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How to Treat Raynaud’s Syndrome With Acupuncture and TCM

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

 

Raynaud
Numbness in the fingers when exposed to cold is a sign of Raynaud’s syndrome.

Fingers numb? Numbness in fingers and toes? Fingers turning white, poor circulation in fingers, cold fingers and toes? Raynaud’s disease, or Raynaud’s phenomenon, causes poor circulation in the extremities due to constriction of the blood vessels, usually triggered by cold weather or stress. Acupuncture can help relieve Raynaud’s disease symptoms.

Raynaud’s disease is a condition characterized by occasional narrowing of the blood vessels, primarily in the fingers and toes. The small arteries that supply blood to the skin of the fingers and toes (and sometimes, to the ears and the tip of the nose) become constricted in cold conditions.

Raynaud’s syndrome causes the tips of the fingers and/or toes to turn white due to the lack of circulation, and there may be numbness in fingers or tingling in toes. A “Raynaud’s attack” or episode lasts until the person warms up, at which point, there may be a burning sensation, and the affected skin may flush and turn red as blood flow returns.

Raynaud’s can occur in two forms: primary and secondary.

Primary Raynaud’s, also called Raynaud’s disease, is the more common form and isn’t usually related to another medical condition. Raynaud’s is considered to be an exaggerated response to cold, emotional stress or anxiety, leading to spasms in the small arteries.

People with primary Raynaud’s phenomenon usually begin to experience symptomatic episodes during their teenage years. Women are more likely to have Raynaud’s. 

Secondary Raynaud’s is less common but more serious. It is associated with other diseases, typically autoimmune diseases or connective tissue disorders, like scleroderma, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid disorders, or lupus

Secondary Raynaud’s can be linked to conditions that directly damage the arteries or affect blood flow, like carpal tunnel syndrome. In these cases, it is considered a symptom rather than a separate condition.

 

Raynaud’s Syndrome Causes

massage feet to keep them warm
Massage your hands and feet to warm them when they start to feel cold or numb.

For most people with Raynaud’s syndrome, there is probably a combination of genetic, physiological, and environmental factors at play.

Vascular abnormalities, or dysfunction in the blood vessels, involving excessive narrowing (vasospasm) and poor dilation in response to stimuli, may be involved.

Overactivity of the nerves controlling the blood vessels (sympathetic nervous system) may cause spasms.

Raynaud’s can tend to run in some families. If someone is already susceptible, then the numbness in fingers and toes may be triggered by cold temperatures, or a stressful situation. Smoking cigarettes can also cause Raynaud’s symptoms.

In secondary Raynaud’s, underlying autoimmune conditions can lead to inflammation and damage to blood vessels.

An injury to one of the limbs, like a broken wrist, or damage to the tissues from frostbite, could also trigger Raynaud’s phenomenon.

Some prescription medications, such as beta blockers, ADHD medications, medications for migraine headaches, and even some cold and flu medicines, could cause Raynaud’s symptoms.

Acupuncture treatment can help to relieve Raynaud’s syndrome symptoms and also address the underlying condition that may cause Raynaud’s. 

 

 Top 10 Raynaud’s Disease Symptoms 

Raynaud’s symptoms may show up differently for each person. Symptoms of Raynaud’s disease can vary in severity and may include:

 

  1. Skin changes color: pallor (pale skin, white skin, or yellow skin) in the affected fingers or toes during an episode
  2. In rare cases, Raynaud’s phenomenon can affect other areas, such as the nose, ears, and lips.
  3. Some people may experience Raynaud’s in their nipples, which can cause a severe throbbing pain.
  4. Bluish discoloration (Cyanosis) as blood flow decreases
  5. Affected areas feel cold and/or numb during an episode
  6. Throbbing or tingling in the fingers or in the toes
  7. Sensitivity to cold temperatures, leading to more frequent episodes in cold weather.
  8. In severe cases, recurrent or persistent episodes of reduced blood flow can lead to skin sores or ulcers, particularly on the fingertips or toes.
  9. Changes in the texture and color of the nails, including nail beds that turn white and then blue during an episode.
  10. Some individuals may experience joint pain, particularly if there is an underlying connective tissue disorder.

Emotional stress, anxiety, or rapid changes in temperature can trigger Raynaud’s symptoms.

Raynaud’s disease is generally considered a benign condition, but repeated episodes can lead to more serious problems, like skin sores, chilblains, or even gangrene, which can cause permanent damage to tissues.

 

Raynaud’s Syndrome Treatment

keep feet warm Raynaud
Keep feet warm with thick socks.

Diagnosis of Raynaud’s disease may involve a test called nailfold capillaroscopy. This is a non-invasive test that allows the doctor to see the capillary size and action in the tips of the fingers and nail bed. This can help to determine whether the person has Primary Raynaud’s, or may have a connective tissue disorder, like lupus or Sjogren’s syndrome.

The standard medical treatment for Raynaud’s phenomenon aims to manage symptoms, improve blood flow, and prevent complications. While there is no cure for Raynaud’s, various medications and lifestyle modifications can be employed to alleviate symptoms and enhance circulation.

Medications that relax and widen blood vessels, known as vasodilators, are commonly prescribed. Calcium channel blockers, such as nifedipine, are often used to help dilate the small blood vessels in the extremities, reducing the frequency and severity of Raynaud’s episodes.

Phosphodiesterase inhibitors like sildenafil (which is also commonly prescribed to help erectile dysfunction, ED) can sometimes be beneficial in promoting blood vessel dilation and improving blood flow.

In some cases, topical nitroglycerin cream may be prescribed to increase blood flow to the affected areas.

Endothelin receptor antagonists, such as bosentan, may be considered in cases where blood vessel constriction is severe. These medications target endothelin, a substance that can cause blood vessels to narrow.

Antiplatelet agents like aspirin may be recommended to reduce the risk of blood clots and improve blood circulation.

If Raynaud’s is secondary to another condition, treating the underlying cause is crucial. For example, if it is associated with an autoimmune disorder, immunosuppressants might be considered.

Lifestyle changes play a significant role in managing Raynaud’s symptoms. Patients are typically advised to dress warmly.

Quitting smoking is strongly recommended, as smoking constricts blood vessels.

 

Can Acupuncture Help Raynaud’s Syndrome?

TCM has acknowledged Raynaud’s phenomenon as a condition of severe cold in the limbs for centuries. According to TCM theory, a deficiency of Qi and blood circulation is the root cause of Raynaud’s symptoms. In TCM, we consider that Qi (life force energy) and blood work together; Qi moves the blood throughout the body, and blood carries the Qi throughout the body.

In TCM, we are always looking at both external factors and internal factors that contribute to a condition. In the case of Raynaud’s disease, cold acts as a pathogenic factor that can be already present inside the body, and then, when a person is exposed to cold temperatures as an external factor, this triggers an extreme reaction.

So, in many cases, a person suffering from Raynaud’s is already dealing with too much cold and poor blood circulation. Herbs can be used to help warm the body internally and increase blood flow.

Some people develop Raynaud’s symptoms in response to stress. In this case, the liver may be involved. In TCM, the liver is associated with strong emotions, and when the liver is distressed, it can trigger muscular contractions that squeeze the blood vessels, restricting blood flow. In these cases, we will use herbal formulas and acupuncture points to help restore balance in the liver.

When there is an autoimmune disease also present, such as scleroderma or lupus, then there may also be blood stasis, and a thickening of the blood and tissues. TCM can address those conditions at their roots, as well.

An acupuncturist will make careful observations about how each individual is experiencing Raynaud’s symptoms, and address it according to the pattern presenting.

 

Top 3 Tips for Managing Raynaud’s Syndrome Symptoms

exercise regularly to help circulation - man running
Exercise regularly to help maintain healthy circulation.

You can help prevent Raynaud’s attacks by keeping your whole body warm, especially your hands and feet. 

  1. Protect your hands and feet. Wear mittens or gloves, thick socks and lined boots, and use hand and foot warmers in cold weather. Consider wearing gloves or oven mitts when reaching into the refrigerator or freezer.
  2. Exercise regularly, both to stimulate healthy blood circulation, and to help manage stress levels. 
  3. If hands and/or feet do begin to feel cold or numb, take action to warm them up immediately by wiggling them, running them under warm water, massaging them, or putting your hands in your armpits or against your abdomen under your clothing.

 

Acupuncture Near Me for Raynaud’s Syndrome in West Los Angeles

It is important to address Raynaud’s disease to avoid damage to the nerves and skin tissue in your extremities, and to be sure whether or not Raynaud’s symptoms are related to an underlying autoimmune disorder. The acupuncturists at Art of Wellness Acupuncture in West L.A. have over 35 years of experience helping people with autoimmune conditions, circulatory problems, and nerve pain and tingling. The combination of herbs and acupuncture treatment can help relieve Raynaud’s phenomenon symptoms and address any autoimmune disease or nerve conditions.

 

 

 




*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 Vitiligo With Acupuncture and TCM

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

 

vitiligo
White patches on the skin are caused by vitiligo autoimmune disease.

White patches on skin, white spots on face? Graying hair? White patches of skin can be a sign of Vitiligo. Vitiligo is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects the melanin, or pigment, in the skin. Acupuncture and TCM offer a holistic, complementary vitiligo treatment that can help with repigmentation.

Vitiligo occurs when the pigmentation of your skin changes, with white patches on face or other parts of the body. This usually happens because of an autoimmune disorder that affects the cells that create pigment in the skin, hair, and eyes.

Vitiligo can show up in different ways. Possible signs of vitiligo include:

  • Lighter patches of skin on face, arms, hands, and/or feet, white patches on skin
  • Patches can be pink, tan, or white
  • Loss of pigmentation on lips and/or inside mouth
  • Loss of pigmentation on or inside the nose
  • White patches of skin are itchy sometimes, usually when they are spreading
  • Premature graying hair, hair turning gray
  • A streak of white hair on scalp develops
  • Eyelashes turn white, or eyebrows turn white
  • Eye color changes, may affect eyesight
  • Inner ear problems, can lead to hearing loss
  • Anxiety and depression due to changes in appearance

While vitiligo is not considered harmful, these changes in outward appearance can have a serious impact on the way a person feels about themselves. Vitiligo disease treatment with acupuncture and TCM can help not only with repigmentation, but can help address the underlying causes of autoimmune disease, and mental health concerns, all at the same time.

 

What Causes Vitiligo?

White patches on skin happen when cells called melanocytes, which produce pigment, either stop functioning correctly or die.

Medical research has not yet determined exactly why some people get vitiligo, but it is generally considered to occur because of an autoimmune condition. When a person has an autoimmune disorder, their immune system mistakenly attacks certain cells in the body. In the case of vitiligo, the immune system attacks the melanocytes.

Some people notice that their vitiligo starts developing after getting a particularly bad sunburn. A regular burn, or exposure to caustic chemicals can trigger the development of vitiligo, as can a bad cut or scrape. 

Stress can trigger vitiligo, or make it worse. Both physical stress and emotional stress may often precede either the initial onset of vitiligo, or accelerate the spread of patches of vitiligo on the skin.

 

Risk factors for Vitiligo

vitiligo white patches skin
White patches on face and arms – treatment can help with regimentation

People of all ages and ethnicities can have vitiligo. In about half of cases, vitiligo begins to appear in childhood or before the age of 20. 

If other people in your family have vitiligo, or other autoimmune diseases, then there is a greater chance that you will have it.

People who have other autoimmune disorders may have a higher risk of experiencing vitiligo. These autoimmune conditions include:

Having a specific type of moles on your skin called halo nevi can increase your risk for vitiligo. Those are moles that have a white ring, or “halo,” around them.

Having melanoma or non-Hodgkin lymphoma can also increase your risk for vitiligo, as can going through immunotherapy for melanoma.

Even though vitiligo is not considered dangerous, it is important to seek out a proper diagnosis and treatment, because having one autoimmune condition can sometimes lead to developing other autoimmune diseases.  

 

Types of Vitiligo

Vitiligo will develop differently for each individual. Different kinds of vitiligo are categorized according to where they appear. Types of vitiligo include:

  • Generalized vitiligo: most common type, causes macules to appear in various places on the body
  • Segmental vitiligo: only affects one side of your body or one area, such as the face or hands.
  • Mucosal vitiligo: affects the mucous membranes of  mouth and/or genitals
  • Focal vitiligo: rare type where the macules develop in a small area
  • Trichrome vitiligo: shows up as a bullseye shape with a white center, a lighter area, and an area of natural skin tone.
  • Universal vitiligo: rare condition that causes more than 80% of  skin to not have pigment

Vitiligo Treatment

A doctor will diagnose vitiligo by taking a family history, testing for other autoimmune diseases, checking the skin with a black light, which will make the patches easier to detect, and probably taking a small skin biopsy to check for melanocytes, or lack thereof.

The main aim of conventional vitiligo disease treatment is to slow the spread of the condition, and hopefully to help the skin regain its pigment by helping to encourage the growth of melanocytes. 

Immunosuppressant medications can help to slow or halt the spread of vitiligo. Calcineurin inhibitors are a specific type of immunosuppressants that may be prescribed for vitiligo, as well as for other autoimmune disease rash, such as lupus rash.

However, this type of vitiligo treatment requires continued use; when people stop taking the medications, the condition will usually come back and continue to spread.

There are various types of vitiligo therapy that may help skin regain its normal pigmentation. These include:

  • Light therapy
  • Topical steroid creams

Some dermatology specialists perform surgical procedures to help with repigmentation, but these are not recommended if the condition is still spreading, or if a person tends to develop scarring. 

vitiligo in childhood
Many people first develop vitiligo in childhood.

About 50% of vitiligo cases begin in childhood or adolescence. Vitiligo can be particularly difficult and even traumatic for young people. While the treatment methods are similar for children with vitiligo (corticosteroids, phototherapy, and/or immunosuppressants), it is especially important that young patients also receive emotional and mental health support during treatment.

While medical vitiligo therapies help in some cases, other people may not see much improvement. None of these treatments address the root cause of vitiligo. Acupuncture and TCM help by working on several levels, to help restore normal functioning of the immune system, help with repigmentation of the white patches of skin, and to help address issues like anxiety and depression, as well.

 

Can Acupuncture Help Vitiligo?

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been used to treat vitiligo for centuries. TCM treatment for vitiligo was first mentioned in the medical text, The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine, over 2500 years ago. 

In TCM, vitiligo is referred to as “Bai Dian Feng,” which means something akin to “white patches wind.” In TCM, many skin and immune conditions are considered to be related to wind as a pathogenic force that moves through the body.

The development of this autoimmune condition that affects the skin’s appearance can occur due to a particular imbalance, or a combination of factors. Some of the TCM diagnostic patterns that pertain to vitiligo include:

  • Liver wind with Kidney deficiency
  • Spleen and Stomach deficiency
  • Qi and Blood deficiency and/or stasis
  • Too much internal heat

Depending on accompanying symptoms, your acupuncturist will observe which organ systems need nourishing and/or clearing, and will tailor a treatment plan for each individual case. A combination of acupuncture treatment and herbal supplements will be recommended to help address your condition. 

Acupuncture needles, applied to specific points, can help to improve circulation and blood flow to areas of the skin and activate cells to help restore natural skin color. Other points will be chosen to help move Qi and strengthen the liver and kidneys, as well as reducing overall inflammation and boosting immune function.

Topical herb creams made from traditional Chinese herbal remedies can be effective for helping to stimulate melanin production. Chinese herb formulas designed to be taken internally as a tea will work to nourish the liver and kidneys, dispel wind and clear heat.

Acupuncture Near Me for Vitiligo

Acupuncture and herbs can be used either as an alternative or adjunct treatment for vitiligo. TCM treatment will also work for vitiligo in children, and can be particularly helpful as a gentle modality that does not cause unwanted side effects. 

Drs. Tan and Cai at Art of Wellness Acupuncture in West L.A. have over 35 years of experience working with patients with autoimmune skin conditions of all kinds. Art of Wellness was recently named one of the best acupuncture providers in Los Angeles. If you or someone you know is suffering with vitiligo, please do not hesitate to contact 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 Treat Diarrhea With Acupuncture and TCM

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

 

Diarrhea, stomach cramps, abdominal pain
Diarrhea, stomach cramping & abdominal pain can be helped with acupuncture.

Chronic diarrhea, explosive diarrhea, diarrhea after eating? Diarrhea may be related to IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), or an IBD (inflammatory bowel disease), or a reaction to a food allergy, parasites, or stress. Acupuncture and TCM offer an alternative diarrhea treatment, so you can get relief from stomach pain and diarrhea.

 

Why Do I Have Diarrhea?

There can be many different causes of diarrhea, also known as loose stool. Acute diarrhea, which only lasts one or two days, will usually go away on its own.

Watery diarrhea that lasts a few days is usually due to food poisoning. Eating something that was rotten, or not cooked properly to destroy bacteria, can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Watery diarrhea can also happen when you have some type of viral infection, such as the “stomach flu.”

Chronic diarrhea, or persistent diarrhea, which lasts for weeks, or bouts of diarrhea that come and go frequently, may be related to IBS symptoms, IBD symptoms, Celiac disease, or some other problem. 

More than 6% of adults in the U.S. report having chronic diarrhea. Chronic diarrhea in children is also a serious health concern worldwide. 

 

Top 10 Causes of Diarrhea

Diarrhea is a common condition that everyone experiences sometimes. Usually it is temporary, but it can become persistent and serious enough to require diarrhea treatment. The most common reasons a person experiences loose bowel movements include:

  1. Bacterial infection, traveler’s diarrhea, food poisoning, unsafe drinking water
  2. Viral infection, such as rotavirus, viral gastroenteritis, stomach flu
  3. Parasite infection, such as giardiasis
  4. Food allergy, food intolerance, food sensitivity, Celiac disease
  5. Reaction to medications like antibiotics, antidepressants, or Metformin
  6. Reaction to radiation therapy, cancer treatment
  7. IBS – diarrhea, constipation, and stomach cramps are common IBS symptoms 
  8. IBD – colitis or Crohn’s disease, inflammatory autoimmune disorders that affect the gut
  9. Malabsorption of food, poor absorption of nutrients
  10. Menstrual cycle or Perimenopause – changes in hormones/estrogen can cause diarrhea

Certain foods can cause diarrhea, including: too much coffee, artificial sweeteners like mannitol and sorbitol, and red food coloring. Magnesium supplements can also cause loose stools.

If diarrhea lasts more than a few days, it is important to seek healthcare advice. Chronic diarrhea can lead to dehydration and fatigue, and may be happening because of some more serious condition that needs to be addressed.

 

What Causes Chronic Diarrhea?

diarrhea loose stool sign of IBS or IBD
Frequent diarrhea may be a sign of IBS or and IBD.

Bouts of diarrhea that keep recurring can be a symptom of disorders such as:

 

  • IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) – the most common IBDs are ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. IBD symptoms usually include bloody diarrhea and abdominal pain. IBDs can cause chronic or recurring diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration, fatigue, and weight loss. IBDs can be mild, or so serious that they cause long-lasting damage to the gastrointestinal tract.

 

  • Ulcerative colitis – an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation and ulcers, or open sores, in the lower gastrointestinal system, including the colon and rectum.

 

  • Crohn’s disease – an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation mainly in the small intestine, but can affect any part of the GI tract. 

 

  • IBS – Irritable bowel syndrome can seem similar to IBDs, also causing recurring bouts of diarrhea and stomach pain. However, IBS is considered a functional gastrointestinal disorder. It is quite common. People with IBS symptoms may have alternating bouts of diarrhea and constipation. People who tend to have more diarrhea-dominant IBS have “IBS-D.”

  

  • Celiac disease – an autoimmune disorder in which a reaction to eating wheat gluten causes serious inflammation of the GI system, leading to abdominal pain, bloated stomach, diarrhea, malnutrition, fatigue, and skin rashes.

With these conditions, diarrhea is brought on periodically—sometimes alternating with constipation, as in some cases of IBS—by factors having to do with the diet or stress, or with autoimmune processes.

Some surgeries that affect the gastrointestinal organs—like gastric bypass, gastric sleeve, or gallbladder removal—can cause chronic diarrhea.

Chronic diarrhea can be caused by an inability of the intestinal walls to absorb nutrients, and/or of the walls of the colon to absorb liquid. It may also be due to excessive action of the intestine in terms of peristalsis, the squeezing of the intestine to move matter through.

 

Diarrhea Treatment

Acute diarrhea usually goes away on its own in a day or two. Often, people will use OTC remedies for diarrhea and stomach pain, such as Immodium or Pepto-Bismol.

If you have been experiencing persistent diarrhea and seek medical advice, a doctor will perform tests to figure out what is causing the diarrhea, and will offer electrolyte fluids to help with dehydration. Blood tests or a stool test will show if the diarrhea is due to a bacterial infection or parasitic infection.

If chronic diarrhea is determined to be related to a medication you are already taking, then that may need to be adjusted.

Discovery of IBS or an IBD usually involves more diagnostic testing, including a colonoscopy and/or endoscopy, to see if there is inflammation or blockage in the GI tract.

Medical treatment for IBS may involve being offered antispasmodic medications that relax the intestinal walls and slow down the movement of the bowels and can help relieve stomach cramps and abdominal cramping. Dietary changes and behavioral therapy may be recommended.

Pharmacological treatment for IBDs like colitis and Crohn’s usually involves taking a combination of anti-inflammatories and immunosuppressants, to reduce inflammation in the gut and to block the inappropriate autoimmune responses that are triggering the inflammation. Unfortunately, steroids and medications like Xeljanz can cause other side effects and health problems. 

Medical treatment for chronic diarrhea may help relieve symptoms and reduce the frequency of bouts of diarrhea, but it does not necessarily address the underlying causes of diarrhea. 

Acupuncture and TCM offer an effective alternative treatment for diarrhea that is more suited to each patient’s individual situation.

 

Can Acupuncture Help Diarrhea?

 

acupuncture treatment for diarrhea IBS IBD
Acupuncture treatment can help relieve diarrhea.

Chronic diarrhea, according to TCM theory, is usually considered to be related to the health of the spleen. In TCM, the organ systems all interact harmoniously, unless there is imbalance. The imbalance of one organ system may throw off other systems, leading to various symptoms. 

In TCM, the spleen is responsible for breaking down the nutrients from food and converting them into energy. If the spleen is not functioning properly, watery stool is often the result. Diarrhea, stomach pain, and other symptoms may differ from person to person, depending on how the spleen is interacting with the liver, stomach, or kidneys.

Common Chinese Medicine diagnosis patterns for chronic diarrhea include:

  • Spleen Deficiency with Liver Qi stagnation: mucus in the stool, abdominal pain, cramping, gassiness, bloated stomach, irritability, and feelings of depression 

 

  • Spleen Deficiency with Stomach deficiency: watery stools, poor appetite, feeling full quickly, stomach distended after eating, pallor, and fatigue

 

  • Spleen Deficiency with Kidney Deficiency: diarrhea in the morning, partially digested food in the stool, abdominal pain, lower back pain, knee pain, feeling cold

 

Acupuncture treatment for diarrhea, which may include moxibustion and herbs, aims to support the health of the spleen and other organs. Acupuncture has been shown to help relieve diarrhea and constipation related to IBS. Acupuncture treatment can also help with reducing stress and anxiety, which are common triggers for IBS symptoms.

Acupuncture can also help with diarrhea due to IBDs like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease by reducing inflammation and helping to balance immune responses. TCM treatment for Crohn’s disease or colitis, incorporating nutrition and herbal supplements, can help improve the gut biome and strengthen the lining of the intestinal walls.

Acupuncture for Diarrhea Near Me, Los Angeles, West L.A., and Santa Monica

TCM treatment with an experienced acupuncturist near me can be very beneficial for anyone dealing with ongoing gastrointestinal distress. Both adults and children can find relief from diarrhea, constipation, stomach cramps, bloating, and abdominal pain related to conditions like IBS, IBDs, or celiac disease through acupuncture and herbs. At Art of Wellness, we have over 30 years of experience helping people with gastric disorders of all kinds.



*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 Dermatitis With Acupuncture and TCM

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

 

itchy skin dermatitis eczema
Itchy skin might be some type of dermatitis.

Itchy skin, dry skin irritation, or skin rash? Dermatitis is a broad term that covers many skin problems, including eczema, heat rash, diaper rash, and other kinds of skin allergy. Acupuncture and TCM offer a way to treat dermatitis, eczema, and itchy skin conditions.

The medical term “dermatitis” can refer to many types of skin irritation that involve inflammation. Inflamed skin can cause itching, redness, dryness, and rashes. A dermatitis itchy skin rash is caused by an inflammatory response related to the immune system.

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a common inflammatory skin condition; over 30 million people in the U.S. have some type of eczema. Eczema can show up as early as a few weeks after birth in some babies, or during childhood, or during adulthood.

While what exactly causes atopic dermatitis to occur in some people is not completely understood, it is generally accepted that it is a combination of genetic, immunological, and environmental factors.

Dermatitis is not contagious; it is not passed from person to person. However, you are more likely to be susceptible to dermatitis or eczema if other people in your family have it, or if there is a family history of allergies and asthma.

Eczema and other forms of dermatitis tend to “flare up” when a person is exposed to some sort of trigger and has an allergic reaction. This could be due to something in the environment, or some product or plant that touched the person’s skin. It can also be due to internal causes, like an autoimmune problem, excess heat in the body, or emotional stress.

Signs of Dermatitis:

  • Itchy dry skin rash skin irritations (pruritus)
  • Red rash, red bumps on skin
  • Rash like a burn
  • Blisters
  • Thick skin, hard skin, swelling
  • Scaly skin, creasing skin 
  • Crusty sores, painful skin sores
  • Bleeding rash, oozing skin rash
  • Flaking skin (dandruff)

Symptoms of dermatitis can come and go. Scratching at itchy patches or blisters associated with dermatitis can cause a skin infection, so it is important to manage and control this condition.

Acupuncture and TCM herbs can help relieve itchy skin and inflammation, while also helping to balance the immune system to prevent further eczema flare ups.

Top 10 Types of Dermatitis

skin rash dermatitis eczema neck
Dermatitis rash on back of neck

Many different conditions can cause dermatitis—meaning, inflammation of the skin. Different kinds of dermatitis include:

  1. Atopic dermatitis – also known as eczema, marked by dry, itchy, red patches of skin.
  2. Contact dermatitis – this is when a skin rash breaks out due to exposure to some kind of external irritant, such as a cosmetic product, piece of jewelry, or plant like poison ivy.
  3. Seborrheic dermatitis – flaking skin, also known as dandruff, occurs mostly on oily areas of the skin.
  4. Dyshidrotic dermatitis – (also called dyshidrotic eczema or pompholyx) small, itchy, fluid-filled blisters that appear on the soles of the feet or palms of the hands, or the tips of the fingers or toes. The blisters may break out due to exposure to an allergen or when hands and feet are often wet or sweaty.
  5. Diaper rash – a red rash that forms on a baby’s bottom or perineal area due to contact with the diaper and frequent wetness.
  6. Neurodermatitis – (also called lichen simplex chronicus) is a type of eczema marked by one or two very itchy, scaly patches that can become thickened and leathery – most often affects an area on the neck, ankle, arm, or groin. Neurodermatitis can itch so intensely that it affects a person’s sleep, and can be triggered by stressful events.
  7. Nummular dermatitis – (also known as discoid eczema) is marked by round, coin-shaped lesions that appear on the limbs or torso. These lesions can become infected with scratching, and may be related to poor circulation.
  8. Perioral dermatitis or Periorificial dermatitis – pink scaly patches or pustules that form around the mouth. This occurs more commonly in young women. Some doctors believe it may be related to candida, and/or influenced by hormones.
  9. Stasis dermatitis –  (also called venous stasis dermatitis) itchy, scaly, discolored skin around the lower legs and ankles, due to poor circulation and blood pooling in the lower extremities.
  10. Dermatitis herpetiformis – a bumpy, blistered skin rash (looks similar to a herpes outbreak, but is not actually related to herpes simplex) that is related to celiac disease, triggered by ingesting gluten or wheat. 

Psoriasis can look similar to eczema, but it is a separate condition that can coexist with various types of dermatitis. Rosacea redness can also look similar to dermatitis, but is a distinctly different condition that can occur at the same time as dermatitis. 

What Causes Dermatitis?

A combination of the immune system reacting to irritants in the environment, and genetic predisposition.

Common environmental factors that can contribute to dermatitis include:

  • Chemicals
  • Air pollutants
  • Fluoride in water or toothpaste
  • Fragrances, perfumes, air freshener
  • Fragrances in skin products, cosmetics, lotions, soaps
  • Tobacco smoke

Other conditions that may occur simultaneously with dermatitis include: depression, anxiety, insomnia, allergies, and asthma.

Eczema Treatment

There are many different types of medical treatment for dermatitis. Some are topical—meaning, applied to the skin. Others are taken in an oral pill form, or injected into the skin.

Topical corticosteroid creams, which can help reduce skin inflammation, are the most common treatment for eczema and dermatitis. These can help reduce itching and swelling. However, prolonged use of topical steroids can cause side effects like thin skin, spider veins, and acne. Steroids can affect growth in children, and can cause eye problems like glaucoma or cataracts in older people.

Steroids that are taken orally, like Prednisone, can help control systemic inflammation for a time, while patches of scaly skin heal. However, there are many serious side effects associated with taking steroids for a long time, and it is also possible to experience a “rebound effect.” This means that the dermatitis symptoms come back even stronger when a person stops taking the steroid medications.

Calineuron inhibitors and JAK inhibitors are designed to stop certain chemical processes in the body related to immune responses. They can help block immune system reactions to calm the dermatitis skin problems. 

There are many new types of treatment for eczema being developed. Phototherapy, or light therapy, using ultraviolet (UV) light, may be tried when topical treatments are not working for eczema that is widespread over the whole body. However, this kind of therapy can cause prematurely aging skin, changing skin pigmentation, and potentially increase the risk of skin cancer.

Acupuncture and TCM herbal supplements offer a way to treat eczema without any damaging side effects.

Can Acupuncture Help Dermatitis and Eczema?

One of the core concepts of TCM is the 5 Elements Theory, according to which organs of the body correspond with seasons and weather conditions. According to this theory, eczema and other kinds of dermatitis arise due to imbalances within the internal organ systems affected by external conditions, such as Wind and Heat. 

The lungs, especially, are connected to the skin in the TCM system. The lungs can be affected by excess heat or stagnation in the liver. Thus, an itchy red rash on the skin is actually an expression of a deeper, more complex internal condition. Therefore, it is necessary to treat dermatitis and eczema not only with topical creams, but to use acupuncture and herbs to balance all of the organ systems.

The acupuncturist gets clues about which internal organs are out of harmony by observing the eczema symptoms: the type of rash or scaly skin, the color and temperature. Each individual case of dermatitis is unique, triggered by different irritants, and arising from a person’s overall state of health.

One study showed that acupuncture treatment worked better than antihistamines for helping to reduce the itchiness of atopic dermatitis pruritus. Acupuncture also helps to reduce inflammation and overall stress.

Studies done in China to determine the efficacy of an herbal formulation developed for eczema showed that it worked well to reduce itching and recurrence of rash.

As systematic review of over 350 studies on acupuncture for eczema showed the patients who were given acupuncture treatment instead of conventional treatment experienced better overall symptom reduction and quality of life.

Top 5 Tips to Prevent Dermatitis Itchy Skin

after bath dermatitis
Bathe in warm water and moisturize afterwards.

There are things you can do to help prevent eczema flare-ups from occurring and avoid recurrent rashes.

  1. Do not bathe in very hot water. 
  2. Keep showers short and warm, and use gentle cleansers, without strong chemical perfumes. 
  3. Do not scrub your skin during or after the shower, while drying. Pat gently.
  4. Use moisturizer frequently to maintain a protective layer on your skin. 
  5. Wear long pants and sleeves when hiking and adventuring. Wear gloves when gardening.

Acupuncture Near Me for Dermatitis in Los Angeles and Santa Monica

Acupuncture can help relieve itching, aid in the healing of lesions, help stimulate healthier immune responses, and reduce stress. TCM treatment can also be sought as a safe treatment for children with eczema, or during pregnancy, as it is free of negative side effects.

TCM can also help patients with other skin conditions, including signs of aging, acne, hives (urticaria), rosacea, vitiligo, and psoriasis.





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

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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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