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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 PTSD With Acupuncture and TCM

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

PTSD post traumatic stress disorder
Many veteran soldiers suffer from PTSD.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a type of mental illness that develops after a person has gone through a traumatic life event. PTSD flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, nightmares, and sleep disorders are a few of the most common signs of PTSD. Acupuncture and TCM are widely accepted as a highly effective way to treat complex PTSD and other stress disorders, as well as anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and insomnia.

PTSD is mostly commonly associated with veterans of the military, as many soldiers who have served in combat experience trauma related to war violence. A significant amount of scientific research and psychiatric study has been devoted to finding out about PTSD and what treatments for PTSD are effective. Relative to other conditions, there have been quite a few studies showing that acupuncture can be helpful for PTSD. The U.S. Navy has even started an acupuncture training program in San Diego, after a Pentagon study showed that TCM is beneficial for veterans.

PTSD is not only a problem for military veterans, though. PTSD can result from all kinds of traumatic life events, including things like: accidents, natural disasters, surgeries, assaults, attacks, abandonment, or the death of a loved one. More than 8 million Americans are currently living with post traumatic stress. People of all ages can experience PTSD. PTSD can result from experiencing something traumatic directly, or being a witness to such an event. People whose jobs involve exposure to violence or disturbing situations, such as first responders, social workers, or police officers, can also have PTSD because of things they have seen. A person can be deeply traumatised by something they didn’t see happen firsthand, but that they heard happened to someone close to them.

The body’s response to extreme stress is one of its ways of protecting us. Stressful situations cause the “fight-or-flight” response and chemicals like adrenaline to be released. When this happens repeatedly, or to an extreme degree, because a person is literally in fear for their life, there can be long-lasting physical and emotional effects. Normal, everyday stress we hope to release from the body through exercise, meditation, laughter, and other stress-reducing activities. But when a person has endured abuse or life-threatening danger, they may not be able to release the stress from their bodies so easily.

TCM theory offers a way to help people deal with mental health issues like PTSD because it creates a context in which emotional and mental symptoms interact with physical symptoms. TCM addresses the way that trauma and negative emotions are stored in the body, sometimes causing overwhelming emotional and physical symptoms. Acupuncture and herbs are holistic treatments for PTSD that can be used as an adjunct to therapy and medications to help relieve stress, sleep problems, mood disorders, negative emotions, and problems with cognitive function.

Top 10 Signs of PTSD

ptsd anxiety depression
PTSD can result from assault or abuse.

Many people don’t realize that they are experiencing post traumatic stress. PTSD can overlap with several other types of mental health problems, and the symptoms of PTSD can often seem similar to those of other anxiety disorders or symptoms of depression. What PTSD feels like can be highly individual to each person and what caused their initial trauma.

The most commonly recognized symptoms of PTSD include:

  1. Flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, reliving traumatic events, can’t stop thinking about what happened 
  2. Nightmares, recurrent, vivid, disturbing dreams
  3. Avoidance of triggering places, activities, or people
  4. Memory loss, amnesia, unable to remember periods of time related to the traumatic event
  5. Negative perception of self, negative perception of the world, blaming self or others
  6. Isolation, unable to connect with other people, relationship problems
  7. Feelings of anger, irritability
  8. Hypervigilance, always aware of perceived threat, can’t relax, exaggerated startle response, always on guard, panic attacks
  9. Difficulty concentrating, inability to focus on the present 
  10. Insomnia, can’t sleep

PTSD often coexists with other mental health issues like anxiety, panic attacks, and depression. Chronic fatigue syndrome has been associated with PTSD. Fibromyalgia, a syndrome that can cause generalized muscle pain, sleep problems, fatigue, and other problems can be related to PTSD. Sometimes fibro manifests after a traumatic event.

Types of PTSD

ptsd panic attacks
Intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, and nightmares are signs of PTSD.

The term “stress disorder” refers to a combination of physical and emotional symptoms that are the body’s and mind’s stress responses to some type of trauma. 

Different types of stress disorders include:

  • Normal stress response – even common everyday work stress and relationship stress can cause widespread health problems. Serious issues like a relationship breakup, or job loss can lead to negative emotions and physical problems due to stress. People of all ages can experience debilitating symptoms of stress like: stomachaches, headaches, trouble concentrating, rapid heartbeat or trouble sleeping. If stress is allowed to build up over time, it can seriously damage health.
  • Acute stress disorders – acute post traumatic stress is the immediate aftereffect of some sort of traumatic event or life-or-death situation. If the short-term (30 days or less) acute signs of trauma are left unaddressed, they can turn into PTSD.
  • Uncomplicated PTSD – this refers to PTSD symptoms related to a specific traumatic event, such as a car accident, being the victim of a crime or assault, or surviving a natural disaster and its aftermath. This type of PTSD causes symptoms like: flashbacks, nightmares, avoiding a particular area, thing, or person, and strong feelings of anger, blame, and fear that impact your relationships and sleep patterns.
  • Complex PTSD – complex trauma is the result of multiple, repeated traumatic episodes, like suffering abuse as a child, being in an abusive relationship, domestic violence, or repeated sexual abuse. Complex PTSD could also happen to people living in wartime conditions or who are part of a targeted community under brutal conditions.  PTSD attacks can be brought on by complex PTSD triggers that remind you of the traumatic events, such as: a particular place or smell, a time of year or date, a physical pain or sensation in a particular part of the body, or reading a story or seeing a movie or TV show that brings up the memory. 
  • Comorbid PTSD – this refers to PTSD that coexists with other serious issues such as substance abuse, addiction, and/or depression. Comorbid PTSD is very common, because many people suffer from more than one of these mental health conditions at the same time.

In general, complex PTSD and comorbid PTSD are considered more difficult to treat and more likely to affect people throughout their lives than uncomplicated PTSD.

PTSD Treatment

Treatment for PTSD typically involves a combination of psychotherapy/cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and psychiatric medications for PTSD such as antidepressants (SSRIs like Zoloft, Prozac, or Paxil) and anti-anxiety medications (like Xanax, Ativan, Valium, or Klonopin). Long-term use of anti-anxiety medications is generally not recommended, as patients can become dependent on them, leading to abuse of the drugs. SSRIs can be helpful for symptoms of depression, but they can also have negative side effects, like sexual dysfunction (ED), weight gain, nausea, dizziness, and making sleep problems worse.

ptsd treatment
Treating PTSD with therapy can be hard because people don’t want to talk about it.

Exposure therapy is a specific type of therapy that helps people learn coping skills by working with the distressing memories or exploring possibly frightening situations in a safe environment with a therapist. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) helps patients learn to adapt to the stress tied to the past trauma by thinking about it while looking at a movement pattern or listening to a repetitive sound. This treatment has been shown to help PTSD patients heal emotional trauma more quickly than talk therapy or CBT alone. 

The conventional treatments for PTSD can help some patients, to different degrees, but many people with complex trauma do not want to go through this type of treatment. Talk therapy, trauma-based CBT, and exposure therapy may be terribly intimidating to people who are suffering with PTSD, and patients may be more afraid of entering into these kinds of therapy than continuing on with their current symptoms.

The TCM modality of acupuncture can have a positive effect on neurotransmitters, the brain chemicals that influence cognitive thought patterns and moods, without the potential negative side effects or dependency that can result from medications. Acupuncture can be a helpful alternative or complementary treatment to other types of therapy for PTSD.

Can Acupuncture Help PTSD?

In historical records of TCM, we do not see a word or description of a condition that is directly synonymous with PTSD. However, in TCM, we view emotional states as being related to the function, or dysfunction, of specific organ systems. The symptoms of PTSD can correlate with these relationships between the organs, the mental state, and physical manifestation of symptoms:

  • Lung – Grief – Wheezing, trouble breathing, sweating, fatigue
  • Spleen – Worry – Nausea, gastric problems, loss of appetite
  • Liver – Anger – Headaches, muscle pain, dizziness
  • Heart – Anxiety – Palpitations, insomnia
  • Kidney – Fear – Urinary frequency, night sweats, memory problems

A TCM provider will look carefully at how each individual describes their physical symptoms and emotional state, and will choose acupuncture points for PTSD and herbs to help strengthen the organ systems that need nourishment.

In regards specifically to military veterans with PTSD, many survivors are wary of seeking medical or psychological treatment for complex trauma. The majority of soldiers who have served in the Middle East in recent years have been diagnosed with PTSD, but less than half of those veterans are receiving medical treatment for PTSD. Many people, in general, are reluctant to seek care, either because they don’t trust that it will work, or their complicated feelings of shame, guilt, grief, and anger are too overwhelming to share with others.

Acupuncture can be particularly helpful for some people suffering from PTSD because it does not necessarily have to involve talking about the original trauma or abuse. Some patients may avoid psychotherapy for this very reason, as they are not ready, and may never be ready, to go over these details with another person. An acupuncturist can help relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression by focusing on the person’s emotional and physical needs and tailoring the treatment to fit their symptoms and lifestyles. 

A clinical study done by the Long Beach V.A. randomly divided patients into “real acupuncture” and “sham acupuncture” groups, and the patients received treatments twice per week over the course of 12 weeks. The veterans who received real acupuncture showed significant physiological improvement, with less startle reactions, as measured by skin sensors, than the sham group.

A Rand review found that acupuncture helped improve symptoms of depression, anxiety, and sleep problems in PTSD patients.

Acupuncture Near Me for PTSD in Los Angeles

It can be a long and challenging process to overcome complex PTSD, but with the right combination of PTSD treatment, it is possible to reduce or even eliminate symptoms. With a TCM approach and acupuncture treatment, we can help reduce anxiety and depression, address feelings of anger and grief in a clinically meaningful way, and help to promote better sleep. If you or a loved one is dealing with unresolved trauma and needs help, you may find that acupuncture is a low-risk and supportive way to treat PTSD.

 

*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 Parkinson’s Disease With Acupuncture and TCM

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

Parkinson's disease, hand tremor
Hand tremor is one of the most well known sign of Parkinson’s disease.

Hand tremor or shaky hands, stiffness in limbs, trouble walking, or problems with balance? These may be signs of Parkinson’s Disease (PD). Parkinsons is a progressive neurological disorder that primarily affects the brain cells that produce dopamine. Integrative care with acupuncture treatment may help relieve symptoms of Parkinson’s disease better than conventional treatments alone.

Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder that causes damage and dysfunction in brain cells, so that communications between the brain and the body don’t work the way they usually do. Sometimes a range of symptoms similar to those experienced by people with Parkinson’s occurs due to small strokes that affect the blood supply to the brain. This condition is called vascular parkinsonism.

More than ten million people are currently living with Parkinson’s disease worldwide. The chances of having PD increase with age, and men are more likely to have Parkinson’s than women. Early onset Parkinson’s can occur in people under 50. While it is often considered a movement disorder that causes hand tremors and other problems with mobility, Parkinson’s disease can cause less obvious symptoms, too.

Parkinson’s disease causes both “motor” and “non-motor symptoms;” the motor symptoms include physical problems like trembling hands or hand shaking, stiffness in the arms and legs, and trouble with balance when walking. The non-motor symptoms may include cognitive problems with memory, foggy-headedness, and trouble sleeping. It might even seem like a person’s personality and social behavior change, because they have trouble speaking and making their usual facial expressions.

Neurological diseases like Parkinson’s can slow the production of chemicals usually produced by the nervous system, including both dopamine and norepinephrine, a chemical that constricts blood vessels to raise blood pressure. It may be this lack of norepinephrine that causes some of the symptoms of Parkinson’s, such as low blood pressure, digestive problems, and fatigue.

Parkinson’s is a progressive disease, which means that people with PD go through stages as the condition affects more and more brain cells. In the early stages, the motor symptoms are mild and may only occur on one side of the body. In the later stages, a person may not be able to perform basic daily activities like getting dressed, eating, or walking without assistance.

What causes Parkinson’s disease? Medical science does not currently have an answer for why the brain cells become damaged or die in people with Parkinson’s. Scientists have observed that patients with Parkinson’s often have unusual clumps of a protein (alpha-synuclein) in their brain cells; these are called “lewy bodies” (lewy body parkinsons). These may be causing mutations in the cells that impair their ability to produce dopamine and other neurochemicals. Genetics, aging, and toxins in the environment or diet may all play a role in the development of Parkinson’s.

Conventional treatment for Parkinson’s involves finding a combination of medications that may help to reduce tremors and stiffness, and the myriad other symptoms a person with PD may experience. TCM offers an effective and safe adjunctive Parkinson’s treatment. Acupuncture treatment is widely accepted as a way to help relieve pain and nausea related to all types of diseases. TCM treatment can also have a positive effect on neurochemical activity, increase dopamine levels, help improve motor function and gait, and relieve fatigue.

Top 10 Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson's disease walking hunched stooped
Stooped posture or shoulders hunched over are signs of Parkinson’s.

The early signs of Parkinson’s are generally related to movements of the body, like feeling stiff when getting up or mild hand tremors. People may not realize that other symptoms, like low blood pressure and dizziness, are also related to early stage Parkinson’s. The most common symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include: 

  1. Tremor – a small, involuntary shaking movement occurs most often in the hands, but can also be in a finger or thumb, or the chin. Sometimes called static tremor or resting tremor.
  2. Trouble moving or walking – limbs may feel stiff or rigid, there may be hip pain or shoulder pain. Most noticeably, the arms may not swing naturally when a person walks, or a person may shuffle, feeling it is hard to lift their feet off the floor. Movements that have been automatic for one’s whole life become challenging. 
  3. Dizziness – fainting or feeling dizzy when you get up from sitting or lying down. This happens due to a sudden drop in blood pressure called orthostatic hypotension. A general feeling of weakness, feeling lightheaded, foggy headed, headache, blurred vision, and difficulty thinking or concentrating, and memory problems.
  4. Change in handwriting – this symptom is called micrographia, and it refers to a noticeable difference in a person’s writing, as they make smaller letters and the words are crowded closer together.
  5. Loss of smell, loss of taste, loss of appetite – many people with Parkinson’s develop an inability to smell in the early stage of the disease, known as olfactory loss. This can also affect a person’s ability to taste foods, which can lead to loss of appetite. Some medical theories suggest that Parkinson’s may begin in the olfactory region of the brain.
  6. Disturbed sleep, sleep disorder – sleep problems might simply be trouble falling asleep or trouble staying asleep, but they may also involve a lot of movement, or “tossing and turning,” or even talking in your sleep, crying out or yelling due to vivid dreams. Restless leg syndrome, when the limbs jerk, or leg cramps, may also be caused by Parkinson’s.
  7. Constipation, nausea, or trouble swallowing – cell damage in the gut may actually be one of the first symptoms of Parkinson’s, causing gastrointestinal problems due to slower movements of the smooth muscles of the digestive tract. Feeling nauseous or having a bloated stomach happens when the contents of the stomach empty too slowly into the intestine.
  8. Changes in the voice – people may notice that your voice sounds hoarse, weaker or more quiet than usual. This can be due to both motor and non-motor problems of PD, related to difficulty swallowing, sore throat due to heartburn, sensation of choking or food stuck in throat. It is also related to cognitive difficulties that make it harder to think of words, causing slow speech, or in other cases, talking too fast to be understood. Sometimes it may seem that a person with Parkinson’s doesn’t feel like talking much.
  9. Changes in facial expression – called “facial masking,” some people with Parkinson’s will find people asking them if they are upset because the expression on their face looks very serious, sad or angry, or they appear to be staring. This happens because of decreased motor function of the muscles of the face.
  10. Changes in posture – people with Parkinson’s may begin to hunch over while sitting, with shoulders hunched forward, or assuming a “stooped” posture while standing or walking. Again, this is due to a lack of communication between the brain and the muscles. This hunched posture can affect deep breathing, and increase the risk of falls.

Parkinson’s symptoms are complex, and vary widely from person to person. People with Parkinson’s are often subject to feelings of depression and anxiety, as well. Treatment for Parkinson’s symptoms requires a multipronged approach that addresses each individual patient’s physical, emotional, and mental health.

Medical Parkinson’s Treatment

When treating Parkinson’s, doctors will often try various combinations of drug therapy, some of which aim to replace dopamine, to help relieve tremors and other motor symptoms of PD. Levodopa/Carbidopa (or Sinemet) is a combination medication that creates a controlled release of dopamine. This can help to alleviate some symptoms, but the symptoms return when the medication is not in the bloodstream. Unfortunately, this medication can cause side effects like nausea and vomiting, and people will often need to take larger doses to get the same effect as the disease progresses. Long-term use sometimes causes dyskinesia, or involuntary movements of the limbs. Doctors may then prescribe another medication, such as Amantadine or Gocovri, to help mitigate these effects, or to help stave off motor symptoms during “off” times when the dopamine-replacing drugs wear off.

Patients with Parkinson’s will often be given other medications to help with problems like constipation, high blood pressure, sleep problems, pain, and depression. TCM and acupuncture offer a holistic way to treat many of the symptoms of Parkinson’s at the same time, without so many drugs and their potential side effects.

How Can Acupuncture Help Parkinson’s?

ben biao TCM theory tree branches
The tree’s branches represent the outward signs of disease.

Part of TCM theory involves the concept of Ben and Biao, or “Root and Branch.” We observe that the expression of illness in the body is like the system of roots and branches of a tree. The branches show us the outward symptoms, while the root of the disease is hidden deeper under the surface, where we can’t see it. In order to treat the symptoms of any illness, we study the branches to find out where the problem originates, then we go to the root of the problem to solve it. We do this with a combination of acupuncture, herbs, and other modalities like moxibustion, cupping, and tuina massage. These TCM treatments allow us to address problems in the organ systems of the body, where lie the roots of illness, while at the same time, helping to relieve the pains and uncomfortable symptoms occurring in the branches.

Parkinson’s disease is considered by TCM philosophy to occur due to deficiencies in the root, which cause excess in the branches. Deficiency of the kidney, liver, spleen, blood and Qi (root problems) contribute to heat, phlegm, stasis, and wind in the limbs (branches). Tremors in the hands, and changes in facial expressions and movements are caused by Wind and Phlegm. According to TCM, Wind causes problems, often in the upper body, that come and go, such as stiffness, spasms, facial tics, and shaking of the limbs–like the wind shaking the branches of a tree. Wind can also cause symptoms like ringing in the ears (tinnitus), sudden headaches, and hives. Phlegm, which blocks the energy channels of the body, disrupts the smooth flow of blood and Qi to the limbs, creating a sense of stiffness, heaviness in the limbs, resistance to moving or speaking, staring, heavy feeling in the chest, and lack of coordination.

Acupuncture treatment for Parkinson’s disease, then, focuses on clearing heat, wind, and phlegm, strengthening and nourishing the blood, and getting the Qi moving smoothly again.

When we use acupuncture and herbs to help Parkinson’s, we see changes occurring in the neurochemical activity of the brain.

One study looked at the changes in neural response in the brain immediately after acupuncture treatment. This study concluded that after 8 weeks of treatment, patients with Parkinson’s showed significant improvement in brain function.

Another clinical study showed that acupuncture helped to increase levels of Tyrosine hydroxylase, a brain chemical involved in the production of dopamine.

TCM herbal formulas have also been clinically demonstrated to help relieve Parkinson’s symptoms like speech problems, tremors, and gait disturbances.

Research has shown that using TCM herbs to treat Parkinson’s is a safe and effective adjunctive therapy to conventional medical treatment.

Acupuncture Near Me for Parkinson’s Disease Santa Monica Westside

Parkinson's disease shaky hands tremor
Make TCM treatment part of your plan for Parkinson’s disease.

The goal of treatment for Parkinson’s is to slow down the progression of the disease and do what we can to maintain mobility and cognitive function. The sooner we begin treating Parkinson’s disease with acupuncture and TCM methods, the better chance we have to limit the effects of the disease and help patients stay active. If you or someone you love has Parkinson’s, consider adding a TCM doctor to your health care team. Integrative treatment for Parkinson’s with acupuncture and herbs can help treat Parkinson’s naturally.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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How to Treat PMS With Acupuncture and TCM

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

pms mood swings depression anxiety
PMS can cause mood swings, feelings of anxiety and depression.

Monthly mood swings, bloated stomach, headaches, and weight gain. Why is PMS so bad? Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a set of symptoms that occur in the days before a woman gets her period. PMS symptoms affect every woman differently, and can be serious enough to disrupt your life every month. TCM is an effective way to deal with PMS, because acupuncture treatment can help relieve both physical and emotional symptoms of PMS and severe PMS, also known as PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder).

To say that PMS is common among women is an understatement. The vast majority of women experience some changes in both their mental health and their bodies the week before their period starts. Whether or not a woman feels that it has a negative impact on her daily life may change over time. For some women, PMS isn’t a big deal; for others, it’s a major problem that can affect their relationships, impact their work, and make life hell every month.

Most women find their own particular pattern of PMS is somewhat predictable–until it isn’t. One of the most frustrating aspects of menstrual problems is the sense that things change without warning, and symptoms can come on suddenly with ferocious intensity. It can be difficult to describe how you feel before your period, because the symptoms seem to come and go. Some women find that their PMS symptoms are different from month to month. In some cases, they might find that every other month is bad, while the alternating months aren’t so bad. Why is PMS worse some months?

Other than the basic understanding that PMS is caused by fluctuations in hormones and brain chemistry, conventional medical science does not offer much in the way of clear answers about what causes PMS.

TCM provides a different framework for looking at menstrual problems and has been used to treat women’s health issues of all kinds for many centuries. TCM treatments including acupuncture, acupressure, moxibustion, and Chinese herbs can not only help relieve PMS symptoms, they can also be beneficial for other menstrual problems like irregular periods, PCOS, painful periods, endometriosis, heavy periods, fibroids, and symptoms of perimenopause.

Top 10 Symptoms of PMS

As a syndrome, PMS is considered a collection of symptoms that often appear together, in various combinations in different individuals. In the case of PMS, a woman may feel that her own symptoms change as often as every month, or gradually over the course of years. Girls in their teenage years may experience PMS in one way. Then, a woman in her early adult years may develop a different set of symptoms. After having a baby, a woman may find that her PMS symptoms have changed again. Then, many women in middle age experience changes in PMS symptoms as they go through perimenopause, approaching menopause. The most common signs of premenstrual syndrome include:

  1. Mood swings, low mood, feelings of sadness or anger
  2. Anxiety, feeling tense and irritable, cry easily or lose temper, want to be left alone
  3. Trouble sleeping, insomnia, disturbed sleep
  4. Breast tenderness, sore breasts, swollen breasts
  5. Food cravings, changes in appetite
  6. Weight gain, stomach bloating, water retention, pelvic pressure
  7. Gassiness, changes in digestion and elimination
  8. Acne, skin problems
  9. Changes in libido
  10. Headaches, migraines, difficulty concentrating, foggy head

Less obvious or well-known symptoms of PMS include: vision problems, tingling in the arms or legs, lack of coordination (clumsiness, dropping things), bruising easily, heart palpitations, dizziness, itchy skin, cold sores, toothaches, back pain, joint pain, and increased TMJ jaw pain.

Other health problems can be amplified during the premenstrual period, such as: chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, interstitial cystitis, migraines, IBS, Meniere’s disease (dizziness, vertigo), clinical depression and anxiety disorders.

The physical and emotional aspects of PMS can affect each other, causing the typical mood swings. Feelings of sadness and frustration, or lack of sleep, may lead to comfort eating, but then the sight and sensation of your bloated stomach can cause you to feel depressed about your body. Minor problems with your spouse or co-workers can suddenly seem overwhelming and make you feel angry or helpless. 

For some women, PMS symptoms are so bad that they feel unable to function the week before their period. Severe PMS is now diagnosed as PMDD.

What Is PMDD?

severe PMS PMDD
PMDD causes severe emotional symptoms.

PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder) is a severe form of PMS marked by intense emotional symptoms that dramatically impact a woman’s life, in addition to physical symptoms. “Dysphoria” is the opposite of “euphoria;” in other words, it is a mental state characterized by profound unhappiness and negative feelings. It is estimated that about 5% of all women experience this extreme type of PMS. Signs of PMDD include:

  1. Severe anxiety, panic attacks, paranoia
  2. Severe depression, in some cases even suicidal thoughts, lack of self-worth
  3. Anger and irritability that provokes rage and causes conflicts with other people
  4. Fatigue, low energy, inability to concentrate, feelings of confusion
  5. Intense food cravings, possibly leading to binge eating

Again, there is currently no scientific answer for what causes PMDD, although it is generally believed to be related to the way estrogen levels and progesterone levels change between ovulation and the onset of the menstrual period. Mood is considered to be related to serotonin levels in the brain, and this is why PMDD is usually treated with birth control pills, which suppress ovulation, and/or antidepressants (SSRIs), which affect serotonin uptake.

Medical Treatment for PMS

birth control pills
Doctors often prescribe birth control pills to get rid of PMS symptoms.

Naturally, when a woman asks for advice about PMS or PMDD, she is going to hear suggestions like: “try meditating, exercise more, eat a healthy diet, and get more sleep.” And it is true that making good lifestyle choices is an important part of helping to reduce PMS symptoms. But women who are suffering with serious PMS need solutions beyond these kinds of lifestyle guidelines. 

When women complain of PMS symptoms, doctors will most often recommend OTC pain medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen (NSAIDs) to relieve pain. Diuretics may be used to relieve bloating or premenstrual weight gain. Of course, most commonly, women are prescribed oral birth control pills, which suppress ovulation, and therefore may reduce the severity of PMS symptoms. More and more frequently, women may be prescribed antidepressants to try to deal with emotional symptoms and mood swings, or anxiety medications to take as needed during PMS. In effect, doctors often treat PMS the same way they would depression or anxiety. 

Clearly, birth control pills are not helpful for women who may want to get pregnant, and some women may be concerned about how taking the pill or antidepressants may affect their fertility in the future. None of these pharmacological solutions for PMS address the root cause of the symptoms, and all of these medications carry side effects that may impact a woman’s overall health. Health care for women with TCM seeks to address the deeper internal causes of hormonal imbalances and other problems with the organ systems that are impacting the health of the ovaries and the regularity of the menstrual cycle.

Can Acupuncture Help PMS?

yin yang PMS
When Yin and Yang are balanced, the menstrual cycle can flow smoothly.

While it is only in recent years that conventional medicine has begun to acknowledge connections between physical health and emotional health, TCM has understood for many hundreds of years that health conditions of all kinds, especially those related to the menstrual cycle, are rooted in the balance of energies. Menstruation represents an ongoing process of transformation that occurs not only within the reproductive organs, but which affects every part of a woman, and even the people around her.

The concept of Yin and Yang in Chinese philosophy describes two opposing yet complementary forces that are constantly acting upon each other in order to achieve balance. The menstrual cycle is very much based on Yin and Yang energies; during the follicular phase of the cycle (before ovulation), Yin is increasing while Yang is decreasing, and in the luteal phase (after ovulation, before the period), Yang is increasing while Yin is decreasing. The system is designed, naturally, to create the right conditions for conception; this process of Yin and Yang exchange is what determines a woman’s fertility.

While the health of the uterus and ovaries is definitely central to the process, within the TCM philosophy, they are not the only organs involved with menstruation. The Kidneys, Liver, and Heart all have important roles to play, as well. In TCM, we also view the elements of Fire–to provide warmth, controlled by the Heart–and Water, controlled by the Kidneys–to provide moisture, as being vital to all processes within the body, especially to menstruation. Blood is cleansed, stored, and then distributed to the other organs by the Liver. Blood being central to the process of menstruation, the Liver’s role is really key in how the whole thing plays out. 

According to TCM theory, most PMS and PMDD symptoms are caused by problems with Liver Qi. When the Liver Qi is out of balance, it can lead to feelings of anger, frustration, depression, and irritability. The Liver system is particularly susceptible to negative effects of stress.

There are a few different variations of Liver Qi imbalance and other patterns that can contribute to PMS symptoms:

  • Liver Qi invasion – This is a condition of excess, in which there is too much rising Liver Qi, characterized by overall negative emotions that are disruptive, including anger and anxiety, breast tenderness, headaches, dizziness, and constipation.
  • Liver Qi depression – In this case, there is not enough Liver Qi, causing feelings of sadness, heaviness in chest, painful swelling of breasts, sighing, bloated stomach, lack of appetite, cramping during period, scanty blood during period.
  • Spleen Kidney deficiency – In this case, stagnant energy in the Kidney system is preventing water from moving appropriately, causing water retention or edema.

From the scientific medical standpoint, acupuncture treatment has been shown to have a positive effect on neurotransmitters like serotonin, and to impact levels of estrogen and progesterone. This happens naturally because we are using TCM methods to restore optimal function of all the organs. With Chinese herbs we are able to get specific nutrients into the body that we cannot get from the foods we normally eat.

Acupuncture treatment accompanied with specific herbs for PMS patterns can help balance the liver Qi, and bring all of the organs into synergistic harmony.

In order to make lasting change, it is best to have acupuncture treatment at least once or twice a week. We need to deal with each phase of the menstrual cycle as it occurs by tailoring the acupuncture treatment and herbs to your PMS and period symptoms. 

A systematic review of ten controlled trials using acupuncture to treat PMS concluded that TCM treatment of PMS significantly improved symptoms.

Top 3 Tips for PMS Relief From TCM Perspective

yoga tai qi pms period gentle exercise
Gentle exercise to get Qi moving can help with PMS symptoms.

There are still a lot of taboos surrounding women’s health, and many girls and women have never learned how to take care of their reproductive health. Working with an experienced TCM doctor will enable you to get personalized care and advice about how to eat the best diet for PMS symptoms, what activities to avoid before your period, and other female hygiene tips that you may not have heard before. 

  1. Nutrition – conventional Western thinking about healthy eating currently focuses on eating fresh, whole foods, which is good, except that people tend to think this means eating a lot of foods raw or cold, as in salads and smoothies. According to the TCM philosophy of nutrition, though, eating cold foods is actually one of the worst things you can do when it comes to relieving PMS and painful periods. Putting a lot of cold food into the stomach cools down the temperature of the other internal organs, which can contribute to more cramping and worse cramps. During the week before your period, concentrate on eating plenty of nourishing, cooked foods like soups and stews, proteins and vegetables, and whole grains like brown rice and quinoa. Avoid too much dairy, sugar, caffeine, hot, spicy or fried foods (that includes chips and crackers), and definitely avoid icy cold beverages and frozen treats.
  2. Keep track of your period – there are many apps available now to help with this, but it can also be a simple chart with room for notes about your symptoms. Keeping track of your PMS symptoms every month can help you recognize patterns in your own behaviors and experiences. A record of PMS symptoms will also help you communicate what you’re feeling to your health care providers when you are seeking treatment for PMS or PMDD.
  3. Exercise – gentle movement modalities that move Qi through the body are great to help PMS: Tai Qi, yoga, or dancing are all good. Avoid deep twists that could squeeze or put pressure on the ovaries and other organs. Again, keep track of your exercise routines and how they affect your physical and emotional wellbeing from month to month so that you can see which type of workout is best for you, or if some types of exercise make PMS worse.

Acupuncture Near Me for PMS in Los Angeles, CA

Many women come to us at Art of Wellness seeking help with menstrual problems or fertility issues. We have over 30 years of experience in helping to relieve symptoms of PMS and all types of period pain and dysfunction. It is possible for the menstrual cycle to flow without extreme feelings or strong physical discomfort. If you feel like PMS or PMDD is negatively impacting your life every month, please do not hesitate to give us a call. 

 

 

*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 Quit Smoking With Acupuncture and TCM

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

quitting smoking, stop smoking
Smoking can lead to chronic health problems.

Have you been trying to stop smoking, but are having a hard time quitting? You know that quitting smoking will definitely improve your overall health and longevity, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to do. Acupuncture treatment can reduce cravings, alleviate withdrawal symptoms of nicotine, and help relieve anxiety you feel when you stop smoking. 

Smoking tobacco causes several million unnecessary deaths every year, and is associated with multiple chronic diseases, including lung disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, lung cancer and other types of cancer. But deaths related to smoking are just the tip of the iceberg. According to the CDC, over 16 million Americans are currently living with a chronic disease caused, at least in part, by smoking. Smoking increases the risk of stroke, erectile dysfunction in men (ED), low sperm count, and autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. On average, smoking takes ten years off a person’s life.

Why do we keep doing this to ourselves? Because once you have a smoking habit, quitting smoking is very hard. Tobacco contains a natural chemical called nicotine. Nicotine is a highly addictive substance. It acts upon the neurotransmitters in the brain that release dopamine: the “feel-good” chemical. When you inhale tobacco smoke, nicotine goes directly to your brain, and you get an immediate “reward” in the form of dopamine. Once your brain gets used to this reaction, it wants more of it. Even when you know you should stop smoking, and you want to quit, a part of your brain is signalling you not to stop.

Vaping, or smoking from a vape pen, or e-cigarette, is the latest trend. There has been some suggestion that this form of smoking causes less damage than cigarettes do, because Juul pens don’t have many of the toxic additives that are in regular cigarettes. So far, researchers don’t know how long-term vape use will affect people’s overall health. However, it is clear that people who vape can easily become just as addicted to nicotine as smokers of cigarettes, cigars, and pipes do.

Once the brain has become attuned to the dopamine reaction caused by nicotine, a very powerful social-emotional component is added to the physical, chemical component. Being in a place where you have smoked in the past, seeing a friend who smokes, smelling smoke in the air, and of course, seeing an ad for cigarettes–all these sorts of cues in your daily environment can have a dramatic impact on your desire to smoke.

quitting smoking
It’s the nicotine in cigarettes that is addictive.

Almost half of all smokers in the U.S. make an attempt to quit smoking each year. But, obviously, people fail in their attempts to stop smoking all the time. Nicotine withdrawal symptoms include intense anxiety. When faced with a powerful combination of physical and emotional stress, most people will return to that quick fix. Even when a person develops serious problems due to smoking, like a constant cough, emphysema, sleep apnea/snoring, infertility, acid reflux/heartburn, loss of smell and taste; even when a person knows that second hand smoking can hurt their loved ones, they still may find it impossible to quit. People need help to quit smoking.

Typical smoking cessation aids include nicotine gum or patches, medications, and programs designed to educate and support people as they try to overcome smoking addiction. While these methods offer help, they do not work for everybody. Most people have to try to quit smoking many times and try different methods before finding success. 

Many people gain weight when they quit smoking, because the cravings for a cigarette are replaced by cravings for sweets or other foods and drinks that keep your hands and mouth occupied. It’s more than just an oral habit, though; nicotine affects the way your body uses insulin and releases glucose, so when you quit smoking, there is a very real change in blood sugar levels and a subsequent desire to eat more carbohydrates. When it feels like you have to choose between two different risk factors–being a smoker, or being overweight–,it may seem like a hopeless situation. 

TCM for smoking cessation offers a different, multi-pronged approach. With acupuncture treatment for nicotine addiction, we can work on several of the problems smoking causes at the same time. Using acupuncture to stimulate specific pressure points for reducing cravings and alleviating symptoms of smoking withdrawal is only one way that TCM can help people quit smoking and regain good health.

Top 10 Symptoms of Nicotine Withdrawal

When you try quitting smoking “cold turkey,” you will probably feel more severe symptoms of withdrawal for the first few days. Withdrawal symptoms can last for several weeks. Nicotine withdrawal symptoms include:

  1. Intense cravings for a cigarette that last for 5-10 minutes
  2. Feelings of anxiety and stress
  3. Food cravings, weight gain, rise in blood sugar
  4. Sleep problems, insomnia
  5. Persistent cough, “smoker’s cough”
  6. Flu-like symptoms: fever, fatigue, body ache, headache
  7. High blood pressure, fast heart rate
  8. Memory problems, difficulty concentrating
  9. Dizziness
  10. Constipation, bloated stomach

Medical Approach to Quitting Smoking

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) has been the common form of help for nicotine withdrawal for decades. This involves using nicotine patches, nicotine gum, or lozenges, which help people gradually wean themselves off of nicotine by lowering the dose over time. Nicotine patch side effects can include a rapid heart beat, dizziness, headaches, and nausea.

Medications such as Zyban and Chantix are also used to help people quit smoking. Zyban (Bupropion) is also known as Welbutrin, which is used to treat depression. A prescription medication called Varenicline (Chantix) is the newest medical treatment available to help people stop smoking. Varenicline works by blocking the receptors in the brain that react to nicotine to stimulate dopamine production. Varenicline is still fairly new, and researchers do not yet know the long-term effects of taking it. Common Chantix side effects include nausea, insomnia, and headaches; more serious psychiatric reactions, such as depression and suicidal ideation have also been reported. Drug interventions for smoking cessation are more effective when combined with education and counseling.

The most effective methods to help people stop smoking treat both the brain chemistry that is causing nicotine addiction and the emotional symptoms that arise when quitting. TCM methods of acupuncture and herbs are naturally able to help address addiction because they work on the whole person–physically, mentally, and spiritually.

How Can Acupuncture Help You Quit Smoking?

quitting smoking, stop smoking
Quitting smoking is hard. Most people need some kind of help to stop smoking.

In conventional medical terms, we mostly think of cigarette smoking as being harmful to the lungs, due to smoke inhalation, and the cardiovascular system, due to the well-known fast heartbeat we associate with nicotine use. In TCM, we do consider that smoking weakens the lungs, but this, in turn, causes problems in the other major organ systems of the body. A buildup of heat in the Heart and Stomach can lead to stagnant Liver Qi. These forces are what cause the withdrawal symptoms of anxious feelings, heart palpitations, irritability, food cravings, and poor sleep. With acupuncture and herbs, we work to clear heat and detoxify the lungs and all of the organs.

A specific set of points on the outer ear are often used to help combat the cravings associated with overcoming addictions of all kinds, including nicotine dependence. Often we will send a patient home with small ear seeds fixed to these points so that they can be squeezed and stimulated whenever you feel an urge to smoke. This will also help with food cravings and prevent overeating and weight gain when you quit smoking. 

Acupuncture helps to release endorphins, replacing the familiar dopamine hit with a different sense of relaxation. Endorphins promote a sense of wellbeing and relieve pain. Dopamine works on the reward center of the brain, causing a mental and emotional reaction that leads to addiction. Acupuncture treatment works holistically to help relieve emotional pain–symptoms of anxiety and depression–by positively impacting neurochemical activity. Shifting from dopamine dependence to more abundant endorphins and serotonin will help restore restful sleep.

A controlled trial study compared patients who received acupuncture, patients who received acupuncture and education and counseling, and patients who received sham acupuncture to help them quit smoking over a period of four weeks. The percentage rate of patients who had quit smoking after 18-month follow up was highest among those who received acupuncture, and especially highest among those who had acupuncture and counseling.

A study of almost 3000 people who received acupuncture treatment for smoking over an eight week period showed that the treatment helped many people abstain from cigarettes, and helped many more to cut back on how many cigarettes they smoked.

Chinese Medicine Near Me to Stop Smoking in the Great Los Angeles Area

The decision to quit smoking for good can be a life-changing one. But for most people, it’s also one of the most difficult things they will ever do. Cigarettes are addictive, and to stop smoking, you may need professional help. If you’ve already tried NRT and not been able to finally quit, you may want to consider trying the TCM approach. Whether you chain smoke or only vape socially, whether you are quitting smoking because you want to increase your chances of getting pregnant, or you have lung cancer stage 4, it is never too early or too late to stop smoking. Acupuncture for smoking cessation can help you get past the cravings for cigarettes that make it so hard to quit. Acupuncture and herbs can not only help you kick the habit, but can also help you get rid of that cough, brighten your skin, and sleep better. Most of all, you will have made an important choice to prioritize your health and prevent chronic illness from taking hold later in life.

 

*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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