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Inflammation

How To Treat Baker’s Cyst With Acupuncture and TCM

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

 

knee pain Baker
Baker’s cyst may cause pain and swelling in the knee joint.

Swelling behind knee, lump behind knee, pain and swelling behind knee, knee stiffness? These can be Baker’s cyst symptoms. A Baker’s cyst in knee joint occurs when swelling in the knee forms a fluid-filled sac. Acupuncture treatment can help relieve Bakers cyst knee symptoms like knee pain and stiffness.

A Baker cyst, also known as a popliteal cyst, or synovial cyst, is a fluid-filled growth that develops in the back of the knee joint. In some cases, a Baker’s cyst causes knee pain, stiffness, and swelling; in other cases, there may be no Baker’s cyst signs and symptoms at all.

What causes Baker’s cyst? Usually, it is due to a knee injury, such as a cartilage tear, or arthritis in the knee joint. These types of problems cause inflammation in the knee, which can lead to the production of more synovial fluid than usual.

Synovial fluid is a thick, clear substance, similar to egg whites in consistency, that is present in the joints of the body to help lubricate their movements. It is produced by the synovium, a sort of bubble that surrounds joints like the knees, elbows, shoulders, and hips. 

When the synovium becomes swollen and inflamed, due to injury or overuse of the joint, it may produce excess synovial fluid. In the case of a Baker’s cyst, the synovial fluid can build up in the knee joint, and form a bump, lump, or growth in the back of the knee.

People who have a history of knee injury, osteoarthritis, or rheumatoid arthritis may be more prone to developing Baker’s cysts.

Bakers cyst treatment is usually only indicated if a person is experiencing significant pain or limitation of movement. Acupuncture treatment can provide an adjunct or alternative Baker’s cyst therapy to help promote healing and relieve Baker’s knee symptoms.

 

Top 5 Baker’s Cyst Symptoms

 

baker
Repetitive movements or sports injuries can sometimes lead to Baker’s cyst later on.
Photo by Jenny Hill on Unsplash

Many people have a baker’s cyst knee without realizing it. If there is no pain, a person may not notice the lump behind knee. 

 

Baker’s cyst signs and symptoms include:

 

  1. Knee pain, pain in the back of the knee
  2. Knee stiffness, stiff knee joint, especially when straightening the leg
  3. Swollen knee, swelling in knee joint
  4. Swelling goes away when knee is bent
  5. Pain and stiffness are worse after standing for a long time

 

More severe baker’s cyst symptoms could include redness and swelling, as the cyst gets larger. 

In some cases, a baker’s cyst can rupture. If this happens, there may be swelling, redness, and a warm sensation in the calf area. Rupture of a baker’s cyst could cause pain or numbness in the calf, lack of blood flow to the lower leg, as the ruptured cyst could trap a nerve or artery in the knee or lower leg.

In extreme cases, a ruptured Baker’s cyst could lead to compartment syndrome, which could cause intense pain, foot drop, edema in the lower leg, and possibly, even an inability to move the foot or toes. If you believe your Baker’s cyst has ruptured, you should seek emergency care.

While, in most cases, a Baker’s cyst will eventually go on on its own, it is best to get a diagnosis and discuss your options. Acupuncture and TCM offer treatment of Baker’s cysts that is non-invasive and can help improve healing and prevent regrowth of the cyst.

 

Baker’s Cyst Treatment

 

Baker’s cyst signs and symptoms can be similar to those of a blood clot, or even a tumor. So, while a doctor can often diagnose a Baker’s cyst simply by palpating the area, they may also order imaging tests to be sure.

In many cases, doctors will prescribe over the counter pain medications and allow time for the cyst to go away on its own. You may be advised to limit activities that might aggravate the knee inflammation. Resting and elevating the knee for a few weeks might be recommended.

In some cases, a doctor may give cortisone injections to reduce knee swelling, or perform needle aspiration to drain the fluid from the cyst.

Surgery is generally only suggested in situations in which the knee pain has become chronic and inflammation does not seem to be going away.

Unfortunately, these medical treatments for Baker’s cyst may help bring relief, but it is quite common for the Baker’s cyst to come back again. Acupuncture treatment is not only a good way to bring symptomatic relief, but can help prevent the recurrence of Baker’s cysts.

Acupuncture has long been considered an excellent modality for treating knee pain due to all types of conditions. TCM offers an adjunct  or alternative treatment for knee pain, without side effects that can come with pain medications or steroids.

 

Can Acupuncture Help Baker’s Cyst?

 

acupuncture for Baker
Acupuncture treatment for knee pain and swelling.

Acupuncture and TCM treatments with Chinese herb formulas have been used for centuries to treat knee injuries of all kinds. 

According to TCM theory, arthritis in the knee that causes pain and stiffness is caused by stagnation that blocks the smooth flow of blood and Qi (life force energy). Acupuncture and herbs are used to address the underlying causes of blockages.

Injuries like a torn meniscus in the knee, or damage to the cartilage of the knee are very common, and it is also common for a person who has suffered such an injury to develop a Baker’s cyst later on. Full healing of cartilage can be helped with specific herbs that bring more nutrients to the damaged tissues.

Once a pattern of inflammation has begun, it can be difficult to get the swelling to go away. Small movements can trigger the inflammatory response if the area is not fully healed, and if other lifestyle habits are also causing a person to be prone to inflammation.

Chinese medicine looks at the situation holistically, treating the situation with acupuncture treatment, cupping, herbs, and nutrition, so that overall inflammation is reduced, and swelling and pressure is reduced, as well.

Herbal patches that are applied topically may be used in addition to herbal teas taken internally, to help relieve knee pain and swelling.

Cupping can also be helpful for healing and prevention of Baker’s cysts. One study compared patients with a popliteal cysts who were treated with acupuncture and cupping to patients who were given injections of prednisone. Both groups had high rates of effectiveness in terms of relief from the cysts, but recurrence of Baker’s cyst was significantly lower in the group that received TCM treatment as opposed to steroids.

Acupuncture Near Me for Baker’s Cyst, Los Angeles, CA

 

If you or someone you know has been suffering from knee pain and stiffness, due to a knee injury, arthritis, or diagnosed with Baker’s cysts on knee, it is worth seeking help from an acupuncturist experienced in working with orthopedic injuries, like Dr. Tan at Art of Wellness in West Los Angeles. TCM treatment for Baker’s cyst and other problems with the knee joint can not only help to relieve pain and increase range of movement; it can help prevent knee pain from coming back in the future. 





*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 Sinusitis With Acupuncture and TCM

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

 

sinusitis, sinus pressure
Runny nose and sinus pain can be symptoms of sinusitis.

Stuffy nose, nasal congestion, sinus pressure or sinus headache? Lost your sense of smell? These could be sinusitis symptoms. Acute sinusitis is a sinus infection that can cause sinus pain, postnasal drip, and difficulty breathing. Acupuncture and TCM can help relieve sinus congestion and prevent chronic sinusitis.

The sinuses are four sets of hollow cavities inside the head (forehead, cheeks, and nose) that produce mucus and then allow it to drain through the nasal passageways. This process helps keep bacteria and allergens out of your nose. 

What causes sinusitis? Sinusitis occurs when a sinus infection causes the sinuses to become inflamed and not drain properly. This usually happens because of a viral infection, like the common cold, or a bacterial infection or fungal infection. A long-term candida infection can also contribute to the development of sinusitis.

Sinusitis can seem similar to rhinitis, also known as allergic rhinitis. Rhinitis refers to swelling and inflammation inside the nose, and can also cause symptoms like nasal congestion. The difference is that rhinitis is brought on by an allergic reaction—commonly “hay fever,” or seasonal allergies—instead of an infection, and rhinitis is centered in the nasal passages, rather than the sinuses.

Factors like allergies, asthma, structural blockages, or weakened immune systems can elevate the risk of someone getting sinusitis. When the sinuses are blocked, bacteria and other pathogens can proliferate more easily.

Acute sinusitis usually clears up on its own in about 10 days, although getting acupuncture treatment and herbs can help bring relief sooner.

If sinus pain, stuffed up nose, and yellow-green mucus are still present after two weeks, it may mean that there is an infection that isn’t clearing up.

People are more at risk for developing sinusitis if they have:

About 14% of Americans are diagnosed with chronic sinusitis every year; it’s one of the most common reasons that people will be prescribed antibiotics. However, if the sinusitis is occurring due to a viral infection, antibiotics are not really helpful.

TCM modalities of acupuncture, herbs, and moxibustion can help relieve symptoms of sinusitis and sinus pain, as well as helping to address allergies, asthma, clear up infections, improve immune function, and reduce inflammation.

 

Chronic Sinusitis and Nasal Polyps

Sinus headache and face pain can be signs of nasal polyps and chronic sinusitis.
Sinus headache and face pain can be signs of nasal polyps and chronic sinusitis.

It is fairly common for people with chronic sinusitis to also have nasal polyps. Nasal polyps develop when the nasal tissue becomes swollen and inflamed to such a degree that fluid-filled sacs form. 

If a person also suffers from allergies, then exposure to an allergen can cause the nasal polyps to become inflamed to the point that they block the nasal passages, causing difficulty breathing. When a person can’t breathe through their nose at night, in particular, it can lead to snoring and even sleep apnea.

Chinese herbal formulations that have antibacterial and antifungal properties can help to relieve overproduction of mucus and prevent nasal polyps from coming back.

Acupuncture treatment can also help people breathe easier and sleep better, stop snoring and relieve sleep apnea.

 

Top 5 Sinusitis Symptoms 

Sinusitis typically begins with the usual symptoms of the common cold. Then, instead of clearing up after several days, the symptoms get worse. Symptoms of sinusitis include:

 

  1. Stuffy nose: thick, yellow, or greenish mucus causes a runny nose
  2. Postnasal drip: when mucus drips down the throat. Postnasal drip can be particularly uncomfortable at night, when you’re trying to sleep.
  3. Nasal Congestion: A blocked or stuffy nose makes it hard to breathe through the nasal passages.
  4. Sinus headache or Facial Pain: Pain, tenderness, and pressure around the eyes, cheeks, nose, or forehead, especially intensified when bending over.
  5. Loss of smell: Altered sense of smell.

Other signs of sinusitis may Include:

 

Sinusitis Treatment

Medical treatment to help relieve symptoms of sinusitis typically involves:

  • Regularly spraying saline nasal spray (or saltwater) into the nose helps rinse the nasal passages.
  • Corticosteroid nasal sprays, such as fluticasone and budesonide, prevent and treat swelling in the nasal passages.
  • Over-the-counter decongestants in liquid, tablet, or nasal spray can help relieve nasal congestion. However, nasal decongestants should be used for a limited time to avoid rebound congestion.
  • If sinusitis is allergy-related, allergy medicines can alleviate allergy symptoms.
  • Acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or aspirin may be recommended to manage face pain and sinus headaches.
  • Antibiotics: Since acute sinusitis is often viral, antibiotics, which target bacteria, may not be immediately prescribed. Providers may adopt a “wait and see” approach, reserving antibiotics for severe, worsening, or prolonged cases.

 

For cases of sinusitis linked to allergies, immunotherapy, commonly in the form of allergy shots, may be recommended. Immunotherapy aims to desensitize the immune system to specific allergens, potentially reducing sinusitis symptoms triggered by allergies.

Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can provide a safe alternative treatment for sinusitis, without the side effects that some of these medications can cause.

 

Can Acupuncture Help Sinusitis?

Acupuncture for sinusitis
Acupuncture points on the head can help relieve sinus headaches and nasal congestion.

TCM has been used for centuries to treat sinus conditions. An acupuncturist will carefully observe each individual patient’s symptoms and experience to determine whether warming or cooling herbs are necessary to help relieve sinus congestion and treat the underlying cause of the problem.

According to TCM theory, sinusitis can result from external factors of wind and cold, which can weaken the lungs, preventing the lung system from doing its job of protecting the body from infections. In TCM, we say that the spleen produces phlegm, and the lungs store phlegm. 

In some cases, it is necessary to nourish the Spleen Qi in order to address underlying causes of mucus buildup and improve immune system function.

Specific acupuncture points can be very helpful for relieving sinus pressure, sinus headaches, and other symptoms of sinusitis. A few examples include Shen Ting (“Spirit Court”), Yin Tang (“Hall of Impression”), Ying Xiang (“Welcome Fragrance”), and Zhanzu.

One study of patients with sinusitis treated with acupuncture showed a 60% reduction in sinus pain, and significantly improved air flow. 

Another study showed that patients who had already had surgery for nasal polyps who received Chinese herbs in addition to conventional medical treatment had better quality of life, with less symptoms of nasal discharge, difficulty breathing, and bad breath.

A review of studies pertaining to TCM treatment for chronic rhinitis concluded that acupuncture is indeed an effective alternative or adjunct treatment for symptomatic improvement.

A study that offered acupuncture treatment and herbal formulations to help relieve nasal polyps found that this method helped prevent the recurrence of polyps.

 

Acupuncture Near Me for Sinusitis

Sinusitis, nasal polyps, and rhinitis are common conditions that cause a lot of discomfort for millions of people every year. If you or someone in your family is prone to recurrent infections that cause sinus pain and pressure, it may be time to try alternative medicine to help address the underlying causes of sinus headache and a constant stuffy nose and postnasal drip.





*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 Sjogren’s Disease With Acupuncture and TCM

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

 

dry eyes Sjogren
Dry eyes can be a symptom of Sjogren’s disease.

Dry mouth? Dry eyes? Joint pain that flares up and then goes away? These can be Sjogren’s disease symptoms. Sjogren’s Syndrome is an autoimmune disease that causes damage to the glands that produce saliva and tears. Acupuncture and TCM provide an alternative Sjogren’s treatment to help relieve Sjogren’s syndrome symptoms.

Sjogren’s autoimmune disease is becoming more common, with an estimated four million Americans affected. 

Many people with Sjogren also have another autoimmune disorder, such as rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, or lupus. In these cases, it is called Secondary Sjogren’s syndrome. 

Anyone can develop Sjogren’s syndrome, but it is much more prevalent among women, and in people over the age of 40.

What causes Sjogren’s disease? As with most autoimmune diseases, medical research has not discovered the exact cause of Sjogren’s syndrome. The immune system, which normally works to get rid of bacteria or other pathogens, sometimes malfunctions and begins attacking healthy cells.

In the case of Sjogren’s, the immune system mistakenly attacks cells of the salivary glands and the glands that produce tears. When these glands become inflamed and/or damaged, they no longer produce enough fluid to keep the eyes and mouth lubricated.

Acupuncture treatment can be a safe and effective way to help relieve symptoms of dry mouth (also known as xerostomia), dry eyes, fatigue, and joint pain.

 

Top 10 Sjogren’s Syndrome Symptoms

dry mouth Sjogren
Dry mouth can also be a sign of Sjögren’s syndrome.

As with other autoimmune disorders, the symptoms of Sjogren’s disease can seem to come and go, or “flare up” periodically. A Sjogren’s flare is a sudden onset of symptoms that occurs when you’ve been feeling better for a while, and then something like work stress or doing too much can suddenly make you feel extreme fatigue and other symptoms.

The most common Sjogren’s Disease symptoms include:

  1. Dry mouth, dry throat, difficulty swallowing, “cotton mouth”
  2. Dry eyes, gritty eyes, burning, itchy eyes, sensitivity to light, blurred vision
  3. Joint pain, stiff joints, swollen joints
  4. Dry skin, skin rash
  5. Loss of taste, can’t taste, things taste different
  6. Dental cavities, oral thrush, oral yeast infections
  7. Mouth ulcers
  8. Dry cough, persistent cough
  9. Vaginal dryness
  10. Fatigue

Sometimes Sjogren’s can cause peripheral neuropathy, or tingling and numbness in the hands and feet. Some people may experience acid reflux, swollen glands, cognitive difficulties, like poor short term memory, shortness of breath, and trouble sleeping.

Less common but more serious complications of Sjogren’s disease can include a higher risk factor for getting pneumonia, kidney problems, and liver disease, like cirrhosis or hepatitis. In rare cases, people with Sjogren’s syndrome can develop lymphoma (cancer of the lymph nodes). 

Medical treatment for Sjogren’s Syndrome is mostly about managing symptoms, so that a person can live comfortably.

 

Sjogren’s Treatment

eye drops artificial tears dry eyes
Eye drops, or artificial tears, are usually recommended to help relieve dry eyes.

Managing Sjogren’s symptoms like dry eyes and joint pain is the primary aim of medical treatment for Sjogren’s.

Dryness is the most common symptom of Sjögren’s, and one of the primary approaches to managing dry eyes and dry mouth involves moisture replacement therapies. Artificial tears and lubricating eye drops help alleviate dry eyes, while saliva substitutes and frequent sips of water can provide relief for dry mouth.

Medications that stimulate saliva production, such as pilocarpine or cevimeline, may be prescribed. These drugs can help improve saliva flow, but they can also cause side effects, like dizziness and headaches

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be recommended to manage pain and inflammation associated with Sjögren’s syndrome. In more severe cases, corticosteroids, which act as anti-inflammatories, may be prescribed. However, long-term use of steroid medications does, in many cases, cause unwanted side effects, increasing the risk of developing problems like cataracts, osteoporosis, and problems with blood sugar.

Immunosuppressive medications, such as hydroxychloroquine or methotrexate, are often prescribed for autoimmune diseases, to dampen the immune response. These drugs aim to reduce inflammation and alleviate symptoms, particularly in cases where there are complications involving organs like the kidneys or liver.

In cases where joint pain and inflammation are present, disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) like methotrexate may be considered. These drugs work to modify the course of the disease and manage systemic symptoms.

Acupuncture and Chinese herbal supplements have been shown to work as an effective alternative or adjunct treatment for Sjogren’s disease.

 

Can Acupuncture Help Sjogren’s Syndrome?

acupuncture treatment
Acupuncture treatment can help relieve symptoms of Sjogren’s disease and improve immune function.

Many diseases and syndromes have a variety of possible symptoms, which show up differently in different people. In TCM, we recognize that sometimes people can have the same sort of disorder, but with different patterns of symptoms, which give us clues about what sort of internal imbalance is causing the disorder. Thus, an acupuncturist will create a unique treatment plan for each individual patient.

According to TCM theory, Sjogren’s disease symptoms can be related to Yin deficiency, and a pattern of dry heat. Acupuncture and herbs can help to nourish and strengthen Yin, and bring more moisture to the organ systems. 

In other cases, though, there may be dampness, stasis, or Qi deficiency. Herbs to strengthen the liver and help relieve depressed Qi may be used, and/or herbs to tonify the spleen, to help clear dampness.

One systematic review of clinical trials found that a Chinese herbal formula was superior to Hydroxychloroquine for helping to alleviate Sjogren’s symptoms.

A study comparing patients with Sjogren’s treated with hydroxychloroquine versus those who received acupuncture treatment and herbs found that the group who received TCM treatment for Sjogren’s had an 83% effective rate, versus a 60% effective rate among the people who took the immunosuppressant medication. This study measured saliva and tear production as well as immune system function.

It has been hypothesized that acupuncture treatment has a positive effect on the parasympathetic nervous system, helping promote relaxation and move patients out of a “fight or flight” mode, which, in turn, can help to restore natural salivation and improve appetite.

Another study found that Sjogren’s patients who received acupuncture to help dry eye symptoms reported that they were able to greatly reduce their use of artificial tears after receiving a course of acupuncture, and were still feeling these benefits several months after treatment.

 

Acupuncture Near Me for Sjogren’s Disease in Los Angeles, West L.A.

Acupuncture and TCM offer holistic treatment for Sogren’s syndrome and other autoimmune diseases. An experienced acupuncture provider can create a personalized health care plan for each patient that addresses their unique needs and situation. Dr. Tan and Dr. Cai at Art of Wellness in West Los Angeles have over 35 years of experience helping patients get relief from symptoms like joint pain and fatigue, and improving their quality of 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 Autoimmune Disorders With Acupuncture and TCM

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

 

autoimmune disorders
Many autoimmune diseases cause fatigue, brain fog, and joint pain.

Autoimmune disorders are on the rise, and they can be difficult to diagnose and treat. Acupuncture and TCM offer relief from autoimmune disease symptoms, while addressing the root of what might cause autoimmune disorders.

What is an autoimmune disease? The human immune system creates a variety of antibodies that are designed to fight off bacteria, viral infections, cancer cells, and toxins. An autoimmune disorder occurs when your body’s immune system malfunctions in some way and creates antibodies that attack healthy cells instead of dangerous ones. Different autoimmune disorders cause damage or dysfunction in different organs or systems of the body.


A recent study, based in the UK, looked at 19 prevalent autoimmune diseases and found that autoimmune disorders affect about one in ten people (13% of women and 7% of men).

Another study published in Arthritis and Rheumatology a few years ago, found that the most common biomarker of autoimmune disease—a high number of antinuclear antibodies (ANA)—has risen significantly across the US population, and particularly among certain groups, including adolescents, and people over 50. This study suggests that the chance of developing an autoimmune disorder is higher than ever.

Medical science has named over 80 different types of autoimmune diseases, but the understanding of what causes autoimmune disorders is still murky. Many people with autoimmune disorders go undiagnosed, and even when doctors are able to diagnose an autoimmune condition, there is no cure.

Autoimmune disorders do tend to run in families, which suggests that some people are more likely genetically disposed to develop an autoimmune disease. It is also common to have more than one autoimmune disorder concurrently. Having two or more autoimmune diseases is known as polyautoimmunity.

 

A few of the most common combinations of autoimmune disorders are:

  • Scleroderma, autoimmune thyroid disease, and/or rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
  • Myasthenia gravis and dermatitis herpetiformis
  • Addison’s disease and vitiligo

TCM has treated many of these autoimmune disorders for centuries, although we may categorize them differently. The TCM view is that most autoimmune diseases are rooted in imbalances and deficiencies in the organ systems. 

Stagnation of blood and Qi, and problems like excess heat and dampness in the body lead to inflammation, which is at the root of so many health problems. When systemic inflammation is reduced, the immune system can regain its proper functioning.

Acupuncture treatment is able to effect changes in the way cells are developing and functioning at the ectodermal and mesodermal layers. Acupuncture can stimulate the production of healthy cells, reduce inflammation, balance hormones, induce endorphin activity, and release peptides that improve immune function.

 

Top 20 Most Common Autoimmune Disorders 

These are the most common autoimmune diseases, not necessarily in order. Some autoimmune disorders have significantly increased in numbers in recent years, including Celiac disease, Sjogren’s syndrome, and Graves disease. Some autoimmune conditions, like Hashimoto’s and pernicious anemia, seem to have decreased in numbers. Some autoimmune conditions have seasonal variations; for example, vitiligo is more commonly diagnosed in summer.

  1. joint pain hand pain
    Swollen, stiff joints and painful swelling in limbs can be a symptom of lupus, RA, and other autoimmune disorders.

    Lupus – is an autoimmune disorder that disproportionately affects women and causes systemic inflammation, fatigue, swollen joints and limbs, and often a characteristic “butterfly rash” or “malar rash” across the face. Lupus flare-ups can be caused by stress or light exposure. According to TCM, lupus is often related to a build up of too much heat in the body, so acupuncture treatment for Lupus and herbal remedies will usually focus on removing blood stasis and clearing heat from the internal organs. TCM for Crohn’s can be used as an adjunct treatment, and may help people rely less on cortisone steroids to control inflammation.

  2. Crohn’s disease – is an autoimmune IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) that impacts the gastrointestinal tract, causing diarrhea, stomach pain, and bloody stool. Antibodies attack the gut bacteria that are normally a healthy part of digestion, causing inflammation and damage to the intestinal lining. Acupuncture treatment for Crohn’s disease can help reduce inflammation, repair tissues, and improve the balance of gut flora. It can also positively affect the parasympathetic nervous system that controls the action of the digestive tract, reducing stomach cramps and diarrhea.
  3. Rheumatoid Arthritis – an autoimmune disorder that causes joint pain and swelling, because antibodies attack the synovium, the soft tissue membranes that line joints. RA can also impact the blood vessels and cardiovascular system. RA can lead to bone loss over time, and people with RA are more prone to pneumonia and heart disease. TCM theory considers Rheumatoid arthritis to fall under the category of “Bi syndromes,” in which cold, wind and damp affect the body as pathogenic forces, causing blockages of Qi. Acupuncture can help reduce joint stiffness and pain.
  4. Graves disease – also known as hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid, Graves disease causes too much thyroid hormone to be produced, causing Graves disease symptoms like: goiter, enlarged thyroid, digestion problems, weight loss, tremors, sweating, insomnia, and infertility. Many people also have Graves ophthalmopathy, which causes bulging eyes, eye pressure, and blurred vision. TCM works to address yin deficiency and liver stagnation. Studies have shown that acupuncture and herbs can help balance the thyroid hormones.
  5. Multiple sclerosis (MS) – occurs when antibodies attack the myelin sheaths around nerves, leading to muscle weakness, numbness in limbs, dizziness, spasms, ataxia, or problems with balance, tremors, and trigeminal neuralgia (facial nerve pain). Acupuncture has been used to help relieve many of these symptoms of MS for hundreds of years, and can help improve and maintain motor skills.
  6. stomach pain
    Abdominal pain, stomach cramps, and gastrointestinal distress can be signs of Celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, or Ulcerative colitis.

    Celiac disease – is an autoimmune condition in which the body perceives dietary gluten to be a threat, triggering an immune response that creates inflammation and damage to the intestinal tract. Following a gluten free diet is important, and a TCM health practitioner is trained in nutrition to help patients make the necessary changes to ensure nourishment and prevent anemia. Acupuncture and herbs can also help repair intestinal tissues and bring down inflammation. 

  7. Myasthenia Gravis – causes antibodies to attack nervous system receptors in the muscles, especially of the face, causing the eyelids to droop and making it difficult for a person to perform some movements related to the eyes, mouth, and throat. Muscle weakness and communications between the nervous system and the muscles can be helped with acupuncture treatment, and patients may be able to regain strength and reduce steroid usage.
  8. Scleroderma – is an autoimmune disease in which the body is producing too much collagen. Scleroderma causes hardening and thickening of the skin, and can affect connective tissues like cartilage. In extreme cases, Scleroderma can cause scarring on internal organs. TCM diagnosis may determine that Scleroderma is happening due to blood stagnation, and Chinese herbs have been shown to help manage collagen production.
  9. Hashimoto’s Disease or Hashimoto thyroiditis – also known as hypothyroidism, chronic thyroiditis, or low thyroid, Hashimoto’s causes too little thyroid hormone to be produced. Hashimoto’s low thyroid symptoms include: swollen thyroid, fatigue, weight gain, brain fog, and depression. Acupuncture addresses weak kidney and liver qi, and helps to balance TSH and thyroid hormone levels.
  10. Pernicious Anemia –  is a specific type of autoimmune anemia that occurs when the intestinal lining is not able to absorb enough Vitamin B12. Aplastic anemia is another type of autoimmune anemia, in which antibodies are attacking the bone marrow, so it cannot produce enough blood cells. Acupuncture and TCM herbs can help boost blood deficiencies that cause anemia symptoms and help to repair the lining of the intestine to improve its function. 
  11. Addison’s disease – also known as adrenal insufficiency, or adrenal fatigue, is an autoimmune disease that attacks the adrenal cortex, so that the body does not make enough cortisol. Addison’s disease symptoms include: fatigue, dehydration, loss of appetite, salt cravings, dizziness, low blood pressure, and joint pain. TCM views Addison’s primarily as a kidney deficiency that can be treated with acupuncture, herbs, and moxibustion to support kidney function.
  12. Vitiligo – an autoimmune disorder that affects melanin, or skin pigmentation, causing white patches on skin, and hair turning gray or white, and can affect eye color and vision. Acupuncture treatment and herbal remedies can be used as an alternative treatment for vitiligo, or as an adjunct to conventional treatments like light therapy and steroid medications, to help with repigmentation of skin and to help treat vitiligo at its roots.
  13. Ehlers-Danlos syndrome – affects the way the body produces collagen, leading to a connective tissues disorder, which in some cases creates hypermobile joints, stretchy and/or thin skin, and bruising. There are many different presentations of EDS, affecting different parts of the body. Acupuncture and Tuina massage can improve muscle tone, help with healing and reduce pain. 
  14. Psoriasis – an autoimmune skin condition that causes too many skin cells to form, creating hard, scaly patches of skin, especially on the elbows and knees. As with many other autoimmune disorders, psoriasis tends to come and go; flare-ups can be triggered by a cut on the skin, an infection, or emotional stress. TCM theory says that psoriasis occurs due to pathogenic heat and dryness in the body; treatment will focus on strengthening lung Qi and clearing blood heat and stagnation.
  15. Autoimmune hepatitis – which has also been called plasma cell hepatitis or lupoid hepatitis, occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks liver cells, causing fatigue, abdominal pain, and joint pain. People who already have an autoimmune disease, including Type 1 diabetes, Celiac disease, or Graves disease, are more likely to develop autoimmune hepatitis. Acupuncture and herbs are excellent for helping to repair the liver and improve liver functioning.
  16. Dermatitis herpetiformis – also known as Dhuring’s disease, is a bumpy, blistered skin rash, similar in appearance to herpes sores or hives. This autoimmune skin condition is related to Celiac disease, flaring up when a person ingests gluten. Acupuncture helps to relieve inflammation and itchy skin and promote healing, while clearing heat and stagnation from the lungs, which are often connected to skin disorders.
  17. Ulcerative Colitis – is an IBD (inflammatory bowel disease), similar to Crohn’s disease, in which the immune system attacks the lining of the colon, causing sores and inflammation to develop, which leads to frequent diarrhea, abdominal pain, and bloating. TCM uses herbs and acupuncture to clear heat and dampness from the colon and promote healing of the intestinal tissues. Moxibustion can help relieve cramping and diarrhea.
  18. headache
    Severe headaches and brain fog can be signs of autoimmune encephalitis.

    Autoimmune Encephalitis (AIE) – causes inflammation of brain tissues, causing severe headaches, brain fog, and neck pain and stiffness. This condition can develop in response to an infection. Anti-NMDAR encephalitis can be related to a tumor called a teteroma. TCM treats the internal heat that leads to fevers, infections, and inflammation with cooling herbs, and helps reestablish connections throughout the central nervous system. 

  19. Type 1 Diabetes – is an autoimmune condition in which the cells of the pancreas do not function properly to produce insulin. About 5-10% of people with diabetes have this type. In TCM, diabetes is known as “Xiao Ke,” the wasting disease, and is believed to be due to too much heat and dampness accumulating in the organs. Acupuncture treatment can help improve pancreatic function and insulin production.
  20. Guillain-Barre syndrome – also known as “acute inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy” (AIDP), is an autoimmune and neurological condition in which antibodies attack the myelin sheaths that surround the nerves, causing muscular weakness, neuropathy and hypertension. A combination of acupuncture and moxibustion treatment can relieve nerve pain and help improve the strength and coordination of the muscles, while helping to encourage the growth and repair of nerves.

 

Can Acupuncture Help Autoimmune Disorders?

Inflammatory cytokines are part of the immune response that creates inflammation in the body as a way to get rid of invasive pathogens and promote healing when we are injured. When the immune system is not functioning properly, there is excess inflammation, and this is the root cause of many types of autoimmune disease.

Acupuncture treatment has been proven to have a positive biological effect on the production of these cytokines, and may also prevent immune system white blood cells called macrophages from turning into pro-inflammatory cells.

Other TCM modalities, like cupping, activate the immune system and help manage nitric oxide levels. Nitric oxide levels play a role in T-cell regulation, which affects inflammation of joints in patients with systemic lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

TCM treatment is a holistic way of treating autoimmune diseases that takes the whole person into consideration, treating physical symptoms of pain and stiffness, skin rashes, gastrointestinal distress, and more, while also helping to alleviate emotional and mental health problems like anxiety and depression. Acupuncture can also help improve cognitive function, memory problems, difficulty concentrating, and brain fog. 

 

Acupuncture Near Me for Autoimmune Disorders in Los Angeles and Santa Monica 

Autoimmune disorders require highly individualized treatment. If you or someone you know has an autoimmune disease, adding a highly experienced acupuncture practitioner to your healthcare team can make a big difference in your quality of life. 

Drs. Cai and Tan and Art of Wellness in West Los Angeles have over 35 years of experience helping treat autoimmune disorders of all kinds. They can bring a new perspective to your healthcare plan and help you find relief from many autoimmune disorder symptoms.




 

*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 Psoriasis With Acupuncture and TCM

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

 

Psoriasis often flares up on elbows or knees.
Psoriasis often flares up on elbows or knees.

Rash, scaly skin, itchy skin? These could be signs of psoriasis, a chronic skin condition that causes skin to form in thick, scaly, discolored patches, especially on the elbows and knees. Acupuncture and TCM treatment can help relieve psoriasis and address the root causes of this autoimmune skin disease. 

Autoimmune disorders stem from the body’s immune system malfunctioning. In the case of psoriasis, the body produces too many skin cells, forming thick scales, known as “plaques,” or  a bumpy rash

As with other conditions that involve skin rashes or other skin problems—like vitiligo, eczema, dermatitis, scleroderma, celiac disease, and lupus—psoriasis tends to flare up periodically, becoming worse for a few weeks or months at a time, and then improving. A psoriasis flare up happens because of widespread inflammation.

 

What Causes Psoriasis Flare Ups?

 

Getting a cut or burn on your skin can trigger a psoriasis flare up.

So can infections like a staph infection, strep infection, helicobacter pylori bacterial infection (which can also cause stomach ulcers), or chlamydia. 

Viral infections like HIV and hepatitis C can trigger psoriasis. Fungal infections like candida, or yeast infections, can also trigger a psoriasis flare up.

Psoriasis affects millions of people, of all ages. Psoriasis rash can cause intense itching (pruritus), so much so that it can affect a person’s ability to concentrate in daily life and can also have a negative impact on sound sleep.

Medical research has not yet discovered exactly what causes psoriasis, but it may be partly due to genetics and partly due to environmental factors. It is not uncommon for a person to have psoriasis and also have another autoimmune condition, such as lupus, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), multiple sclerosis (MS), or autoimmune thyroid disease.

Acupuncture and TCM are excellent modalities for helping to relieve the symptoms of skin conditions like psoriasis and many autoimmune disorders. Acupuncture and herbs can help relieve itchy rashes and also help to improve the functioning of the immune system. Acupuncture treatment can also help with the emotional and psychological toll of dealing with psoriasis.

Top 5 Types of Psoriasis

Plaque psoriasis is by far the most common type of psoriasis, accounting for about 80% of cases. Other types of psoriasis are more rare and can be very serious.

 

  1. Plaque psoriasis or Psoriasis vulgaris – the most common type of psoriasis; thick scales that are red or pink with a silvery coating on them. These patches, or plaques, can itch intensely. 
  2. Guttate psoriasis – small red or pink bumps that appear suddenly, covering the torso, arms, and/or legs. This condition sometimes clears up and does not return. In some cases, though, it can keep coming back, or later turn into plaque psoriasis. Guttate psoriasis may be triggered by infections, like strep throat.
  3. Pustular psoriasis – this is a rash of painful bumps that are filled with pus. Generalized pustular psoriasis is an extreme version of this condition, which can quickly cover the whole body and be accompanied by other symptoms like fever, headache, and muscle weakness. Generalized pustular psoriasis is a serious condition requiring medical care.
  4. Inverse psoriasis or Intertriginous psoriasis – develops in areas where skin folds upon itself, like armpits and around the genital area
  5. Erythrodermic psoriasis – usually develops as a more severe condition after a person has already been struggling with psoriasis. The skin becomes very red and appears to be burned. The person will feel very ill, with fever and chills and a rapid heart rate. Requires immediate medical attention.

Psoriasis is not only intensely uncomfortable, but the scaly skin can also have a significant impact on a person’s confidence in their appearance. These factors can mean that having psoriasis can have a negative effect on a person’s mental health and emotional health. 

Acupuncture, when used as an adjunct therapy for psoriasis and other autoimmune conditions can help address anxiety, depression, and mood disorders, as well as helping with physical symptoms.

 

Medical Treatments for Psoriasis

scaly rash psoriasis
Psoriasis causes a scaly, intensely itchy rash.

Conventional treatment for psoriasis aims to help slow down the overproduction of skin cells and relieve pain and itching.

Topical Medications for Psoriasis

Topical products are applied directly to the skin.

  • Corticosteroids: Frequently prescribed for mild to moderate psoriasis, available in various forms like oils, creams, lotions, etc.
  • Vitamin D Analogues: Synthetic forms of vitamin D that slow skin cell growth, used alone or with corticosteroids.
  • Retinoids: Available as gel or cream, they reduce skin cell growth and may cause skin irritation and sensitivity to light.
  • Calcineurin Inhibitors: Calm the rash and reduce scaly buildup, useful in areas of thin skin.
  • Salicylic Acid: Reduces scaling of scalp psoriasis and prepares the scalp to absorb medication more easily.
  • Coal Tar: Reduces scaling, itching, and inflammation, available in various forms like shampoo, soap, cream, and oil.

 

Oral or Injected Medications for Psoriasis

Systemic medications may work on the immune system or on skin cell production to help relieve psoriasis.

  • Steroids: Injection of triamcinolone into small, persistent psoriasis patches.
  • Retinoids: Pills to reduce skin cell production, not recommended during pregnancy.
  • Biologics: Injected drugs that alter the immune system to improve symptoms in moderate to severe psoriasis.
  • Methotrexate: Weekly oral dose to decrease skin cell production and suppress inflammation.
  • Cyclosporine: Oral calcineurin inhibitor for severe psoriasis.
  • Treatment approach based on needs and psoriasis severity.
  • Start with milder treatments and move on to stronger ones if necessary.
  • Pustular or erythrodermic psoriasis may require stronger systemic medications.

 

Phototherapy exposes the skin to ultraviolet light under a dermatologist’s supervision. UVB can help slow down cell production. Light therapy may use lamp units with bulbs, or a laser may be used to target very specific areas of affected skin.

 

Can Acupuncture Help Psoriasis?

 

acupuncture treatment
TCM can help many types of skin conditions and autoimmune disorders.

In TCM, elemental factors like heat, wind, dampness, dryness, and so on, are considered to act as pathogens, having a negative effect on bodily systems when they are either in excess or deficient. 

According to TCM theory, the root causes of psoriasis may be related to pathogenic factors of excessive heat and dryness. Heat, as a pathogen, can cause redness and itchy skin. Wind can cause dryness of the blood. These conditions in combination can lead to stagnant blood and a fiery heat building up. TCM classifications for diagnosis related to psoriasis would include:

  • Blood heat
  • Blood stasis
  • Blood dryness
  • Blood deficiency

An individual, depending on their specific presentation of skin rash and other symptoms, may be diagnosed with a combination of these factors.

In Chinese medicine, the skin and the lungs are connected, with the skin being the outward presentation of what is going on in the lungs. So, acupuncture treatment for psoriasis may focus on strengthening lung Qi. 

In other cases, the large intestine may be related; because of dryness, it may not be receiving enough fluid to be able to do the job of moving toxins out of the body.

In some cases, it may be that intense emotions are affecting the liver, causing blood stagnation due to stress. Liver Qi stagnation can cause overheating and for blood to “overflow” from vessels, causing red bumpy rashes.

Thus, herbal remedies and acupuncture treatment will often aim to clear heat, cool the blood, and improve circulation. Many herbs are helpful for this, as well as for helping to reduce inflammation and soothe dryness and itching.

Chinese medicine herbal preparations have been shown by modern scientific studies to inhibit immune-inflammatory reactions, regulate Th cells, and mediate the formation of skin lesions.

Review of scientific studies of TCM for psoriasis have shown that it can be effective for reducing the severity of skin lesions and help prevent recurrences of flare ups.

 

Acupuncture Near Me for Psoriasis in West Los Angeles

 

Psoriasis is a painful skin condition that requires special treatment. As an autoimmune condition, psoriasis needs to be addressed on a deeper level, as opposed to simply trying to relieve the itchy, scaly rash on the skin’s surface. TCM offers a holistic way of treating both skin diseases and autoimmune disorders that can bring deep relief. Consider seeking acupuncture as an adjunct treatment for psoriasis.



 



*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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