perhaps you have already heard about how beneficial TCM treatment can be for infertility in women, but you may not know that acupuncture for male infertility is also effective, whether used as an adjunct to ART (assisted reproductive technologies) treatment for male fertility, or as an alternative to conventional medical treatment. In the case of varicoceles, for example, studies have shown that men treated with acupuncture showed similar improvement in sperm motility and quality to men who had had minimally invasive surgery to help repair varicoceles. 

Acupuncture treatment works on many levels, helping to improve blood circulation, reduce inflammation, cool excess heat, boost testosterone and erectile function, as well as helping to optimize overall health by reducing the effects of stress and anxiety, and improving sleep.

Top 10 Cause of Low Sperm Count

male infertility low sperm count oligospermia
Getting a male infertility test is the first step to solving the problem of low sperm count.

Problems with low sperm count and low sperm motility can be related to underlying health issues, or in some cases, lifestyle habits that may affect sperm production.

  1. Varicocele – swelling in the blood vessels in the testicles that has a negative impact on sperm production and sperm quality.
  2. Infections – some illnesses, like mumps, or sexually-transmitted diseases, like gonorrhea or HIV, can cause inflammation, damage, and/or scarring in the testicles that can affect sperm health or the mechanical release of sperm from the testicles.
  3. Ejaculation problems – chronic health conditions like diabetes, the use of blood pressure medications like alpha-blockers, or injury to the urinary tract or spine, can cause problems with the process of sperm being mixed with semen from the prostate and exiting the body through the penis. Retrograde ejaculation, for example, means that semen and sperm are going into the bladder instead of being expelled through the penis during ejaculation. Erectile dysfunction (ED) can also be an issue.
  4. Immune Infertility – autoimmune disorders can cause antibodies (antisperm antibodies, or ASA) to mistakenly attack sperm as if they were foreign bodies. This can happen in both men and women. (If a woman is producing ASAs, they attack the sperm when they enter the female reproductive system.) Some men who have had a vasectomy begin to develop these antibodies, and then, even after reversal of the vasectomy (vasovasostomy), they still have male infertility issues.
  5. Blocked tubes – several sets of tubes are involved in proper functioning of the male reproductive system and the male urinary system. If any of these tubes (the vas deferens, epididymis, seminal vesicle, urethra) are blocked, due to infection, inflammation, scarring, or other damage, it can affect sperm making it into the semen and out of the body during ejaculation. BPH and other prostate problems can cause inflammation in this area.
  6. Hormone imbalance – low testosterone levels or imbalances in levels of FSH and LH, hormones can cause low sperm production.
  7. Undescended testicles – a small number of male babies are born with one or both testicles that have not descended into the scrotum. In some cases, the testicles will descend within a few months on their own; in other cases, surgery is performed to correct the problem. If a boy grows into adulthood with his testes undescended, it can affect male fertility.
  8. Cancer or other tumors – a tumor or imbalance in hormones due to cancer (testicular cancer, prostate cancer, or bladder cancer) can disrupt sperm production. Side effects of cancer treatments like radiation, chemotherapy, and hormone therapy can also slow down sperm production or stop it. These side effects can also affect libido and sexual function.
  9. Chromosomal defects – several genetic disorders can cause infertility in men due to chromosomal abnormalities (Noonan’s syndrome, Cystic fibrosis, Kleinfelter syndrome)
  10. Celiac disease – While there has only been limited research done thus far, there have been some connections made between male infertility and celiac disease, which is a type of autoimmune disorder. One study suggested that a gluten-free diet helped men with celiac disease to increase sperm count. 

Other things that can impact sperm count and sperm motility include the use of recreational drugs like marijuana, opiates, hormone supplements meant to boost testosterone, or anabolic steroids taken to build more muscle mass. Medications used to treat autoimmune disorders, like IBDs, Crohn’s disease, etc., can also affect male fertility.

How to Increase Sperm Count – Medical Treatments

male infertility low sperm count oligospermia
Couples must work together, creating healthy habits and reducing stress in order to optimize fertility.

Medical treatment and ART for male infertility depends first on testing to get as clear a diagnosis as possible. If it seems like some infection is causing problems, antibiotics may be prescribed, although in some cases, an extended infection may have already done some damage to the organs involved. If hormone imbalance is the problem, medications that alter the balance of FSH and LH, hormones crucial to sperm production, may be used, including estrogen receptor blockers, or human chorionic gonadotropin. As previously mentioned, surgeries to repair varicoceles can help to restore fertility.

In many cases, though, the exact cause of male infertility is not known. Male infertility is a complex health issue. The physical mechanics of sperm production, erectile function, and ejaculation are all important. It is important to acknowledge that these forces are closely connected to a man’s mental health and emotional health. If there is a lot of stress around trying to get pregnant, stress about having sex, stress in the relationship, or many other issues that may come into play, then the stress itself can have a real impact on sexual function and sperm production. Acupuncture and TCM is a good treatment method to address all of these physical and emotional issues at the same time, without unwanted side effects.

Can Acupuncture Help Male Infertility and Oligospermia?

First, let’s make it clear: acupuncture treatment for low sperm count is not going to involve needles being placed anywhere near the scrotum or penis. Acupuncture works on a subtle level and is relatively painless. Patients usually find it relaxing, and often take a nap during the treatment.

male infertility low sperm count, oligospermia
Infertility treatment is stressful. Be sure to put together a caring team to help you and your partner achieve your dream.

According to TCM theory, both blood and Qi need to flow smoothly throughout the channels of the body, nourishing the organs, for there to be optimal health. This is particularly true when it comes to promoting good reproductive health. Sperms must be ready to move through both the man’s reproductive system and the woman’s reproductive system, penetrate an egg, and start a new life. In order for healthy sperm to be produced, there needs to be a lot of blood and energy flowing to the testicles, where sperm are created.

In TCM, dampness and phlegm are often the causes of blockages. Acupuncture treatment focuses on improving blood flow, not only to testicles, but also to the kidneys and liver. TCM theory considers the kidney to be the keeper of a person’s “essence.” Essence is the life material that we inherit from our parents and pass on to our children. The kidneys are also considered to be responsible for the regulation and transformation of fluids in the body. Strengthening the kidneys, clearing heat, phlegm, and dampness from the organs, and nourishing the blood and Qi are the main focus of acupuncture treatment for low sperm count.

Nutrition, diet, exercise, stress reduction, adequate sleep, and other lifestyle habits are important factors in treating low sperm count. Your acupuncturist near me will go over the details in order to help you choose foods that boost fertility and adjust your routines so that they are most beneficial for infertility.

It helps to realize that sperm take about two to three months to mature, so acupuncture, herbs, and  changes in lifestyle, as part of a holistic treatment regimen, need to be given adequate time and commitment to take effect. 

One study confirmed that scrotal temperature and sperm count were improved in a significant number of men treated for oligospermia with acupuncture.

A study measuring sperm maturity and functionality found that patients treated with acupuncture for five weeks showed an increase in sperm function at the end of the five weeks, and then scored higher for sperm function again five weeks after treatment had ended.

Another study looked at acupuncture for low sperm motility and found that acupuncture helped increase sperm motility in a significant number of men.
Chinese herbs have been shown to have a positive effect on balancing FSH and LH levels.

Acupuncture Near Me for Oligospermia in Los Angeles

Dealing with male infertility due to low sperm count can be frustrating and stressful. It’s important that you and your partner put together a team of supportive health care providers who are also experts in the field of infertility treatment. At Art of Wellness, we have over thirty-five years of experience providing the very best in integrative care for infertility. We have worked with many of the top ART providers in Los Angeles, providing adjunctive care for couples going through fertility 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.

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How to Treat Crohn’s Disease With Acupuncture and TCM

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

abdominal bloating, stomach pain
Abdominal pain and persistent diarrhea are the common signs of Crohn’s disease.

Abdominal pain that flares up, persistent diarrhea and stomach pain, bloody stool? These can be signs of Crohn’s Disease, an autoimmune disorder that affects the gastrointestinal tract. Along with ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease is a type of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). Acupuncture and TCM herbs can help reduce the inflammation that causes IBD symptoms.

About 3 million people in the U.S. are living with Crohn’s disease; it can affect people of all ages and backgrounds. Crohn’s symptoms sometimes begin to show up in childhood or during the teenage years, but most people are diagnosed with Crohn’s in early adulthood. As it does tend to run in families, it is believed that Crohn’s is caused partially by genetic makeup, but even if you have a close family member who has Crohn’s that doesn’t necessarily mean you will get it.

Crohn’s disease is a type of autoimmune disease. In autoimmune disorders, the body’s immune system, which is designed to fight potentially dangerous pathogens, mistakenly attacks normal cells or tissues. In the case of Crohn’s disease, inflammation is caused by the body’s immune system launching an attack against bacteria that are normally present in the gastrointestinal tract to help with digestion. As with other autoimmune diseases (Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), fibromyalgia, Type 1 diabetes, Graves’ disease, hyperthyroidism, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, etc.), the causes are not fully understood by medical science.

Symptoms of Crohn’s disease are similar to ulcerative colitis symptoms; both are related to chronic inflammation in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The difference is the specific location. Ulcerative colitis only affects the colon, or the large intestine. Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract, from the mouth, all the way through the stomach, small intestine and large intestine, to the anal area. 

IBDs create inflammation that causes pain, cramping, and compromises the healthy functioning of portions of the GI tract. Over time, Crohn’s can cause so much damage to the tissues of the intestines and other organs that surgeries are required to repair it. 

Treatment of Crohn’s aims not only to reduce symptoms of nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal pain, but to prevent this kind of damage. Conventional medicine for Crohn’s can help control the disease to some extent. TCM methods, used as an alternative or adjunct to pharmacological treatment for Crohn’s, can relieve symptoms and help to restore healthy digestion and bowel function.

Acupuncture and other TCM treatments such as moxibustion have been shown to help patients with Crohn’s disease by reducing inflammation, allowing for the repair and healing of damaged tissues in the GI tract, and reducing IBD symptoms like nausea and joint pain.

Top 5 Types of Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s Disease is classified according to where in the GI tract inflammation is causing pain and problems.

  1. Ileocolitis – affects the area where the small intestine connects to the large intestine, causing diarrhea and pain in the lower right abdomen.

  2. Ileitis – affects just the lower part of the small intestine, causing diarrhea and abdominal cramps, weight loss, and possibly fistulas developing between sections of the intestine.

  3. Gastroduodenal – affects the connection of the stomach to the small intestine, causing more upper GI symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite.

  4. Jejunoileitis – affects the upper part of the small intestine, causing cramping and diarrhea

  5. Granulomatous Colitis – Crohn’s that affects the colon area, causing diarrhea, rectal bleeding, bloody stool, and possible anal fistula or fissure. Skin rashes and joint pain are also more commonly seen with this type of Crohn’s disease.

Top 10 Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease

Crohn's disease stomach cramps
Crohn’s can cause stomach pain and weight loss.

As with other autoimmune disorders, Crohn’s disease causes flares that come and go. You may have periods of time when everything seems fine, then some stress or change in your environment can trigger a flare up of IBD symptoms. Each person will have their own experience of Crohn’s symptoms:

  1. Diarrhea, explosive diarrhea, urgent need to go
  2. Stomach pain, lower abdominal pain, epigastric pain, stomach ache
  3. Stomach cramps, abdominal cramps, cramping
  4. Rectal bleeding, bleeding from anus, bloody stool
  5. Constipation, feeling like you can’t go or you still have to go even after you’ve gone
  6. Fatigue, tired all the time, chronic fatigue, low energy
  7. Poor appetite, not hungry
  8. Mouth sores, cold sores around mouth
  9. Red eyes, watery eyes, blurred vision, dry eyes, eye pain, sensitivity to light
  10. Swollen joints, joint pain, joint inflammation, colitic arthritis

When it shows up early in life, Crohn’s disease can affect a child’s growth and development. In adults, Crohn’s can cause weight loss and anemia. The chronic inflammation of the GI tract and persistent diarrhea associated with Crohn’s can impede the normal absorption of nutrients from food. Fevers, anemia, vitamin deficiencies, dehydration, and electrolyte imbalances can all become concerns for someone with Crohn’s.

Other potentially related problems can include: kidney stones or other kidney problems, urinary problems, and inflammation of the bile ducts (pericholangitis). 

More serious complications of Crohn’s involve tissue damage in the gastrointestinal tract, creating open sores or ulcers. An anal fissure is when there are tears in the rectal tissue, causing bleeding from the anus. A fistula develops when tissue breaks down between sections of the intestine, or between the intestine and the bladder, or the rectal area and the vagina. A stricture occurs when a section of the intestine becomes so inflamed that the passage becomes narrowed or blocked by scar tissue. Many people with Crohn’s disease end up having surgery to help remove these blockages, also called stenosis, due to bowel stricture, or to repair fistulas that have developed in the intestines.

Diagnosis and Medical Treatment of Crohn’s Disease

Again, as with many autoimmune diseases, it can be difficult to get a clear diagnosis for Crohn’s or IBD. Many people will suffer with stomach pain and diarrhea for a long time without realizing that something deeper is going on, and there is no simple, single test to show that you have Crohn’s. If blood tests and stool tests indicate that there is no other type of infection causing the symptoms, then colonoscopy and/or endoscopy, ultrasound or CT imaging can be used so that doctors can see where the inflammation is and where the ulcerative pain is centered.

Medicine like Imodium is commonly used to help reduce the severity of diarrhea. Immunosuppressant medications, immunomodulators, or monoclonal antibodies may be prescribed to help block the immune responses causing the inflammation. Corticosteroids are often used to help reduce inflammation. These medications, used in combination, can help to reduce symptoms of Crohn’s. However, these drugs can have serious side effects. Biologics can increase the risk of serious respiratory infections and may increase the risk of certain cancers. Corticosteroids can contribute to bone loss (osteoporosis) and cause swelling in other parts of the body. Immunosuppressants can stress the liver and pancreas.

Can Acupuncture Help Crohn’s Disease?

moxibustion
Moxibustion and acupuncture can be effective treatments for Crohn’s disease.

TCM treatments have been proven to be effective for helping to reduce inflammation and relieve pain for many types of conditions, including autoimmune disorders that can be difficult to treat with conventional medicine. TCM works well to help bring relief to people with autoimmune diseases because acupuncture and herbs work upon both the physiological and emotional aspects of the illness. Crohn’s flare ups can be triggered by stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues or strong emotions. Acupuncture can help to relieve stress and worry, so that they are less likely to feed into physical symptoms.

Acupuncture and moxibustion can help improve symptoms of diarrhea, stomach cramps, and epigastric pain. Through using these safe healing modalities, acupuncture practitioners are able to help people with bloated stomach, IBS symptoms, and nausea. Acupuncture treatment can also positively affect the vagus nerve in the brain, which plays an important role both in the functioning of the immune system and the parasympathetic nervous system that controls the action of the entire GI tract. Acupuncture can also positively impact the microbial bacteria that reside in the intestines, bringing them closer to normal levels.

A trial study that compared Crohn’s patients treated with acupuncture and moxibustion for 12 weeks with patients who received “sham acupuncture.” The patients who had real treatment showed significant improvement of symptoms over those in the control group.

A study to discover how electro-acupuncture treatment affects the brain-gut connection in patients with Crohn’s showed that acupuncture and moxibustion had a positive impact on activity in the hippocampus and vagus nerve areas of the brain.

Another study that looked at the chemical composition of intestinal mucosa found that acupuncture treatment helped improve the health of the lining of the intestines and reduced inflammation.

Acupuncture Near Me for Crohn’s Disease in Santa Monica, CA

Living with Crohn’s symptoms can be seriously debilitating. Chronic diarrhea and stomach pain can feel like they’re taking over your whole life. It is possible to manage Crohn’s disease symptoms without negative side effects. If you or someone you know is suffering with an IBD, or possibly an autoimmune disorder, or more than one autoimmune disease, it is worth trying TCM methods to see if they work for you.

 

 

*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 BPH With Acupuncture and TCM

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

men's health, prostate, BPH, male infertility
BPH is a common men’s health issue.

Men, are you getting up to pee in the night? Having trouble beginning urinating when you have to go, or the flow of urine starts and stops? These may be signs of BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia), also known as an enlarged prostate. Many men begin to have prostate problems as they get older, including UTIs, prostate infections, and inflammation of the prostate gland. Acupuncture and TCM can help relieve prostatitis symptoms and urinary symptoms of BPH.

BPH is a very common men’s health concern. About half of all men over 60 feel some symptoms of BPH, and by the time men are in their 80s, the vast majority of men will have an enlarged prostate. Prostate enlargement or prostate infections are not necessarily signs of prostate cancer symptoms, but they can cause trouble peeing. Urinary problems due to BPH can be painful and frustrating. 

In a man’s body, the prostate gland is located right below the bladder. The urethra, the tube through which both urine and semen flow out of the body through the penis, passes through the prostate. This means there is a small area of the prostate that surrounds the urethra. As the prostate grows naturally over time, or becomes inflamed due to infection or injury, this area of the prostate can press on the urethra and bladder, affecting the process of urination.

The prostate gland is a reproductive organ that produces seminal fluid, which, when combined with sperm from the testes and other fluid from the seminal vesicles, produces semen: the cloudy white fluid that comes out of the urethra through the penis when a man ejaculates. The prostate contains smooth muscle tissue that squeezes the fluid out, and small ducts that block the urethra when ejaculation happens, so that urine doesn’t come out with the semen. Seminal fluid provides nutrients and energy for the sperm, and it also interacts with the chemistry in a woman’s reproductive organs, so prostate health is really important for men’s fertility.

The prostate gland is different from most organs in that it continues to grow throughout a person’s lifetime. This enlargement of the prostate is not entirely understood by medical science, but it is believed to be due to some mechanism of men’s hormone functioning. BPH is called “benign,” because it has nothing to do with the cause of prostate cancer and does not even mean you are at higher risk for prostate cancer.

According to conventional medicine, BPH is a normal part of aging. According to TCM theory, an enlarged prostate is more likely to cause problems when Qi is weak and specific organ systems are subject to too much damp heat. Acupuncture and herbs for BPH can help to restore healthy urinary function and reduce pain and inflammation in the prostate area.

What Is BPH?

The prostate gland goes through two periods of growth: during puberty, when it doubles in size, and then from age 25 until old age. Prostate growth varies from individual to individual, but overall, the prostate grows larger at a rate of 1.5 – 2.0% per year. As the prostate is getting bigger, it can start to press on the urinary tract organs. As men get older, they may begin to feel changes that make it more difficult to pass urine.

Top 5 Signs of BPH include:

  1. urination frequency, trouble urinating, trouble peeing
    Frequent trips to the bathroom may be a sign of BPH or prostatitis.

    Trouble starting to urinate, having to strain to start peeing, hesitancy

  2. Feeling like you can’t completely empty your bladder, like you still need to pee
  3. Feeling like you need to pee more often, reduced bladder capacity
  4. Weak stream of urine, “start and stop” peeing, dribbling pee
  5. Having to get up to pee at night, nocturia

Having urine left in the bladder even after you went to the bathroom can cause bacteria to build up and lead to prostate infections, UTIs, and chronic urinary symptoms that come and go over months. Prostatitis can mean a variety of men’s health issues that cause urinary symptoms and pain that are similar to symptoms of BPH.

Prostatitis Symptoms

The term prostatitis covers a few different kinds of men’s health issues that cause swelling and pain in the male reproductive organs, including bacterial bladder infections, UTIs, bladder stones, prostate stones, or after having some sort of procedure (like a surgery, biopsy, or catheterization). It also includes CPPS, chronic pelvic pain syndrome, where there is pain in the genitals without any apparent cause. 

Prostatitis symptoms include:

  1. Pain in the penis, testicles, or the area behind the testicles, the perineum
  2. Painful urination, hurts to pee, dysuria
  3. Urgency, frequency, feels like you have to pee all the time
  4. Urine flow starts and stops, weak stream of urine
  5. Painful ejaculation, burning ejaculation, hurts to pee after sex
  6. Blood in semen
  7. ED, erectile dysfunction

Prostate infections and related infections can be either acute (serious in the short term) or chronic (lasting a long time and difficult to get rid of). An acute bacterial infection of the prostate or urinary tract can cause painful urination, a frequent need to pee, feeling urgency to urinate, or having trouble urinating. If left untreated, this kind of infection can lead to fever, chills, and feeling seriously ill. Chronic bacterial infection of the prostate gland can cause someone to have recurrent infections and symptoms that come and go over a period of months. 

Some men can have prostatitis without any symptoms; this is known as asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis. Many men don’t realize they have this kind of inflammation in the prostate until they are trying to get their partner pregnant and go through male infertility testing. Chronic prostatitis can negatively affect sperm count and male fertility. 

CPPS, pain in the prostate area or sexual organs, is thought to be related to autoimmune disorders, and/or stress. Obesity can also affect pain in prostate by adding extra pressure.

Medical Treatment for BPH and Prostatitis

When you go see your medical doctor about BPH, first they will likely do a rectal exam, which is how they can check the size of the prostate gland, and blood and urine tests to check for bladder infection, kidney infection, or prostate infection. They will also check PSA levels (prostate-specific antigen), which can indicate enlargement of the prostate. Normal PSA levels vary depending on age. If PSA levels go up significantly over a short period of time, it is considered a possible indication of prostate cancer risk, and your doctor may recommend further testing, like a biopsy.

Treatment for BPH can involve medications called alpha-blockers that relax the muscles of the bladder and prostate (Flomax). 5-alpha reductase inhibitors are drugs that affect the hormones and can cause the prostate to shrink. These medications can take a while to be effective, and for some patients, they are not particularly helpful.

There are also several types of surgery that are used to help BPH by removing parts of the prostate to help relieve pressure on the urethra, or by blocking blood flow to the prostate to prevent further growth. These surgeries are not indicated for all cases, though, and can have negative results for some men, including infections, bleeding, and ED.

Antibiotics are used to treat prostatitis and other UTIs related to enlarged prostate. These usually work well for acute infections, but not so well for chronic cases. Antibiotics are not effective for treating CPPS, which is by far the most common type of prostate problem.

Can Acupuncture Help BPH Enlarged Prostate?

bph, prostate
TCM can be helpful for men’s sexual health.

TCM is a complete medical system that goes back thousands of years in China, with many written records of acupuncture points and herbal formulations used to treat all kinds of health problems. The TCM view of the organ systems of the body is a bit different from the way they are understood in western medicine. For example, TCM sees the reproductive organs as being related to the functioning of other organs, like the kidneys and liver.

The prostate is considered to be closely related to the kidney system, and if the Qi (life force energy) of the kidneys or liver is weak, excess dampness and heat can begin to build up in the lower region of the pelvic area.

TCM recognizes the strong connections between emotions and physical health. Feelings of anger and pent-up frustrations are associated with liver stagnation, while stress, anxiety, worrying, and overworking can impact the kidneys and spleen. Lifestyle habits like lack of sleep, lack of exercise, poor diet, using drugs, or overdoing sexual activities can also create conditions for men’s health issues like BPH to become problematic.

An acupuncturist will look at each individual’s situation to determine which organs are involved, and will use acupuncture points for prostate pain and Chinese herbs for prostate inflammation to help restore balance to men’s hormones and energy. 

Acupuncture to treat BPH and acupuncture points for prostatitis can help to relieve difficult urination, and pain in the prostate area, without down time or negative side effects.

A clinical trial of 100 patients treated with acupuncture for BPH over the course of 6 weeks showed that over 90% of the men responded positively, reporting less pain in the prostate and improved urinary functioning.

A systematic review of eight studies involving over 650 men treated for BPH with TCM showed significant positive changes in men’s health outcomes.

A review of studies using Chinese herbs for BPH suggested that herbal treatment for BPH may work even better than alpha-blockers.

Acupuncture Near Me for BPH in Santa Monica, California

Most men will deal with BPH as they go through the aging process, but there are steps you can take to minimize prostate problems. If you are feeling pain in the prostate, urgency to urinate, peeing more frequently, or like you can’t empty your bladder completely, it might be worth it to try acupuncture and herbs to help prostate enlargement. Unlike medical treatments for BPH, there really is no downside to trying acupuncture for men’s health issues. Dr. Tan and Dr. Cai at Art of Wellness in West Los Angeles have over 30 years of experience helping men improve their fertility and sexual health.

 

 

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

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