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How to Treat Cystic Fibrosis With TCM and Acupuncture

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lungs cystic fibrosis
Cystic fibrosis can cause clogging in the airways and lungs.

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

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a genetic disease that causes phlegm or mucus in the body to be too thick and sticky, which can lead to malfunctioning of vital organs. Cystic fibrosis can cause infections and ultimately, damage to the lungs, heart, and digestive system. Acupuncture and TCM can provide complementary treatment for cystic fibrosis symptoms.

CF disease causes serious problems throughout a person’s system due to the production of abnormal mucus (sometimes spelled mucous). Mucous should be mostly made of water, so that it provides lubrication in and around the major organs. Mucus that does not have the right balance of water and salt can clog parts of the body, especially the airways, making it difficult to breathe. The thick mucus can also cause blockages in the digestive system.

Cystic fibrosis is caused by mutations of the CFTR gene, which provides the information for producing the CFTR protein. When this protein doesn’t work right, it can lead to the wrong amount of salt or water in the mucus. If mucus is too sticky, then organs like the lungs, intestines, and liver have a hard time doing their respective jobs. Thick mucus in the pancreas, in particular, can cause digestive problems, malnutrition, and can affect insulin production, leading to diabetes.

As recently as a few decades ago, it used to be that children with CF rarely lived into adulthood. Now, CF life expectancy has increased due to advances in cystic fibrosis treatment. Current cystic fibrosis life expectancy statistics show that the average person with CF will live into their mid-40s; there are now many senior citizens still living with CF, and there are more adults with cystic fibrosis than children.

There are many different types of cystic fibrosis treatment, which can help reduce symptoms and complications. Medical treatment for cystic fibrosis aims to change the quality of the mucus, clear mucus from the lungs, reduce chances of infection, and improve the absorption of nutrients from food. Acupuncture and other TCM treatment for cystic fibrosis can also be used to help improve these CF symptoms.

Cystic Fibrosis Symptoms

Signs of cystic fibrosis symptoms in infants may look different than CF symptoms in adults. A person is born with CF, but different symptoms may develop over time.

cystic fibrosis children
Cystic fibrosis in children requires special care.

Symptoms of cystic fibrosis in children may include:

  • Salty sweat, skin tastes salty
  • Phlegmy cough, coughing up blood
  • Wheezing, trouble breathing
  • Poor growth, low weight, failure to thrive
  • Greasy stool or constipation
  • Gassy, stomach ache, pain in belly
  • Finger clubbing, clubbed fingers, or clubbed toes

Other, deeper health problems may develop as children with cystic fibrosis grow, including: lung infections, sinus infections, pancreatitis, gallstones, liver disease, diabetes, rectal prolapse, or high blood pressure in the lung arteries that can lead to heart failure.

Most people are diagnosed with cystic fibrosis while they are still very young, but it is possible for a person to grow into adulthood without knowing they have CF. 

Adults with cystic fibrosis may experience:

  • Decreased immune function, low levels of antibodies
  • Liver problems, cirrhosis
  • Lack of digestive enzymes due to low functioning of the pancreas
  • Intestinal blockages
  • Low absorption of nutrients due to mucus in the intestinal tract
  • Infertility in men; male infertility
  • Bone disease, arthritis

Cystic Fibrosis Genetics

Cystic fibrosis is a chronic disease that is caused by a recessive gene. Cystic fibrosis inheritance means that both parents have a mutated copy of the CFTR gene; in other words, each parent is a cystic fibrosis carrier, even though in most cases, neither parent has CF or cystic fibrosis symptoms.

Cystic Fibrosis Diagnosis and CF Testing

Most newborn babies are tested for signs of cystic fibrosis in the U.S., so parents will usually learn that their child has CF soon after birth. This way, cystic fibrosis treatment can be implemented immediately, which offers the best chances of keeping CF disease under control. 

Initial screening for CF involves first checking for high levels of IRT, a chemical protein released by the pancreas. High levels of IRT can be an indicator of CF or other problems with the pancreas; although, it can also be related to infant stress or premature delivery. If the IRT is high, then other tests will be performed.

A sweat test is considered the primary way to diagnose cystic fibrosis. Sweat is collected from the skin. If it shows high levels of salt, or chloride (a chemical component of salt), this is an indication that a person has CF.

Genetic testing, or CR carrier testing,  will usually be performed in order to confirm the CF diagnosis, and so that the specific genetic defects that will affect the patient’s health are understood fully.

Cystic Fibrosis Treatment

Up until recently, most CF treatments were aimed at helping to provide symptomatic relief. Cystic fibrosis medications include drugs that can help thin mucus, bronchodilators to help open the airways, and antibiotics to help prevent and control infections. Many of these medications are inhaled through a nebulizer.

A cystic fibrosis vest is a machine worn around the chest that vibrates and can be used as a daily therapy to help clear mucus from the lungs.

More recent advances have led to the development of genetic therapies for cystic fibrosis. CFTR modulator therapies address the underlying CF causes having to do with cell membranes and the CFTR protein. This new treatment may be able to improve lung function in patients who have the most common form of CFTR gene mutation.

People with CF need to eat more calories and a higher fat diet in order to be able to maintain a healthy weight and get enough nutrients, so they are usually prescribed a special cystic fibrosis diet to help them achieve this.

Cystic fibrosis is a chronic illness that requires constant care. TCM and acupuncture can provide a meaningful adjunct treatment to medical therapies to improve quality of life and longevity.

Can Acupuncture Help Cystic Fibrosis?

cupping treatment lungs cystic fibrosis
Cupping can help move mucus from the lungs.

Centuries before medical science began to understand how genetic diseases are passed down, TCM has acknowledged that certain conditions are part of a person’s constitution when they are born. 

According to TCM theory, we are all born with Qi. Some Qi can be replenished (Postnatal Qi), and other Qi is given to us at birth in a finite amount (Yuan Qi, or Ancestral Qi). 

Difficulty with breathing and digesting food causes people with CF to have a harder time replenishing Qi. They also have less of the finite type of Qi, so they must take extra care to preserve it. Because of this weaker Qi, the organ systems of the body have deficiencies that must be helped with nourishment and care. Kidney deficiency, which is related to the weaker Yuan Qi, can lead to lack of fluids in the body, as is typical in CF. TCM can help improve organ function through modalities like acupuncture, cupping, herbs, and nutrition.

TCM methods used in combination can help to clear phlegm from the lungs and other organs. This, in turn, will help a person fight off infections better. 

Cupping, a modality that creates suction to increase circulation can help draw congestion from the lungs. Chinese herbs and the right nutrition program can help to improve the balance of fluids in the body, to help thin mucus.

Many adults with cystic fibrosis experience chest pain, gastrointestinal pain, and/or headaches. Acupuncture has been shown to decrease these types of pain.

Acupuncture Near Me for Cystic Fibrosis, Los Angeles Area

Living with a chronic illness is an everyday challenge. It is necessary for patients with Cystic fibrosis to build a team of healthcare professionals who can support them with the right treatment for their individual needs. An acupuncturist takes into consideration the whole person: their specific symptoms, and also their mental and emotional health. Regular visits with a TCM doctor can help alleviate the physical symptoms of CF, but also help maintain emotional balance, addressing feelings of depression and anxiety. If you or someone you know has cystic fibrosis, please consider adding acupuncture to your healthcare plan.

 

 

*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 Detox With Acupuncture and TCM

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

herbal detox tea
Chinese herbs detox tea

Why is it important to do a detox or body cleanse periodically? When done with the right support from an acupuncturist near me, detoxing can help improve your digestion, immune function, fertility, and many other aspects of your health. Store bought colon cleanse products or a juice cleanse won’t really do the job, though. A detox program with acupuncture and Chinese herbs will do more to optimize your health than just a detox diet will.

When we recommend our Detox Program at Art of Wellness, we are not talking about fasting or detox drinks, like a master cleanse. The goal of our program is to detoxify the organ systems of the body: it’s a liver detox, kidney cleanse, lungs, heart, and spleen. This is a full body cleanse designed to give you a health reset. According to TCM philosophy, your body knows how to repair and renew itself, but it cannot do this job when it is congested and out of balance.

In TCM, we have a broad concept of what “toxins” are and how they can affect our bodies and our health. Toxic chemicals that come from our environment, such as food additives, pesticides, cleaning products, and beauty and hygiene products are certainly part of the problem. Drugs, medicines, alcohol, and unhealthy foods can also be toxic. So can behavioral habits, like sitting and looking at our screens and devices too long.

But our own bodies produce toxins, too. The waste products our organs create are “toxic,” and if they are held in the body too long without being adequately cleared out, they can negatively impact organ function. Imbalances in the system can cause conditions of excess heat or phlegm, which can lead to all kinds of problems with both your physical and mental health.

Stress, lack of sleep, and extreme emotions can also contribute to toxic conditions in the body and mind. When the organ systems are out of balance, the body is under constant pressure to keep functioning, but we do not feel our best.

Signs you need to detox include:

Inflammation is largely created by toxic conditions in the body, and most pain conditions and chronic illnesses stem, at least in part, from inflammation somewhere.

Why You Need a Liver Detox

tai qi qigong exercise detox
QiGong and Tai Qi exercises help with detox.

In conventional medicine, we think of the liver as being a sort of filter that removes toxins from the blood and helps metabolize fat. In TCM theory, we consider the liver to be the storehouse and distributor of blood; therefore, it also plays a crucial role in the menstrual cycle. The liver is also strongly connected to a person’s emotional life. 

Stress, lack of sleep, too much sugar, alcohol, fatty, fried foods, pharmaceutical medicines, and recreational drugs all tax the liver above and beyond what it needs to do just to keep the blood flowing to nourish the body. When too many demands are placed on the liver, it can cause all kinds of symptoms, including: fatigue, insomnia, and headaches. Feelings of anger, frustration, anxiety, and irritability may arise. Conversely, when a person is feeling bitter and resentful, and isn’t able to express it, those unresolved emotions may begin to cause trouble with liver function.

Just as the liver governs the blood, in TCM, the kidneys govern the water of the body, controlling elimination through the bladder, and maintaining blood pressure by keeping the right amount of water in the bloodstream. Signs that the kidneys are not balanced include: problems with blood pressure, edema, puffiness in the face or extremities, UTIs, chronic fatigue, and menopause symptoms, like dryness and hot flashes.

Detoxing the organ systems, including the liver and kidneys especially, can help rejuvenate the digestion and allow better nutrition to reach all parts of the body, as the quality and flow of blood and other bodily fluids will be improved.

Making sure that your excretory system is in good working order before starting a cleanse is important. If you are already having problems with constipation, for example, we will want to make sure we get things moving before we start cleansing the organs. Our detox also focuses on the body’s largest excretory organ: the skin.

Top 10 Reasons To Detox

detox herbs bath
Relax with detox herbs in your own bath.

It is a good idea for everyone to detox periodically; detoxing every six months is reasonable for most people. Sometimes we will specifically recommend a detox for a patient when they are struggling with a particular health problem, or if they are planning a pregnancy.

Detoxing can help:

  1. Boost Immunity – a cleanse will help get your lymphatic system, which produces and transports immune cells and removes waste from cells, moving, improving the efficacy of your immune system.
  2. Break Free From Addiction – if you are ready, a commitment to the detox program and food plan can help you end patterns of substance abuse, drug use, alcohol addiction, smoking, and other types of dependency.
  3. Infertility – We often advise people who come to Art of Wellness for fertility treatment to begin with the Detox Program. Not only will this help increase the chances of conception occurring, whether naturally or with the aid of ART, but it will also lay the foundation for your child’s health in the future.
  4. Improve sleep – This works both ways. In order for the body to do its routine daily work of removing toxic waste, it needs plenty of sleep. The Liver, in particular, is working hard through the night to clean and deliver fresh blood to the cells. Sleeping on your side enhances your body’s ability to do this work, allowing the internal organs to drain properly. When your body is functioning well, your sleep will be of better quality, more restful and refreshing.
  5. Improve skin and hair – Dull eyes and skin, dark circles or bags, puffiness, and thinning hair are signs of stagnant blood and Qi. Nutrients from the right foods and Chinese herbs help to nourish the skin, and clear heat, dampness, and dryness. When old cells are removed, hair and eyes can shine again. Acupuncture treatment can help stimulate collagen production, which also happens while you sleep.
  6. Weight loss – While our acupuncture detox is not about how to lose belly fat fast, many people will find that it gives them a good foundation for new eating habits. Detoxing the liver and kidneys will help your body metabolize fat better. 
  7. Balance hormones – severe PMS symptoms, bloated stomach and mood swings, perimenopause symptoms, infertility in women and infertility in men (oligospermia) can all be improved when hormone function improves. Acupuncture treatment can also help relieve conditions like PCOS, fibroids/leiomyoma, and endometriosis for women, and BPH in men.
  8. Reduce inflammation – many illnesses and pain conditions are inflammatory in nature. If you are suffering from pain due to plantar fasciitis, gout, rheumatoid arthritis, tennis elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome, shoulder or hip pain, acupuncture can help.
  9. Increased energy – better nutrition, better circulation, better sleep, and better organ function will all work synergistically to help you feel more energetic.
  10. Chronic illness – many chronic illnesses are rooted in toxic conditions within the body or exposure to toxins. Hard-to-treat conditions like autoimmune conditions and other systemic problems may be helped with alternative medicine when conventional medical treatments have not been successful. We treat many conditions with acupuncture and herbs, such as: lupus, lyme disease, celiac disease, fibromyalgia, and Crohn’s disease. We also provide support for people going through cancer treatment.

7 Steps of Detox Program With TCM Acupuncture and Herbs

cupping acupuncture detox
Cupping draws Qi and blood from deep inside the body.

Pain and dysfunction occur when there is imbalance and when there are areas of stagnation within the body. Think of the metaphor of a house that needs to be deep-cleaned; there are dark corners of the body that have been ignored for a while, where dust and cobwebs have gathered. The Detox program reaches into these pockets of stagnation, sweeps them clean, and makes sure they get some fresh air and sunlight shining on them, in the form of invigorated Qi and blood.

  1. Acupuncture Treatments – the primary goal of acupuncture treatments during the detox phase is to get Qi moving freely, remove blockages, and to assist in elimination of toxins from the body.
  2. Cupping Treatment – the TCM modality of cupping creates a vacuum-like suction that moves Qi and blood from the innermost parts of the body outwards. During the detox program, cupping helps to pull toxins out of the lungs and other organs.
  3. Detox Herbs – the Chinese herb detox tea helps to clear heat and toxins from the body and improve digestion and elimination.
  4. Foot Pad Detox – detox foot patches, worn as you sleep at night and removed in the morning, help to pull toxins and fatty deposits from the body. 
  5. Detox Bath – Sweating is an excellent way to remove toxins through the skin; this is why so many traditions rely on saunas and hot baths. Our herbal sachets allow you to enjoy a therapeutic herbal soak in your own bathtub.
  6. Exercise – Your acupuncturist will instruct you on how to practice daily exercises, based on QiGong movements, that will help to get Qi and blood moving.
  7. Nutrition – the food plan during the detox is based on whole grains, lean proteins, and plenty of vegetables, flooding your system with nutrients.

Detox Near Me Los Angeles, Westside

The beginning of the year, springtime, after recovery from a long illness, while preparing for a healthy pregnancy–anytime may be the right time for you to detoxify your system and get a fresh start. We recommend that you take the time to dedicate yourself to a week of cleansing with the Art of Wellness Detox Program at least twice a year for optimal health benefits.

 

 

*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 Tennis Elbow With Acupuncture and TCM

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

tennis elbow
Tennis elbow can happen to athletes and manual laborers alike.

Pain in outer elbow or burning sensation in forearm? Tennis Elbow, also called lateral epicondylitis, is a pain condition caused by overuse or repetitive movements of the arm and wrist. Acupuncture and TCM can provide help with healing the muscles and tendons of the elbow and providing elbow pain relief of tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, or tendonitis, so you can get back to your usual activities.

“Tennis elbow” gets its name from the fact that many people get this type of repetitive use injury from playing tennis and other sports that involve holding a racquet. But tennis elbow doesn’t only occur in athletes; it’s also common among people who have to perform repetitive movements that tax the muscles and tendons of the elbow, forearm, wrist, and hand and involve gripping an object, such as: painting, hammering and sawing (construction workers), cutting or chopping (cooks, chefs, butchers), using a wrench (plumbers), or working on an assembly line.

Tennis elbow is a kind of tendonitis, or inflammation of the soft tissues of the forearm. Tendonitis occurs when the soft tissues that attach muscles to bones sustain microtears and become inflamed. The major muscle involved in movements where the wrist and hand are gripping an object while the elbow is extending, or straightening, is the extensor carpi radialis brevis (ECRB) muscle. The ECRB muscle experiences friction as it moves over the bumpy joining of three bones in the elbow joint. Over time, and with overuse, the tendons that attach the ECRB to the bones can become torn and/or inflamed.

Tennis elbow pain is usually centered right in the outer side of the elbow, and just below the joint, but it can also radiate further down the arm and into the wrist. There might be a burning sensation in the muscle on the outer forearm. Pain and weakness in the elbow and wrist can make it difficult to perform regular actions like holding a cup or using a computer mouse.

Golfer’s elbow is a similar condition in that it is also an overuse injury that causes weakness and pain in the forearm. The difference is that with golfer’s elbow, also known as medial epicondylitis, the inflammation and microtearing occur in the muscles and tendons involved in flexing the arm rather than extending it, or bending the wrist inward towards the palm with a lot of force or speed. These are located on the inner part of the elbow and forearm. This type of repetitive use condition can be the result of swinging a golf club, throwing a baseball, hitting a forceful spin serve in tennis, but also such activities as shovelling, using a heavy tool like an axe or chainsaw, or even just carrying a heavy suitcase with your hand and wrist wrapped around the handle.

Tennis elbow pain can be resolved with rest, but for many people, complete rest is not a feasible or desirable option. Acupuncture treatment has been shown to help provide significant pain relief for tennis elbow. Acupuncture treatment can help to reduce inflammation and improve blood flow to injured areas to aid and speed healing of various types of tendonitis.

Top 5 Symptoms of Tennis Elbow

elbow pain forearm pain
Pain in the outer elbow or forearm pain are signs of tennis elbow.

Signs of tennis elbow usually develop slowly over time and are not caused by any obvious single injury. 

  1. Elbow pain or pain on the outside of the forearm, burning sensation in the outer part of elbow, stiff elbow
  2. Pain that radiates down to the wrist, wrist pain, stiff wrist
  3. Stiffness of the elbow, especially first thing in the morning
  4. Weak grip strength, reduced grip strength
  5. More severe pain when gripping an object, like a mug or racquet

Symptoms of golfer’s elbow are similar, except that the pain is located on the inner side of the elbow or forearm, as opposed to the outer side. Pain is more likely to radiate to the fourth and fifth fingers (ring finger and pinky finger) than to the wrist. You may feel pain when making a fist.

Wrist pain, tingling in the fingers, and weak grip strength can also be signs of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Medical Treatment for Tennis Elbow

The standard treatment for Tennis Elbow begins with rest, icing, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs like Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen) to reduce pain and swelling. If the pain persists, or perhaps if a person is not able to avoid the activities that are causing the inflammation, doctors may recommend wearing a brace and may administer steroid injections. 

Surgical treatment for tennis elbow is relatively rare and only recommended in cases where rest and pain management medications are not working. An arthroscopic procedure to remove damaged and scarred tissue can help repair the muscles and tendons, but there is usually a long recovery time after the surgery.

A newer form of treatment for chronic tendon pain and inflammation is the F.A.S.T. procedure (Focused Aspiration of Scar Tissue). This is a less invasive procedure that uses ultrasound imaging and ultrasonic technology to remove tiny bits of damaged tissue without any incisions. Recovery time after this procedure is much shorter than with regular tennis elbow surgery.

While pharmacological treatment for pain may help to reduce immediate suffering, medications like NSAIDs and steroid injections come with significant side effects, even if they aren’t immediately apparent. Using these kinds of medications long-term to alleviate chronic pain can take their toll, sometimes causing gastrointestinal distress, weight gain, sleep problems, and other side effects that have a negative impact on overall health. Acupuncture treatment can act as an analgesic to relieve pain without any negative side effects. In fact, the side effects of acupuncture treatment are usually beneficial, including increased circulation, immune function, and stress relief.

Can Acupuncture Treat Tennis Elbow?

TCM massage pain relief
TCM massage can relieve tennis elbow pain.

The treatment of chronic pain and inflammation with TCM goes back for many centuries. We use acupuncture and other methods to help relieve pain and reduce inflammation related to shoulder pain, knee pain, hip pain, neck pain, sprained ankle, and foot pain. TCM uses a variety of modalities to treat orthopedic pain conditions, including: acupuncture treatment, electro-acupuncture, moxibustion, cupping, Tui Na massage, exercise, and Chinese herbs in formulations for both internal (tea or pills) and external (pain patches) use. This multi-pronged approach can be very effective for reducing pain in the short term, while helping tissues to heal over time.

A controlled study in which patients suffering from lateral epicondylitis were divided into three groups and treated with either massage or acupuncture, or a combination of both, showed that patients who received the combination treatment experienced, for the most part, a complete recovery after twenty sessions.

Another controlled study that compared people suffering from chronic tennis elbow who were treated with real acupuncture versus sham acupuncture showed that at both the two week mark and the two month mark, people who had received acupuncture reported less pain and improved function of the arm joints.

Exercises and Pressure Points for Tennis Elbow Pain Prevention

tennis elbow exercises
Working with a flex bar can help improve grip strength.

If you are already experiencing tennis elbow pain or signs of golfer’s elbow, you may need to take some time off from sports or make accommodations to your work in order to rest the muscles and tendons of the forearm. Resting the arm is important for allowing inflammation to go down. Once you’re able to start exercising again, try these home remedies for tennis elbow that will help to prevent tendon problems in the future:

  1. To prevent repetitive stress conditions like tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow when playing sports, be sure to always warm up before playing and cool down afterwards. Practice your form, with a trainer if warranted, so that you know your technique is good and not contributing to pain or injury. Check your sports equipment regularly to make sure everything is in good condition and the right size and balance for you.
  2. Pressure points for tennis elbow: If you are experiencing pain in the elbow and forearm, you might try using this acupressure point to help tennis elbow pain: LI11 (Large Intestine Meridian 11) – located right in the crevice of the elbow crease, applying pressure to this point can help move Qi and blood through the joint and bring relief from tennis elbow pain. This point is also helpful for clearing heat and cooling you down after exercise, so it’s a good one to use right after a game or when you finish work.
  3. Exercises for Tennis Elbow – practicing gentle exercises that strengthen the muscles of the wrist and forearm can help prevent pain and tissue damage. Using light dumbbells or a flex bar can help with grip strength.

Acupuncture Near Me for Tennis Elbow on the Westside of Los Angeles

Whether you are an avid tennis player, or someone who works hard doing physical labor, elbow pain from lateral epicondylitis can really cramp your style. Athletes and active people of all ages need to take care of their bodies appropriately so as to avoid injuries that can lead to chronic pain. Adding acupuncture to your health regimen is a great way of providing basic maintenance for your body. Acupuncture treatment, therapeutic massage, and a good nutrition program can all help you keep your joints moving smoothly, without pain. At Art of Wellness, we have over 30 years of experience in helping to relieve orthopedic and musculoskeletal pain conditions.

 

 

*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 Hives With Acupuncture and TCM

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

hives allergies
Hives appear as red welts that come and go.

Skin rash with itchy welts or red bumps that seem to appear suddenly, then move to another part of the body, or go away? Hives, also known as urticaria, are caused by a type of allergic reaction that creates a temporary rash or swelling of the skin. TCM and acupuncture have been used for centuries to help relieve hives caused by allergies.

Hives are fairly common, occurring in about 20% of people of all ages. An acute, or short-lived, case of hives may occur because of being exposed to some unusual, new chemical or natural irritant in a person’s environment, maybe in some product, or some pollen or bug. These usually go away quickly, and it may be fairly obvious what it was that caused the outbreak of hives. However, sometimes people develop chronic idiopathic urticaria (CIU), in which a person may break out in hives often on an ongoing basis and have no idea why it keeps happening.

Allergies can manifest in many ways: sometimes causing sneezing, watery eyes, or skin problems. Hives are another way that an allergic reaction can show up. Hives, or urticaria, are distinguishable from other types of skin rash, like eczema or shingles rash, because, unlike other rashes, they do not form fluid-filled bumps or cause dryness, scaliness, or cracking of the skin. Rather, hives are raised welts on the skin that appear red, but then turn white when you press on them; this is known as “blanching.” Hives can look like small, narrow lines, or big, patchy blotches.

Urticaria is related to, and sometimes confused with, angioedema, which is a similar condition, in which deep layers of skin become swollen, often around the eyes and mouth, also due to irritation by some allergen. Angioderma can coexist with hives, and can be more dangerous than hives, if it causes tissues in the throat or tongue to become so swollen that the airway is blocked.

Hives often clear up on their own within a few days or weeks without any treatment. However, some people develop chronic hives, in which the hives rash keeps recurring for weeks or months, or longer. Chronic hives can be a uniquely painful and frustrating condition; never knowing when you might break out into a burning, itchy rash. Hives worse at night or hives worse after sleeping are common experiences for people who suffer from chronic urticaria. Breaking out in hives can make a person feel panic, making it very difficult to get on with daily tasks. Acupuncture treatment can help alleviate the burning and itching of acute hives or chronic hives, and help relieve the allergies, stress, and other underlying conditions that bring them on.

allergy pet dander hives
Pet dander can trigger hives.

Top 10 Hives Causes or Triggers

In general, what causes hives most of the time is an allergic reaction to some external stimulus. Touching something, eating something, or inhaling something that you are allergic to can cause urticaria to break out on the skin, sometimes briefly, sometimes moving around from one area or the skin to another, or seeming to spread over the skin. Things that can cause hives include:

  1. Foods, especially those that are well-known allergens like nuts, shellfish, dairy, and eggs, but also fruits, especially citrus fruits
  2. Contact with certain plants
  3. Pollen in the environment
  4. Medications, including antibiotics, OTC pain relievers
  5. Latex
  6. Pet dander
  7. External stimuli from the climate – sun exposure, heat, cold
  8. Bacterial infections in the body, like strep throat or a UTI
  9. Viral infections in the body, like colds, hepatitis or mononucleosis (viral hives)
  10. Blood transfusions
hives
Red, hot, itchy patches of hives can move from one part of the body to another.

Insect bites or itchy rashes that cause you to scratch at your skin can also cause hives to appear in other areas. Simple pressure on the skin, from sitting or leaning on a patch of skin for a long time, can cause hives. Some people break out in hives when they are under a lot of pressure or emotional stress, even if they are not aware of having allergies or other underlying causes for hives. Sometimes this is called a “stress rash.”

Treatment for Hives

Hives are most commonly treated with antihistamines, which can help relieve itching. Many people experience some type of side effect from taking antihistamines, including: headache, drowsiness, fatigue, and hay fever type symptoms. Some people do get relief from a temporary hives rash after taking Benadryl or something similar. But for others, it may not help, and then doctors often prescribe a corticosteroid as an anti-inflammatory. If steroid treatment for hives does not help, immunosuppressants may be recommended. Depending on the root cause of the hives, these types of pharmacological solutions may or may not work to relieve hives. Acupuncture and TCM treatment focuses on solving the deeper problems that cause hives, without any negative side effects.

How Can Acupuncture Help Hives?

hot bath hives
Hot baths and showers can damage your skin’s protective layers and trigger hives.

As we have seen, conventional western medicine mostly looks at hives in terms of allergies. But in order to resolve the hives, we have to look more closely at why a person has those allergies. Why are some people affected so strongly by certain foods or certain environmental conditions while other people are not affected at all? We have to consider a person’s constitutional health.

As we have discussed in other articles, in TCM the concept of Wei Qi refers to the body’s protective defenses, the action of which stems mainly from the lungs and the skin. Many types of illness are considered to be related to a weakness or breakdown in the Wei Qi that allows external pathogenic factors to enter the body and take hold. Wind is one such external pathogenic factor. Heat and cold are others. Viral and bacterial infections also find their way into the body when the Wei Qi energy is weakened.

6 Pathogenic Factors According to TCM:

  1. Wind
  2. Cold
  3. Summer Heat
  4. Dampness
  5. Dryness
  6. Fire

Hives come mostly from wind and heat. In TCM, urticaria is known as Feng Zhen Kuai, or “wind rash patch.” Wind describes the nature of urticaria rash in the sense that the hives welts come and go, as if blown about. 

When people get hives, it is usually because of one of a few common factors.

  1. Yin deficiency/Dryness – If the body is too dry, when any allergens get in, there is not enough moisture in the body to wash them out of the system; this causes the breakout.
  2. Fire/Heat – If there is too much heat, fire, and inflammation in the body, when there is exposure to allergens, the body can’t take any more and will break out.
  3. Liver stagnation with Heat – When a person is under stress for a long time, it can exacerbate stagnation of Qi in the liver system, which over time causes heat to build up, then the body cannot process little irritations. The liver and kidneys have to do all the work to filter toxins out of the body, but when those organs are overstressed, the body will try to get rid of excess heat through the skin.

Usually, if a person is having chronic hives, it has a lot to do with their food and their habits around their exposure to the elements. For example, in the winter time, in order to be harmonious with the season, the body is meant to experience cold. But many people keep the heater on and keep their environment very warm all the time. This leads to dry air and can cause even people without any allergies to feel itchy. People also tend to take long, hot showers, which can destroy some of the skin’s natural protective layers and cause it to be raw and easily irritated. 

In western thought, when a person has a reaction such as hives to certain foods (spicy foods, alcohol), it is thought of as an allergic reaction, but in Chinese medicine we see this as being the body’s reaction to too much heat. If a person already has a fiery constitution, or liver stagnation, and then there are external hot conditions, and hot foods coming in all at once, the internal heat can explode out, creating the burning rash on the skin.

Cupping can be very helpful for treating hives; it exfoliates the skin and helps to draw toxins out. This will help to cool down the hives outbreak. Then we go further with acupuncture and herbs to strengthen the lungs, the liver, and the Wei Qi.

A systematic review of clinical trials studying the use of TCM methods and acupuncture to treat hives, both as an alternative and an adjunct to medication treatment, concluded that acupuncture is a safe and effective way to reduce symptoms of hives or chronic urticaria. Chinese herbs are also well-known for helping to relieve hives.

Top 5 Tips for Hives Relief

wind hives
Wind, whether cold or hot and dry, can cause hives.

How to get rid of hives for good will mean paying attention to what triggers the rash for each individual. To avoid this kind of allergic reaction hives, protect your Wei Qi with healthy habits. Prioritize rest and good nutrition to build up your immunity and protect your lungs and skin.

  1. Avoid a cold wind blowing on you, whether outside, or from a fan or air conditioner. Dress appropriately; always bring an extra layer so you don’t catch a chill or have a bright sun shining on your skin for a long time when you didn’t expect it.
  2. Avoid very hot showers, baths, saunas, etc. 
  3. Engage in regular exercise to help boost your blood circulation; walking is always ideal. This will help to reduce stress, as will a meditation practice.
  4. Get plenty of rest. Good quality sleep is essential to help build up the Wei Qi.
  5. Avoid foods that are either too hot (spicy or fried, red meats) or too cold (raw foods). No alcohol or coffee. These triggering foods and beverages can really make the hives worse. Drink more water to eliminate the dryness in the body.

If a patient is having trouble figuring out what it is that is causing his or her hives breakouts, a TCM provider may be able to find the underlying reason behind the rash.

Acupuncture Near Me for Hives

People of all ages can receive acupuncture treatment for hives and allergies. The doctors at Art of Wellness have been helping people get relief from allergies and itchy skin conditions for over three decades. We can provide help for children with hives with herbs and acupuncture. If you or someone you love is suffering from hives, please consider giving TCM and herbs a try.

 

 

 

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

 

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How to Treat Aging Skin With Cosmetic Acupuncture

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

cosmetic acupuncture
Cosmetic acupuncture is natural and holistic.

Looking for a treatment that can help smooth fine wrinkles, boost collagen and firm skin? Maybe you’ve heard about cosmetic acupuncture, also known as facial rejuvenation, or an acupuncture face lift, and you’re wondering if it really works. TCM and acupuncture offer a natural, health-centered skin care alternative to surgery and other  procedures for people of all ages who want to look younger and more well-rested.

We all want to look in the mirror and see ourselves looking our best. Cosmetic procedures like plastic surgery and minimally-invasive aesthetic treatments have increased by well over 200% in the past twenty years. People of all genders and ages are showing more interest than ever in anti-aging treatments that can tighten, tone, and brighten the skin, banish puffiness and dark circles under the eyes, and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. While advances are continually being made in the field of aesthetic medicine, and the stigma surrounding such treatments has been largely reduced, some of these procedures can be harsh and invasive. Many people may prefer to seek a natural alternative.

The TCM approach to skin care is holistic and health-oriented, focusing on creating healthy, lively skin from the inside out. Finding the root internal causes of dull, sagging skin, lack of muscle tone, dryness and other skin problems, and treating them with targeted acupuncture points, herbs used both topically and internally, and the right nutrition program, can all lead to a more youthful and invigorated appearance. The results, of course, will not change your face so dramatically that you look like a different person. It is important that any time you consider an aesthetic procedure, you manage and maintain realistic expectations. But cosmetic acupuncture treatment can help you to feel better about yourself, inside and out.

What Is an Acupuncture Face Lift?

Cosmetic acupuncture, while seeking to improve the overall appearance of the face and neck, is really based in optimizing the patient’s health throughout the body. Acupuncture needling works on several levels. Usually, we explain how stimulating points with acupuncture affects Qi (life force energy) as it flows through the meridian pathways of the body, producing changes in the function of the organ systems. But it also works on the skin-deep level, creating micro-trauma to the skin and underlying tissues that triggers repair and rebuilding. If you have had acupuncture before, you might have felt your acupuncturist gently turn the needles after inserting them. Research has shown how this age-old technique actually does produce a direct effect on collagen fibers. This is partly why acupuncture treatment helps you heal from musculoskeletal injuries and chronic pain conditions. It also helps your skin heal and regenerate.

Acupuncture is also proven to aid in the release of endorphins, which help you feel happier and more relaxed. We all know that a positive outlook can do wonders for your looks. Acupuncture treatment not only gives you the appearance of being well-rested; it actually helps you sleep better and relieves stress that can cause frowning and worry lines.

Your practitioner will choose specific acupoints to target your individual needs, addressing other skin concerns in addition to the signs of aging, including acne and rosacea.

Often, people notice a difference in their appearance right away, as even one treatment can help the skin take on a new glow, and most people emerge from their acupuncture session feeling that they have had a good rest. Generally, we recommend that, in order to see noticeable results, you start with 1-2 treatments per week for at least a few weeks, then continue with a monthly treatment to maintain the results.

A scientific study used topographic imaging to measure the contours of patient’s faces as they underwent a course of five cosmetic acupuncture treatments. The researchers concluded, based on the images and patients’ self-assessments, that facial cosmetic acupuncture produced significant improvement in skin elasticity

A systematic review of TCM cosmetic acupuncture study data showed that patients reported positive results, including: fewer wrinkles and better skin condition, with improved moisture content.

Cosmetic Acupuncture Vs. Botox

botox treatment
Acupuncture is a natural alternative to Botox injections.

In recent years, Botox injections have become an extremely popular and acceptable way to combat the primary “problem” of aging skin: wrinkles. Facial skin is creased every time we move the facial muscles to express ourselves. Over time, as skin loses its elasticity, these creases become deeper and more defined. Botox (short for botulinum toxin) is a paralytic agent, which means it temporarily “freezes” or paralyses the muscles that lie under the skin of the face, so that they will not move when a person frowns or smiles. This helps prevent the formation of deeper lines between the eyebrows, for example, or along the nasal-labial folds on either side of the mouth. 

While Botox injections are widely considered safe these days, there are risks involved with treatment. Minor short term side effects can include redness, swelling, headaches, or nausea. In some instances, the muscle paralysing action can spread to more necessary parts of the facial musculature, causing speech problems, trouble swallowing, or trouble breathing. It can also cause parts of the face to droop due to muscle weakness. While many people have experienced satisfaction with wrinkle reduction due to Botox treatment, we have probably all noticed cases in which a person ends up looking unnaturally startled, lop-sided, or simply incapable of normal expression.

The effects of Botox are temporary, and in order to maintain the smoother skin, people must return for more injections every few months. Facial acupuncture, too, should be performed regularly to maintain results, but TCM offers a more comprehensive approach to smoothing and preventing wrinkles by boosting collagen production and circulation, improving skin elasticity. Massage techniques such as Gua Sha can firm and tone the facial muscles so that the whole face still moves naturally. Botox injections don’t do anything to improve the health of your skin or light up your eyes from within. Facial rejuvenation with TCM is essentially a risk-free procedure that can provide natural-looking results.

The TCM Approach to Skin Care

acupuncture face lift
TCM facial rejuvenation starts with your practitioner carefully reading your face.

One of the subtler techniques used by TCM practitioners is that of examining a patient’s physiognomy; that is, deducing problems of physical, emotional, and spiritual health by “reading” a person’s face. We can also tell a lot about a person’s internal condition by studying the skin and nails on their hands. This is an art that the acupuncturist can only master with many years of experience.

For example, if there is a tendency to develop dark circles or bags under the eyes and bruise easily, this indicates a stagnation of blood circulation. That deep crease or “frown line” between the eyebrows may indicate a Liver Qi stagnation. The acupuncturist will choose points to stimulate based on each individual’s constitution, working on deeper levels of stagnation in the organ systems, while also targeting specific muscles in the face and neck that need toning.

Naturally, we also use herbs to help nourish the skin. Traditionally, poultices or face masks have been used to directly bring nutrients to the facial skin, while internal herbs taken as teas help to clear heat and dampness from the body. Your TCM provider may also use cupping to draw out toxins and stimulate the lymphatic system; basically, this is like a deep cleaning for your whole body. 

Top 5 Tips for Natural Skin Care 

facial massage
massage helps tone facial muscles

We cannot emphasize enough that glowing skin starts within. You may already have a daily skin care routine that involves cleansers and moisturizers, but for the best results, be sure to focus equally on keeping the whole body hydrated, cool, and free of toxins. No matter what age you are right now, you can start making your skin a priority with these simple practices:

  1. Drink water and green tea – plenty of water keeps the skin cells “plump.” Green tea has been used for centuries to help maintain clear, hydrated skin.
  2. Get plenty of sleep – There is solid reasoning behind the expression “I need my beauty sleep.” Our cells regenerate and repair themselves while we sleep; this is when the collagen production happens, so give your body plenty of time to do its work. 
  3. Eat the right foods – for healthy skin, make sure to take in enough Omega 3 fatty acids (found in fish oil, good quality eggs, and fresh walnuts), and eat more cooling foods. These include: melon, cucumbers, citrus fruits, cabbage, seaweed, and other greens, mung beans, and soy foods like tofu and tempeh.
  4. Reduce stress –  Stress negatively impacts your skin in a number of ways. Stress can contribute to acne, bags under your eyes, rashes, worry and frown lines, and dryness. Make stress reduction a top priority to improve the overall health of your skin.
  5. Sun Protection – Getting a little sun (about 30 minutes of exposure) every day is important for the proper functioning of your immune system, but too much sun can be damaging to the skin. Whenever possible, protect your skin with light garments and a hat; this is preferable to the constant use of cosmetic sunscreens, most of which contain potentially toxic chemicals. When you must expose more skin to the sun’s rays, use a sunscreen with natural ingredients

Cosmetic Acupuncture Near Me

If you’ve been thinking about what sort of medical aesthetic treatments might be right for you, try cosmetic acupuncture for a more youthful look without any side effects or recovery time. There really is no down side to an acupuncture face lift; in fact, your acupuncturist can treat all of your health concerns–back pain, headache, menopause, etc.–,and add the needles for facial rejuvenation all in the same treatment session. Maybe it’s time to give yourself the gift of a little lift with cosmetic acupuncture.

 

 

*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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