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How to Treat Celiac Disease With Acupuncture and TCM

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

gluten free celiac disease
Bread and many other foods contain gluten.

Do you have digestive problems like a bloated stomach, diarrhea, and abdominal pain? Unintentional weight loss, fatigue, skin rashes? These can all be signs of Celiac disease. Different from food allergies, Celiac is a serious autoimmune disorder that can lead to malnutrition and other debilitating health problems. TCM herbs and acupuncture treatment offer a good alternative way of managing Celiac disease and gluten intolerance symptoms.

In recent years, you have probably heard a lot of people saying they are switching to a gluten free diet because they have a gluten allergy or gluten intolerance. Sometimes people may just be trying to see if they feel better when they cut out wheat products, or they are going on a low carb diet to help them lose weight. Other people may be experiencing symptoms like diarrhea and nausea and hope that going on an IBS diet will help.

What is gluten? Gluten is a protein that is present in some grains, including wheat, barley, and rye. When a person has Celiac disease, gluten is perceived by the immune system as a dangerous foreign substance, triggering an immune response. Antibodies (white blood cells) are produced as a reaction to gluten entering the body, and the antibodies end up causing inflammation and damage to the inside of the intestinal tract.

This damage to the small intestine is called villous atrophy, and this is what causes inflammation and malabsorption of nutrients, leading to the myriad symptoms of Celiac. Celiac symptoms vary widely, and can include both digestive problems, and other conditions, like anemia, that stem from the lack of proper nourishment to the body.

wheat allergy food allergies
Some people are allergic to wheat; others have gluten intolerance.

There is such a thing as a true wheat allergy, which for some people causes respiratory problems like difficulty breathing and nasal congestion, and other allergy symptoms like swelling and itching around the mouth and throat, hives or other itchy skin rashes, and headaches. Wheat allergies are a response to chemical compounds in wheat, which is found in a wide variety of food products. In some cases, exposure to wheat can cause anaphylaxis, which requires emergency medical attention because it can involve trouble breathing and swallowing, chest tightening, throat swelling, dizziness, and fainting.

Some doctors now recognize gluten intolerance or non-celiac gluten sensitivity as a separate condition from Celiac disease. For some people, gluten causes an immune response and symptoms, but not the same kind of damage to the intestines that Celiac does. If gluten intolerance is suspected, then following a gluten free diet for a period of time and noticing if symptoms clear up is usually the recommended course of action.

Celiac disease tends to run in families, and so is considered to be passed genetically. People can begin to show signs of Celiac at any age. It is estimated that at least 1% of the population has Celiac disease, but that number may be significantly higher, as it is still not a very well understood condition. Many people who have Celiac disease are unaware of it, or have been misdiagnosed with other conditions. Researchers believe that the incidence of Celiac disease is increasing worldwide, probably due to some environmental factors.

Acupuncture and TCM herbs provide a holistic way to treat Celiac disease, relieving the painful symptoms and providing detailed guidance for lifestyle and dietary changes that can help people manage Celiac and gluten intolerance. Nutrition is considered to be one of the primary branches of TCM, along with acupuncture and herbs. A TCM practitioner will be able to give you dietary recommendations far beyond just telling you to eat gluten free foods.

Top 10 Celiac Disease Symptoms

People can experience a variety of gluten intolerance symptoms, including digestive problems, allergy symptoms like skin rash, and other symptoms related to nutritional deficiency, like anemia and weight loss. Signs of gluten intolerance may be different in children, who are more susceptible to malnourishment that can lead to a failure to thrive.

headache stomach pain fatigue celiac
Fatigue, headaches, and stomach pain can all be signs of Celiac disease.

Celiac symptoms include:

  1. Fatigue
  2. Weight loss
  3. Diarrhea, pale colored stools, foul-smelling, fatty, greasy stool
  4. Abdominal bloating, bloated stomach, gas, stomach pain, abdominal pain
  5. Nausea, vomiting
  6. Constipation
  7. Headache, headaches, migraines, migraine headaches
  8. Skin rash, mouth ulcers, mouth sores, canker sores
  9. Neuropathy, numbness or tingling in hands and feet, problems with balance, joint pain
  10. Cognitive problems, foggy head, difficulty concentrating

Celiac can lead to anemia, iron deficiency, loss of bone density (osteoporosis), weak bones, soft bones, bone loss (osteopenia), joint pain, or arthritis. People can also have liver problems, including fatty liver.

Dermatitis herpetiformis is a specific type of skin rash that causes itching and blisters to appear, primarily on the knees, elbows, torso, top of the head, and buttocks.

Women may find that celiac disease affects their hormones, menstrual periods, and can have an impact on fertility, even causing recurrent miscarriages

Celiac disease can also contribute to infertility and low sperm count in men.

When a child develops celiac disease, the inability to absorb nutrients from food can cause problems with normal growth, such as short stature, delayed puberty, and damage to tooth enamel. Developmental disorders and behavioral issues can also be related to celiac, like ADD/ADHD and irritability. 

In extreme cases, Celiac can cause seizures.

Celiac Disease Diagnosis and Treatment 

stomach pain abdominal pain
Abdominal pain and bloating can be symptoms of Celiac or gluten intolerance.

Going through the process of being diagnosed with Celiac disease or gluten intolerance is quite complicated and involves multiple tests. From the medical standpoint, it is best that you do not eliminate gluten or change your diet before the testing, so that it can accurately show how gluten is affecting your immune system and your intestines.

First, you will probably have a blood test that looks for certain antibodies that would indicate an autoimmune reaction to gluten. Some people may test negative for antibodies, and yet still have Celiac, though, so this blood testing is not enough to be conclusive. Genetic testing may be done, which looks for specific antigens to rule out Celiac. If testing shows that a person has antibodies, and they also have a specific type of skin rash (dermatitis herpetiformis), that is usually enough for a doctor to give an official diagnosis of Celiac disease.

Endoscopy is an imaging test which uses a little camera to see if there is damage to the intestinal lining. They will also take some tissue samples from the lining of the intestine to check for inflammation and damage. The results of these tests may lead to a formal Celiac diagnosis. People will often need to have an endoscopy to find out if they have Celiac disease, and then possibly repeated endoscopies to see if the inflammation is getting better or worse.

Sometimes people will try figuring out what is going on themselves with a food sensitivity test or food intolerance test kit that you can do at home and send in for results. Food allergy testing may give you some information as to whether you have a reaction to a specific allergen (egg allergy, milk allergy, peanut allergy, shellfish allergy) or have a food sensitivity, but they cannot tell you if you really have Celiac disease or gut inflammation.

Going through the diagnostic process for autoimmune diseases like Celiac disease can be exhausting in and of itself. Meanwhile, you aren’t yet getting treatment for your symptoms. The only treatment available in conventional medicine for Celiac disease really is to follow a gluten free diet. Most doctors are not able to do much beyond give you a list of foods you shouldn’t eat, or refer you to a dietitian.

TCM has the ability to provide more comprehensive care for people with Celiac disease, and many other autoimmune conditions. Acupuncturists are highly trained professionals when it comes to offering patients detailed guidance for following an effective Celiac disease diet.

Can Acupuncture Help Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance?

gluten free foods
Your acupuncturist will help you follow a gluten free diet.

TCM has more to offer than just acupuncture treatment and herbal medicine. Nutrition is one of core competencies every TCM practitioner must master. 

Acupuncture treatment can help relieve digestive symptoms like abdominal pain and bloating, and also have a positive impact on the system malfunctioning that leads to autoimmune reactions. With Chinese herbs, we are able to get very potent nutrients into the body that wouldn’t normally come from food. For people with Celiac, or other problems like food allergies or sensitivities, malnutrition due to malabsorption is a real problem. 

A TCM nutrition approach can help restore the body’s health with foods and herbs better than a simple elimination diet for Celiac disease can. An acupuncturist listens carefully to the particular symptoms and sensations you describe. These provide important clues as to which organ systems are involved, and where yin and yang are out of balance. Then TCM provides a framework for tailoring the treatment and food plan for Celiac disease to each individual’s needs.

According to TCM theory, the stomach and spleen are responsible for digesting food. Celiac disease symptoms are, according to a typical TCM diagnosis, related to a spleen deficiency. When Qi in the spleen is weak, the body is not getting the nutrients it needs. Building up the strength of the spleen will often be the focus of the acupuncture portion of the treatment. Herbs and specific nourishing foods will be recommended, which will help anemia and soothe the digestive tract.

Acupuncture Near Me For Celiac Disease, West Los Angeles

Autoimmune diseases like Celiac disease can be especially frustrating because they seem to take over your whole life. Not only physical health, but mental health is compromised. Treatment options are limited. Fortunately, TCM offers a complementary form of medicine that is able to provide multi-faceted care for autoimmune disorders like Celiac, including: Crohn’s disease, Type 1 diabetes, hyperthyroidism, Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and multiple sclerosis (MS). Acupuncture treatment can help reduce feelings of anxiety and depression as you learn to manage your illness.

If you or someone you know has been suffering from digestive issues, and you suspect it may have something to do with gluten intolerance or Celiac disease, be prepared to go through testing, but also give some thought to adding a TCM provider to your health care team. At Art of Wellness, we have over 35 years of providing excellent care through TCM treatments, including expert nutrition services. It is like getting an acupuncturist and dietitian in one.

 

*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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How to Treat UTI With Acupuncture and TCM

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

pee all the time, UTI, urinary incontinence
UTIs cause frequent urination

Why do I feel like I have to pee all the time? A urinary tract infection, usually referred to as UTI, is a bacterial infection that affects the bladder and/or other parts of the urinary system, causing urinary urgency, often accompanied by a burning pain when you go to the bathroom. Acupuncture and TCM is a good way to get to the root causes of frequent urination, including recurrent UTIs.

Urinary frequency, or an unusual urgency to urinate, can be caused by several different health conditions. A common cause of bladder pain, pressure on the bladder, or a burning sensation when peeing is a bacterial infection in the urinary tract, or UTI. But there can be many other reasons for constantly feeling like you have to pee, including diabetes, interstitial cystitis (IC), pregnancy, prostate problems, ovarian cysts, and more.

Over half of all adult women have experienced a UTI (also called cystitis) at some point in their lives. Many women get UTIs frequently, making them the most common type of non-hospital-related infection in the U.S. Up to 6% of all doctor visits are related to UTIs. A UTI can occur when bacteria, usually E. coli, gets into the urethra and travels up into the bladder, or further into the urinary tract. This can happen because of hygiene habits, after sex or exercising, or the use of contraceptives or period products. It can also happen when urine sits in the bladder for too long, or because a person has a weakened immune system.

While UTI treatment at home remedies such as drinking cranberry juice are popular, most women recognize that once they get that constant urge to pee, they have no choice but to rush to the doctor for antibiotics. Typical UTI medical treatment almost always involves confirming the infection by lab analysis, and a prescribed course of antibiotics, along with analgesic medicine (such as Pyridium) to help the UTI pain in bladder. Unfortunately, many women keep getting UTIs. Infections that are antibiotic resistant are increasingly common, and antibiotics do not get to the root of the problem.

Interstitial cystitis (IC), or painful bladder syndrome, is a condition that causes a constant sensation of having to pee, or bladder pressure, even when there is no infection present. Recurrent UTI and IC are a significant source of anxiety and depression for women, as they can cause almost constant pain and an inability to leave the house due to the constant urge to urinate.

UTI in men is not as common as UTI in women. The more common cause of frequent urination in men is benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), in which an enlarged prostate presses on the urinary organs, blocking the flow of urine, and causing backup that can lead to bacterial urinary tract infection men.

Sometimes what feels like a UTI might be something else. Growths in the pelvic area, such as ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids, or tumors can cause pressure in the bladder, bladder pain, or urinary frequency at night. Even when there is no infection, there may urinary symptoms such as: 

  1. Strong urge to pee frequently (more than 8 times per day)
  2. Difficulty urinating
  3. Urine is different color than usual
  4. Pain during peeing, or burning sensation when peeing
  5. Nocturia, frequent urination at night

The conventional medicine answer to UTI is antibiotic treatment, but this is not the only answer for everyone. TCM methods of acupuncture and herbs can help with improving the function of bladder and kidney systems, reducing symptoms from recurrent UTIs, as well as helping to address the deeper problems that cause inflammation and pressure in the bladder.

Top 10 Urinary Frequency Causes

There are many possible causes of frequent urination

  1. UTI (urinary tract infection, also called cystitis, or bladder infection)
  2. Kidney infection – when bacteria move further up into the urinary tract, the kidneys can become infected. Sometimes people with nerve damage in the spine cannot feel UTI symptoms (neurogenic bladder), so the infection becomes more widespread.
  3. Bladder stones – when the bladder does not empty completely, urine can crystallize and form hard stones, causing pain during urination.
  4. Interstitial cystitis (painful bladder syndrome) – a syndrome of urinary pain symptoms, the exact cause of which is unknown. Inflammation of the bladder lining may be due to trauma (from surgery or delivery/birth), overdistension, or dysfunction of the pelvic floor muscles.
  5. Prostatitis – inflammation of the prostate accompanied by irritation of the nerves in the area; not necessarily an infection, although a bacterial infection of the prostate can occur.
  6. Urinary incontinence – leakage of urine, occurs when the urethral sphincter that controls the flow and stoppage of urine is weak. More common in women and older people. 
  7. Vaginitis – inflammation of the vagina, usually due to infection. Candida, or yeast infection, is one type of vaginitis.
  8. Diabetes – can cause a variety of urinary problems, due to the body producing more urine to process blood sugar, and nerve damage that leads to urinary retention and incontinence. Constant thirst is also a sign of diabetic urinary symptoms.
  9. Side effects of cancer treatment in pelvic area – cancer treatments that affect the pelvis, including radiation, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and surgeries to remove pelvic organs, can all cause irritation or damage to the bladder.
  10. Overactive bladder (OAB) – a group of symptoms, including frequent urination, leakage, nocturia (getting up to pee at night), and primarily, a strong urge to urinate often. Considered to be caused by inappropriate signalling of the nerves that communicate between the brain and the urinary tract organs.
pregnancy urinary frequency
Pregnancy can put pressure on the bladder, causing urinary frequency.

Causes of frequent urination vary somewhat according to biological sex. Frequent urination in men is often caused by prostate problems, while frequent urination in women may be due to pregnancy or other womens’ health conditions related to the ovaries or uterus.

Pressure on the bladder because of pregnancy, or from other organs, can also cause urinary frequency and discomfort. This can happen due to an anterior prolapse, when the pelvic floor is weakened, and the uterus, intestine, or bladder drop from their normal position. When a woman is pregnant, the heavy uterus often causes more frequent urination, or, in some cases, urinary retention. Damage or trauma to the pelvic floor can occur during delivery, so many women experience weak pelvic floor muscles, prolapsed uterus or bladder, and ongoing urinary urgency after they have had a baby.

In men, an enlarged prostate or prostatitis (infection and inflammation of the prostate) can put pressure on the bladder and other parts of the urinary system.

A frequent need to pee can also be caused by drinking too much coffee or alcohol, or taking diuretics.

Can Acupuncture Help Frequent Urination?

In Chinese Medicine, urinary problems come under the classification of “Lin Syndromes.” Lin disorders generally involve painful, “dribbling” urination and are caused by disharmonies in the Bladder and Kidneys, as well as involving other major organs like the Heart, Liver, and Spleen. Dampness and Heat are the primary pathogenic factors, so we use acupuncture treatment and herbal formulations to clear heat and dampness from the body.

Top 5 TCM differentiations of UTI:

  1. Damp Heat – characterized by frequent urination, burning sensation when peeing, painful pressure in bladder, dark urine or cloudy urine that smells unusual, feelings of nausea, bitter taste in mouth
  2. Heart Fire – frequency and urgency, thirst, hot, red face and chest, trouble sleeping/insomnia, irritability, anxiety, heart palpitations
  3. Liver Fire – excess heat causes painful burning during urination, headaches, ringing in ears/tinnitus, constipation, feelings of anger and frustration, redness in eyes and face.
  4. Fatigue Lin – covers urinary disorders that involve incomplete emptying of the bladder, due to prostate enlargement or prolapsed pelvic organs.
  5. Stone Lin – obstructions of the urinary system due to buildup of minerals that create stones in the bladder, kidney stones, etc.

Patients who have problems with recurring UTIs may be resistant to the antibiotics they’ve been given.  TCM herbs can be used as an additional or alternative remedy from antibiotics and help to strengthen the immune system overall. One review of studies involving the use of Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) for UTIs concluded that the herbs, whether used alone or in conjunction with antibiotics, worked better than antibiotics alone.

One study showed that women who were prone to getting UTIs who were treated with acupuncture as preventative care only got a UTI one-third as often as women who didn’t receive acupuncture. Acupuncture has also been shown to be highly effective for bladder pain due to interstitial cystitis. Studies have also shown that TCM treatment can relieve the blockage of urine caused by an enlarged prostate (BPH).

Top 5 Tips for Preventing UTI

drink water to prevent UTI
Drink more water to prevent UTIs.

What a relief! Now that you’ve gotten over that urinary tract infection, it’s important to take steps to prevent getting another UTI. Here are some natural ways to prevent UTIs:

  1. Drink more water – This may seem counterintuitive, as you don’t want to have to pee even more. But you do want to be constantly flushing bacteria out of the urinary tract. Avoid drinks like coffee and soda, which can be irritating to the bladder.
  2. Go when you feel you need to – Some therapies for overactive bladder or IC involve training yourself to hold urine, but for most people, this is not a good idea. Retaining urine for too long contributes to bacterial growth and causes overdistension of the bladder.
  3. Hygiene – be sure to wipe from front to back when you go to the bathroom. Change clothes and underwear often, especially after sweating. During your menstrual period, change your pad and tampon frequently. 
  4. After sex – always go to the bathroom and urinate before falling asleep. 
  5. Avoid chemical products – Avoid using deodorants, douches, or scented wipes around the genital area. Consider whether contraceptive products like spermicides might also be part of the problem.

Acupuncture Near Me for UTI

While it is rare for a UTI to become so serious that you have a fever or become nauseated, urinary problems should be taken seriously before they become worse. If your UTIs keep coming back, or you constantly feel like you have to pee, it may be a sign that there is something deeper going on. As people age, urge incontinence, prolapsed organs due to weak pelvic floor muscles, and nerve damage can lead to more serious bladder problems. TCM provides a holistic way to treat urinary tract issues, as well as other, possibly hidden conditions in the pelvic region. Urinary urgency may be a signal of something else, so don’t ignore it. Consult with your acupuncturist to find urinary frequency relief.

 

 

*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 Stop Snoring With Acupuncture and TCM

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

snoring sleep apnea
Snoring can happen because of the positioning of the neck and throat.

Have you been told you’re snoring loudly? Do you feel tired even after 8 hours of sleep? Waking up with a dry mouth, feeling tired all the time, and having trouble staying asleep at night are all signs that you might have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder in which normal breathing is interrupted repeatedly. Acupuncture and TCM offer a natural way to treat obstructive sleep apnea, insomnia, fatigue, and other sleep-related problems.

Sleep Apnea (also known as sleep apnoea) is when a person does not breathe normally during sleep. When there is a pause in normal breathing during the night, the body is not getting enough oxygen, and the brain sends an urgent message to start breathing again. The person wakes, so briefly that they usually do not remember it, gasps for air and starts breathing again. Often people do not realize that they are snoring or making snorting or choking sounds while they sleep unless another person tells them it’s happening. Because of this, many cases of sleep apnea go undiagnosed, and people go on feeling fatigued all the time.

While people of any age or gender can experience sleep apnea, it is most common among older men. There are a few different kinds of sleep apnea; the most prevalent type is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), in which the throat and/or airway is physically obstructed by the positioning of the neck, jaw, and soft tissues of the throat, like the tongue and uvula. OSA is associated with being overweight or obese, because extra weight can affect the musculature of the upper respiratory system. Women who have already gone through menopause are more likely to develop sleep apnea because postmenopausal weight gain is more likely to occur in the upper body than it does prior to menopause. Sleep problems and obesity are related in many ways; getting less sleep or poor quality sleep can cause people to gain weight or have trouble losing weight. People with diabetes and/or metabolic syndrome are also at higher risk for obstructive sleep apnea.

Besides disturbing sleep and causing fatigue, apnea can lead to other serious health conditions, especially cardiovascular problems like high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, and stroke. Sleep apnea can increase the heart rate and the production of stress hormones. Men with OSA are more likely to experience erectile dysfunction (ED). Lack of quality sleep can also have a negative impact on mental health, contributing to depression, anxiety, and cognitive decline.

The typical treatment for snoring involves the use of a sleep apnea machine, called a CPAP machine (continuous positive air pressure machine), which pushes air into the nose while you sleep, ensuring that the airway stays open and continuously active. This treatment can help people breathe easier throughout the night, but some people may find the machine noisy and uncomfortable.

TCM methods like acupuncture treatment for snoring and sleep apnea offer a way to address these problems at their source holistically, helping people to sleep well and breathe more freely.

Top 3 Types of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea causes loss of oxygen due to shallow breathing (hypopnea) and/or interrupted breathing while sleeping. Different types of sleep apnea are classified by their physiological causes:

  1. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) – this is caused by the improper relaxation of the throat muscles while sleeping.
  2. Central sleep apnea (CSA) – is caused by disordered signalling from the brain to the organs that control breathing.
  3. Complex sleep apnea – (or treatment emergent sleep apnea) is a combination of both of the above.

Restless legs syndrome (RLS), also known as Willis-Ekbom disease, is a condition wherein a person has an uncontrollable urge to move the legs, or sometimes arms or other parts of the body, accompanied by a sensation of itching, burning, crawling or throbbing. This usually happens when the person is lying in bed, trying to fall asleep. Restless leg syndrome can coexist with OSA, compounding the problem by making it difficult to get to sleep or stay asleep during the night.

Narcolepsy is a sleeping disorder in which overwhelming sleepiness during the daytime causes people to suddenly and uncontrollably fall asleep. Many people who suffer from narcolepsy also have sleep apnea. In this case, the sleep problem is not related to breathing so much as how the brain and body are moving through sleep cycles, like REM sleep. For people who have narcolepsy, treatment with a CPAP machine is often not very helpful.  

Sleep apnea or snoring does not seem to be related to other abnormal sleeping behaviors (parasomnia), such as sleepwalking, night terrors, or sleep-related eating.

Top 10 Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

fatigue tiredness sleep apnea snoring
Daytime sleepiness can be due to sleep apnea.

Many people snore and do not realize it. It is important to pay attention to the subtler sleep apnea symptoms. Signs of sleep apnea include:

  1. Loud snoring
  2. Interrupted breathing – moments during the night when the person’s breathing actually stops and then starts again
  3. Gasping for air while sleeping
  4. Waking up with a dry mouth or sore throat
  5. Headaches in the morning
  6. Insomnia, difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep during the night
  7. Feeling very sleepy during the daytime (hypersomnia)
  8. Difficulty paying attention
  9. Feeling irritable
  10. Getting up often during the night to urinate (nocturia)

What Causes Snoring?

snoring congestion sleep apnea
respiratory and nasal congestion can cause snoring

Sleep apnea is caused either by a physical obstruction of the throat and airways or by problems with brain signals to the breathing apparatus. Not everyone who has sleep apnea snores loudly. On the other hand, not everyone who snores necessarily has sleep apnea. Other reasons people snore may include:

  1. Congestion of the nose due to a cold or allergies
  2. In late pregnancy, the growing belly puts upward pressure on the respiratory system
  3. Sleeping pills, medications that work as relaxants, like Ativan or Valium
  4. Alcohol consumption
  5. Anatomy – large tongue or uvula, or swollen tonsils

People with sleep apnea are often advised to sleep on their side rather than on their back, as this helps prevent the obstruction, but it can be difficult for people to control their behavior while sleeping.

Treatment for Sleep Apnea

snoring sleep apnea
Snoring can disrupt your partner’s sleep. A CPAP machine might, too.

To firmly establish whether a person has sleep apnea, and what type, doctors will often evaluate the situation in a sleep study session. People will spend the night in a sleep center, where their heart and breathing functions are monitored (polysomnography). 

CPAP machines are generally considered to be the best care available for sleep apnea. These devices can help stop snoring, allow a person to get more restful sleep, and cut the risks of serious issues like heart disease that are associated with sleep apnea. However, the machine does not actually do anything to improve the weak musculature that causes OSA or the disordered signalling that causes CSA. It is possible to swallow air while breathing with the CPAP machine, which can lead to gas and a bloated stomach. Some people may find the face mask, which must be strapped to the face, uncomfortable. The noise of the machine may be disturbing to the person using it, as well as to the person’s bed partner. It may be difficult for some patients to get used to using the machine, and if they are not using it regularly, they are not getting the health benefits.

There are also some oral appliances available, such as mandibular advancement devices (MAD), which are worn in the mouth to alter the placement of the jaw and tongue in order to keep the airway open during sleep. These can also be effective in terms of helping people breathe better while they sleep. Compared to CPAP, they are quiet, discreet, and cost-effective. Again, the main question is whether a person will be able to tolerate the device; some people may experience toothache or dental pain, TMJ jaw pain, dry mouth, or too much saliva.

Surgery for snoring and sleep apnea is usually only recommended if other methods of treatment have failed. Different procedures involve removing soft tissues (uvula, tonsils, adenoids), or changing the shape of the jaw bones. Small rods may be inserted into the upper palate to help keep the airway open. A device that monitors breathing and stimulates movement of the tongue may be implanted in the chest.

Sometimes people may use melatonin as a natural sleep aid. Melatonin may have a positive impact in terms of helping people fall asleep more easily. It also has strong antioxidant properties, which means it may help with the control of the breathing apparatus and the amount of oxidation a person is getting while sleeping. While it is generally considered safe as a health supplement, melatonin side effects can include problems with dizziness, headaches, and nausea, and it can also be contraindicated with other medications. Melatonin can affect blood coagulation, so it may be unsafe to take if a person is also taking blood thinners, for example.

Can Acupuncture Help Stop Snoring?

According to TCM theory, the spleen and stomach are responsible for transforming nutrients from food and fluids into Qi (life energy), which is then delivered to the heart and lungs. In the TCM view, sleep apnea is often a problem related to phlegm and Qi stagnation, as are many conditions related to fatigue or insomnia. If phlegm builds up and becomes stagnant in the spleen, the lungs cannot get the Qi they need. So, one possible differentiation for sleep apnea is Spleen Deficiency with Qi Stagnation. This condition of dampness and phlegm will often cause people to feel heavy and bloated.

In some cases, too much internal heat contributes to the problem. Snoring, combined with sweating, and waking up with a sore throat, is a sign that we need to clear heat and toxicity from the body.

Sleep disturbed by nightmares is associated with the gallbladder, while difficulty falling asleep is associated with the liver. An acupuncture practitioner will listen carefully to what specific symptoms of sleep apnea each individual patient is experiencing, and tailor the treatment accordingly. 

A meta-analysis of over 200 randomized trials involving the use of acupuncture to treat sleep apnea concluded that acupuncture was more effective overall than CPAP treatment, in terms of improving breathing and oxygen levels.

Can Chinese herbs help snoring and sleep apnea? Specific herbs have been shown to help reduce inflammation and improve oxygen levels in patients with sleep apnea. Chinese herbal formulations can help stop snoring and reduce daytime fatigue.

Natural Remedies for Snoring

stomach meridian acupressure points
Acupressure points along the Stomach Meridian can help relieve snoring.

Acupressure can help snoring and sleep apnea. Since we are trying to clear heat and phlegm from the stomach, spleen, and large intestine, use acupressure points along the Stomach Meridian, which runs down the leg. On the front of the shin, apply pressure, kneading with your thumb, starting to the side of the shin bone a few inches below the knee, then moving down about 3 inches and doing the same thing. Knead each of the four points about 30 times as your move down the leg. If you are aware that one side of the nose is more blocked than the other while you are breathing during the night, practice the acupressure on the opposite leg. For example, if your left nostril is the one that is more stuffed up, do acupressure on the right leg.

Acupuncture Near Me for Snoring 

As the population ages, and unfortunately, more people suffer from obesity and metabolic syndrome, sleep apnea is a growing health concern all over the world. Snoring can have a seriously negative impact on quality of life, health, and longevity. Conventional methods of treatment for sleep apnea can be effective, but many people find CPAP uncomfortable and inconvenient for long-term use. If you suspect you may have sleep apnea, or are worried because your partner snores loudly at night and seems to be gasping for air, do not wait to get help. Acupuncture and TCM herbs can help relieve fatigue due to snoring and reduce the risk of more serious problems related to sleep apnea.

 

 

*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 Amnesia With Acupuncture and TCM

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

loss of memory amnesia
Anterograde amnesia can make it hard to form new memories.

Are you experiencing unusual forgetfulness? Amnesia due to an injury or a brain disease like Alzheimer’s can cause loss of memory. TCM and acupuncture offer an alternative treatment for problems with memory loss due to different types of amnesia or dementia related to brain diseases like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. 

Amnesia is often depicted in stories as the sudden loss of one’s memory, or even their whole identity, due to a traumatic accident of some sort. That kind of dramatic memory loss is rare in real life. Difficulty remembering events from one’s past is called retrograde amnesia. The most common type of amnesia, however, is anterograde amnesia, which causes short-term memory problems. People with anterograde amnesia may be able to remember facts they learned in school, and how to do things like play a sport or an instrument, but they have trouble remembering what they did earlier this morning, or what day of the week it is. Anterograde amnesia can have a serious impact on a person’s life, as it can make it difficult to retain new information, learn new skills, or form relationships with new people.

Conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s can affect memory and cause other types of cognitive impairment. Memory problems can be a part of dementia; the term “dementia” encompasses other kinds of cognitive decline in addition to memory loss. Being more forgetful is considered a common aspect of mild cognitive impairment (MCI). MCI is the term for changes in thinking patterns that occur in older adults, sometimes as a precursor to more serious dementia. “Amnestic MCI” pertains to short-term memory problems like forgetting recent events, appointments, and facts or names one might have been able to call up easily in the past.

People suffering from depression and/or anxiety, and those with PTSD often experience short-term memory loss, forgetfulness, or a sense of confusion.

At this point, there is no real medical solution for amnesia or other kinds of memory loss. There are no treatments that cure or reverse dementia or Alzheimer’s. Medications like cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine may help to slow the breakdown of certain neurotransmitters–brain chemicals that relate to memory and learning capacity. Cognitive therapy can help people work on their memory skills and teach them coping mechanisms, like using various forms of reminders and creating stable routines that help them continue to perform their daily tasks.

Research has shown that TCM and acupuncture treatment have a positive impact on cognitive impairment, as measured both by memory assessments, as well as the impact on neurotransmitter activity in the brain.

Top 5 Types of Amnesia

Memory loss amnesia cognitive decline
Memory loss can be a sign of cognitive decline or dementia.

Amnesia is classified into two main categories: neurological amnesia and functional amnesia. Neurological amnesia is caused by some type of physical problem with the brain, either due to an injury, a stroke, a tumor, or diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Amnesia could also result from an infection that affects the brain, such as HIV, Lyme disease, or encephalitis. Functional amnesia is caused by some psychologically damaging event that causes a person to “block out” memories. This type of amnesia is considered a psychiatric disorder.

  1. Retrograde amnesia – this type of amnesia occurs after a traumatic event or injury to the brain. It affects memories that were stored before the inciting event, but not necessarily the entire history of memories. Usually the events leading up the trauma are the ones that are compromised. 
  2. Anterograde amnesia – this type of amnesia causes short-term memory loss. While a person can still pay attention, they have trouble retaining new information or forming new memories related to current events.
  3. Transient global amnesia – this type of amnesia incorporates both retrograde and anterograde types of memory loss, but only for a short period of time (anywhere from a few to 24 hours). This temporary loss of memory usually occurs in older people, perhaps because of some loss of blood flow to the brain (ischemia) or loss of oxygen to the brain (hypoxia), or even because of a seizure. 
  4. Dissociative amnesia – a mental health disorder in which a person blocks out memories or certain facts about their life after an emotionally traumatic event. This is sometimes known as “selective amnesia.” 
  5. Infantile amnesia – (or childhood amnesia) this term refers to the fact that most people do not have memories from the early years of their life.

Other factors that can affect memory to the extent that they cause amnesia are severe alcoholism (when a person gets “blackout drunk” and cannot remember what has happened), severe nutritional deficiencies, thyroid issues, or exposure to radiation. Some drugs, like benzodiazepines, or anti-epileptic medications, can cause memory loss while the drug is in effect. Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) is sometimes used in psychiatric treatment to induce selective amnesia.

Sometimes amnesia is temporary, such as after an injury. Once the brain heals, memory will often be restored. Amnesia due to brain damage, such as after a stroke, may be permanent, while amnesia caused by a degenerative disease like Alzheimer’s, may be progressive in nature. Acupuncture treatment can be beneficial for people with various types of memory loss, both by helping people heal after brain trauma, and helping to protect the brain and other organs from degeneration due to aging or other kinds of disease.

Can Acupuncture Help Amnesia?

acupressure point for memory
These acupressure points on the top of the head can help improve your memory.

TCM theory takes a different view of the organ systems of the body than conventional modern medicine does. Whereas memory loss, cognitive impairment, amnesia, and dementia are seen as primarily having to do with the brain, in TCM we see problems with memory and cognition as also being related to the function of the kidneys, liver, spleen, and heart. The kidneys, in particular, are believed to support the brain, so if the kidneys are weak, or congested with phlegm, this can lead to amnesia. The buildup of phlegm in the body can block the smooth flow of qi and blood, leading to a lack of nourishment to the brain. It can also block the channels of communication between the heart and the brain. This concept of phlegm is roughly analogous to the conventional medical view of how heart disease arises from the buildup of cholesterol clogging the arteries. TCM treatment for amnesia and dementia will often focus, then, on the clearing of phlegm from the channels, and working to resolve other conditions, like high blood pressure or diabetes, that are contributing to the problems of memory loss and cognitive deficits.

Herbs have been used for many centuries in TCM to help improve memory function and stave off cognitive decline. In recent years, scientific research has begun to confirm that these herbs can work to reduce neurodegeneration. TCM herbal formulations have the benefit of being highly customizable, while being relatively free of potential negative side effects. Acupuncture has been demonstrated to help patients recover neurological function after traumatic brain injuries.

Top 5 Tips for Improving Your Memory With TCM

stimulating the fingertips
Pressing the fingertips together

Stimulating more blood flow to the brain can help boost your memory. Try these simple home remedies to help promote better cognitive function.

  1. Acupressure Points for Memory – Find the tender spot right in the center of the top of the head. Stimulate this point, and the four points that can be found one inch away from the center in each direction: right, left, front, and back (see photo above). Apply gentle but deep, downward pressure with your finger to each of these five points 50-60 times each day.
  2. Stimulate the Fingertips and Tips of the Toes – Hold the hands so that the tips of the fingers and thumbs touch. Gently press or stroke the corresponding fingers together, each stimulating the other, up to a hundred times. Practice daily. Similarly, gently press/stroke the tip of each toe, up to a hundred times per day.
  3. Keep the Neck Supported – when the neck is stiff or out of alignment, blood flow to the head and brain may be compromised. If you have neck pain or tightness, be sure to address it adequately with acupuncture, a supportive pillow and appropriate sleeping position, and gentle exercise.
  4. Dry Brush the Scalp – use a brush or comb to stimulate the whole scalp every day. This will help bring good blood flow to the head.
  5. Massage the Ears – gently knead the whole outer ear, especially the ear lobe, until it is warm and red. This will stimulate many beneficial acupressure points located on the ear.

Acupuncture Near Me for Memory Loss

Perhaps someone close to you has begun to show worrying signs of cognitive decline or loss of memory. People who are suffering from amnesia and dementia associated with degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer’s can benefit from an integrative approach that includes acupuncture and herbs.

 

 

*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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