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How To Treat Addison’s Disease With Acupuncture and TCM

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

 

fatigue and nausea addison
Fatigue and nausea can be symptoms of Addison’s disease

Always tired? Craving salty foods? Thirsty all the time? Adrenal fatigue? Addison’s disease is a condition in which the adrenal glands do not produce enough cortisol. Acupuncture and TCM can help to balance the adrenal hormones and relieve adrenal insufficiency symptoms.

Addison’s, also known as adrenal insufficiency, happens because of damage to the adrenal glands. What do the adrenal glands do? The adrenals are small glands that are located just above the kidneys. They produce hormones, including cortisol and aldosterone. These hormones are important in metabolic functions, and are also a big part of our stress response.

Cortisol is released from the adrenal glands into the bloodstream, and it aids in the body’s use of macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Cortisol regulates blood pressure and blood sugar levels, and it also gives us an extra energy boost when we need it because of sudden and/or stressful circumstances.

In many cases, Addison’s disease is the result of an autoimmune disorder. In these cases, the immune system mistakenly attacks the adrenal cortex, the part of the adrenal glands that produce cortisol and aldosterone. 

In some parts of the world, tuberculosis infection is still common, and tuberculosis can lead to damage of the adrenal glands.

Other infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS, or fungal infections like histoplasmosis, can cause adrenal damage.

People with other autoimmune diseases may be more susceptible to developing Addison disorder, too. For example, Addison’s disease can happen concurrently with:

 

 

Some people may develop Addison’s disease in addition to having hypothyroidism or diabetes. 

 

Addison’s Disease Symptoms

 

extreme fatigue adrenal insufficiency
Adrenal insufficiency can cause extreme fatigue.

In the early stages, Addison’s disease symptoms may feel like a flu, causing fatigue, muscle weakness and joint pain. But as the illness progresses, these symptoms may become chronic.

 

Adrenal insufficiency symptoms include:

 

  1. Extreme fatigue
  2. Dehydration
  3. Loss of appetite 
  4. Unexplained weight loss
  5. Darkening of skin in areas, hyperpigmentation, darkening of gums
  6. Blue-black color to skin around mouth, nipples, or genitals
  7. Low blood pressure, hypoglycemia
  8. Dizziness
  9. Fainting, light-headedness
  10. Craving salt
  11. Abdominal pain
  12. Nausea, vomiting
  13. Diarrhea
  14. Joint pain
  15. Muscle pain
  16. Depression
  17. Irritability
  18. Loss of body hair
  19. Sexual problems
  20. Irregular periods, no menstrual periods, missed periods

 

Primary ovarian insufficiency (POI), has been found to be more common among those with Addison’s disease, with about 1 in 10 women with Addison’s going through early menopause (before 40).

In extreme situations, Addison’s sickness can lead to kidney failure, or going into shock. Early warning signs of adrenal crisis include nausea, fever, headache, and confusion. This sudden worsening of Addison’s disease is known as Adrenal crisis, and requires immediate medical attention.



Medical Treatment for Addison’s Disease

Accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment are crucial for individuals with Addison’s disease. 

A doctor will typically diagnose Addison’s disease through blood tests. These tests measure the levels of cortisol and aldosterone in the blood. Low levels of these hormones are indicative of adrenal insufficiency.

If blood tests suggest adrenal insufficiency, an ACTH stimulation test may be performed. In this test, synthetic adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) is administered, and cortisol levels in the blood are measured. Patients with Addison’s disease typically do not show a significant increase in cortisol after receiving ACTH.

The primary treatment for Addison’s disease involves hormone replacement therapy. Patients are prescribed synthetic cortisol (usually hydrocortisone or prednisone) to replace the insufficient natural cortisol production.

If aldosterone production is also insufficient, patients may be prescribed fludrocortisone to replace this hormone. This helps regulate salt and water balance in the body.

Dosage and frequency of cortisol replacement are adjusted to meet the specific needs of each patient. Patients often need to take multiple doses of medication daily to mimic the body’s natural cortisol rhythms.

These steroid medications can cause side effects like dizziness, nausea, and changes in the menstrual cycle.

Patients with Addison’s disease require ongoing medical supervision to monitor hormone levels, adjust medication as needed, and ensure that they are responding well to treatment.

Acupuncture offers an adjunct or alternative treatment for Addison’s disease that can help regulate hormones.

 

Can Acupuncture Help Addison’s Disease?

acupuncture adrenal support
Acupuncture can help balance hormones like cortisol.

According to TCM theory, the kidneys are responsible for storing and controlling not only Qi, but “essence,” which represents a person’s foundational life force energy. 

Addison’s disease, or adrenal insufficiency, is usually related to some variation of kidney deficiency according to TCM diagnosis.

Possible TCM diagnosis for Addison’s might be:

  • kidney qi deficiency
  • kidney yang deficiency
  • kidney yin deficiency
  • liver yin deficiency
  • spleen blood deficiency
  • spleen yang deficiency

By listening to a person’s range of symptoms, an acupuncturist will determine which pattern is emerging, and choose acupuncture points to bring energy and strength to the affected organs. 

Moxibustion treatment is also an excellent modality to help build up Kidney Qi and blood.

Chinese herbs can help nourish and support kidney Qi.

For some people, acupuncture treatment and herbal supplements can be a good alternative treatment for Addison’s disease. For others, TCM treatment for adrenal insufficiency can be used as an adjunct to conventional treatment, and help to alleviate side effects of steroids, like dizziness, nausea, or menstrual changes.

 

Acupuncture Near Me for Addison’s Disease in West Los Angeles

Acupuncture can help address autoimmune diseases that are difficult for conventional medicine to treat. TCM modalities, including moxibustion and herbs, can provide a holistic treatment that works on the root level, restoring proper function of the immune system, as well as helping to relieve all kinds of symptoms. 

Addison’s disease requires an individualized approach. Dr. Tan and Dr. Cai at Art of Wellness Acupuncture have over three decades of experience helping patients overcome all types of autoimmune disorders. Art of Wellness was recently named one of the top acupuncture practices in Los Angeles. Please do not hesitate to call us.



*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 Help Dependence on Hydrocodone and Other Opioid Pain Medication With Acupuncture and TCM

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

 

opioid pain medication dependence
Opioid pain medications can cause side effects and lead to dependence.

Many people are prescribed strong pain medication when they are in need of pain relief. Opioid drugs may help relieve pain, but they can also create a physical dependence as a person develops a tolerance for the painkillers. Acupuncture and TCM offer an alternative to opiate drugs  and opioids like Codeine and Vicodin for treating pain, and a way to help treat both opioid dependence and addiction.

We often hear in the news that the U.S. is facing an “opioid epidemic.” Recent statistics suggest that over ten million Americans may have an opioid use disorder. CDC data showed that over 75,000 people died from opioid overdoses in 2021.

Some of the most commonly used pain medications include:

  • Oxycodone (Oxycontin)
  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin)
  • Oxymorphone
  • Morphine
  • Methadone
  • Fentanyl
  • Codeine
  • Tramadol
  • Buprenorphine

Opioid medications are also known as “narcotics.” “Opiate” drugs are derived naturally from the poppy plant. These include: opium, codeine, and heroin. “Opioids” are synthetically produced in a lab. These include: oxycodone and fentanyl.

People are prescribed opioids or opiates to help them deal with severe pain, but the medications themselves can then become the primary cause of suffering in their lives. Roughly a quarter of people who are prescribed opioid pain medications end up misusing them.

Opioid misuse can mean different things, like: taking more than the prescribed dosage, using someone else’s medication, or continuing to take the medication even though it is having a negative impact on your health and life.

Dependence on opioids is different from addiction, and it is possible to experience drug dependence with or without also having a substance use disorder. 

When a person becomes dependent on a medication, it means that they require a certain dose of that substance in order to avoid withdrawal symptoms. This is why these medications are closely monitored by the prescribing medical doctor, so that the dosage is carefully controlled. A person may need to be slowly weaned off the medications when they are no longer necessary, so as to avoid withdrawal.

It is also possible for a person to develop an addiction to opioids, as they stimulate the release of endorphins, which help to block pain signals and produce positive feelings. When this process is repeated over and over, the body starts producing less endorphins naturally, and a higher dosage of the opioid medication is required to produce the same effect; this is what we mean by “tolerance” to the drug.

Addiction to opioids—or an opioid use disorder—is more likely the longer a person takes them—for example, for a chronic pain condition. Other factors, like depression or anxiety, high levels of stress at work or home, and use of other substances like tobacco and alcohol, can also play a role in addiction risk.

It can be difficult, even for doctors, to distinguish between physical dependence and addiction. Addiction is usually defined by “abuse” or “misuse.” When a person feels that they cannot live without the medication, though, there is clearly a problem. 

Acupuncture and TCM may play an important role in helping both individuals, and society as a whole, overcome dependence on opioid pain medications because it addresses the problem in several ways.

Top 10 Reasons Acupuncture Is a Good Alternative to Opioids for Pain Relief

acupuncture pain management
Acupuncture can help relieve pain.

Acupuncture has a natural analgesic effect and can help relieve severe pain and chronic pain, without negative side effects. 

  1. Acupuncture and other TCM modalities are an effective alternative for pain relief. 
  2. Acupuncture can be used to treat both acute pain and chronic pain.
  3. Acupuncture can help reduce the need for opioid-like medications after surgeries, by helping relieve postoperative pain.
  4. Acupuncture and herbs can help postoperative wounds heal more quickly.
  5. Acupuncture can help cancer patients by providing pain relief and additionally helping to relieve nausea and mitigating other side effects of cancer treatment.
  6. Acupuncture provides pain relief without negative side effects.
  7. Acupuncture can help individuals who are trying to stop taking opiates avoid withdrawal symptoms.
  8. Acupuncture can help alleviate cravings for addictive substances.
  9. Acupuncture helps to effect the release of endorphins naturally, which provides the same good feelings as drugs initially do.
  10. Acupuncture can be a more cost effective way to treat pain and addiction than other methods.

Treatment for Opioid Dependence

methadone opioid dependence
Acupuncture can help people reduce their need for pain medication.

Methadone Maintenance treatment (MMT) is widely used to treat opioid addiction or dependence. This method involves replacing the opioid drug with methadone, which is a synthetic opioid, so it acts on the same centers of the brain, which helps to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. This can help people wean themselves off of pain medications or heroin. However, there can be side effects, and MMT does not help everyone stop using or misusing opiates or prescription pain medications.

Long-term use of opioids can be detrimental to a person’s overall health, both mentally and physically. Hydrocodone side effects and oxycodone side effects can include: drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, constipation, irregular heartbeat, and increased risk of respiratory problems for people with asthma or COPDs like emphysema or chronic bronchitis.

Mental health issues and opioid misuse often go together. People who suffer from depression or anxiety are much more likely to use opioids to treat pain and then become emotionally dependent on them.

Overall, evidence suggests that pharmacological methods for treating opioid misuse are not very successful. TCM and acupuncture offer an alternative treatment for opioid dependence.

Can Acupuncture Help Relieve Pain Better Than Opioids?

While there is still much to be done in the way of scientific research to demonstrate exactly how acupuncture is able to effect changes in the body and help relieve pain, there is ample enough evidence to convince the medical community that acupuncture does, indeed, have a significant analgesic effect. For two decades now, the WHO has recommended acupuncture and TCM for many different pain conditions, including: 

Acupuncture may work so well to relieve pain because it appears to have an effect on the central nervous system and opioid peptide neurotransmitters, including endorphins. This means that acupuncture works on the opioid receptors in the brain.

One study of patients who were in methadone treatment for opioid dependence found that people who received acupuncture were able to reduce the amount of methadone they needed.

A study on patients who had lumbar spine surgery to help severe back pain showed that acupuncture worked well as a postoperative analgesic.

Acupuncture Near Me for Pain Management and Opioid Dependence in Los Angeles

It is absolutely necessary for so many people to find pain relief when they have an acute condition, or a chronic pain condition, or are in treatment for cancer or other serious illness. Serious pain causes mental anguish as well as physical limitations. Acupuncture and TCM offer an alternative treatment for pain management that helps not only to block pain, but also to relieve stress and anxiety. At Art of Wellness, we have over 30 years of experience helping people to manage pain safely and effectively.



 

*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 Claustrophobia Anxiety Disorder With Acupuncture and TCM

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

claustrophobia anxiety disorder panic attacks
Claustrophobia is an intense fear of enclosed spaces.

Claustrophobia is a specific kind of anxiety disorder in which fear of being in an enclosed space can bring on symptoms similar to those of panic attacks. Claustrophobic feelings like being anxious, hyperventilating, sweating, shaking, and rapid heartbeat can be eased with acupuncture and TCM.

Claustrophobia is actually quite common; at least 10% of people report experiencing some claustrophobic feelings. Women report having a fear of confined spaces more often than men do. Phobias are sometimes rooted in a childhood experience, but they can arise in anyone, at any age, and are considered mental health issues or psychiatric disorders.

Phobias are distinct from regular fears because of their intensity and, to some extent, irrational nature. Phobias are unreasonable fears; feeling very afraid, to the point of physical and emotional distress, of something that isn’t really happening. Claustrophobia becomes a serious mental health problem if it interferes with a person’s daily life or relationships.

Sometimes claustrophobia can get in the way of a person getting help for other health problems. For example, it may cause them to avoid undergoing an MRI. Some people might fear visiting a doctor’s office, which often means facing elevators, public restrooms, and other small rooms without windows. Some women report feeling claustrophobic during pregnancy, as if they are “trapped” inside their own bodies.

Other common triggers of claustrophobia include: airplanes, trains, tunnels, small cars, revolving doors, or amusement park rides with restraints. Even thoughts of having to be trapped in one of these situations can be enough to bring on symptoms of claustrophobia. Signs of claustrophobia can be similar to those of a panic attack.

Top 10 Symptoms of Claustrophobia:

  1. Sweating
  2. Shaking or trembling
  3. Trouble breathing
  4. Rapid heartbeat, fast heart rate, high blood pressure
  5. Tight feeling in chest, chest pain
  6. Flushed face, feeling hot
  7. Dizziness, feeling lightheaded or faint
  8. Ringing in ears, tinnitus
  9. Butterflies in stomach feeling, nausea, queasy feeling
  10. Numbness or tingling in parts of the body

Other signs of anxiety due to claustrophobia could include: dry mouth, difficulty swallowing, choking, chills, confusion, or disorientation. In addition to physical symptoms of panic, claustrophobia may cause a person to cry, yell, or to be overwhelmed by a desire to get out of a situation because they feel that they are in serious danger, even if it seems irrational.

Elevator claustrophobia
Elevators can trigger claustrophobic feelings.

Cleithrophobia is another type of anxiety disorder that is sometimes confused with claustrophobia. Cleithrophobia specifically refers to the fear of being trapped or confined with no way to escape. Claustrophobia is a fear of the small space itself. These two phobias can exist together. Either one could cause serious anticipatory anxiety, for example, if a person has to have an MRI.

Cleithrophobia is related to other “winter phobias,” which may include “cabin fever,” which is a sense that one is stuck inside, or a fear of being literally trapped in the ice or snow. Many people feel an extra sense of sadness or dread during the winter months; this kind of depression is known as SAD (seasonal affective disorder).

Over time, repeated panic attacks or bouts of intense anxiety brought on by claustrophobia can create long-term stress that is harmful to overall physical and mental health. Acupuncture and TCM offer an adjunct or alternative treatment for claustrophobia which can help reduce symptoms and offset the effects of stress.

What Causes Claustrophobia?

Phobias can be triggered by some event or experience in which a person felt endangered and was traumatized, similar to PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Like other mental health conditions, claustrophobia is influenced by brain chemistry. Imbalances in the neurotransmitters in the brain can cause some people to experience symptoms of anxiety or panic attacks even if nothing scary is really happening. Then, they may associate those physical and emotional feelings with a specific place or situation, which causes the anxiety to be triggered whenever they approach that place or even think of that situation.

People can perceive things differently. One research study suggested that people with claustrophobia may have a different perception of how near something, like a wall, is to them. In other words, they underestimate distances, or their sense of “personal space” is different from other people’s.

The amygdala is the part of the brain that processes incoming sensory information from the environment and signals the autonomous nervous system if it detects danger. This is essentially the neurological pathway of fear. Some research has suggested that people who experience panic disorders are more likely to have a smaller-than-average amygdala.

Treatment for Claustrophobia

MRI claustrophobia
Having an MRI can make people feel claustrophobic.

To be diagnosed with claustrophobia, a person will need to explain to their doctor that they have been having these intense feelings for a while and that they are having a negative impact on their lives. This could mean that they go out of their way to avoid certain places or situations. A mental health professional will try to determine whether these fears are normal, or could be attributed to some other condition. 

Some doctors may prescribe SSRIs like Zoloft or Lexapro, which influence serotonin levels in the brain, to help patients who are suffering from claustrophobia or anxiety. Often therapy is recommended to help patients learn to cope with their feelings. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and/or exposure therapy aim to retrain the mind and may help people learn to get used to being in a small space without feeling so anxious.

Psychiatric medications can have unwanted side effects and may create a sense of dependence. Some people will avoid therapy because it can be very confronting and become another source of fear.

Acupuncture and other TCM modalities, including herbs and movement techniques like Tai Chi, may offer an alternative solution for panic attacks due to claustrophobia, without side effects or having to work through the problem with uncomfortable talk therapy sessions.

Can Acupuncture Help Claustrophobia?

According to TCM, the organ systems closely associated with fear are those of the kidneys, liver, and heart. Kidney deficiency, in particular, can cause fear and mental disturbances. These types of mental disorders can also be related to imbalances in Yin and Yang energies, and blood deficiencies. An acupuncture practitioner’s approach to treatment for claustrophobia may, therefore, focus on strengthening and nourishing the kidneys, while soothing the liver and heart.

One study compared patients who knew they had claustrophobic feelings going into an MRI; some were treated with acupuncture based on TCM acupoints. Control groups patients were given sham acupuncture (not really the points that would correspond with TCM theory). They concluded that the real acupuncture treatment did offer a therapeutic effect for claustrophobia, with a 92% rate of effectiveness; meaning, the patients were able to remain calm during the MRI.

A case study of a woman who had experienced bouts of claustrophobic symptoms since her teenage years, including shortness of breath, trembling, sweating, and loss of motor control in her hands and feet. After six acupuncture treatment sessions, she reported much improvement: feeling calmer, no headaches, palpitations, or anxiety. Chinese herbs can also be used, in conjunction with acupuncture treatment, help a person overcome claustrophobia.

Acupressure Points for Claustrophobia

shen men ear point
Shen men ear point for anxiety relief

In between acupuncture sessions, you can use self-care acupressure to relieve claustrophobia. 

Shen Men is a Master point, located in the valley of the upper part of the ear. This is a classic point to help feelings of anxiety.

Shoujie, which is located on the palm of the hand between the metacarpals of the fourth and fifth fingers, along the topmost crease, helps relieve palpitations and dizziness.

Acupuncture for Claustrophobia Near Me in Los Angeles Area

TCM is an excellent way for people to find relief from mental health issues of all kinds, including depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and phobias. We will do all we can to make sure that you are comfortable in one of our larger treatment rooms with a window, and to make your acupuncture treatment experience relaxing and pain-free. If you or someone you know is finding that the thought of enclosed spaces is creating anxiety in day-to-day life, please do not hesitate to try acupuncture for claustrophobia.




*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 Detox With Acupuncture and TCM

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

herbal detox tea
Chinese herbs detox tea

Why is it important to do a detox or body cleanse periodically? When done with the right support from an acupuncturist near me, detoxing can help improve your digestion, immune function, fertility, and many other aspects of your health. Store bought colon cleanse products or a juice cleanse won’t really do the job, though. A detox program with acupuncture and Chinese herbs will do more to optimize your health than just a detox diet will.

When we recommend our Detox Program at Art of Wellness, we are not talking about fasting or detox drinks, like a master cleanse. The goal of our program is to detoxify the organ systems of the body: it’s a liver detox, kidney cleanse, lungs, heart, and spleen. This is a full body cleanse designed to give you a health reset. According to TCM philosophy, your body knows how to repair and renew itself, but it cannot do this job when it is congested and out of balance.

In TCM, we have a broad concept of what “toxins” are and how they can affect our bodies and our health. Toxic chemicals that come from our environment, such as food additives, pesticides, cleaning products, and beauty and hygiene products are certainly part of the problem. Drugs, medicines, alcohol, and unhealthy foods can also be toxic. So can behavioral habits, like sitting and looking at our screens and devices too long.

But our own bodies produce toxins, too. The waste products our organs create are “toxic,” and if they are held in the body too long without being adequately cleared out, they can negatively impact organ function. Imbalances in the system can cause conditions of excess heat or phlegm, which can lead to all kinds of problems with both your physical and mental health.

Stress, lack of sleep, and extreme emotions can also contribute to toxic conditions in the body and mind. When the organ systems are out of balance, the body is under constant pressure to keep functioning, but we do not feel our best.

Signs you need to detox include:

Inflammation is largely created by toxic conditions in the body, and most pain conditions and chronic illnesses stem, at least in part, from inflammation somewhere.

Why You Need a Liver Detox

tai qi qigong exercise detox
QiGong and Tai Qi exercises help with detox.

In conventional medicine, we think of the liver as being a sort of filter that removes toxins from the blood and helps metabolize fat. In TCM theory, we consider the liver to be the storehouse and distributor of blood; therefore, it also plays a crucial role in the menstrual cycle. The liver is also strongly connected to a person’s emotional life. 

Stress, lack of sleep, too much sugar, alcohol, fatty, fried foods, pharmaceutical medicines, and recreational drugs all tax the liver above and beyond what it needs to do just to keep the blood flowing to nourish the body. When too many demands are placed on the liver, it can cause all kinds of symptoms, including: fatigue, insomnia, and headaches. Feelings of anger, frustration, anxiety, and irritability may arise. Conversely, when a person is feeling bitter and resentful, and isn’t able to express it, those unresolved emotions may begin to cause trouble with liver function.

Just as the liver governs the blood, in TCM, the kidneys govern the water of the body, controlling elimination through the bladder, and maintaining blood pressure by keeping the right amount of water in the bloodstream. Signs that the kidneys are not balanced include: problems with blood pressure, edema, puffiness in the face or extremities, UTIs, chronic fatigue, and menopause symptoms, like dryness and hot flashes.

Detoxing the organ systems, including the liver and kidneys especially, can help rejuvenate the digestion and allow better nutrition to reach all parts of the body, as the quality and flow of blood and other bodily fluids will be improved.

Making sure that your excretory system is in good working order before starting a cleanse is important. If you are already having problems with constipation, for example, we will want to make sure we get things moving before we start cleansing the organs. Our detox also focuses on the body’s largest excretory organ: the skin.

Top 10 Reasons To Detox

detox herbs bath
Relax with detox herbs in your own bath.

It is a good idea for everyone to detox periodically; detoxing every six months is reasonable for most people. Sometimes we will specifically recommend a detox for a patient when they are struggling with a particular health problem, or if they are planning a pregnancy.

Detoxing can help:

  1. Boost Immunity – a cleanse will help get your lymphatic system, which produces and transports immune cells and removes waste from cells, moving, improving the efficacy of your immune system.
  2. Break Free From Addiction – if you are ready, a commitment to the detox program and food plan can help you end patterns of substance abuse, drug use, alcohol addiction, smoking, and other types of dependency.
  3. Infertility – We often advise people who come to Art of Wellness for fertility treatment to begin with the Detox Program. Not only will this help increase the chances of conception occurring, whether naturally or with the aid of ART, but it will also lay the foundation for your child’s health in the future.
  4. Improve sleep – This works both ways. In order for the body to do its routine daily work of removing toxic waste, it needs plenty of sleep. The Liver, in particular, is working hard through the night to clean and deliver fresh blood to the cells. Sleeping on your side enhances your body’s ability to do this work, allowing the internal organs to drain properly. When your body is functioning well, your sleep will be of better quality, more restful and refreshing.
  5. Improve skin and hair – Dull eyes and skin, dark circles or bags, puffiness, and thinning hair are signs of stagnant blood and Qi. Nutrients from the right foods and Chinese herbs help to nourish the skin, and clear heat, dampness, and dryness. When old cells are removed, hair and eyes can shine again. Acupuncture treatment can help stimulate collagen production, which also happens while you sleep.
  6. Weight loss – While our acupuncture detox is not about how to lose belly fat fast, many people will find that it gives them a good foundation for new eating habits. Detoxing the liver and kidneys will help your body metabolize fat better. 
  7. Balance hormones – severe PMS symptoms, bloated stomach and mood swings, perimenopause symptoms, infertility in women and infertility in men (oligospermia) can all be improved when hormone function improves. Acupuncture treatment can also help relieve conditions like PCOS, fibroids/leiomyoma, and endometriosis for women, and BPH in men.
  8. Reduce inflammation – many illnesses and pain conditions are inflammatory in nature. If you are suffering from pain due to plantar fasciitis, gout, rheumatoid arthritis, tennis elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome, shoulder or hip pain, acupuncture can help.
  9. Increased energy – better nutrition, better circulation, better sleep, and better organ function will all work synergistically to help you feel more energetic.
  10. Chronic illness – many chronic illnesses are rooted in toxic conditions within the body or exposure to toxins. Hard-to-treat conditions like autoimmune conditions and other systemic problems may be helped with alternative medicine when conventional medical treatments have not been successful. We treat many conditions with acupuncture and herbs, such as: lupus, lyme disease, celiac disease, fibromyalgia, and Crohn’s disease. We also provide support for people going through cancer treatment.

7 Steps of Detox Program With TCM Acupuncture and Herbs

cupping acupuncture detox
Cupping draws Qi and blood from deep inside the body.

Pain and dysfunction occur when there is imbalance and when there are areas of stagnation within the body. Think of the metaphor of a house that needs to be deep-cleaned; there are dark corners of the body that have been ignored for a while, where dust and cobwebs have gathered. The Detox program reaches into these pockets of stagnation, sweeps them clean, and makes sure they get some fresh air and sunlight shining on them, in the form of invigorated Qi and blood.

  1. Acupuncture Treatments – the primary goal of acupuncture treatments during the detox phase is to get Qi moving freely, remove blockages, and to assist in elimination of toxins from the body.
  2. Cupping Treatment – the TCM modality of cupping creates a vacuum-like suction that moves Qi and blood from the innermost parts of the body outwards. During the detox program, cupping helps to pull toxins out of the lungs and other organs.
  3. Detox Herbs – the Chinese herb detox tea helps to clear heat and toxins from the body and improve digestion and elimination.
  4. Foot Pad Detox – detox foot patches, worn as you sleep at night and removed in the morning, help to pull toxins and fatty deposits from the body. 
  5. Detox Bath – Sweating is an excellent way to remove toxins through the skin; this is why so many traditions rely on saunas and hot baths. Our herbal sachets allow you to enjoy a therapeutic herbal soak in your own bathtub.
  6. Exercise – Your acupuncturist will instruct you on how to practice daily exercises, based on QiGong movements, that will help to get Qi and blood moving.
  7. Nutrition – the food plan during the detox is based on whole grains, lean proteins, and plenty of vegetables, flooding your system with nutrients.

Detox Near Me Los Angeles, Westside

The beginning of the year, springtime, after recovery from a long illness, while preparing for a healthy pregnancy–anytime may be the right time for you to detoxify your system and get a fresh start. We recommend that you take the time to dedicate yourself to a week of cleansing with the Art of Wellness Detox Program at least twice a year for optimal health benefits.

 

 

*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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