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How to Treat Chronic Fatigue Syndrome With Acupuncture and TCM

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top 10 Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Symptoms

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

The most common ME/CFS symptoms include:

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

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

What Causes Chronic Fatigue?

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

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

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

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

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

Treatment for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Symptoms

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Help Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

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

Classic TCM patterns related to chronic fatigue diagnosis include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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



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How To Treat 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 Treat Huntington’s Disease With Acupuncture and TCM

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

 

Huntington
People with Huntington’s disease will begin to have trouble walking and holding objects.

Huntington’s disease is a rare genetic disorder that causes progressive neurodegenerative disease. A neurological disorder, Huntington’s causes damage to brain cells, which leads to physical symptoms like tremor, cognitive problems, and mental disorders, including feelings of depression.

Signs of Huntington’s disease (HD) can begin to show up at any time after age two, and in some cases, a child may develop juvenile Huntington’s disease. Most often, though, a person does not begin to have symptoms of Huntington’s disease until adulthood, usually when they are in their 30s or 40s. Huntington’s is a progressive disease in which symptoms become increasingly severe over time.

Medical science does not currently have a cure for Huntington’s, nor a treatment that will halt the progression of Huntington’s disease. Patients may receive treatment in the form of medications and physical therapy to help control physical symptoms like shaking hands and involuntary movements. They may also be prescribed psychiatric medications to try to help with depression and anxiety. 

Acupuncture and TCM can be an effective adjunct and alternative treatment for Huntington’s disease, helping to protect and stimulate the nervous system. TCM can also help address mental health and emotional disorders, like depression, anxiety, and mood swings.

Huntington’s Disease Symptoms

People with Huntington’s disease may start off having a variety of mild symptoms. Over time, the symptoms may change, with some coming or going, and some getting worse. Signs of Huntington’s disease can be related to involuntary movements of the body, cognitive decline that affects a person’s thinking processes, and psychiatric disorders that cause emotional upset. Some of the most common symptoms of Huntington’s disease include:

  • Uncontrollable movements: involuntary jerking of the limbs, or writhing, also known as chorea
  • Stiff limbs, muscle stiffness, neck stiffness
  • Tremor, shaky hands, difficulty holding things
  • Slow or unusual eye movements
  • Problems with balance or walking
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Speech problems, slurred speech
  • Having a hard time focusing on a a task
  • Having a hard time finding the right words or processing information
  • Getting completely caught up with a task or thought pattern
  • Impulsive behavior or emotional outbursts
  • Lack of awareness of how one is behaving or one’s own changing abilities
  • Feelings of apathy, sadness, depression, suicidal ideation
  • Manic behaviors or OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder)
  • Trouble sleeping, insomnia
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Weight loss

Symptoms of Huntington’s disease worsen gradually over time, until ultimately, a person will need assistance to move and eat.

What Are the 5 Stages of Huntington’s Disease?

Huntington’s is a progressive disorder of the brain that causes symptoms to increase in severity over the course of several years. The progression from experiencing mild symptoms to needing assistance due to disability could take 10 years, or a person might live another 30 years. 

Sometimes you will hear doctors refer to 3 stages of Huntington’s Disease, or the following 5 stages:

  1. Preclinical Stage – during this time, a person with Huntington’s may begin to notice mood swings, irritability, and other emotional and cognitive issues beginning to develop, but they have not yet been diagnosed with Huntington’s. 
  2. Early Stage – as physical symptoms like tremors and trouble with eating and sleeping begin to become more and more noticeable, a person will seek medical help and be diagnosed. At this point, they can still carry on with most normal activities without help.
  3. Middle Stage – during the middle stages of Huntington’s a person will begin to need assistance with things like driving and domestic tasks, as they may not be able to coordinate movements reliably or think through problems or take in new information.
  4. Late Stage – as Hungtington’s disease progresses further, a person may have memory loss, dementia, and changes in personality. They will likely be bedridden and need help with eating, possibly requiring a feeding tube because of trouble swallowing.
  5. End of Life Stage – there comes a point when a person with Huntington’s will need end of life care, either in a hospital or at home, when they will need to be as comfortable as possible. The most common cause of death with Huntington’s is pneumonia, which can happen when a person aspirates food particles into the lungs. 

How is Huntington’s Disease Inherited?

genes DNA Huntington
Huntington’s disease is caused by a genetic mutation in the DNA.

Huntington’s disease is a type of autosomal dominant disorder, which means that a person only needs to inherit one dominant gene from one parent in order to inherit this disorder. If a person has HD, there is a 50% chance that they will pass it on to a child. If a child of a person with HD does not inherit the gene, and therefore does not have HD, then that means they will not pass it on to their children. It is rare, but possible, for a person to be born with a new mutation in the specific gene, and so does not actually inherit HD from a parent.

Because HD typically does not begin to show up until close to middle age, some people who know that they may have the genetic mutation will have genetic testing for Huntington’s disease. This test will tell most people whether or not they will begin to develop Huntington’s symptoms as they age. However, there is a “gray area,” in which a person may have some of the mutated sequencing in their genetic makeup, but not enough to necessarily lead to the development of the disease. These people can still pass on the mutation to their children, and they may have a less severe form of Huntington’s, and/or not develop symptoms until later in life.

Can Acupuncture Help Huntington’s Disease?

Scientific research has been demonstrating more and more that acupuncture can help with many conditions by maintaining the health and connectivity of brain cells and nerve cells. Cells are constantly going through processes of generation and degeneration. The stimulation of certain acupoints has been shown to have a positive effect on these processes, which can be beneficial for people with neurological disorders like HD and Parkinson’s.

Even though we know that Huntington’s and Parkinson’s are specifically related to protein production, we also know that disease is not merely about one small, isolated thing happening in the body. We must take the whole person into account. Stress and many other factors also play a role in how a disease affects each individual. Acupuncture can be a helpful modality that reduces stress in the body and facilitates regeneration and protection of cells.

With TCM, we are able to address the physical, mental, and emotional aspects of Huntington’s disease all at the same time.

Chinese herbs have traditionally been used to help symptoms such as tremors, stiff limbs, muscle weakness, and slow movements. While from the medical point of view these problems are related to the nervous system, in TCM theory we also see them as being related to deficiencies in the kidney Qi, and excess wind. Therefore, herbs that help strengthen the Kidneys and dispel wind may be used in different combinations to treat conditions like Huntington’s disease.

Acupuncture treatment has been shown to help reduce tremors and shaky hands. One study showed that Chinese herbal preparations were effective at helping to reduce involuntary movements. Another study showed that herbs helped with the normal production of proteins and brain cell function.

Neurological Treatment With Acupuncture

Huntington
People with Huntington’s may struggle with depression and mood swings.

Acupuncture and TCM can help with many different kinds of neurodegenerative disorders, whether they are caused by genetics, autoimmune disease, or some other neurological problem.

Neurodegenerative diseases cause the degeneration and death of neurons, or brain cells that communicate with the nervous system. In that sense, Huntington’s disease bears some similarities to other neurodegenerative diseases like:

Many of these conditions can be helped with acupuncture, which is known to help improve the health of the brain, nerves, spinal cord, and the electrical impulses that create connectivity and functionality in the movements of the musculoskeletal system. TCM modalities can also help to relieve stress, improve sleep, boost cognitive function, and regulate mood swings.

Acupuncture Near Me for Huntington’s Disease, Los Angeles Area

Huntington’s disease is a progressive illness, and it becomes harder and harder for a person with HD to communicate what they are feeling. People with Huntington’s may experience both physical and emotional pain. Patients with Huntington’s need a caring team of healthcare providers who can help treat the disease, but also help their emotional and mental health. 

At Art of Wellness, we have over 30 years of experience helping people with neurodegenerative disorders feel more comfortable and live the fullest life possible.

 

 

*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 Mononucleosis With Acupuncture and TCM

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

mono Epstein Barr virus chronic fatigue
EBV can lead to mono and chronic fatigue.

Fatigue, fever, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, rash? These might be mono symptoms. Mononucleosis, often referred to as “mono,” is an illness caused by the Epstein Barr virus, also known as “EBV.” Epstein Barr is a very common contagious virus. An EBV infection sometimes leads to mononucleosis symptoms. Acupuncture and TCM herbs can help relieve mono symptoms in adults, teens, and children.

Mononucleosis is an infectious disease caused by the Epstein Barr virus. EBV is one of the family of herpes viral infections. Most people (over 90%) are infected with EBV at some time in their lives, but many aren’t aware of it.

How is mono contagious? Epstein Barr spreads through body fluids, especially saliva. This is why mononucleosis is sometimes called the “kissing disease.” You can catch EBV by sharing a cup or bottle, for example. It can also be spread through sexual contact, sharing needles, blood transfusions, or organ transplants.

The Epstein Barr virus can be present for several weeks before a person starts showing any mononucleosis symptoms. Often people will have the virus, but not show any Epstein Barr symptoms at all. During that time, they may be contagious and able to pass the virus to others.

Mono symptoms can take a while to develop, and may not be recognized right away as anything other than a simple cold or flu. For some people, especially children, EPV will cause a short-term illness that seems like a common cold. However, some people, especially teenagers and young adults, will develop mononucleosis, which causes serious fatigue and other symptoms.

Mono may clear up in a few weeks, but for some people it can drag on for months. Sometimes mononucleosis turns into a long-standing illness, causing extreme fatigue that just doesn’t seem to want to go away.

As with other viruses, like herpes simplex or varicella/chicken pox, which can later lead to shingles, EBV can stay in the body in a dormant state for a long time. Some people with weakened immune systems may have EBV reactivate and cause illness again, or cause them to be contagious to others again. 

It is now believed that reactivation of the Epstein Barr virus may be an underlying cause that contributes to some chronic autoimmune disorders, like ME/CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome), lupus, MS, celiac disease, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and hyperthyroidism.

There is really no specific medical mono treatment. Doctors and patients will usually treat it the same as they would a cold, recommending rest and over the counter medicines to reduce fever and pain while they wait it out.

Acupuncture and Chinese herbs offer a more comprehensive way to deal with the fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, and muscle aches associated with mononucleosis. TCM treatment can also boost the immune system so that an Epstein Barr viral infection doesn’t lead to more serious illness or autoimmune disorders later on.

Top 10 Mononucleosis Symptoms

mononucleosis fatigue
Mono can cause extreme fatigue.

Many people contract the Epstein Barr virus and are never aware of it, either because they experience no symptoms, or the symptoms are similar to those of a mild cold or flu. How do you know if you have mono? Mononucleosis symptoms develop differently in each individual, but the most common Epstein Barr symptoms include:

  1. Fatigue, extreme fatigue, tired all the time, exhausted, feeling weak
  2. Foggy head, difficulty concentrating
  3. Sore throat
  4. Swollen lymph nodes, swollen glands in the neck and armpits
  5. Fever, high fever
  6. Headaches
  7. Rash, skin rash, mono rash, viral rash 
  8. Loss of appetite, no appetite
  9. Muscle pain, joint pain
  10. Abdominal pain, swollen spleen, enlarged spleen, enlarged liver

Mono affects the liver and spleen, sometimes causing swelling, jaundice, and even a kind of temporary mono hepatitis. In rare cases, EBV can cause serious liver problems, leading to acute liver failure, and the need for a liver transplant.

EBV can also cause further complications, like swollen tonsils, anemia, low blood platelet count, and inflammation of the heart. Epstein Barr sometimes leads to other nervous system disorders, like: viral meningitis, encephalitis, and Guillain-Barre syndrome.

The TCM approach to Epstein Barr virus can provide a natural remedy for mononucleosis symptoms, and work to strengthen the immune system, as well as the liver and spleen.

Can Acupuncture Help Mono?

fatigue headaches mono
Mono headaches and chronic fatigue can drag on for months.

We now know that mononucleosis is caused by a specific viral infection. Most people get this virus, but relatively few people have a full-blown case of mononucleosis. Most people who do get mono have it when they are teenagers, or in college. Why do some people get mono and others don’t? It has to do with the immune system. People who have a weakened immune system are more likely to get mono, and more likely to have mono for a long time. In some cases, the virus takes a deep hold in the body, and can be triggered again some time later, causing more illness. 

Acupuncture and TCM healing modalities can work well for diseases that can be hard to treat with conventional medicine. Chinese herbs and acupuncture treatment can help address the specific cold and flu-like symptoms of mono, like sore throat, fever, headache, muscle ache, headaches, and skin rash. Acupuncture treatment can also help to restore normal function of the spleen and liver. Finally, acupuncture treatment can be used as an ongoing preventive care to build up the immune system. 

This means also taking steps to address mental and emotional well-being. It is now understood that autoimmune disorders can be triggered by life stress, mental health disorders like anxiety or depression, or post-traumatic stress. This means, if a person has had EBV, has weakened immunity, and then goes through some difficult period, event, loss, or illness, they may have an increased chance of developing an autoimmune disorder, like chronic fatigue. 

By taking a proactive attitude in addressing Epstein Barr and mononucleosis, and working holistically to address underlying problems with the immune system, TCM herbs and acupuncture treatment can help prevent EBV from showing up later in the form of an autoimmune disorder. 

Not much scientific research has yet been done to show how acupuncture helps EBV or mono. However, more medical doctors are beginning to recognize that Eastern medicine can offer benefits for illnesses like mononucleosis, Epstein Barr, and other diseases.

One clinical study of children treated with conventional medicine versus TCM herbal formulations showed that the herbs helped children recover from EBV symptoms like swollen tonsils more quickly.

Acupuncture Near Me for Mononucleosis/Epstein Barr Virus – West Los Angeles

TCM has developed methods for treating illnesses of all kinds over many centuries; the paradigm for categorizing diseases and what causes them is different than that in Western medicine. Thus, we are able to look at each person’s symptoms and constitution on an individual basis, and provide treatment so that they feel better and their organ systems actually get stronger. The doctors at Art of Wellness have over 35 years of experience helping people overcome lengthy illnesses and chronic fatigue.

 

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

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How to Treat BPH With Acupuncture and TCM

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

men
BPH is a common men’s health issue.

Men, are you getting up to pee in the night? Having trouble beginning urinating when you have to go, or the flow of urine starts and stops? These may be signs of BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia), also known as an enlarged prostate. Many men begin to have prostate problems as they get older, including UTIs, prostate infections, and inflammation of the prostate gland. Acupuncture and TCM can help relieve prostatitis symptoms and urinary symptoms of BPH.

BPH is a very common men’s health concern. About half of all men over 60 feel some symptoms of BPH, and by the time men are in their 80s, the vast majority of men will have an enlarged prostate. Prostate enlargement or prostate infections are not necessarily signs of prostate cancer symptoms, but they can cause trouble peeing. Urinary problems due to BPH can be painful and frustrating. 

In a man’s body, the prostate gland is located right below the bladder. The urethra, the tube through which both urine and semen flow out of the body through the penis, passes through the prostate. This means there is a small area of the prostate that surrounds the urethra. As the prostate grows naturally over time, or becomes inflamed due to infection or injury, this area of the prostate can press on the urethra and bladder, affecting the process of urination.

The prostate gland is a reproductive organ that produces seminal fluid, which, when combined with sperm from the testes and other fluid from the seminal vesicles, produces semen: the cloudy white fluid that comes out of the urethra through the penis when a man ejaculates. The prostate contains smooth muscle tissue that squeezes the fluid out, and small ducts that block the urethra when ejaculation happens, so that urine doesn’t come out with the semen. Seminal fluid provides nutrients and energy for the sperm, and it also interacts with the chemistry in a woman’s reproductive organs, so prostate health is really important for men’s fertility.

The prostate gland is different from most organs in that it continues to grow throughout a person’s lifetime. This enlargement of the prostate is not entirely understood by medical science, but it is believed to be due to some mechanism of men’s hormone functioning. BPH is called “benign,” because it has nothing to do with the cause of prostate cancer and does not even mean you are at higher risk for prostate cancer.

According to conventional medicine, BPH is a normal part of aging. According to TCM theory, an enlarged prostate is more likely to cause problems when Qi is weak and specific organ systems are subject to too much damp heat. Acupuncture and herbs for BPH can help to restore healthy urinary function and reduce pain and inflammation in the prostate area.

What Is BPH?

The prostate gland goes through two periods of growth: during puberty, when it doubles in size, and then from age 25 until old age. Prostate growth varies from individual to individual, but overall, the prostate grows larger at a rate of 1.5 – 2.0% per year. As the prostate is getting bigger, it can start to press on the urinary tract organs. As men get older, they may begin to feel changes that make it more difficult to pass urine.

Top 5 Signs of BPH include:

  1. urination frequency, trouble urinating, trouble peeing
    Frequent trips to the bathroom may be a sign of BPH or prostatitis.

    Trouble starting to urinate, having to strain to start peeing, hesitancy

  2. Feeling like you can’t completely empty your bladder, like you still need to pee
  3. Feeling like you need to pee more often, reduced bladder capacity
  4. Weak stream of urine, “start and stop” peeing, dribbling pee
  5. Having to get up to pee at night, nocturia

Having urine left in the bladder even after you went to the bathroom can cause bacteria to build up and lead to prostate infections, UTIs, and chronic urinary symptoms that come and go over months. Prostatitis can mean a variety of men’s health issues that cause urinary symptoms and pain that are similar to symptoms of BPH.

Prostatitis Symptoms

The term prostatitis covers a few different kinds of men’s health issues that cause swelling and pain in the male reproductive organs, including bacterial bladder infections, UTIs, bladder stones, prostate stones, or after having some sort of procedure (like a surgery, biopsy, or catheterization). It also includes CPPS, chronic pelvic pain syndrome, where there is pain in the genitals without any apparent cause. 

Prostatitis symptoms include:

  1. Pain in the penis, testicles, or the area behind the testicles, the perineum
  2. Painful urination, hurts to pee, dysuria
  3. Urgency, frequency, feels like you have to pee all the time
  4. Urine flow starts and stops, weak stream of urine
  5. Painful ejaculation, burning ejaculation, hurts to pee after sex
  6. Blood in semen
  7. ED, erectile dysfunction

Prostate infections and related infections can be either acute (serious in the short term) or chronic (lasting a long time and difficult to get rid of). An acute bacterial infection of the prostate or urinary tract can cause painful urination, a frequent need to pee, feeling urgency to urinate, or having trouble urinating. If left untreated, this kind of infection can lead to fever, chills, and feeling seriously ill. Chronic bacterial infection of the prostate gland can cause someone to have recurrent infections and symptoms that come and go over a period of months. 

Some men can have prostatitis without any symptoms; this is known as asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis. Many men don’t realize they have this kind of inflammation in the prostate until they are trying to get their partner pregnant and go through male infertility testing. Chronic prostatitis can negatively affect sperm count and male fertility. 

CPPS, pain in the prostate area or sexual organs, is thought to be related to autoimmune disorders, and/or stress. Obesity can also affect pain in prostate by adding extra pressure.

Medical Treatment for BPH and Prostatitis

When you go see your medical doctor about BPH, first they will likely do a rectal exam, which is how they can check the size of the prostate gland, and blood and urine tests to check for bladder infection, kidney infection, or prostate infection. They will also check PSA levels (prostate-specific antigen), which can indicate enlargement of the prostate. Normal PSA levels vary depending on age. If PSA levels go up significantly over a short period of time, it is considered a possible indication of prostate cancer risk, and your doctor may recommend further testing, like a biopsy.

Treatment for BPH can involve medications called alpha-blockers that relax the muscles of the bladder and prostate (Flomax). 5-alpha reductase inhibitors are drugs that affect the hormones and can cause the prostate to shrink. These medications can take a while to be effective, and for some patients, they are not particularly helpful.

There are also several types of surgery that are used to help BPH by removing parts of the prostate to help relieve pressure on the urethra, or by blocking blood flow to the prostate to prevent further growth. These surgeries are not indicated for all cases, though, and can have negative results for some men, including infections, bleeding, and ED.

Antibiotics are used to treat prostatitis and other UTIs related to enlarged prostate. These usually work well for acute infections, but not so well for chronic cases. Antibiotics are not effective for treating CPPS, which is by far the most common type of prostate problem.

Can Acupuncture Help BPH Enlarged Prostate?

bph, prostate
TCM can be helpful for men’s sexual health.

TCM is a complete medical system that goes back thousands of years in China, with many written records of acupuncture points and herbal formulations used to treat all kinds of health problems. The TCM view of the organ systems of the body is a bit different from the way they are understood in western medicine. For example, TCM sees the reproductive organs as being related to the functioning of other organs, like the kidneys and liver.

The prostate is considered to be closely related to the kidney system, and if the Qi (life force energy) of the kidneys or liver is weak, excess dampness and heat can begin to build up in the lower region of the pelvic area.

TCM recognizes the strong connections between emotions and physical health. Feelings of anger and pent-up frustrations are associated with liver stagnation, while stress, anxiety, worrying, and overworking can impact the kidneys and spleen. Lifestyle habits like lack of sleep, lack of exercise, poor diet, using drugs, or overdoing sexual activities can also create conditions for men’s health issues like BPH to become problematic.

An acupuncturist will look at each individual’s situation to determine which organs are involved, and will use acupuncture points for prostate pain and Chinese herbs for prostate inflammation to help restore balance to men’s hormones and energy. 

Acupuncture to treat BPH and acupuncture points for prostatitis can help to relieve difficult urination, and pain in the prostate area, without down time or negative side effects.

A clinical trial of 100 patients treated with acupuncture for BPH over the course of 6 weeks showed that over 90% of the men responded positively, reporting less pain in the prostate and improved urinary functioning.

A systematic review of eight studies involving over 650 men treated for BPH with TCM showed significant positive changes in men’s health outcomes.

A review of studies using Chinese herbs for BPH suggested that herbal treatment for BPH may work even better than alpha-blockers.

Acupuncture Near Me for BPH in Santa Monica, California

Most men will deal with BPH as they go through the aging process, but there are steps you can take to minimize prostate problems. If you are feeling pain in the prostate, urgency to urinate, peeing more frequently, or like you can’t empty your bladder completely, it might be worth it to try acupuncture and herbs to help prostate enlargement. Unlike medical treatments for BPH, there really is no downside to trying acupuncture for men’s health issues. Dr. Tan and Dr. Cai at Art of Wellness in West Los Angeles have over 30 years of experience helping men improve their fertility and sexual health.

 

 

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

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