May 16, 2013
The itch in atopic dermatitis can take over your life. It is so intense, those with atopic eczema of wake up scratching. And after your scratch, the skin becomes more inflamed, itchy, dry, and lichenified.
Most people with atopic eczema have a family history eczema, hay fever, and asthma. Allergies to foods, mold, or irritant substances may cause a flare in the condition (1). Atopic eczema is increasing rapidly in industrialized countries. Atopic eczema is treated most often with topical steroids that suppress the inflammatory response. Unfortunately, steroids also have many side effects.
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help reduce eczema naturally.
Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine approach to Atopic Eczema
Traditionally, Chinese medicine called eczema the “wind of four crooks” referring to the eczema rashes on the inside of the elbows and knees which are the common locations of the condition (2).
Chinese medicine treats eczema not by suppressing the immune response, but rather correcting the imbalances that are causing the eczema. By correcting or removing these imbalances your body is able to heal on its own.
In eczema, the most common underlying imbalances are dry heat or dampness. To determine the imbalance, I will observe how the skin looks. If the skin is dry, cracked, and irritated, then too much dry heat may be the most significant factor in the eczema. If there is more swelling, crusting, and vesicles, then dampness may be the most significant factor.
Because Chinese medicine is holistic, we also consider how digestion, allergies, sleep, and emotional health play a role. Acupuncture points and herbs are selected specifically for their ability to correct that specific imbalance.
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine treatment of Atopic Eczema
The therapy may combine acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and topical herbal creams.
Chinese herbal medicine focuses on correcting the imbalance. If heat is the cause of the eczema, we will use herbs that traditionally are used to “clear heat” from the body, such as sheng di huang (rehmannia) and jin yin hua (honey suckle). Many of the heat reducing herbs are also potent anti-inflammatory and immunoregulatory properties.
If dampness is causing the eczema, herbs that drain dampness such as ku shen (sophroa) can be used. There are also herbs specifically for the symptoms. For example, di fu zi (broom cypress) is very effective in reducing itch.
External herbal creams are very effective at decreasing inflammation and stopping itching. For some people, reduction in inflammation and itching happens after the first visit.
Acupuncture is very effective to control the itching in eczema. I find that auricular and body acupuncture combination to be the most effective. After the acupuncture, I often will use magnet stickers in ear acupuncture points that correspond to the specific area of the body the itch is found. It is possible that the same physiological mechanisms which acupuncture uses to reduce pain are effective for stopping itch in eczema (3).
For many patients, acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine leads to long term reduction of symptoms. This is because Chinese medicine focuses on correcting the root imbalance causing the condition, not just masking the symptoms. The long term benefit of the herbs may be due to immunoregulatory mechanisms of Chinese medicine.
1. PubMed Health. Atoptic Eczema. Accessed 5/14/2013.
2. Mazin Al-Khafaji. Atopic Eczema “Wind of the four crooks.” Journal of Chinese Medicine. Number 77: p5-8. February 2005.
3. Pfab F, Huss-Marp J, Gatti A., et al. Influence of acupuncture on type I hypersensitivity itch and the wheal and flare response in adults with atopic eczema – a blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled, crossover trial.Allergy. 2010 Jul;65(7):903-10. Epub 2009 Dec 11.
May 10, 2013
Acupuncture is mysterious, acupuncture is unique, but above all acupuncture is practical.
Often patients come in my New York acupuncture clinic and they are surprised how practical it is. And the main reason that acupuncture is practical is that it works. It’s not about the body’s energy or imbalances that are the root of your problem. It’s about feeling better and staying healthy.
Feel Better, Get Acupuncture
Acupuncture is about staying healthy, but the way it works is by correcting imbalances in the body. When the imbalance is removed you feel better. The acupuncture is just reminding the body how to be healthy.
When a patient comes into the our acupuncture office, we assess what the problems is, where and what imbalance is impending your health. The acupuncture treatment works to correct the imbalance. There are many imbalances that cause diseases. The key is to address the correct one with the correct approach. For example, if there is not enough Qi, the body’s energy, the acupuncture helps to boost the body’s qi.
Acupuncture is a simple idea but complicated in practice
Creating an effective therapy is where it gets more complicated, because addressing the underlying imbalance effectively depends upon the acupuncturist’s technique. This includes choosing the right acupuncture points, the most powerful combination of acupuncture points, and also how your acupuncturist stimulates the acupuncture points.
The correct acupuncture points must be chosen. Take the example I already used, if there is not enough Qi in the body, then we should use acupuncture points that stimulate production of Qi like St 36 or Kid 3.
Location of the acupuncture point is important as well. For example, when treating migraine headaches, I prefer to use acupuncture points that are not on the head, but rather on the shoulders, arms, and legs. This helps to reduce the imbalanced energy in the head causing the migraine. But for a back spasm in the lower back, I would use more acupuncture points close to the issue.
Acupuncture Technique is in the Hands
Another aspect is how acupuncture points are combined together. Sometimes it is important to put a few points close together to stimulate healing in a specific area. For example, with a muscles spasm in the lower back I may use a technique called surround the dragon. The surround the dragon technique uses four or five needles in the circle around the muscle in spasm. This communicates with the muscles to relax and return to a healthy states.
Part of the acupuncture technique is manual. How do we use the needles to stimulate the acupuncture points, nervous system, muscles, and fascia.
One technique to get a trigger point to release is twirling. The needles are twirled slightly to create a twitch in the muscle. The twitch is a signal that the body is acupuncture point is activated and it is initialing the healing process.
Apr 30, 2013
“Can I get acupuncture during my lunch break?” is a common question we get when new patients call.
The answer is Yes. Many of our patients enjoy coming to our calm, serene office for their lunch hour. An acupuncture break is wonderful way to relax and stay healthy during your workday.
One of the great qualities of acupuncture is that it can help a specific health concern and you also feel relaxed. Come in for your back pain, neck and shoulder pain, headache, acne, or eczema, and you leave feeling relaxed and balanced.
Our office is conveniently located in Midtown near Grand Central. An acupuncture treatment takes about 50 minutes and we pride ourselves on running on time. The new patient acupuncture visits are a little longer due to the examination.
Let us know when you want to come in, you can request an appointment by clicking here or giving us a call.
Apr 24, 2013
Skin diseases are one of the most common reasons to see your doctor. Yet, they are often stubborn conditions which do not respond to medications. Or even worse the medications have side effects. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine offers a natural and effective treatment for many skin conditions, such as acne, eczema, psoriasis, perioral dermatitis, and others.
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine has been treating skin diseases for at least 3000 years. The treatment of many skin diseases were discussed in the first known book of Chinese medicine, The Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classic (Huang Di Nei Jing). In the thousands of years since, Chinese medicine doctors and scholars discussed and debated the best approaches to treatment of skin conditions.
Traditional Chinese Medicine Understanding of Skin Conditions
The key to effective Chinese medicine treatment of skin diseases is diagnosis of the underlying imbalance causing the condition. Not everyone with a given skin condition will have the same symptoms. The different symptoms reflect the imbalance which needs to be corrected. My teacher of Chinese Medicine Dermatology, Mazin Al-Khafaji, describes this as Chinese medicine’s method of assessing various types of inflammatory processes causing the skin condition.
Let’s take eczema as an example. Some eczema may presents with wet, weeping, and crusty lesions. In this case, the imbalance is Heat and Damp Eczema. In other cases, the eczema is dry and red. This type of eczema is understood to be caused by Heat and Dryness. The Chinese medicine practitioner will use this imbalance to guide the writing of the acupuncture and herbal prescription.
Traditional Chinese Medicine Treatment Approaches
The acupuncture and herbal formula must address the imbalance causing the skin condition. To do this, the herbal ingredients and acupuncture points are tailored to the specific imbalance causing the disease. Let’s return to the eczema I described earlier. Eczema caused by Heat and Dampness must be treated with herbs that remove heat and damp, such as huang qin and long dan cao, among others. Acupuncture points such as GB 34 and Sp 9 may be used to reduce dampness and heat. While the eczema caused by heat and dryness will require herbs that clear heat and moisten the skin including sheng di huang and mu dan pi, among others. In this case, acupuncture points such as LI 4 and LI 11 may be used to drain heat from the body.
By correcting the underlying imbalance, acupuncture and Chinese medicine can lead to long term improvement.
Here are a number of articles which explain Acupuncture and Chinese medicine treatment of skin conditions.
- Eczema Treatment with Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine
- Psoriasis Treatment with Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine
- Acne Treatment with Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine
- Perioral Dermatitis Treatment with Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine
Apr 12, 2013
It finally warmed up here in New York (well kind of) and I was out for a bike ride in Central Park. It was a beautiful sunny blue sky day. The tulips are in bloom and buds on the trees are coming out. Everyone is excited to get out on their bike or go for a walk in the park. Spring is in the air.
Spring being in the air also means pollen is too. During my ride, my throat became a little scratchy. My eyes were becoming dry and irritated. After I returned home, my sinuses felt full and heavy. Allergies have arrived.
Acupuncture and Herbal Formula for Sinus Congestion
Acupuncture and herbs work wonders to prevent and treat the symptoms of allergies. Later that day I put myself on a treatment course of acupuncture and herbs to reduce these symptoms and stop the allergies from progressing.
I chose to use an acupuncture point prescription to reduce the itchy eye and boost my qi (energy). It included acupuncture points such as Large intestine 4, Stomach 36, Liver 3, San Jiao 5, Yin Tang, Du 20. He Gu, LI 4, helps to ride the head of pain. SJ 5 reduces eye itchiness. St 36 boosts qi and Liv 3 clears the wind to reduce the itching. Yin Tang relaxes and clams pain in the sinuses.
For herbal therapy, I used an herbal formula called The Sinus Congestion Formula which reduces sinus pressure, itchy eyes, and headaches.
After the acupuncture my sinus felt more open and eye itching was relieved. I’ll keep this acupuncture up weekly during the allergy season. The herbs are great to reduce the sinus pressure and discomfort.
Photo: kataghs photostream
Apr 4, 2013
Spring has sprung. Well not quite yet with this cold weather here in NYC. But my patients are already telling me that their allergy symptoms are coming back.
Acupuncture can help reduce allergies. For those with severe allergies, it is better to start treatment before the allergies season to prevent the intensity of the symptoms.
Read more about how acupuncture and Chinese medicine can reduce you allergies.
Apr 1, 2013
April allergies can be cruel. Headache, itchy eyes, sneezing, and scratchy throat are overwhelming. Chinese herbal formulas are very effective for reducing the runny nose and stuffiness, headaches, and itchy eyes,
Nasal Symptoms and Sinus Headache
For people with hay fever and sinus symptoms like sneezing, runny nose, and sinus headache the overall most effective formulas is called Bi Min Gan Wan, the nasal congestion formula. This is a mild formula that helps to reduce headache, nasal congestion.
In Chinese medicine, itchy eyes from allergies is generally from heat. The herbal formula best for itchy eyes form heat is Sang Ye Tang. This formula has mulberry leaf and chrysanthemum flowers that help to relieve itchy eyes. Another effective formula for itchy eyes is called Qi Ju Di Huang Tang, which has gou qi zi and ju hua that stop eye itching.
Asthma with Allergies
Because allergies and asthma are so closely connected, allergies can trigger asthma attacks, those with asthma often need different herbal formulas. Sometimes there is too little qi. In this case, formulas like Jade Wind Screen works to boost qi and release external wind. Also, the mushroom Cordyceps or Reishi is helpful to boost the qi.
Mar 4, 2013
We are happy to announce the new home of Alban Acupuncture at 124 East 40th Street, Suite 902, New York, NY. We are conveniently located in Midtown close to Grand Central.
Our new expanded beautiful office has many features to better serve
our patients including a larger waiting room and 5 spacious treatment
Nearby transportation includes the 4, 5, 6, S, 7, and Metro North at
Grand Central Terminal. Also, I’ve found the walk to 6th Ave/Bryant park trains (B,D,F,M) is pretty quick (5-6 minutes).
Please call us at 212.319.5757 to make an appointment.
Dec 4, 2012
Qi is the body’s energy (Qi is pronounced “chee,” and is sometimes spelled “chi.”)
There is a mystical aspect to qi. In Chinese philosophy, qi is the building blocks of the universe. Energy combines and multiplies. It is the universal energy present in all living things as well as nature.
But there is a practical aspect to qi as well. Qi is the energy we use to keep us healthy. It allows us to work, grow, exercise, and reproduce. Imbalances in the qi can lead to many health issues.
Qi needs to be abundant and circulate through channels in the body or else illness occurs. In Chinese medicine, it is said “When the qi flows there is no pain, when qi stops, there is pain and illness.” Lifestyle habits such as poor diet, overwork, and stress or a person’s constitution can affect the amount and flow of qi. Chinese medicine and acupuncture focus on correcting these imbalances.
Imbalances of Qi
The main imbalances of Qi are Qi vacuity, or too little Qi or the Qi circulation in the channels can be impaired. This is called qi stagnation.
Those with too little qi may experience the symptoms of frequent colds, fatigue, shortness of breath, coughing, soft voice, poor digestion, a weak pulse, and pale tongue. This is also true often for people with chronic respiratory infections or autoimmune conditions, such as asthma, eczema, chronic bronchitis, or sinusitis and chronic sinus headaches.
Qi stagnation, when the qi is not circulating well, can also cause frequent colds and makes it difficult to fight them off. Those with qi stagnation will often get a cold after a stressful or emotional situation. They also may be prone to headaches, irregular bowel movements, ribside pain, and painful menstrual cramps.
Nov 27, 2012
Yesterday, an acupressure student of mine asked “What is Chinese Herbal Medicine?”. This is a good question that deserves a proper explanation.
Chinese herbal therapies have been used for centuries for improving health and treating disease. Chinese herbs work to bring the body’s systems back into balance so the body can heal itself, naturally.
The Chinese herbal pharmacy consists of over 500 herbs. Herbs are taken as combinations of 5-15 medicinal substances, which is called an herbal formula. Each formula is tailored to correct the specific imbalance that is the cause of the illness.
The herbal formula can be taken in a number of forms: raw herbs, pills, tinctures, or granules. “Raw herbs” are dried herbs which are then cooked together to make a strong tea or soup called a decoction. Tinctures are herbs which are extracted in an alcohol base. Granules are made by extracting the herbs and condensing the cooked formula to make a powder. To take the herbs, you can reconstituted them as a tea.
How do Chinese herbs work?
The basic idea of Chinese medicine is that the Chinese herbs and acupuncture work by correcting imbalances in the body. For example, if you have eczema which is caused by damp heat and toxins, the herbal formula will contain herbs that rid the body of damp heat such as long dan cao and huang qin.
Of course, herbs also affect the body physiologically. For eczema, many of the herbs that are used are known to have immunoregulatory properties that help to regulate the inflammatory process causing the eczema. Other herbs have immune boosting properties or anti-bacterial and antiviral capabilities.
Chinese herbal therapies are very safe when taken under the care of a Chinese medicine practitioner.