Skip to content

Traditional Chinese Medicine

How to Treat Stomach Ulcer With Acupuncture and TCM


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


abdominal pain, stomach ulcer
Burning pain in stomach is a sign of peptic ulcers.

Burning sensation in your stomach? Persistent abdominal pain? Frequent heartburn and indigestion? These could be stomach ulcer symptoms. Acupuncture and TCM can help alleviate ulcer symptoms and reduce inflammation.

Stomach ulcers, also known as peptic ulcers, are painful sores that develop in the lining of the stomach or the upper part of the small intestine. Acid that is naturally present in the digestive tract begins to eat away at the lining of the stomach or intestinal walls. This can cause discomfort, burning pain, and other symptoms that significantly impact a person’s quality of life.

Peptic ulcers may lead to complications if left untreated. In these cases, we may refer to the condition as peptic ulcer disease (PUD).

If the ulcer is near a blood vessel, it can cause internal bleeding. In severe cases, an ulcer can burn through the wall of the stomach, which leads to undigested food and digestive juice leaking out into the abdominal cavity. This is known as a “perforated ulcer” and often requires immediate surgery.

A peptic ulcer can also be so inflamed that it blocks food from moving through the digestive tract, which can cause you to feel full quickly, regurgitate food, and lose weight unintentionally. This is known as “obstruction.”

Ulcers are typically treated with medications and, in more severe cases, surgery. Acupuncture treatment can be used as an alternative or adjunct treatment to help heal ulcers, with or without surgery. 


What Causes Stomach Ulcers?

mouth ulcers, canker sores
Canker sores, or mouth ulcers, can be related to stomach ulcers.

Stomach ulcers are often caused by an imbalance between the digestive fluids and the protective mechanisms of the stomach lining. There is usually a lining of mucus that helps protect the stomach from digestive fluids, but sometimes there is too little mucus and too much acid.

A bacterial infection with the Helicobacter pylori bacteria is often involved in the formation of an ulcer. This bacteria can cause inflammation that affects the stomach lining. Left untreated, an H. pylori infection in the digestive tract can increase your risk for certain types of gastric cancers.

Canker sores, also known as mouth ulcers or aphthous ulcers, can also be caused by the H. pylori bacterial infection. Canker sores can also be related to other gastrointestinal disorders, like Crohn’s disease, or inflammatory bowel disease (colitis).

A rare condition called Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome (ZES), in which a tumor called a gastrinoma develops in the pancreas or top part of the small intestine, can cause excessive amounts of stomach acids to be produced, which can lead to the formation of ulcers.

Long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or pain medication (NSAIDs), like Ibuprofen can also cause inflammation in the stomach.

Lifestyle habits like smoking, drinking too much alcohol, or eating a lot of spicy foods irritate the stomach lining and contribute to the development of ulcers.

Emotional and/or physiological stress can throw off the body’s pH balance, which can also cause excessive stomach acids to be produced.


Top 5 Symptoms of Stomach Ulcers

While it is possible to have an ulcer and not be aware of it because you don’t have any symptoms, most people with ulcers will experience some pain in their stomach. 

  1. Abdominal pain: A burning or gnawing pain in the abdomen, typically between the breastbone and the navel. The pain may be worse when the stomach is empty, such as between meals, and at night. 
  2. Indigestion: Discomfort or bloating after eating, belching, and heartburn (acid reflux).
  3. Nausea and vomiting: Feeling nauseous and experiencing vomiting, especially after meals. Some people may even vomit blood.
  4. Loss of appetite: A decreased desire to eat due to feelings of fullness or discomfort.
  5. Blood in the stool: In severe cases, ulcers can lead to bleeding, resulting in blood in the stool or black, tarry stools.

Other ulcer symptoms can include:  changes in appetite, intolerance to certain foods, especially fatty foods, feeling faint, having trouble breathing, and weight loss.

People may feel that the stomach pain is alleviated by eating certain foods that create a buffer against the stomach acid.

While medications and lifestyle changes are commonly used to treat peptic ulcer symptoms, acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) offer a holistic approach to address the root causes and alleviate symptoms of stomach ulcers.


Medical Treatment for Peptic Ulcers

When you seek conventional treatment for stomach ulcers, an endoscopy may be performed so that your doctor can see the ulcer(s) and possibly stop bleeding or remove abnormal tissue. Medications may be offered, and in some cases, surgery may be indicated.

Medications for stomach ulcer treatment include:

  1. Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs): These drugs reduce stomach acid production, allowing the ulcer to heal. PPIs include omeprazole, lansoprazole, and esomeprazole.
  2. Histamine receptor blockers (H2 blockers): These medications reduce acid production, providing relief and promoting ulcer healing. Famotidine and ranitidine are common H2 blockers.
  3. Antibiotics: If an H. pylori infection is present, a combination of antibiotics, such as amoxicillin and clarithromycin, will be prescribed to get rid of the bacteria.

Stomach ulcer surgery may be necessary if complications like perforation or obstruction occur. 

Repairs to a stomach ulcer can be performed during an endoscopic procedure, where a camera and tools are introduced through the throat. 

Minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery can be done through a small incision in the abdomen. Holes in the stomach may be patched with something called a Graham Patch. 

If the hole is too large to be patched, then a small part of the stomach may be cut away, and the whole stomach will be closed, and, if necessary, reconnected to the top of the small intestine. This procedure is called a partial gastrectomy.

While conventional medical intervention for stomach ulcers can help bring relief, they do not necessarily prevent the recurrence of ulcers. Medications and surgery do not address the chronic stress that may have contributed to the formation of the ulcers in the first place.

Acupuncture treatment can help restore balance of the emotions as well as gastric fluids. It can also promote healing after ulcer surgery and prevent further occurrence of ulcers. If an ulcer is not yet so severe that surgery is needed, acupuncture treatment may be able to help heal the ulcer before it becomes worse.


Can Acupuncture Help Stomach Ulcers?

acupuncture treatment
Acupuncture treatment can help reduce stomach acid.

Acupuncture treatment for stomach ulcers, gastric pain, and also canker sores (mouth ulcers), is usually focused on harmonizing the Qi (life force energy) of the stomach and the spleen. Heat and dampness are pathogenic forces that can cause imbalance in the stomach and spleen, while heat and wind in the lungs can also be a factor, from the TCM theory perspective.

Therefore, acupuncture points will be chosen to help strengthen and regulate the stomach and spleen. Acupuncture has been shown to have an effect on the vagus nerve and help reduce overactive acid production in the stomach. Acupuncture also affects the central nervous system, with the effect of reducing pain sensations.

One study compared patients who received acupuncture treatment for peptic ulcers in addition to medication (bismuth subnitrate and amoxicillin) versus patients who received only medications. The patient who also had acupuncture had a higher recovery rate, clearing the H. pylori bacterial infections, and also had a dramatically reduced recurrence rate in the following year after treatment ended.

A laboratory study showed that acupuncture helped to repair ulcerated tissues, reduce the secretion of gastric acids, and improve the condition of gastric mucosa, or stomach lining.

Another study showed that acupuncture treatment for chronic gastritis—inflammation of the stomach lining—was more effective than a drug protocol consisting of proton pump inhibitors, NSAIDs, and antibiotics.


Acupuncture Near Me for Stomach Ulcer – Los Angeles Area

At Art of Wellness Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine in West L.A., we have over 35 years of experience helping people with gastrointestinal disorders of all kinds. Problems such as nausea, diarrhea, constipation, diverticulitis, colitis (IBD), IBS, and Crohn’s disease can all be relieved by using TCM as an alternative or complementary medicine treatment.

*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.


How to Treat Hiatal Hernia With Acupuncture and TCM


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


hiatal hernia abdomen
Hiatal hernia develops in the upper abdomen

Heartburn and acid reflux? Chest pain or abdominal pain? Vomiting blood, black stool, dark poop? These can be hiatal hernia symptoms. Acupuncture and TCM offer an adjunct or alternative hernia treatment to help relieve hernia pain.

A hernia is what happens when an organ, usually in the abdomen or groin area, pushes through the muscle tissue that surrounds it.

A hiatal hernia occurs when the stomach pushes through the diaphragm—the large muscle that separates your abdomen from your chest. 

There is a small opening in the diaphragm—called the “hiatus”— that allows the esophagus to pass through the muscle wall before it connects to the stomach. When a hiatal hernia occurs, the upper part of the stomach pushes through that opening.

It is possible to have a mild hernia and not know it, as it may not cause any pain or other hernia symptoms. A more serious hiatal hernia, though, will cause stomach acid and undigested food to move back up into the esophagus, causing heartburn and possibly chest pain or abdominal pain.

Sometimes it is possible to actually see a hernia, as it may bulge out of the abdomen. Sometimes you can only see it when you cough, or do something strenuous, or even simply stand up.


Hiatal Hernia Symptoms

hernia symptoms
Hiccuping or regurgitation of acid and food are hiatal hernia symptoms

The most common signs of hiatal hernia include:

  • Heartburn and acid reflux: One of the most common symptoms of a hiatal hernia is a burning sensation in the chest due to the regurgitation of stomach acid into the esophagus.


  • Chest pain: Some people with a hiatal hernia may experience chest pain that can mimic the symptoms of a heart attack. The pain is often described as a dull, squeezing, or pressure-like sensation.


  • Difficulty swallowing: A hiatal hernia can lead to a narrowing of the esophagus, making it difficult to swallow. Individuals may feel a sensation of food getting stuck or feel like they’re choking.


  • Belching and hiccups: burping or persistent hiccuping can occur, due to pressure on the diaphragm.


  • Regurgitation: In addition to heartburn, people with a hiatal hernia may experience the backflow of food or sour liquid into the mouth.


  • Chest discomfort after eating: Some people may experience a burning sensation, pressure, or feeling of fullness in the chest area after eating, because the stomach is pressing into the chest cavity.


  • Shortness of breath: Larger hiatal hernias can put pressure on the diaphragm and lungs, leading to difficulty breathing, especially during physical exertion.


  • Fatigue and weakness: Chronic symptoms of a hiatal hernia can disrupt sleep, resulting in fatigue.

Hiatal hernias are quite common; they may affect as many as half of all people over 50. Hernias may happen because of a generally weakening of muscle tissues.

Hernias can also occur because of some trauma or injury to the area; some hernias happen after a surgical procedure, due to incisions or scar tissue. 

It is also possible to develop a hernia during pregnancy or after giving birth.

In many cases, hernia surgery is considered necessary to treat a hernia that is causing symptoms. Acupuncture and TCM treatment offer a way to treat hiatal hernias that may, in some cases, help people avoid a hernia operation.


Top 10 Types of Hernia

pregnancy hernia
Hernias can occur during pregnancy or childbirth.

While hiatal hernia and inguinal hernia are the most common types of hernia, there are several other types of hernia, classified mainly according to where in the body they occur.


  1. Hiatal Hernia: a portion of the stomach protrudes through the diaphragm into the chest cavity, often leading to symptoms like heartburn, chest pain, and difficulty swallowing.
  2. Inguinal Hernia: Inguinal hernias are the most common type and occur when part of the intestine or abdominal tissue pushes through a weak spot or tear in the lower abdominal wall, often in the inguinal canal. The inguinal canal acts as a passageway for the round ligament of the uterus in women and for the gonadal vessels in men. Inguinal hernias are more common in men and may cause a bulge or swelling in the groin or scrotum.
  3. Umbilical Hernia: Umbilical hernias occur when the tissue or intestines protrude through a weak spot near the navel (belly button). This type of hernia is more common in infants but can also occur in adults, especially those who are overweight or have had multiple pregnancies.
  4. Ventral Hernia: Ventral hernias develop in the abdominal wall, often at the site of a previous surgical incision. They can occur when the tissue or intestines push through weakened abdominal muscles, causing a bulge or protrusion.
  5. Epigastric Hernia: Epigastric hernias appear in the upper abdomen, between the navel and the breastbone. They occur when fatty tissue pushes through weak areas in the abdominal muscles, resulting in a small bump or bulge.
  6. Groin Hernia or Femoral Hernia: This term is often used to refer to inguinal hernias, which are the most common type of groin hernia. However, it can also encompass other hernias that occur in the groin area, such as femoral hernias. Femoral hernias can sometimes happen due to straining while having a bowel movement.
  7. Spigelian Hernia: Spigelian hernias are relatively rare and occur along the edge of the abdominal wall, typically below the navel. These hernias may be difficult to diagnose due to their location and can cause pain and discomfort.
  8. Incisional Hernia: An incisional hernia occurs at the site of a previous surgical incision, where the tissue or intestines protrude through the weakened area. It is more common in individuals who have undergone abdominal surgery.
  9. Diaphragmatic Hernia: Diaphragmatic hernias occur when abdominal organs, such as the stomach or intestines, protrude through a defect in the diaphragm. This type of hernia can be congenital or acquired and may cause symptoms such as difficulty breathing and chest pain.
  10. Sports Hernia: Also known as athletic pubalgia, a sports hernia refers to soft tissue injuries or tears in the groin area, specifically affecting the muscles, tendons, or ligaments. It is commonly associated with sports that involve sudden twisting movements, such as soccer or hockey.

Another type of hernia can occur in the back part of the body. You have probably also heard of a “herniated disc.” This condition, which is also known as a “bulging disk,” “prolapsed disc,” “ruptured disc,” or “slipped disc,” is a herniation that occurs between the spinal vertebrae.

There are discs made of cartilage that sit between the vertebrae, which provide cushioning. Sometimes, when there is damage to outer layers of these discs, the gel-like substance that is inside oozes out, breaching the outer wall. This type of hernia can put pressure on the nerves of the spinal column, causing pain.


Hernia Treatment

When a person seeks medical care for a suspected hernia, the diagnostic process typically involves first a physical exam; the doctor will check for swelling or a bulge in the abdomen or groin. Imaging tests, including X-rays or endoscopy, can help a physician see where there is a hernia, and how severe it is.

Initial treatment for hiatal hernia may be conservative, and involve monitoring and making lifestyle changes such as avoiding spicy foods and elevating the upper body during sleep.

Pharmacological solutions might involve antacids, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and H2 blockers, which reduce the production of stomach acids.

If these methods do not resolve symptoms of heartburn and reflux, then hernia surgery may be recommended. The most common type of hernia operation is called Nissen fundoplication, which involves wrapping the upper part of the stomach around the lower esophagus to reinforce the lower esophageal sphincter and prevent acid reflux. In some cases, minimally invasive techniques, such as laparoscopic hernia repair, may be used to reduce recovery time and minimize scarring.

Acupuncture and TCM may, in some cases, offer an alternative treatment for hiatal hernia that can help relieve pain, heartburn, and regurgitation.


Can Acupuncture Help Hiatal Hernia?

According to TCM theory, abdominal hernias usually occur due to an imbalance in the middle or lower jiao. The three jiaos are sometimes referred to or translated as the “triple burner,” which illustrates how they keep the center of the body warm and nourished.

In TCM, the upper jiao, middle jiao, and lower jiao correspond to the visceral structure of the midsection, and each one helps to control and harmonize the organ systems contained within it. The middle jiao houses the spleen, stomach, liver and gallbladder, while the lower jiao contains the small intestine, large intestine, kidneys, and bladder.

In Chinese Medicine, heat, cold, dampness, and dryness can be considered pathogenic forces that can cause problems. If there is an accumulation of cold or damp in the upper or lower abdomen, it can cause muscle weakness that leads to the formation of a hernia.

The middle jiao and lower jiao help keep fluids balanced in the abdomen. If the jiaos are not functioning well, then muscle weakness may be the result. Stagnant Qi can also be a factor. Acupuncture treatment helps to strengthen Qi and get it moving.

TCM takes the view that physical, mental, and emotional health are all inextricably linked. Strong emotions and stress can also contribute to the formation of hernias. Repressed feelings of anger or rage are associated with hiatal hernia. It is as if a person is swallowing those feelings, but the body rebels to force them back up.

Acupuncture treatment can help address the effects of prolonged stress and emotional upset. Finding stress relief and relaxation can have a significant effect on the central nervous system, the muscles of the abdomen, and the diaphragm. 

Both acupuncture treatment and Chinese herbs can help to reduce acid reflux and GERD symptoms.

If a hernia is severe, then a hernia operation may be required. In these cases, acupuncture and herbs can still help with the healing process. One study showed that electroacupuncture treatment helped to relieve postoperative pain for patients who had undergone hernia surgery.

Regular acupuncture treatment can help to prevent the recurrence of reflux, while helping to reduce the physical effects of emotional stress.


Acupuncture Near Me for Hiatal Hernia in Los Angeles

TCM is an excellent modality for helping to relieve both gastrointestinal disorders and muscular problems. In some cases, a hiatal hernia is a serious mechanical problem that requires surgical intervention. However, in many cases, hernias can be relieved with changes in lifestyle that will help to reduce acid and relieve stress. Acupuncture is worth considering as an adjunct or alternative hernia treatment.

*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.


How to Treat Appendicitis With Acupuncture and TCM


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


lower right abdominal pain
Pain right lower abdomen may be appendicitis.

Sudden pain right lower abdomen or pain that starts around your navel? Nausea or vomiting? These may be appendicitis symptoms. Appendix pain is a sign of appendicitis, or an infected and inflamed appendix. Acupuncture and TCM offer an adjunct treatment for appendicitis that can help relieve appendicitis pain.

The appendix is a small, tube-shaped organ that extends off of the lower part of the large intestine. What side is your appendix on? The appendix location is in the lower right quadrant of your abdomen.

What’s appendicitis? Appendicitis causes are generally related to infection and inflammation

The appendix can become blocked by a bacterial infection, a viral infection, a parasite, or a tumor. Sometimes fecal matter gets into the appendix, causing a blockage.

If the appendix becomes infected and inflamed, it can swell and even rupture; this is often called a “burst appendix,” or ruptured appendix.

If the appendix becomes so swollen that it begins to tear or rupture, stool can leak out into your abdominal area and cause peritonitis, a potentially very dangerous infection.

Acute appendicitis is a medical emergency and requires immediate medical attention.

Studies have shown that acupuncture and TCM treatment can help relieve appendicitis pain and swelling and improve outcomes for patients hospitalized for acute appendicitis.


Appendicitis Symptoms

right side abdomen pain appendicitis
Sudden pain in the middle of the belly that moves to the right side is one of the appendicitis symptoms.

The signs of appendicitis often come on over a short period of time, usually beginning with a sudden pain in the middle of your belly around your navel, and then moving to the lower right side of your abdomen.

Appendicitis symptoms include:

  • Sudden pain near or around the navel that migrates to the lower right side
  • Sudden pain in the lower right quadrant of the abdomen
  • Pain in belly is worse when you cough or are jarred 
  • Right belly is tender to the touch
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Urinary frequency or urinary urgency
  • No appetite
  • Low grade fever
  • Malaise, generally feeling ill

Appendicitis tends to develop through a series of stages. The 4 stages of appendicitis are: 

  1. Early or uncomplicated appendicitis, which is when a blockage has formed and swelling of the appendix begins. At this stage, the pain in the middle of the belly area may be just sort of a vague “stomach ache.”
  2. The appendix begins to fill with mucus. Without proper blood and lymph drainage, bacteria begin to proliferate inside the appendix.
  3. The swelling begins to make the tissue of the appendix and the surrounding intestine and bowel walls become stiff, sometimes forming an inflamed mass, which is called an “appendiceal phlegmon.” This can feel like a hard mass in the lower right abdomen when palpated.
  4. Blocked blood flow causes a lack of oxygen, so the tissues of the appendix become necrotic. At this stage, the wall of the appendix can begin to tear or rupture.

This process usually develops over the course of 12-24 hours. This is why appendicitis is considered a medical emergency. It is very important that anyone experiencing this type of pain and other symptoms seeks urgent care. 


Appendicitis Treatments and Appendectomy

Upon being admitted for testing, a person presenting with severe pain in the right abdomen will first need to undergo testing to be sure of a diagnosis of appendicitis.

There are several other conditions which could also cause abdominal pain in this area, including:

While undergoing diagnostic testing such as MRI, CT-scan, or ultrasound, it is often common practice for doctors not to administer pain medications, the idea being that to do so might mask symptoms and delay proper diagnosis. This when acupuncture treatment can be particularly helpful. Acupuncture can have a proven analgesic effect for abdominal pain, without any side effects.

In general, appendix surgery is considered the gold standard treatment for acute appendicitis. Appendix removal can be done laparoscopically, or via incision. 

Some cases of appendicitis may be treated with antibiotics and other medications over the course of several days or weeks, but often, in a significant number of  cases, the appendicitis recurs.

Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can serve as an adjunct treatment for appendicitis patients, helping to relieve abdominal pain, regulate body temperature, and reduce inflammation.


Can Acupuncture Help Appendix Pain?

Appendicitis is an emergency situation, and people should definitely seek immediate medical care if they are experiencing right side abdominal pain and fever.

Acupuncture and TCM herbs can be used as complementary medicine, to help reduce hospitalization time and improve overall outcomes of conventional treatment for appendicitis.

While in some cases, appendicitis surgery may be necessary, there are other options. In some cases a combination of antibiotics to handle the infection, and acupuncture, herbs and moxibustion treatment to help relieve pain and inflammation may help to resolve appendicitis without surgery. This is known as NOTA: non-operative treatment for acute appendicitis.

According to TCM theory, appendicitis is considered to be related to blood stasis and stagnant Qi, as indicated by symptoms like: distended abdomen, nausea and/or vomiting, and a red tongue with a white, greasy coating. If the condition is also characterized by excess heat, then there may also be intense pain and muscle tension in the lower right abdomen, constipation, fever, a dry mouth, and dark-colored urine.

moxibustion treatment
Moxibustion treatment can be helpful for appendix pain.

In this situation, an acupuncturist would use acupuncture points targeting the stomach, spleen, and large intestine to help move blood, Qi, and clear heat from the infected area. Moxibustion treatment, which involves burning a small amount of moxa herbs near acupoints, can also help to relieve fever and irritation.

These TCM treatments can help to support and boost the efficacy of conventional medical treatments for appendicitis.

In situations where an appendectomy is indicated, acupuncture and herbs can help speed recovery and help to improve intestinal function after surgery.

One study done on pediatric patients with appendicitis showed that acupuncture helped reduce inflammation and pain.

Another study compared patients hospitalized and treated for appendicitis. One group received antibiotics, pain relief medications, and a special diet. The other group received these treatments, plus acupuncture and herbs. Overall, the patients who received TCM treatment had reduced abdominal pain, more quickly resolved fevers, and were able to leave the hospital days earlier.

Acupuncture, and electro-acupuncture, can also be used to help with recovery and pain relief post-appendectomy, for those patients who do require surgery to remove the appendix.

Acupuncture for Appendicitis Near Me in West Los Angeles

Acupuncture and TCM can often be used in conjunction with conventional medical care as a way to offer additional support for pain relief, recovery, and regaining functionality. In the case of appendicitis, it is vital to seek medical treatment for what can potentially become a life-threatening emergency. Acupuncture and herbs can be used additionally, to help speed recovery from infection, and, when necessary, from surgery. TCM can help patients regain and improve their digestive function.


*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.



How to Treat Kidney Stones With Acupuncture and TCM


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


kidney stones back pain
Severe lower back pain can be a sign of kidney stones.

Severe lower back pain, blood in urine, burning pee? These could be signs of kidney stones. Acupuncture and TCM offer an alternative or adjunct kidney stones treatment that can help relieve kidney stone pain and dysuria, or painful urination.

Kidney stones are hard mineral deposits that form in the kidneys or other parts of the urinary tract. Salt and minerals can crystallize when urine reaches a certain level of concentration. 

Often, kidney stones form when there are calcium oxalate crystals in urine. Calcium levels can be high because of eating too much sodium.

The ureters are the tubes that connect the kidneys to the bladder. If a kidney stone moves into a ureter and becomes lodged there, it can cause left lower back pain or right lower back pain. This is known as “passing a kidney stone.” 

Kidney stones are very common, and many people go to the ER when they are experiencing severe lower back pain on one side and peeing blood. This happens when one or more kidney stones find their way into one of the ureters and become lodged there. This blocks the flow of urine and can cause severe pain and cramping.

Acupuncture can help reduce kidney stone pain in the short term, and help address the imbalances that are the root cause of kidney stones.


What Causes Kidney Stones? 

drink water kidney stones
Drinking enough water and eating more plant foods can help prevent kidney stones.

Kidney stones form when there is not enough urine, and it becomes too concentrated. This often is due to not drinking enough fluids and getting dehydrated. Other kidney stone causes include:

  • Not drinking enough water, dehydration
  • Too much salt
  • Too much sugar, fructose, or high fructose corn syrup
  • Too much meat, too few fruits and vegetables
  • Lack of exercise or too much exercise
  • weight loss surgery, bariatric surgery, which can cause chronic diarrhea
  • Infections, UTIs
  • Gout
  • Chronic diarrhea due to Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis
  • Type 2 Diabetes, high blood sugar levels

Kidney stones are differentiated into different types, depending on their mineral composition. The types of kidney stones are:

  • Calcium stones – deposits of calcium oxalate or calcium phosphate
  • Uric acid stones – high levels of uric acid can be due to eating a lot of animal proteins
  • Struvite stones – can form after a UTI
  • Cystine stones – cystinuria is an inherited condition that causes buildup of the amino acid cystine in the urinary tract


Top 10 Symptoms of Kidney Stones

Many people have kidney stones and are not aware of them. It is possible to have kidney stones without pain or kidney stones without urinary symptoms. You may only find out about them when having imaging tests done for some other reason.

However, passing a kidney stone can certainly cause intense pain and other upsetting symptoms. The most common signs of kidney stones include:

  1. Sharp pain on one side of the lower back
  2. Cramps in one side
  3. Pain in the lower abdomen or groin
  4. Urgent need to pee, urinary urgency
  5. Peeing a lot, urinary frequency
  6. Burning sensation when peeing, dysuria
  7. Dark urine, blood in urine
  8. Nausea, vomiting
  9. Pain at the tip of the penis
  10. Fever and/or chills

Kidney stone pain can range from mild to severe, and it can come and go or be constant.

Acupuncture treatment has been shown to be effective for reducing kidney stone pain when used as an adjunct in emergency medical care settings when someone is waiting for conventional treatment.


Treatment for Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are diagnosed through blood tests and urine tests, which will show if there is too much uric acid, calcium, or other minerals that can cause stones to form. Imaging tests, such as ultrasound, may be able to detect where stones are stuck in the urinary tract.

If a person is passing stones (kidney stones in toilet), they may be analyzed to determine what sort of mineral has formed them.

In many cases, people will be encouraged to wait until the stones pass on their own. In this case, simply drinking adequate fluids and using pain medication to manage the intermittent pain and cramping will be recommended. Medications such as alpha blockers (Flomax) may be prescribed to help relax the ureters.

If the kidney stones are too large to be passed, then surgery may be indicated. Procedures using sound waves are sometimes used to help break up the stones. Surgery using small scopes and instruments can also remove the stones. A stent may be placed in the ureter to help keep it open until swelling goes down and it heals.

Studies have indicated that a combination of medications like Flomax and Chinese herbs may help to expel kidney stones. TCM treatment can help prevent the need for surgery.

Can Acupuncture and Herbs Help Kidney Stones?

acupuncture can help kidney stones
Acupuncture and TCM can help relieve kidney stone back pain.

According to TCM theory, kidney stones are in the category of “Shilin” conditions, in which urination is difficult. Chinese herbs have traditionally been used to help balance the electrolyte minerals in the body, which helps prevent stones from forming in the urinary tract.

TCM treatment for kidney stones includes herbal medicine to help increase urine volume and excretion of minerals and inhibits the formation of calcium crystals. 

Acupuncture treatment has an anesthetic effect which can help relieve the pain of kidney stones while other treatments take effect to help reduce and prevent the formation of new kidney stones.

One trial found that acupuncture treatment helped relieve kidney stone pain faster than pharmacological medications. Acupuncture treatment has no side effects, while 43% of the people in the study who were given intramuscular anesthesia report side effects like skin rash, irregular heartbeat, and drowsiness.

Acupuncture and acupressure can help relieve severe back pain and pelvic pain due to various urinary and other reproductive system conditions. It can also help reduce the anxiety and depression that people sometimes experience when faced with severe pain.


How to Prevent Kidney Stones

Drinking plenty of water is probably the most important thing you need to do to prevent dehydration and low volume of urine. In addition to staying hydrated, you should:

  1. Reduce sodium intake by eating less salt and fewer processed and packaged foods.
  2. Reduce foods that encourage calcium oxalate stones: meats, berries, beer, black pepper, spinach, chocolate/cocoa, and tea.
  3. Combine calcium-rich foods or drinks with foods that contain oxalate, so that they can be absorbed well together. This could mean eating spinach with cheese, or berries with yogurt. The citrate in citrus juices can also help discourage stone formation.
  4. Add foods with a high ratio of magnesium to calcium, such as: brown rice, oats, barley, bananas, soybeans, and flaxseeds.
  5. Be sure to replace lost fluids when you sweat through exercise or by being in a sauna, steam room, or hot tub, or just by being in the heat during the summertime.
  6. Balance your Ph levels. For some people this may mean increasing alkaline foods. As your acupuncturist about checking your Ph levels.


Acupuncture Near Me for Kidney Stones, Los Angeles

TCM treatment can help reduce pain and address the root causes of many conditions that cause urinary urgency and frequency, like BPH, UTIs and interstitial cystitis. Acupuncture can also help relieve pelvic pain and low back pain due to many other conditions, like endometriosis, and mittelschmerz. If you are experiencing urinary symptoms or recurring bladder pain or back pain, consider consulting an experienced acupuncture practitioner to resolve the root issue.

*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.


How to Treat Eczema With Acupuncture and TCM


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


hand scratching red skin on leg
Itchy, dry skin patches are a sign of eczema.

Itchy skin, dry skin? A bumpy skin rash that is raw from scratching it? Eczema, sometimes known as atopic eczema or atopic dermatitis, is a very common inflammatory skin condition. Acupuncture and TCM can help relieve itchy, scaly skin caused by eczema and skin allergy.

Eczema is a chronic inflammatory condition that flares up when triggered and becomes an allergic reaction rash. An eczema rash can look red and bumpy, or feel warm or hot to the touch. It can also show up as dry patches of skin that are rough and leathery, and can be brown or gray in color.

Scaly skin or eczema skin rashes that itch can appear anywhere on the body, but most commonly occur on the face, back of the neck, elbows, forearms, or backs of the knees.

Clusters of small, itchy fluid-filled blisters on the hands, fingers, or soles of the feet are known as dyshidrotic eczema, or dyshidrosis. This type of eczema can happen once, as an isolated incident, or become a chronic problem that keeps coming back.


What Causes Eczema? 

Eczema is a widespread condition that often shows up in early childhood. About 80% of people who have atopic dermatitis show signs of skin rashes by the time they are six years old. It is estimated that about 1 in 10 people have some form of eczema.

The exact cause of eczema is not known, but it is generally believed to be a combination of factors, including: genetics, overactive immune function, and irritants in the environment. 

Eczema is not contagious, but a person is more likely to experience allergic skin rash if allergies tend to run in their family. People who have hay fever, asthma, or are allergic to pet dander, pollen, or dust mites are more likely to have skin allergies like eczema, too, and possibly to pass these conditions on to their children.


Top 20 Eczema Triggers

red, bumpy eczema rash
Red, bumpy eczema rash is an allergic reaction.

Eczema rashes tend to flare up when triggered by exposure to some allergen or element in the environment, or even a stressful situation. Common triggers for eczema breakouts include:

  • Pet hair or dander
  • Pollen
  • Mold
  • Dust or dust mites
  • Insect bites
  • Wool
  • Synthetic fabrics like polyester or latex
  • Metals, like copper, nickel, or gold
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Detergents or soaps
  • Cleaning products
  • Dyes
  • Perfumes
  • Chemicals in cosmetics or skin care products
  • Frequent hand-washing
  • Too-hot or too-frequent showers or baths
  • Sweating
  • Cold, dry places
  • Humidity
  • Emotional stress, work stress, or pressure at school


6 Types of Eczema

Eczema can present itself in different forms, with different types of skin conditions. The most common kinds of eczema include:

  1. Atopic eczema or atopic dermatitis – dry, red, itchy, and/or bumpy skin

  2. Contact eczema – caused by touching some irritant

  3. Dyshidrotic eczema – marked by small, itchy blisters

  4. Hand eczema– dry, peeling skin on the hands due to exposure to irritants or wetness

  5. Neurodermatitis – thick, leathery, itchy patches of skin

  6. Nummular eczema or discoid eczema – round lesions on the limbs or torso

The itchiness caused by eczema rashes is called pruritus, and it can be very intense, even disturbing a person’s sleep. Scratching the affected skin can damage it further, though, and lead to infections, so it is very important to find an effective treatment for the itching.


Eczema Cream and Eczema Treatment 

eczema cream topical steroids
Eczema cream topical steroids are only a temporary solution.

Topical eczema cream is the most common treatment for atopic eczema. Topical corticosteroids are immunosuppressants in a cream form that help reduce inflammation and heal the itchy rash of an eczema flare up. However, when these topical steroid creams are used for long periods of time, they can make the skin thinner and more susceptible to bruising. Blood vessels may become more prominent (spider veins). Steroids inhibit the natural immune function of the skin, so a person may be more prone to skin infections.

Oral immunosuppressants like cyclosporine or systemic steroids may also be prescribed to treat eczema, but these, too, can only be used safely on a temporary basis, to help reduce the itchiness of a flare-up. Taking these medications for an extended period of time can have serious side effects, and they do not really address the root cause of eczema.

Acupuncture and TCM can be used as an alternative or adjunct eczema treatment, which can not only help relieve itching and help heal sores, but can help prevent flare-ups from returning.


Can Acupuncture Help Eczema?

The TCM theory of the Five Elements informs the way that we diagnose and treat each individual case of eczema. The root causes of eczema, or any skin rash, lie beneath the surface of the skin. 

In TCM, Heat, Wind, Dryness, and Dampness are considered pathogenic forces that can take hold in the internal organs and then affect the way that skin cells develop. Examples of TCM diagnostic patterns of eczema or atopic dermatitis include:

  • Brimming heat of heart and spleen
  • Heart and spleen deficiency
  • Spleen deficiency and dampness retention
  • Wind and dryness due to blood deficiency

Each person’s experience with eczema is different because of the particular environmental or emotional triggers involved in the outbreak. By closely observing the color, temperature, and overall nature of the skin rash or scaly, thickened skin, the acupuncturist will get clues as to which internal systems are affected. By asking detailed questions about the patient’s lifestyle, the TCM practitioner is able to make recommendations that will help prevent further flare-ups.

Acupuncture treatment for eczema has been shown to help relieve itching better than antihistamines, and can also help to reduce skin inflammation.

Chinese herbal supplements designed to help relieve itchy skin have been shown to help relieve pruritus and reduce swelling. These studies suggest that herbs may be just as effective as topical steroids, but without the negative side effects.

The integration of Western medical methods and TCM treatment for eczema can be more beneficial than pharmacological treatment alone. Short-term use of topical corticosteroid eczema cream to help reduce inflammation and itching can be paired with acupuncture and herbs to help prevent flare-ups from recurring.


Acupuncture for Eczema Near Me in West Los Angeles

We want you to feel comfortable in your skin. At Art of Wellness, our comprehensive training in Western medicine, TCM, herbal medicine, and nutrition allows us to create a highly personalized treatment protocol for each patient. Many of our patients can attest that getting acupuncture and taking herbs have helped them reveal clearer, brighter skin and find relief from the pain of rashes and blemishes. If you or someone you love is suffering with itchy skin or allergic reactions, please consider trying TCM treatment for eczema and skin allergy.

*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.

310-451-5522 Directions Contact/Schedule