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Traditional Chinese Medicine

How To Treat Claustrophobia Anxiety Disorder With Acupuncture and TCM


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top 10 Symptoms of Claustrophobia:

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

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

Elevator claustrophobia
Elevators can trigger claustrophobic feelings.

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

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

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

What Causes Claustrophobia?

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

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

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

Treatment for Claustrophobia

MRI claustrophobia
Having an MRI can make people feel claustrophobic.

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

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

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

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

Can Acupuncture Help Claustrophobia?

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

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

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

Acupressure Points for Claustrophobia

shen men ear point
Shen men ear point for anxiety relief

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

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

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

Acupuncture for Claustrophobia Near Me in Los Angeles Area

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

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


How to Treat Ataxia With Acupuncture and TCM


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

ataxia muscle weakness
Ataxia causes muscle weakness.

Ataxia is a general term that covers many conditions involving muscle weakness or lack of coordination. Ataxia causes can include: infections, neurological disorders, degenerative brain disease or tumors, some autoimmune disorders, stroke, or alcohol addiction. Acupuncture can help with the muscular weakness and balance problems of cerebellar ataxia and sensory ataxia.

Ataxia can affect the limbs, leading to difficulty with balance and walking. It can also affect the muscles involved in speech, chewing and swallowing, and eye movements.

Different types of Ataxia include:

  1. Cerebellar ataxia – The most common types of ataxia are related to some sort of problem with the cerebellum, the part of the brain in the back of the head, which regulates muscle activity, balance, and equilibrium. Damage or dysfunction of the cerebellum can also cause tremors and difficulty in judging distance (dysmetria).
  2. Sensory ataxia – Ataxia may also happen due to issues with other parts of the brain and nervous system, such as damage to the somatosensory nerve, the brain stem, posterior lobe, cerebral cortex, the spinal cord, or the peripheral nerve. These kinds of ataxia can affect the gait and walking.
  3. Vestibular ataxia – Inner ear problems can cause ataxia that affects balance and can cause vertigo, dizziness, nausea.
  4. Hereditary ataxias – While they are rare, some people are born with hereditary forms of ataxia. These are classified as autosomal dominant or autosomal recessive, and they may begin to show up at any point in life. These types of ataxia are usually degenerative, meaning the symptoms are chronic and get worse over time. Autosomal dominant ataxias used to be called “Marie’s ataxia,“ and autosomal recessive ataxias used to be called “Friedrich’s ataxia.”

Ataxia may be acute or chronic, with symptoms that last for hours, days, weeks, or years, depending on the root cause. An infection, for example, could cause a temporary episode of ataxia. Ataxia can be triggered by an autoimmune flare-up.

Acupuncture and other TCM modalities are uniquely helpful for all kinds of neurological problems, including ataxia symptoms. Acupuncture can help to restore communications between parts of the nervous system and repair damaged nerve cells.

Top 10 Causes of Ataxia:

ataxia muscle weakness
Ataxia can impair motor function and spatial awareness.

Ataxia can be caused by a wide variety of health issues that affect the brain and nervous system:

  1. Stroke, brain aneurysm
  2. Brain tumor or lesions on the spinal cord
  3. Alcohol abuse
  4. Some medications or chemotherapy
  5. Toxins, heavy metal poisoning
  6. Severe vitamin deficiency
  7. Hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, thyroid problems
  8. Multiple Sclerosis
  9. Celiac Disease
  10. Encephalomyelitis (Chronic fatigue syndrome, ME/CFS) 

Ataxia can also result from serious infections like Lyme disease, Chickenpox, HIV, or COVID-19.

The severity and duration of ataxia symptoms can vary, depending on the cause of ataxia, and the type.

Medical Diagnosis and Treatment for Ataxia

It can be challenging to get a clear diagnosis when a person shows symptoms of Ataxia. Testing for Ataxia often involves performing the Romberg Test. This is a fairly simple, physical test, often used by both doctors to measure a person’s balance and coordination. It is sometimes used by police officers to determine if someone is under the influence of alcohol. 

The patient undergoing examination stands in various positions, closing and opening the eyes, and shaking the head from side to side. The changes in their ability to balance and maintain their position can help a doctor quantify their equilibrium in order to diagnose sensory ataxia, or vestibular ataxia, for instance. It can also help determine if a patient suffers from vertigo.

Other physical testing involves studying a person’s gait, or mode of walking. A person with sensory ataxia, for example, often demonstrates a particularly heavy, high-stepping gait due to the lack of sensation of the bottoms of their feet when they touch the ground.

Blood tests, spinal tap testing, or MRI imaging may show if ataxia is due to some sort of damage to the brain or spinal cord, or if there are lesions, tumors, or possibly some sort of infection causing the problem.

For most ataxia symptoms, however, there is no specific medical treatment. Patients who are having trouble with walking or moving their hands and facial muscles, may be referred to physical therapy or occupational therapy. Some people will need walkers or other physical aids.

Acupuncture offers a way to help people with all kinds of ataxia to improve their muscle coordination, balance, and other problems.

Can Acupuncture Help Ataxia?

ataxia balance
Acupuncture treatment can help improve balance.

Acupuncture treatment and other TCM modalities are suited to helping patients with all kinds of neurological conditions, by enhancing connections between the brain and the nervous system, and helping to restore the healthy development of nerve and neural cells. For patients with ataxia, this means an improvement in muscle coordination and limb function. Similar to the way that acupuncture helps Bell’s Palsy,Trigeminal Neuralgia, Myasthenia Gravis, and Parkinson’s, it may be able to improve eye problems and problems with eating due to nerve damage.

One case study followed a man who had suffered a stroke and was experiencing sensory ataxia. After regular rehab, he regained some of his muscular strength, but still had trouble with balance and perception. Acupuncture helped him regain his sense of spatial awareness and coordination of his lower limbs.

Another study found that acupuncture treatment helped increase connectivity between different parts of the brain and motor function in patients who were recovering from a stroke.

Formulations of traditional Chinese herbs are also a key part of TCM treatment for ataxia. 

Tai Chi movement practice can also benefit people with ataxia, promoting better dynamic balance.

Acupuncture Near Me for Ataxia in West Los Angeles

Conditions like ataxia can be difficult to treat with conventional medicine. Neurological disorders, autoimmune disorders, stroke recovery, the long-term effects of a serious infection; these are all situations in which a person may be helped by trying acupuncture and TCM as an alternative or adjunct to traditional treatment. Drs. Tan and Cai at Art of Wellness in Los Angeles, CA have over 30 years of experience helping people regain muscular strength and motor 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 Myasthenia Gravis With Acupuncture and TCM


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

myasthenia Gravis trouble breathing
Myasthenia gravis can cause trouble breathing.

Muscle weakness around the eyes, drooping eyelids (ptosis), double vision, blurred vision (diplopia), impaired speech? These are potential signs of Myasthenia Gravis, an autoimmune disorder that affects the voluntary neuromuscular system, especially around the eyes, mouth, and throat, and the limbs. Acupuncture and TCM offer an adjunct treatment for Myasthenia Gravis symptoms.

As with some other autoimmune diseases, Myasthenia Gravis causes antibodies produced by the body’s own immune system to attack healthy cells instead of pathogens. In the case of Myasthenia Gravis, the immune cells attack receptors on certain groups of muscles, which blocks chemicals required to stimulate voluntary muscular contractions.

A person can develop Myasthenia Gravis at any age, but the disorder is twice as prevalent among women between 20 and 40. Myasthenia is a chronic condition that cannot be completely cured. However, the symptoms can often be controlled with medications and/or other types of treatment for myasthenia gravis.

Many people with Myasthenia Gravis are able to improve their muscular strength with the right combination of treatments and maintain their normal activities. Acupuncture and other TCM modalities can be used as an adjunct therapy to improve quality of life and keep functionality strong, helping to control this autoimmune disorder.

What Causes Myasthenia Gravis?

Our voluntary muscular movements rely on the ability of our muscles to receive communications through the nervous system. There are various neurotransmitters that interact with receptors on the muscles and the proteins that make up the chemical connections between nerves and muscles. Some people with Myasthenia Gravis seem to have antibodies that are damaging or destroying these key receptors and/or proteins. Other people with Myasthenia Gravis, however, do not show unusual antibody activity (seronegative myasthenia gravis or antibody-negative myasthenia gravis), but doctors believe they must still be experiencing some form of autoimmune dysfunction affecting the nerves and muscles.

The thymus gland plays a part in immune function and is believed to play a role in the production of these antibodies that block receptors. Some people with Myasthenia Gravis had an enlarged thymus gland, or a tumor or tumors on the thymus gland.

In rare cases, a baby may be born with a form of congenital Myasthenia gravis; this is called congenital myasthenic syndrome. 

People with Myasthenia Gravis may also have problems with their thyroid gland, and may be more likely to show signs of other autoimmune disorders, like rheumatoid arthritis, or lupus.

Symptoms of Myasthenia Gravis 

myasthenia gravis muscle weakness
Myasthenia Gravis can cause muscle weakness in the arms and hands.

More than half of people who end up discovering that they have Myasthenia Gravis first present with eye problems, such as double vision, blurry vision, or droopy eyelids. But the signs can also show up in the throat, with trouble swallowing, or in the mouth area, with trouble forming words, chewing food, or even breathing.

Signs of myasthenia gravis include:

  • Weakness of the muscles around the eyes (ocular myasthenia)
  • Drooping eyelids (ptosis)
  • Double vision or blurred vision (diplopia)
  • Speech problems, impaired speech (dysarthria), trouble pronouncing words
  • Shortness of breath
  • Change in facial expressions
  • Muscular weakness in the neck, arms, hands, or legs
  • Difficulty holding up the head, neck problems
  • Fatigue, especially muscle fatigue

Symptoms of Myasthenia Gravis often seem to abate in the early part of the day, after a night’s rest, and then worse as the day goes on, and a person has been more active. In other words, the muscle weakness tends to improve with rest, and get worse with exertion.

Like some other autoimmune disorders, Myasthenia Gravis symptoms can come and go, sometimes flaring up and at other times going into remission. Some issues that can exacerbate symptoms might be:

  • Infection or illness
  • stress
  • Fatigue, overwork, not enough sleep
  • Surgery
  • Menstrual period
  • Pregnancy
  • Certain medications, including some antibiotics, anesthetics, or beta blockers

The most serious form of Myasthenia Gravis occurs if the muscles that control the breathing apparatus become so weak and fatigued that a person cannot breathe; this is a medical emergency called a “myasthenia crisis,” and requires immediate medical intervention.

Myasthenia Gravis Treatment

eyelid droop drooping eye
Drooping eyelids are a sign of Myasthenia Gravis

It can be a difficult process being definitely diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis. Problems with balance, coordination, reflexes, and muscle strength may show up in a neurological exam, but they do not prove definitively what is going on. When the eyelids are drooping, doctors will often perform a test where they ice the area for two minutes to see if this improves the problem. A blood test may show a higher than normal level of antibodies of the type that affect the muscle receptors or proteins. A CT or MRI may reveal a tumor on the thymus.

Other conditions that may appear similar to Myasthenia Gravis include ALS and botulism.

Doctors will prescribe different medications to treat Myasthenia Gravis, either alone, or in combination, depending on the severity and type of symptoms. Corticosteroids and immunosuppressants can reduce the production of antibodies. Plasmapheresis can remove some of the overload of antibodies already in the system. Intravenous immunoglobulin introduces healthy antibodies that can cancel out the malfunctioning ones. Cholinesterase inhibitors can help boost the communication between the nervous system and the muscles. Unfortunately, all of these medications can come with side effects.

Surgical removal of the thymus gland if there is a tumor, or even in some cases when there is no tumor but the gland is believed to be a contributing factor, may help relieve the condition.

Acupuncture and TCM, when used as an adjunct, can help alleviate symptoms of the disorder itself, and help mitigate the side effects of other treatments.

Can TCM Herbs and Acupuncture Help Myasthenia Gravis?

Myasthenia Gravis causes miscommunications between the nervous system and the muscles. Acupuncture treatment can be beneficial for many different types of neurological, musculoskeletal, and autoimmune disorders because it has a positive impact on the communications between the various systems of the body. 

TCM treatment with an experienced acupuncturist can be very helpful for patients with Myasthenia Gravis, as we take all aspects of your health into consideration while also focusing on the symptoms related specifically to this autoimmune condition. For example, acupuncture can help with sleep, feelings of anxiety and depression, problems with appetite and digestion, as well as with the muscular weakness associated with Myasthenia Gravis.

One study tested the effects of acupuncture treatment on ocular myasthenia, or eye-related symptoms. Over 90% of the patients treated experience significant improvement in their symptoms.

Chinese herb preparations used in addition to Western conventional medicines can help patients with Myasthenia Gravis. A study compared two groups of patients: one treated with corticosteroids (Prednisone), and one treated with both Prednisone and Chinese herbs. After three months, the patients given herbs showed more improvement, and were able to reduce the amount of corticosteroids needed.

A review of several studies done in China of acupuncture treatment used as complementary treatment for Myasthenia Gravis concluded that patients who had acupuncture reported better clinical outcomes than people who only received the standard pharmaceutical treatments.

While it may be challenging, it is good to include physical activity and even muscular strength training, as it is possible for patients to help overcome muscle weakness with regular exercise. Your TCM practitioner can help you follow an appropriate nutrition and movement program.

Acupuncture Near Me for Myasthenia Gravis in West Los Angeles

TCM is well-suited to help patients who suffer from both autoimmune disorders and neurological and muscular problems of all kinds because it works on multiple levels to help quiet pain signals while boosting communication signals between the different systems of the body. Dr. Tan and Dr. Cai have over 30 years of experience helping people recover from chronic illnesses like Myasthenia Gravis.



*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 Huntington’s Disease With Acupuncture and TCM


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


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

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

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

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

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

Huntington’s Disease Symptoms

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

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

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

What Are the 5 Stages of Huntington’s Disease?

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

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

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

How is Huntington’s Disease Inherited?

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

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

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

Can Acupuncture Help Huntington’s Disease?

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

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

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

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

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

Neurological Treatment With Acupuncture

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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


How to Treat the Common Cold With Acupuncture and TCM


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

common cold acupuncture
The common cold is an infection that mainly affects your nose and throat.

Sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion, cough? How can you tell if it’s a cold symptom, a flu, COVID-19, mononucleosis, croup, or maybe an allergy? All of these illnesses can cause fatigue and a stuffy nose. The common cold, however, does not cause a high fever, and the cough is usually mild, not a persistent cough. Acupuncture and TCM herbs offer a highly effective way to relieve common cold symptoms.

A cold is a kind of viral infection that affects your upper respiratory tract, centering mostly in the nose and throat. Different viruses can cause the common cold; rhinovirus is the most common kind of cold virus.

You can catch a cold virus when you are near someone else who sneezes or coughs, and you get droplets containing the virus into your own nose, mouth, or eyes, or you touch something they coughed or sneezed on, and then touch your own face.

Young children and people with weakened immune systems are more prone to catching colds, as are people who smoke. You’re more likely to catch a cold if you spend a lot of time in crowded places, like schools, airports, public transportation, etc. More people get colds during the winter, because more people are packed together indoors, but cold-causing viruses are circulating all through the year.

You will start feeling cold symptoms within a few days of being exposed to the virus. Typically, without any medical intervention, a cold will last about a week or ten days. For some people, though, a cold can lead to other, more serious infections, like an ear infection, asthma and wheezing, sinusitis/sinus infection, bronchitis, or even pneumonia.

Cold symptoms aren’t so much caused by the virus, but by the workings of the body’s own immune system to expel the virus. Coughing and a runny nose are the body’s way of getting the virus out of the respiratory system. While the common cold doesn’t necessarily require any medical treatment, it is best to take steps to strengthen your immune system and clear the virus as soon as you can.

Chinese herbs and acupuncture treatment are an excellent way to shorten the duration and lessen the severity of a cold. Regular acupuncture treatment also functions as preventive medicine, so that you and your family don’t catch cold nearly as often.

Top 10 Common Cold Symptoms

common cold sneezing stuffy nose
Sneezing, stuffy nose, and sore throat are the most common cold symptoms.

How can you tell if you have a cold or a flu? Usually, cold symptoms are more centered in the nose and throat, and are milder than flu symptoms. A flu is more likely to cause serious fatigue, chills and fever, and body aches than a cold is. 

The typical symptoms of common cold include:

  1. Runny nose, stuffy nose, nasal congestion
  2. Sneezing
  3. Sore throat
  4. Cough
  5. Post-nasal drip
  6. Watery eyes
  7. Headache
  8. Body aches
  9. Low grade fever
  10. Fatigue, feeling tired

Sometimes people differentiate between head cold symptoms and a chest cold. A head cold describes the way most rhinovirus colds manifest in the upper respiratory organs: with a stuffed up nose, sniffling, headaches, and a red, sore throat.

If the cold “moves” down into the chest, causing inflamed bronchial tubes, and mucus production in the lungs, this is called acute bronchitis. This feels more like chest congestion, with a more persistent cough. Once a cold turns into bronchitis, you are more likely to have a serious cough, with or without coughing up phlegm.

How Is the Common Cold Usually Treated?

The accepted wisdom is that there is no cure for a cold; you just have to do whatever you can to make yourself more comfortable while the illness runs its course. Antibiotics only help get rid of bacterial infections. They do not help when you have a viral infection.

While it is true that there is no medication you can take to get rid of a cold, there are many remedies, both traditional home remedies for cough, and popular over-the-counter medicines and health store supplements that claim to take care of your cold symptoms.

common cold remedies
Hot soup is a popular remedy for a cold.

Many people swear by things like Vitamin C, Zinc lozenges, or echinacea preparations. Other people will tell you to drink hot honey water and eat chicken soup. All of these natural cold remedies may have some benefits. At least, they don’t do any harm.

Other cold medicines may do more harm than good. Cough suppressants and nasal decongestants actually work against your body’s natural defenses. Your body is producing mucus and the cough reflex in order to expel the virus and keep it out of your lungs. Repressing these natural immune responses can prolong your cold. 

Nasal decongestants like Sudafed can cause a fast heart rate and jittery feelings, especially in young children. Cough syrup with antitussive properties, or cough suppressant, can have negative side effects besides just making you drowsy or irritable. Some cough medicines can interact with other medications, making them inappropriate for people who have problems like high blood pressure, enlarged prostate (BPH), or glaucoma.

Trying to power on through your days with the help of OTC cold relief medications, caffeinated drinks, and sugary cough drops, without getting the rest you need, is not a good idea. Getting extra rest and drinking plenty of fluids are definitely tried and true ways to get over your cold.

Consider that acupuncture and herbal medicine developed over centuries of TCM tradition can help address cold symptoms without any side effects, and may help you recover more quickly than rest alone.

TCM for Colds: How to Get Rid of a Cold Fast

TCM cupping acupuncture
Cupping treatment helps move Qi, blood, and lymph to relieve congestion.

In TCM we consider some conditions to be external, meaning that they come from outside the body, in the form of pathogenic factors like heat, cold, wind, and dampness. Based on the environment, and the types of symptoms, we determine whether a cold follows a pattern of a cold-wind type, or a heat-wind type, or sometimes a hot-damp type as might occur during the summertime. An acupuncture practitioner will then base the treatment on the pattern of cold presented.

Acupuncture treatment influences the immune system’s response, and since that is what is actually causing the symptoms of a cold, the use of acupuncture points for cold and sore throat can really have a positive effect on reducing cold symptoms.

Cupping is a TCM modality that may be used to help treat colds and other respiratory conditions. Cupping helps to relieve congestion and gets lymph and blood circulation moving.

When you come in with a cold, your TCM provider will tailor your acupuncture treatment and prepare an herb formula specific to your needs. That said, our patients who have been coming into Art of Wellness for many years know that there is a

TCM herbs for colds
Take Yin Chiao pills at the first sign of a cold.

standard formula that is excellent for “knocking out” a cold if you can catch it at the very beginning. Right when you begin to feel that tickle in the back of your throat, that is the time to reach for your supply of Yin Chiao pills!

Ginger tea, made by simply slicing a bit of fresh ginger and steeping it in hot water, is also a great way to stop a cold in its tracks, before it gets worse.

Acupuncture Near Me for Common Cold in Santa Monica, West LA

Making time for regular acupuncture “tune-up” visits can help keep your body and mind balanced and your immune system in good working order. In the ancient TCM tradition, acupuncturists used to treat their patients for free when they caught a cold type illness, because it meant they hadn’t done their job of boosting immunity well enough. Prevention is certainly the best medicine when it comes to colds and flus. When you do begin to feel the first signs of a cold, though, it isn’t too late. Come in for a treatment, or call us at Art of Wellness to order some herbs to be shipped to you. We can help you get over your cold symptoms quickly.



*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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