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Immune System

How to Treat Bronchitis With Acupuncture and TCM

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

 

man coughing
A persistent, productive cough can be a sign of bronchitis.

Chest cold with a productive cough, shortness of breath, coughing up mucus? These could be acute bronchitis symptoms. Acupuncture and TCM herbs can provide an alternative bronchitis treatment to help relieve chest congestion and a chronic cough.

Bronchitis is a respiratory infection in which the bronchial tubes, or airways, become inflamed. It typically causes chest congestion, a wet cough, coughing up phlegm, and difficulty breathing. Acute bronchitis usually develops due to the same kinds of viral infections that cause the common cold or pneumonia.

Chronic bronchitis refers to long-term inflammation of the lungs and bronchial tubes that is not related to an infection. If a person has a cough with mucus that lasts for months, or happens year after year, it is considered chronic bronchitis. This can happen as a result of smoking, and/or exposure to air pollution.

Like emphysema, chronic bronchitis is considered a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). There are other lung conditions that can cause symptoms similar to those of bronchitis, including: asthma, sinusitis, whooping cough (pertussis) and tuberculosis.

Acute bronchitis usually clears up within a few weeks, but the persistent cough may linger. Antibiotics do not help treat viral infections, so the treatment for bronchitis is usually just to help suppress the cough and reduce aches and pains. 

TCM treatment with acupuncture and herbs can help relieve bronchitis symptoms without side effects. It can also help remove pathogens and blockages affecting the lungs, so that bronchitis doesn’t turn into a chronic, recurrent condition.

Bronchitis Symptoms

woman in bed coughing
Bronchitis cough may get worse when you lie down to sleep.

Acute bronchitis causes the airways of the lungs—the bronchial tubes—to swell, and the lungs to produce extra mucus. Coughing, with clear or yellowish phlegm, is the primary symptom of bronchitis.

The most commons symptoms of bronchitis include:

  • Cough, phlegmy cough, cough with mucus, productive cough, persistent cough
  • Chest soreness, tightness in chest, chest pain
  • Fatigue, feeling tired
  • Shortness of breath, trouble breathing, wheezing
  • Sore throat
  • Stuffy nose, runny nose
  • Body ache, headache, back pain, muscle pain
  • Low grade fever

Is bronchitis contagious? It is not so much bronchitis as a condition—that is, inflammation and congestion in the lungs—is contagious, as the virus or bacterial infection that caused bronchitis to develop is contagious for a period of time. The coughing may last for a while beyond the infectious period. Sleeping can be difficult, because the cough tends to worsen when a person lies down.

Bronchitis Treatment

When you seek treatment for acute bronchitis from a physician, it is generally treated in the same way as the common cold. Recommendations will include:

  • Rest
  • Increase fluid intake, drink more water
  • Take OTC pain relievers
  • Take expectorants or cough suppressants to manage coughing
  • Use a humidifier or sit in a steamy shower room to help relieve congestion

These remedies may help to temporarily relieve symptoms while a person gets over the infection. However, some of these medications can cause side effects, and they do not do much to help prevent bronchitis from coming back the next time a virus is going around.

Chronic bronchitis, as a COPD, is considered a chronic illness that must be managed, so as to slow its progression. Quitting smoking is the first recommendation. Then, bronchodilators, steroids, and/or antibiotics may be prescribed to help open the airways, reduce inflammation, and prevent recurrent infections.

These medical interventions, too, can come with significant side effects. Corticosteroids, in particular, if taken over a long period of time, can cause liver damage. 

Making a major lifestyle change, like getting rid of a nicotine addiction, is easier said than done. 

Fortunately, acupuncture and TCM herbs offer a complementary medicine to help relieve bronchitis symptoms, treat the deeper root causes, and also help with quitting smoking, if necessary.

Can Acupuncture Help Bronchitis?

acupuncture treatment for bronchitis
Acupuncture can help relieve bronchitis symptoms.

According to TCM theory, bronchitis is the result of pathogenic forces like Wind and Dampness affecting the lungs and other organs systems that are interrelated. An acupuncturist looks for the particular patterns of symptoms in each individual, and tailors acupuncture treatment and herbal supplements, according to which organ system patterns are involved. These may include:

  • Lung dampness
  • Lung deficiency
  • Lung dryness
  • Phlegm-heat obstructing lung
  • Wind invasion
  • Spleen Qi deficiency
  • Spleen/Kidney Yang deficiency
  • Qi and/or Yin deficiency

Multiple studies have shown that acupuncture treatment and herbal cough preparations can be even more effective than conventional medicines when helping to relieve post-infectious chronic coughing.
Studies have shown that acupuncture can help reduce bronchial inflammation and damage, relieve coughing and reduce phlegm production. It can also help boost immune function.

One study detailed how patients with chronic bronchitis, who had been taking steroids for years, were able to reduce or entirely stop their use of steroids after receiving acupuncture treatments for a few months.

Chinese herbs, used in combination, can help relieve bronchitis symptoms and work on other levels, too. They can help clear toxins from the tissues and promote regeneration of new, healthy tissue, and improve immunity, so that the next time a virus is going around, the body is better equipped to fight it off quickly.

Top 5 Tips for Getting Rid of Bronchitis Naturally

fresh ginger tea
Fresh ginger tea can help reduce inflammation.

Getting acupuncture treatment and specific herbs for your condition will be helpful. In addition, you can help strengthen your lung health by practicing these habits:

  1. Avoid dairy products, which increase mucus production
  2. Drink warm herbal teas, fresh ginger tea, and lemon water to help stay hydrated and thin phlegm. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which dehydrate you. Ginger helps reduce inflammation.
  3. Steam an asian pear until very soft, and eat like applesauce. This helps clear mucus.
  4. Breathing exercises can be helpful; ask your acupuncture practitioner to show you some good breathing techniques.
  5. Take Yin Qiao pills at the very first sign of a cough or sore throat. This is a traditional Chinese formulation that helps ward off colds and coughs if taken early. 

Acupuncture Near Me for Bronchitis in West Los Angeles

When a respiratory infection turns into a nagging cough, or worse, into chronic bronchitis that keeps coming back, year after year, it is important to seek treatment. With acupuncture and TCM herbs, it is possible to recover from a bronchial infection more quickly and comfortably. With regular acupuncture “tune-ups,” you can end the cycle of a chronic cough.

 

 

 

*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 Encephalitis With Acupuncture and TCM

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

encephalitis neck pain stiff
Neck pain or stiffness can be a sign of encephalitis.

Headache, sensitivity to light, stiff neck, short-term memory loss? These could be signs of encephalitis, or inflammation in the brain. Infectious encephalitis can happen due to an infection; autoimmune encephalitis (AIE) is a type of autoimmune disorder. Acupuncture and TCM offer an adjunct treatment for encephalitis recovery.

What is encephalitis? Encephalitis refers to a serious condition in which the tissues of the brain become inflamed. It can happen to anyone, but is more common among children and older people.

The symptoms of encephalitis are sometimes ignored, because headaches, neck pain, and “brain fog” are so common and may not seem that serious at first. However, in combination, these signs should not be taken lightly. Like meningitis (inflammation of the membrane surrounding the brain and spinal cord), encephalitis can cause serious complications if left untreated. Encephalitis needs to be caught early and treated in order for people to make a full recovery.

What causes encephalitis? Brain inflammation can be caused by the body’s immune response to an infection, or due to an autoimmune disorder, in which the body produces antibodies that attack the brain tissues. 

Top 10 Causes of Encephalitis

Viral infections are the primary reason that people develop encephalitis. These could be viruses carried by insects, especially mosquitoes, which are then contracted by humans through bites. Other communicable viral infections that pass from person to person through bodily fluids or close contact can also cause infectious encephalitis.

Infections that can lead to encephalitis include:

  1. Mosquito-borne viruses such as: West Nile Virus, Eastern Equine encephalitis, Western Equine encephalitis, St. Louis encephalitis, LaCrosse encephalitis
  2. Tick-borne viruses
  3. Rabies virus – can be contracted through being bitten by an infected animal
  4. Polio virus
  5. Herpes Simplex, Type 1 and Type 2 (HPV1 and HPV2)
  6. Epstein-Barr virus (mono, mononucleosis)
  7. Varicella Oster virus (chicken pox, shingles)
  8. Measles (rubeola)
  9. German measles (rubella)
  10. Mumps

There have been cases of people developing encephalitis as a complication of a COVID-19 infection.

Some cases of encephalitis can be caused by bacterial or fungal infections, or by a parasite. It could also be caused by exposure to some sort of allergen or toxin in the environment.

People with weakened immune systems—for example, due to HIV/AIDs—or who take immunosuppressant medications are at a higher risk for developing encephalitis.

Immunotherapy used to treat certain kinds of cancer, such as melanoma, ovarian cancer or lung cancer, has been shown to cause encephalitis in some cases.

Some cases of autoimmune encephalitis, called Anti-NMDAR encephalitis, appear to be related to a certain kind of tumor called a teteroma. In women and young women, especially, this can be an ovarian tumor that produces the antibodies for NMDAR.

Symptoms of Encephalitis

encephalitis in children
Children can develop encephalitis due to a viral or bacterial infection.

A mild case of encephalitis might only cause some flu-like symptoms that clear up within a few weeks. These types of symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Stiff neck, neck pain
  • Muscle aches, joint pain
  • Fever
  • Fatigue, feeling tired and weak
  • Sensitivity to light

More severe symptoms of encephalitis can affect both cognitive and motor function:

  • Mental confusion, brain fog, difficulty concentrating
  • Memory problems, short term memory loss
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Severe headache
  • Trouble with coordination or balance
  • Loss of sensations in parts of the body or face
  • Loss of muscle control in parts of the body or face
  • Problems with speaking or hearing
  • Mood swings, changes in personality

Anti-NMDAR encephalitis (when there may be an ovarian tumor involved, especially) can cause symptoms like pro-domal headache, nausea, and fever, which may then progress to more severe complications, including involuntary movements or tremors, urinary incontinence, rapid heartbeat, and psychiatric symptoms like anxiety, paranoia, or mania.

In severe cases, encephalitis can cause loss of consciousness and even cause a person to go into a coma. It is very important to seek urgent medical attention if you experience any of these symptoms.

Treatment for Encephalitis

encephalitis brain inflammation
Imaging may show inflammation in the brain.

Blood tests can confirm whether a viral or bacterial infection is causing encephalitis. Imaging tests like an MRI or CT scan may show the inflammation in the brain. A spinal tap may show an imbalance in cerebral fluids, or an EEG may show unusual electrical impulses in the brain.

However, there are times when these tests will not show exactly what is causing the encephalitis. As with many autoimmune disorders, it can be hard to pinpoint a clear diagnosis for autoimmune encephalitis (AIE).

Medical treatment for encephalitis will depend on what type it is determined to be. Mild inflammation will usually be treated with over the counter anti-inflammatory medications. Antivirals or antibiotics will be prescribed if a specific infection is found to be the cause. Steroids will often be used to help reduce inflammation. In more serious cases, a person may require breathing assistance or anti-seizure medications.

 In cases where the cause is believed to be an autoimmune response, immunotherapy is used to try to interfere with the antibodies that are attacking the brain tissues. Steroids will be usually used in combination with other treatments. Plasmapheresis, or plasma exchange, removes some of these antibodies from the blood. Intravenous immunoglobulin therapy introduces healthy antibodies to block the action of the malfunctioning antibodies.

In cases of anti-NMDAR encephalitis where a tumor is present, treatment will include the removal of the tumor in addition to immunotherapy. Patients with this type of encephalitis may also be prescribed antipsychotic drugs to relieve psychiatric symptoms.

Immunotherapy works for some patients, but not all. Many patients will be offered second-line treatments such as monoclonal antibodies or antimetabolites. In some cases, people may seem to recover from encephalitis for a while, and then have a relapse in which the inflammation flares up again.

Most people will need significant time and rehabilitation to help them make a full recovery from encephalitis. Some people will have long-lasting effects, such as memory problems, balance and coordination issues, speech problems, and emotional volatility. 

Many of the pharmaceutical treatments available for encephalitis cause significant side effects and can even lead to more physical, emotional and mental health issues. Fortunately, acupuncture and other TCM modalities offer a way to reduce inflammation in the brain and help relieve encephalitis, as well as helping to offset any side effects from other medical interventions.

Can Acupuncture Help Encephalitis?

Chinese herbs reduce inflammation
Chinese herbs can help reduce inflammation.

With acupuncture and Chinese herbs, we seek to treat the root cause and the various symptoms and complications of each condition according to recognizable patterns. This allows us to effectively treat some conditions, such as autoimmune diseases, neurological disorders, and inflammatory conditions that may not readily respond to conventional medicine. 

In the TCM view, inflammation occurs because there is too much heat in the body. Yang energy provides the “fire” we need to keep the body warm and energetic. But, if there is an imbalance, and too much heat, this leads to conditions like fever, infections, and inflammation. So, we see pathogenic internal heat as contributing to encephalitis, in addition to outside pathogens like viruses or bacteria. To clear heat that is trapped or stagnant in the body, we will use specific herbs and cooling foods, along with acupuncture treatment and lifestyle changes to reduce physical and mental stress. TCM herbs can also be highly effective against bacterial and viral infections.

The motor control and cognitive problems that can result from encephalitis occur because the inflammation in the brain is affecting the functioning of the central nervous system. With acupuncture, we can help to reestablish connections and neural pathways.

Autoimmune disorders are still not well understood by Western medicine, but with acupuncture we can help to balance and regulate the immune system, so that it is not being inappropriately triggered. This is why acupuncture works well as an adjunct treatment for encephalitis and many other autoimmune disorders.

Acupuncture Near Me for Encephalitis in Los Angeles and West Los Angeles

It can be very difficult when you or someone you love is facing a serious illness and a long, difficult recovery. TCM offers a healthcare option that treats each person in a highly individualized and caring way. At Art of Wellness, we have over 30 years of experience helping people gain back their strength and mobility after suffering from conditions like encephalitis, meningitis, Lyme disease, Guillain Barré Syndrome, Myasthenia Gravisand many others.




*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 Chronic Fatigue Syndrome With Acupuncture and TCM

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

 

chronic fatigue syndrome
When you have CFS, sleep doesn’t feel refreshing.

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), also known as myalgic encephalitis (ME/CFS), is a condition marked by extreme fatigue that doesn’t get better, even with rest, and gets worse with physical and mental exertion. Chronic fatigue is not well understood by medical science, but acupuncture and Chinese medicine for chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms can be an effective treatment option.

People with chronic fatigue syndrome are always tired, even after getting a normal amount of sleep, and the condition persists for weeks, months, or years. Other chronic fatigue symptoms include body aches, cognitive problems, vision problems, and emotional or mental health problems, like depression and anxiety.

If a person feels tired all the time, with no medical explanation, for six months or more, and has several other chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms like dizziness, difficulty concentrating, headaches, or sensitivity to light, then they might be diagnosed with CFS, or myalgic encephalitis (ME CFS).

By definition, a syndrome is a collection of symptoms that often appear together in combination, for which the exact explanation is unknown. Chronic fatigue has been considered a syndrome for some time, but has more recently been given the designation of a “disease;” hence, the newer term “myalgic encephalitis,” which refers to muscle pain and inflammation of the brain and spinal cord.

Chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms can be very similar to those of fibromyalgia. People with fibromyalgia also experience severe fatigue, but the primary symptoms of fibromyalgia are musculoskeletal pain that comes and goes all over, especially in “tender points” around the major muscles and joints, along with swelling and inflammation. It is possible to have both ME/CFS and fibromyalgia.

Women are much more likely to have chronic fatigue than men. MECFS can begin to appear at any stage of life, but most usually develops in adulthood. It is estimated that up to 90% of people who have chronic fatigue go undiagnosed.

ME/CFS is a serious and disabling condition that can interfere with even the most basic daily activities. People with chronic fatigue may be able to participate in some events where they exert themselves mentally and/or physically, but afterwards, they will feel completely wiped out and have to take time to recover, often confined to bed. This is called post-exertional malaise (PEM).

Top 10 Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Symptoms

ME CFS chronic fatigue
Dizziness and headaches can be signs of chronic fatigue.

The most common ME/CFS symptoms include:

  1. Fatigue, tired all the time, weakness
  2. Sensitivity to light
  3. Trouble concentrating, hard to focus, memory problems, confusion
  4. Dizziness, especially when getting up from lying down
  5. Headaches
  6. Muscle aches, body ache, muscle weakness, joint pain
  7. Enlarged lymph nodes in neck or armpit area, sore throat
  8. Tired after exercise or mental exertion (post-exertional malaise)
  9. Depression, mood swings, moodiness
  10. Insomnia, sleep problems 

Other signs of chronic fatigue syndrome may include: fever, abdominal pain, weight loss or weight gain, allergies, rash, rapid heart beat, and night sweats/hot flashes.

What Causes Chronic Fatigue?

The cause of ME/CFS is not known. Immune system dysfunction, the aftereffects of having a virus, and psychological factors have all been associated with the development of chronic fatigue.

Some people begin to have symptoms of chronic fatigue after having a viral infection, such as Epstein Barr, mononucleosis, or herpes.

While it does seem that some people who suffer from CFS also have immune system problems, chronic fatigue is not considered to be an autoimmune disorder in and of itself.  As with other conditions like lupus or fibromyalgia, CFS sometimes appears after a person has gone through some sort of emotional trauma or physical injury. 

Some people with chronic fatigue have hormone imbalances related to pituitary hormone, adrenal hormone, or hypothalamus hormones, but it is not understood how these might be related to their condition. Diabetes, anemia, or hypothyroidism can also create hormonal imbalances that can contribute to chronic fatigue.

In some cases, chronic fatigue could be due to a sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea or chronic insomnia. Long-standing mental health issues like depression, anxiety, or PTSD can interfere with sleep and hormone responses, contributing to the chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms.

Treatment for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Symptoms

tired all the time fatigue
Feeling exhausted after mental or physical activity is called post exertional malaise (PEM).

There is no clear treatment protocol within conventional Western medicine for ME/CFS. A doctor may diagnose myalgic encephalitis if they have ruled out other possibilities and then try to recommend medications or various types of therapy to help people deal with the symptoms of chronic fatigue.

Pain relievers or NSAIDs will often be the standard recommendation for handling ME/CFS related pain like headaches or muscles aches. 

Doctors may prescribe antidepressants as a way of helping patients cope with depression and anxiety related to chronic fatigue. However, these medications can sometimes cause side effects that will exacerbate the chronic fatigue rather than helping it.

Some doctors have tried treating CFS with antiviral medications, corticosteroids, or thyroid hormone medications. None of the pharmacological interventions that have been used to treat chronic fatigue syndrome have proved to be very effective.

Thus, many patients with ME/CFS consider turning to alternative medicine or complementary therapies to relieve CFS symptoms. Acupuncture is now widely recognized as an alternative therapy for chronic fatigue. 

Can Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Help Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Traditional Chinese medicine is well suited to treatment for ME/CFS. Overall, TCM philosophy pays close attention to the subtle balance of energy, known as Qi, within the body as a whole, as well as within the various organ systems. By observing the specific symptoms each person experiences as part of chronic fatigue syndrome, we can pinpoint which organ systems are deficient and need strengthening. 

Classic TCM patterns related to chronic fatigue diagnosis include:

  • Spleen Qi deficiency
  • Liver Qi stagnation
  • Kidney deficiency
  • Yin deficiency
  • Heat toxicity
  • Phlegm obstruction/dampness

Latent heat and dampness are sometimes the long-term effects of a viral infection or other illness, or a long period of emotional stress. These conditions originate from an external pathogenic factor, but then cause a series of imbalances which weaken the kidneys and other organs over time. Acupuncture treatment and herbs can help reduce inflammation and strengthen Qi.

A TCM doctor will choose acupuncture points and a combination of herbs that will help harmonize the affected systems. With herbs, we are able to get nutrients into the body beyond what you can do with foods alone. A balanced diet that cools heat and tonifies the organs will also be important for recovering strength and energy.

One controlled trial found that four weeks of acupuncture treatment led to improvements in CFS symptoms. 

A systematic review of studies regarding acupuncture treatment for ME CFS showed a reduction in the severity of fatigue.

A study using acupuncture and moxibustion treatment for CFS showed a 90% effective rate, with half of the patients feeling that their CFS was “cured.”

Another study involving acupuncture and moxibustion found that the moxa treatment in particular became more and more effective as treatment sessions continued past the 10th treatment. Moxibustion was shown to have an effect on the vagus nerve, which controls the parasympathetic nervous system.

How long it takes to get results from acupuncture treatment for chronic fatigue will vary from person to person, depending on how long the person has been experiencing CFS, and how deeply the organ systems are affected. TCM treatment has a cumulative effect which strengthens over time and several sessions.

Acupuncture Near Me for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) in the Los Angeles Area

ME CFS is far more common than statistics show, because many people suffer in silence and invisibility. Now, many people are struggling with chronic fatigue after having COVID-19. TCM modalities like acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and moxibustion, can help relieve fatigue, depression, mental fogginess, poor sleep, and other symptoms of CFS. If you or someone you love has been feeling exhausted for months without improvement, it may be time to consider trying acupuncture for chronic fatigue.



*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 Emphysema With Acupuncture and TCM

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

smoking emphysema
Smoking is the number one cause of emphysema.

Pulmonary emphysema is a kind of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) that causes coughing and wheezing. Symptoms of emphysema are similar to those of chronic bronchitis and pneumonia. Acupuncture treatment and TCM herbs can help relieve emphysema symptoms and other COPD symptoms.

COPD refers to a group of progressive lung diseases, where damage to the lungs causes serious breathing problems and a chronic cough. Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are both considered COPDs, and it is possible to have both of these conditions at the same time.

Bronchitis is when there is inflammation in the bronchial tubes that bring airflow into the lungs, so they get swollen and have too much mucus buildup. Emphysema is what happens when there is damage to the alveoli, the small air sacs that make up the bottom part of the lungs. This makes it difficult to draw a full breath and get enough oxygen into your bloodstream.

Smoking is the primary thing that causes emphysema. Exposure to toxic chemicals or air pollution, repeated respiratory infections, or a genetic predisposition could also be causes of emphysema. 

The number one thing people can do to prevent or help emphysema is to quit smoking. Acupuncture treatment can help people overcome nicotine addiction.

Acupuncture and other TCM treatment can also help to clear the lungs, reduce inflammation and shortness of breath, and improve quality of life for people suffering from emphysema and other types of COPD.

Top 10 Symptoms of Emphysema

smoker
A persistent cough can be a sign of emphysema.

In many cases, people do not realize that they have emphysema; they may only be feeling some fatigue and shortness of breath and not take much notice. By the time symptoms have become severe enough that they seek medical help, they may have already suffered a lot of lung damage.

Emphysema symptoms are similar to those of bronchitis; although, with acute bronchitis, there may also be chills and fever, and a sense of tightness in the chest. 

The most common symptoms of emphysema include:

  1. Chronic cough, coughing up phlegm, cough with mucus, smoker’s cough, persistent cough
  2. Shortness of breath, especially with activity or exercise (dyspnea)
  3. Rapid breathing, breathing fast
  4. Wheezing
  5. Sputum, mucus, mucous, phlegm
  6. Fatigue, chronic fatigue
  7. Sleep problems, trouble sleeping, insomnia
  8. Heart problems
  9. Depression, anxiety
  10. Weight loss

Other signs of emphysema or COPD include: blue fingernails or lips, enlarged glands, broken capillaries under the skin, enlarged veins around the neck, enlargement of the chest or rib cage (emphysema barrel chest), and repeated respiratory infections.

 

4 Stages of COPD

As a COPD, emphysema is a progressive lung disease. Sometimes symptoms worsen and breathing becomes more difficult over a short period of time; this is known as an “emphysema exacerbation.” As a person’s respiratory function decreases, they are said to enter the later stages of COPD. Interventions and treatments may help to slow COPD progression.

Emphysema can greatly increase the risk of a person having heart problems, due to extra pressure on the blood vessels around the heart. It can also eventually lead to there being actual holes in the lung tissues, or a collapsed lung (pneumothorax).

Medical Treatment for Emphysema

emphysema, COPD, lung damage
Imaging may show damage to the lungs due to COPD/emphysema.

In order to diagnose emphysema, doctors may look at X-ray or CT scans imaging to see damage to the lungs. Blood tests and other lung function tests like spirometry may show the level of oxygen in your bloodstream.

Medical science has no cure for the lung damage caused by emphysema. Bronchodilators or inhaled corticosteroids may be prescribed, which can help open airways and reduce shortness of breath. Antibiotics may be used to keep infections like the flu or pneumonia at bay. If emphysema gets to a severe stage, some people may need supplemental oxygen. Some patients may be able to have a major surgery, such as lung volume reduction (removal of damaged lung tissue) or a lung transplant.

TCM modalities like acupuncture and herbal medicine can help relieve shortness of breath and coughing, improving quality of life, while staving off further decline in lung function. Acupuncture, herbs, and moxibustion can be used effectively as adjuncts to regular medical treatments for emphysema.

Can Acupuncture Help Emphysema?

moxibustion TCM treatment
Moxibustion may be a part of TCM treatment for emphysema.

According to TCM theory, emphysema is considered to be caused by Lung deficiency, which can lead to “fei zhang,” distension of the lungs, and/or “chuan zheng,” which means “panting.” TCM can help COPD in several ways: by clearing lung congestion and opening the bronchial airways, helping to boost immune function so that a person can better avoid infections, and providing more nutrient-rich blood flow to the whole body.

One study found that COPD patients who were given acupuncture treatment had improved breathing when doing a six minute walk.

A systematic review comparing TCM treatment and convention treatment for COPD showed that acupuncture, acupressure massage, and moxibustion were all effective interventions and concluded that TCM works well as a complementary medicine/adjunct therapy for COPD.

Many Chinese herbs and herbal formulations are useful for helping to dissolve phlegm and reduce inflammation of lung tissues. TCM herbal preparations can help reduce phlegm and clear heat, relieve inflammation of airways and improve lung function.

Nutrition is also very important for patients with emphysema, who may suffer weight loss due to lack of proper nutrients in the bloodstream. An acupuncture practitioner will work with each individual to determine what kind of food program will help to reduce inflammation and provide adequate nourishment for the organ systems.

Acupuncture Near Me for Emphysema COPD in Los Angeles

TCM is a good way to help people breathe easier, whether they are suffering from allergies, asthma, pneumonia, Cystic Fibrosis, the common cold or a sore throat, or COPDs like bronchitis and emphysema. If you or someone one you love needs to quit smoking, or has been exposed to chemical pollution through their work, acupuncture can help to detoxify and strengthen the lungs.



*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 Myasthenia Gravis With Acupuncture and TCM

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

myasthenia Gravis trouble breathing
Myasthenia gravis can cause trouble breathing.

Muscle weakness around the eyes, drooping eyelids (ptosis), double vision, blurred vision (diplopia), impaired speech? These are potential signs of Myasthenia Gravis, an autoimmune disorder that affects the voluntary neuromuscular system, especially around the eyes, mouth, and throat, and the limbs. Acupuncture and TCM offer an adjunct treatment for Myasthenia Gravis symptoms.

As with some other autoimmune diseases, Myasthenia Gravis causes antibodies produced by the body’s own immune system to attack healthy cells instead of pathogens. In the case of Myasthenia Gravis, the immune cells attack receptors on certain groups of muscles, which blocks chemicals required to stimulate voluntary muscular contractions.

A person can develop Myasthenia Gravis at any age, but the disorder is twice as prevalent among women between 20 and 40. Myasthenia is a chronic condition that cannot be completely cured. However, the symptoms can often be controlled with medications and/or other types of treatment for myasthenia gravis.

Many people with Myasthenia Gravis are able to improve their muscular strength with the right combination of treatments and maintain their normal activities. Acupuncture and other TCM modalities can be used as an adjunct therapy to improve quality of life and keep functionality strong, helping to control this autoimmune disorder.

What Causes Myasthenia Gravis?

Our voluntary muscular movements rely on the ability of our muscles to receive communications through the nervous system. There are various neurotransmitters that interact with receptors on the muscles and the proteins that make up the chemical connections between nerves and muscles. Some people with Myasthenia Gravis seem to have antibodies that are damaging or destroying these key receptors and/or proteins. Other people with Myasthenia Gravis, however, do not show unusual antibody activity (seronegative myasthenia gravis or antibody-negative myasthenia gravis), but doctors believe they must still be experiencing some form of autoimmune dysfunction affecting the nerves and muscles.

The thymus gland plays a part in immune function and is believed to play a role in the production of these antibodies that block receptors. Some people with Myasthenia Gravis had an enlarged thymus gland, or a tumor or tumors on the thymus gland.

In rare cases, a baby may be born with a form of congenital Myasthenia gravis; this is called congenital myasthenic syndrome. 

People with Myasthenia Gravis may also have problems with their thyroid gland, and may be more likely to show signs of other autoimmune disorders, like rheumatoid arthritis, or lupus.

Symptoms of Myasthenia Gravis 

myasthenia gravis muscle weakness
Myasthenia Gravis can cause muscle weakness in the arms and hands.

More than half of people who end up discovering that they have Myasthenia Gravis first present with eye problems, such as double vision, blurry vision, or droopy eyelids. But the signs can also show up in the throat, with trouble swallowing, or in the mouth area, with trouble forming words, chewing food, or even breathing.

Signs of myasthenia gravis include:

  • Weakness of the muscles around the eyes (ocular myasthenia)
  • Drooping eyelids (ptosis)
  • Double vision or blurred vision (diplopia)
  • Speech problems, impaired speech (dysarthria), trouble pronouncing words
  • Shortness of breath
  • Change in facial expressions
  • Muscular weakness in the neck, arms, hands, or legs
  • Difficulty holding up the head, neck problems
  • Fatigue, especially muscle fatigue

Symptoms of Myasthenia Gravis often seem to abate in the early part of the day, after a night’s rest, and then worse as the day goes on, and a person has been more active. In other words, the muscle weakness tends to improve with rest, and get worse with exertion.

Like some other autoimmune disorders, Myasthenia Gravis symptoms can come and go, sometimes flaring up and at other times going into remission. Some issues that can exacerbate symptoms might be:

  • Infection or illness
  • stress
  • Fatigue, overwork, not enough sleep
  • Surgery
  • Menstrual period
  • Pregnancy
  • Certain medications, including some antibiotics, anesthetics, or beta blockers

The most serious form of Myasthenia Gravis occurs if the muscles that control the breathing apparatus become so weak and fatigued that a person cannot breathe; this is a medical emergency called a “myasthenia crisis,” and requires immediate medical intervention.

Myasthenia Gravis Treatment

eyelid droop drooping eye
Drooping eyelids are a sign of Myasthenia Gravis

It can be a difficult process being definitely diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis. Problems with balance, coordination, reflexes, and muscle strength may show up in a neurological exam, but they do not prove definitively what is going on. When the eyelids are drooping, doctors will often perform a test where they ice the area for two minutes to see if this improves the problem. A blood test may show a higher than normal level of antibodies of the type that affect the muscle receptors or proteins. A CT or MRI may reveal a tumor on the thymus.

Other conditions that may appear similar to Myasthenia Gravis include ALS and botulism.

Doctors will prescribe different medications to treat Myasthenia Gravis, either alone, or in combination, depending on the severity and type of symptoms. Corticosteroids and immunosuppressants can reduce the production of antibodies. Plasmapheresis can remove some of the overload of antibodies already in the system. Intravenous immunoglobulin introduces healthy antibodies that can cancel out the malfunctioning ones. Cholinesterase inhibitors can help boost the communication between the nervous system and the muscles. Unfortunately, all of these medications can come with side effects.

Surgical removal of the thymus gland if there is a tumor, or even in some cases when there is no tumor but the gland is believed to be a contributing factor, may help relieve the condition.

Acupuncture and TCM, when used as an adjunct, can help alleviate symptoms of the disorder itself, and help mitigate the side effects of other treatments.

Can TCM Herbs and Acupuncture Help Myasthenia Gravis?

Myasthenia Gravis causes miscommunications between the nervous system and the muscles. Acupuncture treatment can be beneficial for many different types of neurological, musculoskeletal, and autoimmune disorders because it has a positive impact on the communications between the various systems of the body. 

TCM treatment with an experienced acupuncturist can be very helpful for patients with Myasthenia Gravis, as we take all aspects of your health into consideration while also focusing on the symptoms related specifically to this autoimmune condition. For example, acupuncture can help with sleep, feelings of anxiety and depression, problems with appetite and digestion, as well as with the muscular weakness associated with Myasthenia Gravis.

One study tested the effects of acupuncture treatment on ocular myasthenia, or eye-related symptoms. Over 90% of the patients treated experience significant improvement in their symptoms.

Chinese herb preparations used in addition to Western conventional medicines can help patients with Myasthenia Gravis. A study compared two groups of patients: one treated with corticosteroids (Prednisone), and one treated with both Prednisone and Chinese herbs. After three months, the patients given herbs showed more improvement, and were able to reduce the amount of corticosteroids needed.

A review of several studies done in China of acupuncture treatment used as complementary treatment for Myasthenia Gravis concluded that patients who had acupuncture reported better clinical outcomes than people who only received the standard pharmaceutical treatments.

While it may be challenging, it is good to include physical activity and even muscular strength training, as it is possible for patients to help overcome muscle weakness with regular exercise. Your TCM practitioner can help you follow an appropriate nutrition and movement program.

Acupuncture Near Me for Myasthenia Gravis in West Los Angeles

TCM is well-suited to help patients who suffer from both autoimmune disorders and neurological and muscular problems of all kinds because it works on multiple levels to help quiet pain signals while boosting communication signals between the different systems of the body. Dr. Tan and Dr. Cai have over 30 years of experience helping people recover from chronic illnesses like Myasthenia Gravis.

 

 

*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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