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Traditional Chinese Medicine

How to Treat Constipation With Acupuncture and TCM

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

woman on toilet
If going to the bathroom is difficult or painful, it means you’re constipated.

Using a laxative or stool softener so that you can have a bowel movement? Everyone experiences constipation once in a while, but chronic constipation can be a serious issue. Acupuncture and TCM offer a natural way to get constipation relief.

Having difficulty going to the bathroom (pooping) is unfortunately a very common problem. Millions of people see their doctor seeking constipation treatment every year. People of all ages—children, adults, and older people—can suffer from slow digestion and hard bowel movements.

Symptoms of constipation can include:

  • Dry, hard stool
  • Having less than three bowel movements per week
  • Bowel movements are difficult and/or painful
  • Bloated stomach
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Nausea

Basically, constipation occurs when the muscles of the large intestine are not properly moving matter through and out of the colon. Slow movement can result in too much water being absorbed by the colon, causing hard, dry stools.

In general, “normal” bowel movements should be soft and easy to pass, and should happen daily. However, it is not at all uncommon for people to have painful constipation and only go a few times a week, or have even less frequent bowel movements (severe constipation).

There can be many different reasons why there is an imbalance of water in the colon, or that the muscles aren’t functioning well enough. These deeper causes need to be addressed if chronic constipation is becoming an issue.

Fortunately, TCM treatment for constipation includes traditional herb formulations that have been used for centuries as a natural laxative, and acupuncture, which can help strengthen the muscle action of the intestines.

Constipation Causes

stomach pain constipation
Abdominal pain and bloating can be signs of constipation.

Constipation can occasionally occur due to short-term circumstances. Many people experience temporary constipation while they are on a trip and using unfamiliar bathrooms. Eating foods that are unusual for you or low in fiber, becoming dehydrated, not getting any physical activity for several days—these situations could all cause sluggish elimination.

IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), which is considered a functional gastrointestinal disorder, often involves periodic constipation (or diarrhea).

Chronic constipation or severe constipation can have many causes. Sometimes constipation can be caused by a bowel obstruction, or something physically blocking the intestine.

Constipation can also be a secondary condition related to another chronic health problem. 

Conditions that cause damage to nerves may disrupt the signals that tell the muscles of the colon to move. These could include:

Hormonal imbalances or fluctuations can also lead to constipation. Hormone-related conditions that could contribute to constipation include:

Some medications can cause constipation, such as:

  • Narcotics, opioid pain medications (such as Vicodin)
  • NSAIDs, like ibuprofen
  • Some antidepressants (like Zoloft)
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Sedatives
  • Iron supplements
  • Antacids like Maalox or Mylanta
  • Diuretics
  • Medications for overactive bladder, like Ditropan and Detrol
  • Parkinson’s medications, like Sinemet
  • Nausea medications

Using laxatives and other over-the-counter constipation remedies as a habit can, unfortunately, perpetuate the cycle and lead to ongoing, chronic constipation.

Mental health conditions like depression and anxiety can also affect regularity. TCM and acupuncture can help improve mental health as well as physical health to help bring constipation relief.

Constipation Side Effects

It is very important to find the root cause of constipation and find a solution. Chronic constipation can lead to other serious complications, such as:

  • Hemorrhoids
  • Anal fissures
  • Diverticulitis
  • Fecal impaction
  • Stress urinary incontinence

Fortunately, acupuncture and TCM offer natural remedies for constipation without habit-forming medications. 

 

Can Acupuncture Help Relieve Constipation?

acupuncture for constipation
Acupuncture treatment can help bring constipation relief.

In TCM, we diagnose a condition based on the pattern of symptoms each individual person is experiencing, as sometimes the same condition—in this case, constipation—can actually be influenced by many different variables. The diagnostic pattern gives us information about what acupuncture points and herbs will help treat that individual case.

According to TCM theory, constipation can present as:

  • Yin Deficiency
  • Excess Heat
  • Qi Deficiency

In older people, chronic constipation is often related to weakness in the kidneys and liver, which leads to malnourishment and stagnant Qi. 

In general, TCM constipation treatment will focus on helping to bring more moisture into the colon and clear heat, while activating the Qi (energy) of the bowel and removing physical and energetic blockages.

Many people who suffer from constipation don’t have enough microbiota or “good bacteria” in their colon. Acupuncture and herbs can help to improve the gut biome.

One study showed that electro-acupuncture helped a significant number of people with chronic constipation have more frequent bowel movements.

One study conducted in China found that, after 20 sessions, gastrointestinal patients who received acupuncture for constipation had a success rate of over 82%, meaning they had more frequent and easier bowel movements.

Another study showed that patients who went through a series of acupuncture treatments sustained longer-lasting efficacy from their treatment than patients who had used medicinal laxatives.

One commonly used Chinese formulation for constipation has been shown to help increase levels of oleamide, which is associated with intestinal motility.

Acupuncture Near Me for Constipation in Los Angeles and Santa Monica

At Art of Wellness, we often treat patients for constipation, whether that is their primary complaint, or sometimes a secondary issue to their other concerns. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are excellent modalities for helping people achieve regularity and better overall digestion.



 

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

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How to Treat Aphasia With Acupuncture and TCM (Scalp Acupuncture)

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By Qineng Tan, L.Ac., Ph.D.

 

scalp acupuncture aphasia
Scalp acupuncture can help stroke recovery and aphasia.

Difficulty speaking, reading or writing due to brain damage is known as “aphasia.” Different types of aphasia can develop after a person has a stroke or head injury. Aphasia can also be a symptom of dementia. Acupuncture—especially “scalp acupuncture”—can help a person regain brain function and speech.

Aphasia—sometimes called “dysphasia”— is a language disorder that occurs because a part of the brain that controls speech, comprehension, and communication is not functioning correctly. This is usually due to damage or pressure on that part of the brain.

Scalp Acupuncture, sometimes called “neuroacupuncture,” is a specific technique that combines Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western medical understanding of neurology. Acupuncture needles are used to stimulate points on the head, or scalp, that have a direct effect on brain cells.

Scalp acupuncture can be helpful in treating acute and chronic central nervous system disorders that cause aphasia, as well as cognitive difficulties, trouble with motor skills, and even paralysis.

Scalp Acupuncture can be used to help people regain brain function after having suffered a stroke or injury to the head. Aphasia is generally considered to be related to this type of damage, but speech problems and trouble with cognition and comprehension can often occur with other neurological disorders, too.

This type of acupuncture treatment can also help people with neurological conditions such as:

Neurological disorders cause problems with the way the brain communicates information and instructions to the organs and limbs via the nervous system; this is what leads to a wide variety of language and movement disorders.

Scalp acupuncture can be used to help these conditions because it can stimulate malfunctioning brain cells to begin working properly again, encourage the growth of new brain cells, and reestablish connections between the brain and the rest of the central nervous system.

Acupuncture can help improve some of the most common symptoms of neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and MS, including:

Scalp acupuncture can be an effective form of integrative medicine to help people overcome these symptoms, whether they are recovering from a stroke or suffering from a neurological disorder.

 

What is Scalp Acupuncture?

scalp acupuncture
Scalp acupuncture uses small needles inserted just under the surface of the scalp.

Acupuncture is one of several modalities used in TCM, which is a complete medical system with a history going back thousands of years. The stimulation of points on the head and/or scalp has always been used as a method for treating all types of symptoms and underlying conditions.

“Scalp acupuncture” is a term that refers to a more specific, contemporary acupuncture technique that combines ancient TCM knowledge with modern medical understanding of the anatomy of the brain and the way parts of the brain interact with the nervous system to control various bodily and sensory functions.

In Chinese Medicine, acupuncture points are usually chosen based on the theory of the meridians—channels along which Qi (energy) moves through the body. Along each meridian lie several points that connect organ systems and parts of the body. This concept of a network system of meridians is more metaphorical in nature, rather than based on actual physiology. In TCM we may consider that a problem in one part of the body is related to an imbalance in a (seemingly) different organ system. For example, anxiety and heart palpitations might be treated by needling a point on the head that is on the Stomach meridian.

In Western medicine, “somatotopic arrangement” describes the understanding of how parts of the brain, and particularly the nerve endings on the scalp, are arrayed in a pattern around the skull and correspond to different sensory functions, such as speech, visual perception, balance, and motor skills. With MRI technology, scientists have been able to “map” out how parts of the nervous system on the scalp correspond to parts of the body, like the feet, and the hands, etc.

With the practice of scalp acupuncture, we are combining these concepts and using acupuncture as a way of directly influencing parts of the brain, like the cerebral cortex, hypothalamus, cerebellum, etc. This can help both to heal parts of the brain that might be damaged due to a stroke, and to regulate functioning of those parts, so as to help restore proper functioning of motor activities and the senses.

This technique involves the insertion of small acupuncture needles into the tissues just beneath the surface of the skin on the scalp. Then, the needles may be be stimulated, either by manually twisting, or with electro-acupuncture (sometimes called “electro-stim”). Here, we attach small electrodes to the needles, and a mild to medium level of electric current flows to activate a vibration and/or rotation.

electroacupuncture electro-stim
Electro-stim machine used for electroacupuncture.

As part of the goal is to reactivate nervous system connections, the patient may be asked to be active during the treatment; that is, by moving the part of the body that is experiencing weak movement, or at least, to visualize or imagine themselves performing the movement.

One study of patients being treated with scalp acupuncture for aphasia showed that 46% showed “marked improvement,” while almost all patients showed some improvement.

In a study of scalp acupuncture for treatment of paralysis, all patients showed improvement, while 68% were cured.

While more research is needed, it is also believed that scalp acupuncture may be a good alternative therapy to help treat mental health issues, like depression, anxiety, and PTSD, as well as sleep disorders, like insomnia.

 

Scalp Acupuncture for Aphasia and Stroke Recovery in Los Angeles

At Art of Wellness, we have over 30 years of experience treating neurological disorders of all kinds. Our training in China gave us a thorough understanding of integrative medicine, using both TCM and Western medicine knowledge to provide the best possible outcomes for our patients. We have continued to grow and learn, while working closely with doctors and patients in Los Angeles since 1995. If you or someone you love is recovering from a stroke, or living with a chronic neurological condition, please consider trying acupuncture as an adjunct 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.

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How to Treat Bronchitis With Acupuncture and TCM

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

 

man coughing
A persistent, productive cough can be a sign of bronchitis.

Chest cold with a productive cough, shortness of breath, coughing up mucus? These could be acute bronchitis symptoms. Acupuncture and TCM herbs can provide an alternative bronchitis treatment to help relieve chest congestion and a chronic cough.

Bronchitis is a respiratory infection in which the bronchial tubes, or airways, become inflamed. It typically causes chest congestion, a wet cough, coughing up phlegm, and difficulty breathing. Acute bronchitis usually develops due to the same kinds of viral infections that cause the common cold or pneumonia.

Chronic bronchitis refers to long-term inflammation of the lungs and bronchial tubes that is not related to an infection. If a person has a cough with mucus that lasts for months, or happens year after year, it is considered chronic bronchitis. This can happen as a result of smoking, and/or exposure to air pollution.

Like emphysema, chronic bronchitis is considered a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). There are other lung conditions that can cause symptoms similar to those of bronchitis, including: asthma, sinusitis, whooping cough (pertussis) and tuberculosis.

Acute bronchitis usually clears up within a few weeks, but the persistent cough may linger. Antibiotics do not help treat viral infections, so the treatment for bronchitis is usually just to help suppress the cough and reduce aches and pains. 

TCM treatment with acupuncture and herbs can help relieve bronchitis symptoms without side effects. It can also help remove pathogens and blockages affecting the lungs, so that bronchitis doesn’t turn into a chronic, recurrent condition.

Bronchitis Symptoms

woman in bed coughing
Bronchitis cough may get worse when you lie down to sleep.

Acute bronchitis causes the airways of the lungs—the bronchial tubes—to swell, and the lungs to produce extra mucus. Coughing, with clear or yellowish phlegm, is the primary symptom of bronchitis.

The most commons symptoms of bronchitis include:

  • Cough, phlegmy cough, cough with mucus, productive cough, persistent cough
  • Chest soreness, tightness in chest, chest pain
  • Fatigue, feeling tired
  • Shortness of breath, trouble breathing, wheezing
  • Sore throat
  • Stuffy nose, runny nose
  • Body ache, headache, back pain, muscle pain
  • Low grade fever

Is bronchitis contagious? It is not so much bronchitis as a condition—that is, inflammation and congestion in the lungs—is contagious, as the virus or bacterial infection that caused bronchitis to develop is contagious for a period of time. The coughing may last for a while beyond the infectious period. Sleeping can be difficult, because the cough tends to worsen when a person lies down.

Bronchitis Treatment

When you seek treatment for acute bronchitis from a physician, it is generally treated in the same way as the common cold. Recommendations will include:

  • Rest
  • Increase fluid intake, drink more water
  • Take OTC pain relievers
  • Take expectorants or cough suppressants to manage coughing
  • Use a humidifier or sit in a steamy shower room to help relieve congestion

These remedies may help to temporarily relieve symptoms while a person gets over the infection. However, some of these medications can cause side effects, and they do not do much to help prevent bronchitis from coming back the next time a virus is going around.

Chronic bronchitis, as a COPD, is considered a chronic illness that must be managed, so as to slow its progression. Quitting smoking is the first recommendation. Then, bronchodilators, steroids, and/or antibiotics may be prescribed to help open the airways, reduce inflammation, and prevent recurrent infections.

These medical interventions, too, can come with significant side effects. Corticosteroids, in particular, if taken over a long period of time, can cause liver damage. 

Making a major lifestyle change, like getting rid of a nicotine addiction, is easier said than done. 

Fortunately, acupuncture and TCM herbs offer a complementary medicine to help relieve bronchitis symptoms, treat the deeper root causes, and also help with quitting smoking, if necessary.

Can Acupuncture Help Bronchitis?

acupuncture treatment for bronchitis
Acupuncture can help relieve bronchitis symptoms.

According to TCM theory, bronchitis is the result of pathogenic forces like Wind and Dampness affecting the lungs and other organs systems that are interrelated. An acupuncturist looks for the particular patterns of symptoms in each individual, and tailors acupuncture treatment and herbal supplements, according to which organ system patterns are involved. These may include:

  • Lung dampness
  • Lung deficiency
  • Lung dryness
  • Phlegm-heat obstructing lung
  • Wind invasion
  • Spleen Qi deficiency
  • Spleen/Kidney Yang deficiency
  • Qi and/or Yin deficiency

Multiple studies have shown that acupuncture treatment and herbal cough preparations can be even more effective than conventional medicines when helping to relieve post-infectious chronic coughing.
Studies have shown that acupuncture can help reduce bronchial inflammation and damage, relieve coughing and reduce phlegm production. It can also help boost immune function.

One study detailed how patients with chronic bronchitis, who had been taking steroids for years, were able to reduce or entirely stop their use of steroids after receiving acupuncture treatments for a few months.

Chinese herbs, used in combination, can help relieve bronchitis symptoms and work on other levels, too. They can help clear toxins from the tissues and promote regeneration of new, healthy tissue, and improve immunity, so that the next time a virus is going around, the body is better equipped to fight it off quickly.

Top 5 Tips for Getting Rid of Bronchitis Naturally

fresh ginger tea
Fresh ginger tea can help reduce inflammation.

Getting acupuncture treatment and specific herbs for your condition will be helpful. In addition, you can help strengthen your lung health by practicing these habits:

  1. Avoid dairy products, which increase mucus production
  2. Drink warm herbal teas, fresh ginger tea, and lemon water to help stay hydrated and thin phlegm. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which dehydrate you. Ginger helps reduce inflammation.
  3. Steam an asian pear until very soft, and eat like applesauce. This helps clear mucus.
  4. Breathing exercises can be helpful; ask your acupuncture practitioner to show you some good breathing techniques.
  5. Take Yin Qiao pills at the very first sign of a cough or sore throat. This is a traditional Chinese formulation that helps ward off colds and coughs if taken early. 

Acupuncture Near Me for Bronchitis in West Los Angeles

When a respiratory infection turns into a nagging cough, or worse, into chronic bronchitis that keeps coming back, year after year, it is important to seek treatment. With acupuncture and TCM herbs, it is possible to recover from a bronchial infection more quickly and comfortably. With regular acupuncture “tune-ups,” you can end the cycle of a chronic cough.

 

 

 

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

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How to Treat Acne With Acupuncture and TCM

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

acne breakout pimples blemishes
Hiding pimples and acne scars? Acupuncture can help clear blemishes.

Acne breakout, pimples, blackheads? Painful cystic acne and acne scars can affect your confidence and even lead to depression. Acupuncture and TCM provide an alternative skin care option to treat hormonal acne and clear up blemishes.

What causes acne? Acne is a skin condition in which bumps on skin form when hair follicles become clogged with dirt and oil. Sebum, the natural oil produced by skin glands, builds up in the pores and causes blockages. Pimples may appear on the face or other parts of the body (back acne, chest acne, bumps on arms, pimples on scalp/scalp acne, etc.).

Acne is most common during the teenage years, but people of any age can experience skin breakouts. Acne is also influenced by fluctuations in hormones, reactions to cosmetics or foods, weather, and perhaps most commonly, stress.

Rosacea is another skin condition that typically causes redness, flushing, and visible blood vessels on the skin, but it can also cause red bumps to break out, similar to acne. This is known as “acne rosacea.”

Everyone gets a few pimples at some point in their lives. However, severe acne that causes scarring can have a serious impact on a person’s confidence in daily life, as well as being physically painful. 

There are many types of products and acne medication available, both over the counter or with a prescription, including: benzoyl peroxide, retinol for acne cream, acne patch, and acne face wash. 

Topical treatment for acne may clear blemishes on a skin-deep level. Acupuncture and other TCM skin treatments can help get rid of acne and other skin problems, like rosacea, by addressing the root causes: hormonal imbalances, inflammation, and stress.

Types of Acne

acne pimples scars treatment
Breakouts and blemishes can be caused by hormone imbalances.

Acne blemishes can show up in different forms. The most commons types of acne include:

  • Whiteheads – small, closed, white bumps that develop when a pore is clogged 
  • Blackheads – open bumps that are filled with oil and dead skin
  • Red bumps on skin – papules are hard, red, inflamed bumps on skin 
  • Pustules – a papule that has a pus-filled tip
  • Nodules – large, painful red bumps
  • Fungal acne or bacterial acne – when red bumps are caused by bacteria or yeast clogging the follicles
  • Acne rosacea – rosacea can cause acne-like breakouts in addition to red flushing
  • Cysts or Cystic acne – large, painful, nodules that are deep down, under many layers of skin

Cystic acne is considered to be the most severe type of acne. The deep, inflamed cysts can get very big, last a long time, and leave permanent scars. Cystic acne may be genetic, as it tends to run in families. 

Hormonal acne, which is also called “adult acne,” occurs because fluctuations in reproductive hormones like progesterone and estrogen and the stress hormone cortisol stimulate the overproduction of sebum. This kind of acne is most common among women in their 20s through their 40s.

Many women have breakouts that occur cyclically, coinciding with their PMS week or their period. Women may also experience pregnancy acne during the postpartum period. Women over 40 may have unexpected patches of pimples during perimenopause and menopause. Acne is also common among women with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome).

Advanced Dermatology Acne Treatment

dermatologist acne treatment
Dermatologists can recommend a variety of acne treatments.

Dermatologists have tools that allow them to help remove pimples, known as acne extraction or blackhead extractions. Injections of corticosteroids can help reduce inflamed blemishes.  Laser resurfacing can help minimize acne scarring.

A dermatologist can also provide acne medication. Cystic acne and hormonal acne will usually be treated with oral birth control pills to help manage hormone levels. Spironolactone is also sometimes prescribed; this is a diuretic, usually used to treat high blood pressure, that also has an effect on the hormones that control oil secretions.

Isotretinoin, also known as Accutane, is a medication used to treat severe acne, cystic acne, or nodules. Antibiotics are usually prescribed to help clear bacterial acne or fungal acne.

Many of these courses of treatment can cause unwanted side effects, and they do not get to the root cause of the hormone imbalance or internal toxicity.

TCM and acupuncture provide a way to get rid of acne that works from the inside out.

Can Acupuncture Help Acne?

According to TCM theory, skin problems reflect imbalances that originate deeper in the body. Heat and dampness are pathogenic forces that can take root in the organ systems. When heat “overflows” due to imbalances in the digestive or reproductive organs, the body tries to release some of the excess by allowing it to erupt out of the skin.

Acupuncture for acne can both help at the deeper, root level and on the surface of the skin.

We use meridian acupuncture points to target the internal organs that are creating toxic levels of heat or producing too much of some hormone. Then, we also use needles to stimulate the localized areas of the skin that are affected by the breakout and encourage healing. 

Acupuncture treatment for acne will often focus on clearing heat from the stomach, intestines, liver, and lungs. This will help lead to fewer breakouts.

Acupuncture needles can be placed on the face where blemishes occur. The tiny “wounds” created by the very thin needles bring blood flow to the area and encourage the body’s repair and rebuilding mechanisms. The thin needles create a micro-trauma that brings blood flow to the area and encourages the body’s repair and rebuilding mechanisms to kick in. This is why acupuncture is also effective as an anti-aging treatment and a good alternative to botox injections.

One study showed a 94% effective rate for patients given 10 sessions of acupuncture for acne. A systematic review of acupuncture treatment for acne concluded that TCM offered an alternative with fewer side effects than conventional medical treatment.

TCM skin care for acne is highly individualized. An acupuncturist finds clues about which organ system is out of balance by observing the placement and appearance of recurrent breakouts, in addition to other symptoms related to digestion, hormone cycles, and emotional health. Cupping is another TCM treatment that can help draw out toxins and excess heat and improve circulation. Herbal supplements and dietary recommendations will be based on each person’s individual situation.

Top 3 Tips to Get Rid of Acne Naturally

melon cooling foods
Cooling foods like melons help get rid of excess internal heat.

Reducing stress is probably the most important thing you can do to help stop breakouts from happening. It is also generally advisable to avoid or limit spicy or greasy foods. Here are some of our best tips for clear skin.

  1. Start your day by drinking a cup of warm water with slices of lemon.
  2. Eat cooling foods and avoid foods that produce heat. Melons, mung beans, and radishes are top choices, along with lots of greens and purple-blue berries and plums.
  3. Try a homemade skin mask made from cooked, mashed dandelion greens. Apply for 20 minutes to get rid of blemishes and redness. Dandelion is a natural antibacterial and antifungal herb and is also good for the liver.

Acupuncture Near Me for Acne in West Los Angeles

Acne affects almost everyone at some point in their life. Breakouts can have a negative impact on your self-esteem, especially when we live in a culture that is so focused on appearances. The best acne treatment involves reduction of stress and inflammation, good nutrition, and restoring internal balance. At Art of Wellness we have over 30 years of experience helping patients heal skin conditions of all kinds.




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

 



 





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How to Treat Encephalitis With Acupuncture and TCM

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

encephalitis neck pain stiff
Neck pain or stiffness can be a sign of encephalitis.

Headache, sensitivity to light, stiff neck, short-term memory loss? These could be signs of encephalitis, or inflammation in the brain. Infectious encephalitis can happen due to an infection; autoimmune encephalitis (AIE) is a type of autoimmune disorder. Acupuncture and TCM offer an adjunct treatment for encephalitis recovery.

What is encephalitis? Encephalitis refers to a serious condition in which the tissues of the brain become inflamed. It can happen to anyone, but is more common among children and older people.

The symptoms of encephalitis are sometimes ignored, because headaches, neck pain, and “brain fog” are so common and may not seem that serious at first. However, in combination, these signs should not be taken lightly. Like meningitis (inflammation of the membrane surrounding the brain and spinal cord), encephalitis can cause serious complications if left untreated. Encephalitis needs to be caught early and treated in order for people to make a full recovery.

What causes encephalitis? Brain inflammation can be caused by the body’s immune response to an infection, or due to an autoimmune disorder, in which the body produces antibodies that attack the brain tissues. 

Top 10 Causes of Encephalitis

Viral infections are the primary reason that people develop encephalitis. These could be viruses carried by insects, especially mosquitoes, which are then contracted by humans through bites. Other communicable viral infections that pass from person to person through bodily fluids or close contact can also cause infectious encephalitis.

Infections that can lead to encephalitis include:

  1. Mosquito-borne viruses such as: West Nile Virus, Eastern Equine encephalitis, Western Equine encephalitis, St. Louis encephalitis, LaCrosse encephalitis
  2. Tick-borne viruses
  3. Rabies virus – can be contracted through being bitten by an infected animal
  4. Polio virus
  5. Herpes Simplex, Type 1 and Type 2 (HPV1 and HPV2)
  6. Epstein-Barr virus (mono, mononucleosis)
  7. Varicella Oster virus (chicken pox, shingles)
  8. Measles (rubeola)
  9. German measles (rubella)
  10. Mumps

There have been cases of people developing encephalitis as a complication of a COVID-19 infection.

Some cases of encephalitis can be caused by bacterial or fungal infections, or by a parasite. It could also be caused by exposure to some sort of allergen or toxin in the environment.

People with weakened immune systems—for example, due to HIV/AIDs—or who take immunosuppressant medications are at a higher risk for developing encephalitis.

Immunotherapy used to treat certain kinds of cancer, such as melanoma, ovarian cancer or lung cancer, has been shown to cause encephalitis in some cases.

Some cases of autoimmune encephalitis, called Anti-NMDAR encephalitis, appear to be related to a certain kind of tumor called a teteroma. In women and young women, especially, this can be an ovarian tumor that produces the antibodies for NMDAR.

Symptoms of Encephalitis

encephalitis in children
Children can develop encephalitis due to a viral or bacterial infection.

A mild case of encephalitis might only cause some flu-like symptoms that clear up within a few weeks. These types of symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Stiff neck, neck pain
  • Muscle aches, joint pain
  • Fever
  • Fatigue, feeling tired and weak
  • Sensitivity to light

More severe symptoms of encephalitis can affect both cognitive and motor function:

  • Mental confusion, brain fog, difficulty concentrating
  • Memory problems, short term memory loss
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Severe headache
  • Trouble with coordination or balance
  • Loss of sensations in parts of the body or face
  • Loss of muscle control in parts of the body or face
  • Problems with speaking or hearing
  • Mood swings, changes in personality

Anti-NMDAR encephalitis (when there may be an ovarian tumor involved, especially) can cause symptoms like pro-domal headache, nausea, and fever, which may then progress to more severe complications, including involuntary movements or tremors, urinary incontinence, rapid heartbeat, and psychiatric symptoms like anxiety, paranoia, or mania.

In severe cases, encephalitis can cause loss of consciousness and even cause a person to go into a coma. It is very important to seek urgent medical attention if you experience any of these symptoms.

Treatment for Encephalitis

encephalitis brain inflammation
Imaging may show inflammation in the brain.

Blood tests can confirm whether a viral or bacterial infection is causing encephalitis. Imaging tests like an MRI or CT scan may show the inflammation in the brain. A spinal tap may show an imbalance in cerebral fluids, or an EEG may show unusual electrical impulses in the brain.

However, there are times when these tests will not show exactly what is causing the encephalitis. As with many autoimmune disorders, it can be hard to pinpoint a clear diagnosis for autoimmune encephalitis (AIE).

Medical treatment for encephalitis will depend on what type it is determined to be. Mild inflammation will usually be treated with over the counter anti-inflammatory medications. Antivirals or antibiotics will be prescribed if a specific infection is found to be the cause. Steroids will often be used to help reduce inflammation. In more serious cases, a person may require breathing assistance or anti-seizure medications.

 In cases where the cause is believed to be an autoimmune response, immunotherapy is used to try to interfere with the antibodies that are attacking the brain tissues. Steroids will be usually used in combination with other treatments. Plasmapheresis, or plasma exchange, removes some of these antibodies from the blood. Intravenous immunoglobulin therapy introduces healthy antibodies to block the action of the malfunctioning antibodies.

In cases of anti-NMDAR encephalitis where a tumor is present, treatment will include the removal of the tumor in addition to immunotherapy. Patients with this type of encephalitis may also be prescribed antipsychotic drugs to relieve psychiatric symptoms.

Immunotherapy works for some patients, but not all. Many patients will be offered second-line treatments such as monoclonal antibodies or antimetabolites. In some cases, people may seem to recover from encephalitis for a while, and then have a relapse in which the inflammation flares up again.

Most people will need significant time and rehabilitation to help them make a full recovery from encephalitis. Some people will have long-lasting effects, such as memory problems, balance and coordination issues, speech problems, and emotional volatility. 

Many of the pharmaceutical treatments available for encephalitis cause significant side effects and can even lead to more physical, emotional and mental health issues. Fortunately, acupuncture and other TCM modalities offer a way to reduce inflammation in the brain and help relieve encephalitis, as well as helping to offset any side effects from other medical interventions.

Can Acupuncture Help Encephalitis?

Chinese herbs reduce inflammation
Chinese herbs can help reduce inflammation.

With acupuncture and Chinese herbs, we seek to treat the root cause and the various symptoms and complications of each condition according to recognizable patterns. This allows us to effectively treat some conditions, such as autoimmune diseases, neurological disorders, and inflammatory conditions that may not readily respond to conventional medicine. 

In the TCM view, inflammation occurs because there is too much heat in the body. Yang energy provides the “fire” we need to keep the body warm and energetic. But, if there is an imbalance, and too much heat, this leads to conditions like fever, infections, and inflammation. So, we see pathogenic internal heat as contributing to encephalitis, in addition to outside pathogens like viruses or bacteria. To clear heat that is trapped or stagnant in the body, we will use specific herbs and cooling foods, along with acupuncture treatment and lifestyle changes to reduce physical and mental stress. TCM herbs can also be highly effective against bacterial and viral infections.

The motor control and cognitive problems that can result from encephalitis occur because the inflammation in the brain is affecting the functioning of the central nervous system. With acupuncture, we can help to reestablish connections and neural pathways.

Autoimmune disorders are still not well understood by Western medicine, but with acupuncture we can help to balance and regulate the immune system, so that it is not being inappropriately triggered. This is why acupuncture works well as an adjunct treatment for encephalitis and many other autoimmune disorders.

Acupuncture Near Me for Encephalitis in Los Angeles and West Los Angeles

It can be very difficult when you or someone you love is facing a serious illness and a long, difficult recovery. TCM offers a healthcare option that treats each person in a highly individualized and caring way. At Art of Wellness, we have over 30 years of experience helping people gain back their strength and mobility after suffering from conditions like encephalitis, meningitis, Lyme disease, Guillain Barré Syndrome, Myasthenia Gravisand many others.




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

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