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How to Treat SIBO With Acupuncture and TCM

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by Qineng Tan, L.Ac., Ph.D. and Xiaomei Cai, L.Ac., Ph.D.

 

SIBO bloating stomach pain
Stomach pain and bloating can be signs of SIBO.

Abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea? These can be SIBO symptoms. SIBO, or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, can cause bloated stomach, abdominal cramps and pain. Acupuncture and TCM can offer alternative SIBO treatment and bloating relief.

Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) is a condition in which an abnormal increase in the population of bacteria occurs in the small intestine. 

Unlike the large intestine, which is rich in bacterial flora essential for digestion and immune function, the small intestine typically contains relatively few bacteria. When these bacteria proliferate excessively in the small intestine, they can disrupt normal digestion and nutrient absorption, leading to a variety of uncomfortable and sometimes debilitating symptoms.

Problems with gut motility also contribute to SIBO symptoms. Peristalsis is the process by which the smooth muscle tissues in the intestine move food matter through the gastrointestinal tract. When peristalsis isn’t happening the way it should, this is known as dysmotility. This can lead to stagnation of food matter in the intestine, which allows for an overgrowth of bacteria to build up. This in turn can causes hydrogen and methane gas to be produced by the fermentation of carbohydrates that are stagnant in the small intestine. This excess gas causes painful bloating and distension of the abdomen.

SIBO can cause a range of digestive symptoms, such as bloated stomach, abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, and malabsorption of nutrients from food, which can result in unwanted weight loss and nutritional deficiencies. Vitamin B12 deficiency is particularly common among people suffering from SIBO.

Other symptoms, seemingly unrelated to the gastrointestinal system, can include: fatigue, headache, low fever, and rosacea. 

SIBO is often associated with other health issues, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), celiac disease, and diabetes.

Acupuncture and TCM can work as an adjunct or alternative treatment for SIBO symptoms.

This can lead to hydrogen and methane gas being produced by the fermentation of carbohydrates that are stagnant in the small intestine. This excess gas can cause painful bloating and a distended abdomen.

 

What Causes SIBO?

SIBO gas and stomach pain
SIBO can cause a lot of abdominal pain and gas.

A wide variety of different issues can play a role in the development of SIBO. Many conditions may cause problems with the secretion of gastric acids, with motility of the small intestine, gut immune function, and structural issues related to surgeries, injuries, or other abnormalities of the intestine.

Conditions that may contribute to SIBO include:

  1. Gastroparesis due to diabetes, or connective tissue disorders, viral infection, or ischemia
  2. Cirrhosis
  3. Chronic renal failure
  4. Scleroderma
  5. Crohn’s disease
  6. Celiac disease
  7. Recurrent rounds of antibiotics
  8. Excessive consumption of alcohol
  9. GI tract surgeries that create structural abnormalities
  10. Immune deficiencies of T-cell or antibody responses

 

What’s the Difference Between IBS and SIBO?

Symptoms of SIBO are very similar to IBS symptoms, and it is possible for a person to have both IBS and SIBO at the same time. The difference between SIBO and irritable bowel syndrome is that IBS is a functional syndrome stemming from issues in the large intestine, whereas SIBO occurs in the small intestine.

One review of studies showed that the incidence of SIBO among patients with IBS is much higher than among people who don’t have IBS symptoms. The exact link between IBS and SIBO has not yet been clarified by medical science.

 

Medical Treatment for SIBO

In Western medicine, the treatment of SIBO typically involves a multi-faceted approach aimed at reducing the bacterial overgrowth, addressing the underlying causes, and managing symptoms. 

Along with trying to find and address any underlying conditions that may be causing or contributing to SIBO, the mainstays of conventional treatment include antibiotics and medications to help improve gut motility.

The primary treatment for SIBO is the use of antibiotics to reduce the bacterial load in the small intestine. Commonly prescribed antibiotics include rifaximin, metronidazole, and ciprofloxacin. These antibiotics are chosen for their ability to target the small intestine bacteria while minimizing disruption to the rest of the gut microbiota.

Unfortunately, while antibiotics may help reduce bacteria, but they can also come with unwanted side effects. Rifaximin can cause bladder pain, urinary frequency, difficulty urinating, and cloudy urine. It can also contribute to feelings of anxiety, dizziness, headaches, fast breathing, fast heartbeat, and problems sleeping.

Antibiotics do not necessarily ease symptoms like gas and bloating, and can cause constipation and black, tarry stool.

Prokinetics are medications that help improve gut motility, ensuring that food and bacteria move efficiently through the digestive tract, which can help prevent bacterial stasis and overgrowth. Common prokinetics include erythromycin in low doses, prucalopride, and metoclopramide.

Dietary modifications will usually be recommended to help manage SIBO. Patients are often advised to follow specific diets such as the low FODMAP diet, which reduces the intake of fermentable carbohydrates that can feed bacterial overgrowth. Other dietary approaches may include the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) or an elemental diet, which involves consuming easily digestible, nutrient-rich formulas.

It can be difficult for people to follow a SIBO diet, and many physicians are not able to spend the time with patients that is required to properly support these behavioral changes. Without dietary support, the antibiotics and prokinetics may not do enough to get rid of SIBO.

Successful treatment of SIBO often requires addressing any underlying conditions that contribute to bacterial overgrowth. This could involve treating gastrointestinal motility disorders, managing chronic pancreatitis, or addressing structural abnormalities such as strictures or diverticula.

By understanding the underlying causes and employing a comprehensive treatment strategy, conventional medicine aims to alleviate symptoms and reduce the recurrence of SIBO. However, due to the chronic nature of the condition and the complexity of the gut microbiome, many patients seek complementary treatments such as acupuncture and herbal medicine to support their overall gut health and enhance the effectiveness of their treatment plan.

 

Can Acupuncture Help SIBO?

Turmeric Cinnamon herbs for SIBO
Herbs like cinnamon, turmeric, and cloves can help relieve SIBO symptoms.

Chinese herbal medicine has its own way of helping to relieve SIBO, improve motility and digestion, and soothe uncomfortable stomach pain and bloating. 

TCM theory views stagnation of Qi and blood as being one of the primary pathogenic forces in the body that causes pain and disease. In the case of SIBO, weakness or stagnation of organ systems, such as the stomach, liver, and spleen, is often part of the diagnostic pattern.

Diet, herbs, and supplements may all play an important role, in addition to acupuncture treatment for SIBO. Digestive enzymes and/or probiotics may be helpful in some cases. It may be necessary to eliminate some foods for a time to help control excessive fermentation and bacterial proliferation that is causing the gas and bloating.

There are foods and herbs that can work as natural prokinetics, to help improve gut motility and aid in proper absorption of nutrients. Ginger, turmeric, and peppermint oil are a few easy-to-find products that can help with digestion. There are also classic Chinese herbal preparations that can work even better than pharmaceutical prokinetics to help relieve constipation and indigestion.

A review of trials in China using Modified Runchang-Tang (MRCT) showed that in a sampling of over 2000 patients, this herbal formula worked better than conventional laxatives for relieving constipation.

Another review found that Modified Chaihu Shugan powder (MCSP) worked better than chemical prokinetics to help resolve symptoms of dyspepsia, or indigestion.

In addition to specific Chinese herb formulas that can help relieve digestive issues and work to get rid of unhealthy bacteria, there are other well-known common herbs that can also be helpful:

  • Black cumin
  • Garlic
  • Cloves
  • Cinnamon
  • Thyme
  • All-spice
  • Bay leaves
  • Mustard
  • Rosemary

Acupuncture practitioners have generally received much more specialized training in nutrition than conventional doctors. Your acupuncturist will be able to make dietary recommendations that are specific to your symptoms and condition.

 

Acupuncture for SIBO Near Me in Los Angeles

Dr. Tan and Dr. Cai at Art of Wellness in West Los Angeles/Santa Monica have over 30 years of experience helping people with all types of gastrointestinal disorders. You do not have to suffer with gas pain and bloating, constipation or persistent diarrhea. Try Chinese medicine as an alternative or adjunct treatment for SIBO and IBS.








*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 POTS With Acupuncture and TCM

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

 

POTS dizzy nausea headaches
POTS is most common in girls and women and often starts in adolescence.

Do you often feel shaky, like you’re fainting, or experience dizziness, especially when you’re getting up from sitting down or lying down? Do you feel like you have a rapid heartbeat, or shortness of breath? Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, known as PoTS syndrome, or POTS, is a condition that causes unstable blood pressure when changing positions. Acupuncture and TCM can help relieve dizziness and other symptoms of POTS.

Postural tachycardia syndrome (or postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome) is a chronic disorder related to the autonomic nervous system that causes people to experience dizziness and increased heart rate when they move into an upright position; this is known as orthostatic intolerance, which is a type of dysautonomia.

POTS syndrome is fairly common, affecting up to 3 million people in the U.S. POTS occurs more often in people assigned female at birth, and often first shows up during the teenage years. 

The most common symptom of POTS is feeling light-headed when changing your position from sitting to standing, or when getting up from lying down.

Whenever we have been sitting or lying down for a while, blood pools in the lower parts of the body. When we get up, the autonomic nervous system starts a series of actions to move blood back up into the top half of the body. This involves squeezing blood vessels, and releasing adrenaline and norepinephrine, to make the heart beat faster.

When a person has POTS, more blood tends to pool in the legs, and the nervous system process doesn’t cause the normal, quick response from the blood vessels, so more hormones are released, which can cause the person’s heart rate to increase, and a dizzy, faint feeling.

Medical science has not yet discovered exactly what causes POTS, but there are different characteristics that allow for categorizing these different types of POTS syndrome:

  • Neuropathic POTS – damage to small fiber nerves that control blood vessel constriction in the abdomen and limbs
  • Hyperadrenergic POTS – when a person has elevated levels of norepinephrine
  • Hypovolemic POTS – when a person has unusually low blood levels
  • Secondary POTS – when POTS symptoms are related to another condition that causes neuropathy, such as Lyme disease, diabetes, or autoimmune disorders like Lupus or celiac disease.

While POTS is not rare, it can be difficult to get a diagnosis, because the criteria can be vague, and the symptoms can so often be related to other conditions, or just seem “normal.” 

For many people, POTS is truly debilitating and can have a serious, negative impact on daily life. It can also contribute to feelings of anxiety and depression. Acupuncture and TCM offer an adjunct or alternative treatment for POTS that can help with dizziness, irregular heartbeat, digestive problems, muscle weakness, migraines, trouble sleeping, and other symptoms, all at the same time.

 

Top 10 POTS Symptoms

The primary symptoms of POTS are related to the cardiovascular system: rapid heartbeat, and dizziness. However, there can be many other POTS symptoms.

  1. Irregular heart rate, rapid heart rate, fast heartbeat, chest pain, heart palpitations
  2. Dizziness, especially when standing up or getting up from lying down, feeling faint
  3. Breathing problems: hyperventilating, bronchial asthma, shortness of breath
  4. Constipation, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain
  5. Muscle weakness, muscle pain, tremor
  6. Skin rash, flushed face, flushing, sweating
  7. Migraine headaches
  8. Cognitive issues, brain fog, difficulty concentrating
  9. Trouble sleeping
  10. Frequent urination, nocturia
POTS dizziness
Symptoms of POTS include dizziness, fatigue, and migraines.

Other symptoms of POTS may include: tinnitus (ringing in the ears), blurred vision, red or purple appearance of the legs when standing up, and a “jittery” feeling or general nervousness.

As with many syndromes, different people will experience different combinations of symptoms. While dizziness and rapid heartbeat are the signs most commonly associated with POTS, many people with POTS will also suffer from abdominal pain and gastrointestinal problems, perhaps without realizing there is a correlation.

POTS symptoms may resemble many other conditions, such as:

Because POTS is often misunderstood or misdiagnosed, many patients will be offered medications to manage headaches, vertigo, or depression, which may not offer much relief.

 

Medical Treatment for POTS

As there is no definitive cure for POTS, Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome treatments typically aim to manage symptoms and improve quality of life.

Dietary modifications are a fundamental component of POTS management. Adequate daily fluid intake is crucial. A diet that includes plenty of salt helps maintain blood volume, aiding blood flow to vital organs. Patients are typically advised to avoid alcohol and carefully monitor caffeine intake, as these substances can exacerbate symptoms.

Exercise is gradually introduced, often starting in reclined or horizontal positions, with the goal of increasing exercise tolerance over time. Physical therapy helps retrain the autonomic nervous system, enhancing blood circulation.

Compression garments can help reduce blood pooling, and specific postures while sitting or sleeping may alleviate symptoms. Identifying triggers such as prolonged sitting, heat, or certain drugs allows for better symptom control. Regular monitoring of blood pressure and pulse, along with adequate sleep hygiene, aids overall well-being.

While no single pharmacological solution is universally effective, some medications may be prescribed based on individual symptoms. These may help to improve blood volume, aid sodium retention, reduce heart rate, and enhance blood vessel constriction.

While POTS symptoms may intermittently improve with medications and lifestyle modifications, the underlying cause of POTS may persist. Acupuncture and TCM treatment can provide a holistic solution for individuals living with POTS, which may help to address the root causes of this syndrome.

 

Can Acupuncture Help POTS?

acupuncture treatment
Acupuncture treatment can help relieve POTS symptoms.

POTS is a kind of Dysautonomia; this is a general term that describes conditions that involve malfunctioning of the autonomic nervous system. This causes people’s bodies to have problems with regulating the sorts of functions that are typically automatic, like the beating of the heart, circulation of blood, breathing, and temperature control. 

Western medicine offers some treatments that can help address individual symptoms of dysautonomia, but it does not have a way of treating the root of the problem. It can be difficult to get proper treatment, because people who suffer from POTS and other kinds of dysautonomia often seem reasonably healthy, and their complaints—dizziness, headaches, mental health problems—seem vague.

Acupuncture and TCM have been used to treat these kinds of problems for centuries. Acupuncture treatment can help provide positive effects on the subtle communications of the nervous system, as well as the heart rate, and physiological symptoms of anxiety. According to TCM theory, several organ systems may be involved and need support: not only the heart, but also the kidneys or spleen.

Studies have shown that acupuncture for dysautonomia can help relieve symptoms like heart palpitations, insomnia, and digestive problems.

A qualified acupuncturist is also well-versed in nutrition and can offer more detailed information regarding dietary and lifestyle changes that can help each individual patient. Your TCM provider will spend time learning more about you, so that they can offer personalized advice.

 

Acupuncture Near Me for POTS in West Los Angeles

TCM and acupuncture can help people with all types of autoimmune disorders, nerve disorders, and conditions involving fatigue and dizziness that may be difficult to solve with conventional methods. Acupuncture works on a deeper, more subtle level to help address complex syndromes. If you are regularly experiencing trouble with feeling light-headed, having unexplained headaches and sleep problems, it may be time to seek a more holistic alternative 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 Kidney Stones With Acupuncture and TCM

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

 

kidney stones back pain
Severe lower back pain can be a sign of kidney stones.

Severe lower back pain, blood in urine, burning pee? These could be signs of kidney stones. Acupuncture and TCM offer an alternative or adjunct kidney stones treatment that can help relieve kidney stone pain and dysuria, or painful urination.

Kidney stones are hard mineral deposits that form in the kidneys or other parts of the urinary tract. Salt and minerals can crystallize when urine reaches a certain level of concentration. 

Often, kidney stones form when there are calcium oxalate crystals in urine. Calcium levels can be high because of eating too much sodium.

The ureters are the tubes that connect the kidneys to the bladder. If a kidney stone moves into a ureter and becomes lodged there, it can cause left lower back pain or right lower back pain. This is known as “passing a kidney stone.” 

Kidney stones are very common, and many people go to the ER when they are experiencing severe lower back pain on one side and peeing blood. This happens when one or more kidney stones find their way into one of the ureters and become lodged there. This blocks the flow of urine and can cause severe pain and cramping.

Acupuncture can help reduce kidney stone pain in the short term, and help address the imbalances that are the root cause of kidney stones.

 

What Causes Kidney Stones? 

drink water kidney stones
Drinking enough water and eating more plant foods can help prevent kidney stones.

Kidney stones form when there is not enough urine, and it becomes too concentrated. This often is due to not drinking enough fluids and getting dehydrated. Other kidney stone causes include:

  • Not drinking enough water, dehydration
  • Too much salt
  • Too much sugar, fructose, or high fructose corn syrup
  • Too much meat, too few fruits and vegetables
  • Lack of exercise or too much exercise
  • weight loss surgery, bariatric surgery, which can cause chronic diarrhea
  • Infections, UTIs
  • Gout
  • Chronic diarrhea due to Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis
  • Type 2 Diabetes, high blood sugar levels

Kidney stones are differentiated into different types, depending on their mineral composition. The types of kidney stones are:

  • Calcium stones – deposits of calcium oxalate or calcium phosphate
  • Uric acid stones – high levels of uric acid can be due to eating a lot of animal proteins
  • Struvite stones – can form after a UTI
  • Cystine stones – cystinuria is an inherited condition that causes buildup of the amino acid cystine in the urinary tract

 

Top 10 Symptoms of Kidney Stones

Many people have kidney stones and are not aware of them. It is possible to have kidney stones without pain or kidney stones without urinary symptoms. You may only find out about them when having imaging tests done for some other reason.

However, passing a kidney stone can certainly cause intense pain and other upsetting symptoms. The most common signs of kidney stones include:

  1. Sharp pain on one side of the lower back
  2. Cramps in one side
  3. Pain in the lower abdomen or groin
  4. Urgent need to pee, urinary urgency
  5. Peeing a lot, urinary frequency
  6. Burning sensation when peeing, dysuria
  7. Dark urine, blood in urine
  8. Nausea, vomiting
  9. Pain at the tip of the penis
  10. Fever and/or chills

Kidney stone pain can range from mild to severe, and it can come and go or be constant.

Acupuncture treatment has been shown to be effective for reducing kidney stone pain when used as an adjunct in emergency medical care settings when someone is waiting for conventional treatment.

 

Treatment for Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are diagnosed through blood tests and urine tests, which will show if there is too much uric acid, calcium, or other minerals that can cause stones to form. Imaging tests, such as ultrasound, may be able to detect where stones are stuck in the urinary tract.

If a person is passing stones (kidney stones in toilet), they may be analyzed to determine what sort of mineral has formed them.

In many cases, people will be encouraged to wait until the stones pass on their own. In this case, simply drinking adequate fluids and using pain medication to manage the intermittent pain and cramping will be recommended. Medications such as alpha blockers (Flomax) may be prescribed to help relax the ureters.

If the kidney stones are too large to be passed, then surgery may be indicated. Procedures using sound waves are sometimes used to help break up the stones. Surgery using small scopes and instruments can also remove the stones. A stent may be placed in the ureter to help keep it open until swelling goes down and it heals.

Studies have indicated that a combination of medications like Flomax and Chinese herbs may help to expel kidney stones. TCM treatment can help prevent the need for surgery.

Can Acupuncture and Herbs Help Kidney Stones?

acupuncture can help kidney stones
Acupuncture and TCM can help relieve kidney stone back pain.

According to TCM theory, kidney stones are in the category of “Shilin” conditions, in which urination is difficult. Chinese herbs have traditionally been used to help balance the electrolyte minerals in the body, which helps prevent stones from forming in the urinary tract.

TCM treatment for kidney stones includes herbal medicine to help increase urine volume and excretion of minerals and inhibits the formation of calcium crystals. 

Acupuncture treatment has an anesthetic effect which can help relieve the pain of kidney stones while other treatments take effect to help reduce and prevent the formation of new kidney stones.

One trial found that acupuncture treatment helped relieve kidney stone pain faster than pharmacological medications. Acupuncture treatment has no side effects, while 43% of the people in the study who were given intramuscular anesthesia report side effects like skin rash, irregular heartbeat, and drowsiness.

Acupuncture and acupressure can help relieve severe back pain and pelvic pain due to various urinary and other reproductive system conditions. It can also help reduce the anxiety and depression that people sometimes experience when faced with severe pain.

 

How to Prevent Kidney Stones

Drinking plenty of water is probably the most important thing you need to do to prevent dehydration and low volume of urine. In addition to staying hydrated, you should:

  1. Reduce sodium intake by eating less salt and fewer processed and packaged foods.
  2. Reduce foods that encourage calcium oxalate stones: meats, berries, beer, black pepper, spinach, chocolate/cocoa, and tea.
  3. Combine calcium-rich foods or drinks with foods that contain oxalate, so that they can be absorbed well together. This could mean eating spinach with cheese, or berries with yogurt. The citrate in citrus juices can also help discourage stone formation.
  4. Add foods with a high ratio of magnesium to calcium, such as: brown rice, oats, barley, bananas, soybeans, and flaxseeds.
  5. Be sure to replace lost fluids when you sweat through exercise or by being in a sauna, steam room, or hot tub, or just by being in the heat during the summertime.
  6. Balance your Ph levels. For some people this may mean increasing alkaline foods. As your acupuncturist about checking your Ph levels.

 

Acupuncture Near Me for Kidney Stones, Los Angeles

TCM treatment can help reduce pain and address the root causes of many conditions that cause urinary urgency and frequency, like BPH, UTIs and interstitial cystitis. Acupuncture can also help relieve pelvic pain and low back pain due to many other conditions, like endometriosis, and mittelschmerz. If you are experiencing urinary symptoms or recurring bladder pain or back pain, consider consulting an experienced acupuncture practitioner to resolve the root issue.



*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 Dysmenorrhea With Acupuncture and TCM

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

 

dysmenorrhea painful period cramps
Painful period cramps are dysmenorrhea symptoms

Menstrual cramps, unbearable period pain? Severe period cramps and period back pain are dysmenorrhea symptoms. Acupuncture and TCM offer a way to help with cramps and provide period cramp relief.

About 80% of women report having menstrual cramps and painful periods at some point in their lives. Over 40% of women regularly experience PMS cramps, or cramps before period. For some women, the pain is mild enough to tolerate. For others, severe period cramps are truly debilitating, leading to missed days of school or work.

Primary dysmenorrhea is when the period cramps are a result of prostaglandins (hormones) causing the uterus to contract forcefully to expel its lining. For some people, this action leads not only to pelvic pain, but can radiate to cause severe lower back pain, hip pain, or even pain in the legs.

Secondary dysmenorrhea is when severe menstrual cramps are related to another condition, such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids, or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). About 1 in 10 women between the ages of 15-49 experiences endometriosis, which can cause excruciating pelvic pain during period, and negatively impact fertility. As many as 60-80% of women have fibroids, although many do not know it.

The severe period cramps may feel like a constant ache in the lower abdomen, or more like a gripping or throbbing pain that comes and goes.

Acupuncture and TCM offer an alternative way to treat period cramps and get period pain relief. 

 

Top 5 Dysmenorrhea Symptoms

 

menstrual cramps pain during period
Menstrual cramps and pelvic pain can disrupt your life every month.

In addition to menstrual cramps and back pain during the period, some women experience other symptoms of dysmenorrhea, including:

  1. Nausea
  2. Diarrhea
  3. Headaches
  4. Dizziness
  5. Fatigue

Some women also experience vaginal cramps or ovary pain during period. This may be due to inflammation or scar tissue around the ovaries or ovarian cysts swelling.

How to Help Period Cramps

Generally, doctors will treat dysmenorrhea OTC pain medication, or NSAIDs like Ibuprofen, to relieve menstrual cramping due to primary dysmenorrhea. They may prescribe hormonal birth control, such as oral contraceptives (birth control pills), birth control patch, birth control implant, injection, or vaginal ring.

Hormonal birth control helps relieve period pain because it blocks ovulation and reduces the amount of prostaglandins being produced. However, this medication is not particularly helpful for those who may wish to get pregnant, or those who experience unpleasant side effects from birth control. 

 

Possible Side Effects of Hormonal Birth Control

Many people may find that hormonal birth control causes side effects such as: 

Potentially serious side effects may be more common the older a woman is, or the longer she remains on birth control; these could include: blood clots, gallbladder disease, heart disease, or even stroke.

If severe menstrual cramps are not relieved with pain medication, further investigation may be done to determine if there is some other condition causing pelvic pain. 

Endometriosis is also usually treated with pain medications and contraceptives, or with Nupron, which suppresses the period. In severe cases, surgery may remove the patches of endometrial tissues. However, with both of these treatments, the endometriosis and severe period pain often come back.

Birth control, pain medications, and even surgeries may temporarily reduce painful cramps, but they are only masking the deeper problems. TCM and acupuncture can help get rid of menstrual cramps because they address the root cause of the pain.

 

Can Acupuncture Help Get Rid of Period Cramps?

Acupuncture for period pain dysmenorrhea
Acupuncture can help relieve painful period cramps.

In TCM, we look at organ systems as working together in harmony. Pain usually occurs because there is some imbalance in one or more of the major organ systems. Dysmenorrhea is usually considered to be related to Qi and/or blood stagnation, and often a deficiency of the kidney, liver, or both. In TCM, the liver controls the storage and distribution of blood, so it is central to the process of menstruation.

Dampness and cold are pathogenic forces that can be disruptive to the smooth flow of Qi related to menstruation. Being in a cold, damp place or eating too many cold or damp foods can cause blood stagnation in the abdominal area that leads to painful cramps.

Emotions can also play a significant role, as in TCM we see feelings of anger or depression causing liver stagnation. Deficiency of Qi can happen when a woman has gone through a lot, emotionally and physically, possibly through giving birth, or having stresses put on the reproductive organs.

Scientific research has shown that acupuncture has an effect on the production of key hormones like serotonin, estrogen and progesterone. When we use acupuncture points to balance the function of the liver, kidney, and other organ systems, these chemical changes occur naturally. We also use herbs to get vital nutrients into the blood that we can’t get from food.

Acupuncture is effective for treating conditions like endometriosis, uterine fibroids, and PCOS, as well.

Acupuncture treatment and herbal remedies for endometriosis and fibroids have been shown to reduce prostaglandin levels, which helps to relieve painful cramping and also to regulate cycles.

A study of endometriosis patients with dysmenorrhea who received electroacupuncture, the cure rate was 94.4% with low recurrence at the one-year checkup. Another study found that auricular acupuncture was effective 91% for mild to moderate menstrual pain.

TCM herbal formulations have been shown to be highly effective at relieving period pain. They work on the TCM principles of removing blood stasis to reduce swelling and relieve painful cramps.

When we are working to influence the menstrual cycle—in this case, to relieve painful cramping—it is usually best to have acupuncture treatment regularly for about three months. This way, we have time to balance the hormone fluctuations that occur during each phase of the cycle.

 

Top 3 Tips for Natural Relief from Period Cramps

 

Your acupuncturist can help give you personalized nutrition advice to help with your unique situation. Most people who are having trouble with painful periods can help themelves by trying these tips:

 

  1. Get more Omega-3 fatty acids in your diet – good natural sources include fish, flax seeds, and walnuts. You can also try taking fish oil, cod liver oil, or a vegan omega-3 supplement.
  2. Reduce consumption of ice-cold foods and beverages – icy drinks, ice cream, and raw foods can all cause a cooling of the uterus, which contributes to painful cramps.
  3. Avoid mucus-producing foods – foods that are more difficult to digest lead to mucus and stagnation in the organs. Reduce fatty foods, fried foods, and red meat.

 

Acupuncture Near Me for Dysmenorrhea in Los Angeles, Santa Monica

 

TCM has been used to treat menstrual difficulties and all types of gynecological issues for many centuries. The doctors at Art of Wellness in West L.A. bring special expertise in both TCM and western medicine gynecology and have partnered with the top women’s health and fertility specialists in Los Angeles. We have over 30 years of experience helping people regulate their menstrual cycles and experience more comfortable periods.







*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 Diverticulitis With Acupuncture and TCM

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

 

diverticulitis pain in left abdomen
Pain in lower left abdomen can be a sign of diverticulitis.

Pain in lower left abdomen? Stomach pain or pain in lower abdomen? Nausea, vomiting? Constipation or diarrhea? These may be diverticulitis symptoms. Acupuncture and TCM offer a way to help relieve diverticulitis pain and restore normal bowel function.

Diverticulosis refers to the presence of small sacs or pouches of tissue inside the large intestine, most often the colon (colonic diverticulitis), which are called “diverticula.”

Diverticulitis refers to the condition that occurs when the sacs become inflamed and infected. Diverticulitis causes pain and other symptoms like bloating and pain in left abdomen that might feel better after you pass gas or have a bowel movement.

Diverticular disease is becoming more and more common and is particularly widespread amongst older people, with at least half of all people over the age of 60 showing signs of diverticulosis.

While medical science has not definitively determined why people develop diverticulosis, it is believed to be due to eating a diet that is low in fiber and high in fatty foods like red meat.

Sedentary lifestyle (lack of exercise), being overweight or obese, smoking cigarettes, and regular use of anti-inflammatory medications or OTC pain medications (NSAIDs) may also be factors in the development of diverticulosis.

Many people have diverticulosis but are unaware of it because they don’t have any symptoms. It is only when the diverticula become infected and inflamed that diverticulitis treatment becomes necessary.

Acupuncture and TCM offer an alternative diverticulitis treatment that can help relieve pain and reduce inflammation in the colon.

 

Top 5 Diverticulitis Symptoms

 

diverticulitis pain in abdomen
Diverticulitis pain may be constant or come and go.

Diverticulitis symptoms are believed to occur because something like a bit of undigested food or stool becomes trapped inside one of the diverticula, and then bacteria start to grow, causing an infection. 

While a person can have diverticulosis for a long time without any signs, symptoms of diverticulitis may come on suddenly and be quite severe.

The common signs of diverticulitis include:

  1. Abdominal pain or cramping, particularly pain in lower left abdomen—although in Asian countries, pain in lower right abdomen seems to be more prevalent. The pain may be constant, or it can come and go.
  2. Nausea and/or vomiting
  3. Fever and/or chills
  4. Constipation or diarrhea
  5. Rectal bleeding, bloody stool

Sometimes diverticulitis may cause a total lack of appetite and sudden weight loss, as a person just stops feeling like eating anything.

Diverticulitis can sometimes lead to more serious complications, like an abscess—which is when the infected area swells and fills with pus—or perforation of the bowel wall. These kinds of issues may require surgery.

 

Diverticulitis Treatment

Some other gastrointestinal disorders can present with symptoms that are similar to those of diverticulitis, such as: colitis or inflammatory bowel disease, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), or bowel obstruction. Gynecological problems like endometriosis, an ovarian cyst, or an ectopic pregnancy could also cause severe pain in the lower left abdomen. A UTI could also cause acute abdominal pain.

Diagnosis of diverticulitis will usually begin with a doctor feeling the abdomen for signs of tenderness, then they will order tests (blood tests, urine tests, and/or stool tests) to check for infection. Once other problems have been ruled out, a CT scan may show the diverticula (infected sacs/pouches in the large intestine). 

There is some debate about when to perform a colonoscopy in cases of diverticulitis, as the procedure can cause perforations of the intestinal lining to become worse. Usually, a colonoscopy is recommended several weeks after a person has recovered from an acute attack of diverticulitis.

Because diverticulitis is usually caused by an infection, the most common medical treatment is a course of antibiotics, along with rest and pain relievers, until the acute symptoms have abated. A liquid diet may be indicated until the situation improves, with the gradual reintroduction of solid foods.

Recommendations will usually include that a person quits smoking (if they smoke) and makes changes in their diet: especially eating less meat and fatty foods and increasing fiber intake. It used to be common for doctors to tell their patients not to eat foods like popcorn, seeds, or nuts, under the assumption that small, hard kernels might become trapped in the diverticula and cause irritation. However, more research has shown that eating these types of foods does not seem to cause flare-ups of diverticulitis.

If these treatments do not help to relieve diverticulitis pain, or if a complication like an abscess or perforation in the colon wall develops, surgery may be necessary. The most common surgery for diverticulitis is a colon resection, which involves removing the part(s) of the large intestine that have been damaged. Sometimes it is not possible to repair the colon completely, and in these cases, a person may have to have a colostomy.

Acupuncture and TCM offer an alternative or adjunct treatment for diverticulitis that can help reduce inflammation in the bowel and relieve abdominal pain.

 

Can Acupuncture Help Diverticulitis?

acupuncture treament diverticulitis
Diverticulitis treatment with acupuncture

An acupuncturist will make a TCM diagnosis based on where and what kind of abdominal pain and other diverticulitis symptoms a patient is experiencing. According to TCM theory, pain and problems with the digestive organs can be related both to stagnant Qi (life energy) or blood in that area, and the presence of a pathogenic force like dampness, heat, or cold. 

The quality of diverticulitis pain and how it changes when you eat or move your bowels will provide clues as to what the root cause is.

In TCM, the spleen is considered to be responsible for turning nutrients into energy; when it is not functioning well, a person may have diarrhea. Strengthening the spleen is usually an important part of TCM treatment for diverticulitis and other digestive disorders.

Your acupuncture practitioner can help relieve symptoms like nausea, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, and stomach pain, while also helping to heal and strengthen the lining of the intestines and reducing inflammation. Boosting immune function will help prevent further infections.

It is generally necessary for a person with diverticulosis to make changes in their dietary habits. While increasing intake of fiber and fluids is important, there are probably even more specific foods that are triggering the dysfunction of the gastrointestinal system, creating excess heat or dampness in the internal organs. TCM nutrition views all foods as having properties that either cool or warm the body. So, your acupuncturist will be able to advise you on what food program will work best to balance your health.


In general, nourishing broths, soups, and well-cooked vegetables with lean proteins and whole grains with plenty of fiber are the best diet for people with diverticulitis. Avoid cold, raw foods, fatty foods, red meat, and dairy.

 

Acupuncture Near Me for Diverticulitis In West Los Angeles

Acupuncture and TCM provide an effective way to treat abdominal pain and gastrointestinal disorders of all kinds. At Art of Wellness, we have over 35 years of experience helping people find pain relief and improve their digestive health.



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






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