Posts Tagged ‘acupuncture point’
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 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
Jul 24, 2012
The process of treating back pain with acupuncture, or any pain for that matter, is complex. As an acupuncturist, we have many factors to consider in the treatment.
Important factors for the acupuncturist to decide are what acupuncture points to use, how long the needles stay in, what position the patient should lie, the use of electro-acupuncture, additional use of cups, and other factors.
Acupuncture points can be chosen based on location of the pain, type of the pain, and the underlying imbalances causes the pain. Some pain, such as pain from sciatica, is best relieved by acupuncture locally in the lower back, around the sacrum, and throughout the course of the sciatic nerve.
2. Use of electroacupuncture is very helpful for many types of back pain. This technique enhances the relaxation of muscles as well as helps to reducing inflammation and pain. In addition, electroacupuncture may be helpful in stimulating the growth of muscle tissue and therefore can be helpful for balancing the muscle weakness.
3. The length of the acupuncture treatment can also vary. If there is an acute back spasm, it is better to have a shorter acupuncture treatment. For muscle weakness, the needles will be left in for a slightly longer period of time.
4. The patient needs to be comfortable during the acupuncture session. Some positions, such as lying face down, will put stress on the back. These patients will often benefit from treatment lying on their side or back and use distal acupuncture points on the most powerful acupuncture channels.
5. Cupping is an effective additional technique to acupuncture for back pain. It helps to relax the muscles and bring circulation to the area.
Jun 5, 2012
Constipation is an issue that I often treat in my NYC acupuncture clinic.
I always teach my patients this simple two-step acupressure routine for relieving constipation to supplement the acupuncture treatment.
Rub belly in clockwise circle
Rubbing your abdomen will help wake up your digestive system. Place your whole palm on the abdomen and apply even pressure. Not so much pressure that it is painful but you should feel your hand.
Rub your belly in a big clockwise circle touching the edge of the ribs and the top of the pelvis. Do this motion for 30 seconds. You can also casually rub your belly in this way during your relaxation time, listening to music, or before you go to sleep.
Sheng Ju Xu- Stomach 37
Stomach 37 is a very important acupuncture point for constipation. When palpating you may notice that it is often tender during episodes of constipation.
Acupressure Point Location: Stomach 37 is located 3 cun below the acupressure point Stomach 36.
First locate the tibial tuberosity, a bump just below the knee. Place your hand just below the tibial tuberosity with the index finger touching the bottom of the tuberosity. Stomach 37 is located level with the pinky finger just to the outside of the shin bone when your hand is in this position.
How to massage
First press on the acupressure point then rub in a circle. You can apply pressure which can help. Pressing very hard may cause a small bruise.
Rub this acupressure point twice a day for 30 seconds.
May 22, 2012
Itching is an annoying and curious phenomenon. Your body feels an annoying sensation so you irritate the skin by scratching. It makes you feel extremely uncomfortable.
This causes pain. The pain trumps the itching sensation and you no longer feel the annoyance. But the scratching causes inflammation and irritation in the area. The scratch causes more itch and the cycle continues.
Pain trumps itch because the sensations are felt through many of the same nerve endings. Although researchers looking at itch specifically are finding more itch specific pathways in the spinal cord and brain.
Itching takes a toll on people’s lives. This annoying symptom keeps people awake at night, distracts from daily activities, and leads to habitual irritation of the skin.
The causes of itching
Itching can be caused by several conditions. Sometimes you know what causes the itch such as a mosquito bite. Or it may occur from inflammatory skin diseases like eczema. It may occur in other conditions such as psoriasis and even acne sometimes. In lichen simplex for example, itching is caused by anxiety or being nervous. Elderly patients may have pruritus which from unknown causes. Some serious diseases such as cancer, liver disease, and HIV can cause itching.
But even seeing another person scratch or thinking about itching can cause an itch sensation.
Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Causes of Itch
Acupuncture and TCM discusses has long discussed the many causes of itching. Chinese medicine imagines a complex interaction between the environment and the body.
Imbalances in the body or the environment cause the itch. Common causes of itching are heat, dampness, and wind. These are descriptions of different presentations of the disease.
Each herb or acupuncture point is chosen to correct that specific imbalance. If the skin is red and dry, then heat may be predominating. If there is swelling and weeping, then it may be caused by dampness.
Acupuncture can be used for treating acute itching in atopic dermatitis as well as other conditions. I like to use auricular acupuncture and magnets which help to reduce itch in between sessions. Acupuncture may work to stop itch through similar mechanisms as pain relief.
photo: Tambako the Jaguar
Apr 18, 2012
Chronic rhinosinusitis is a chronic infection of the sinuses that causes nasal congestion, sinus pain, and headaches. Chronic rhinosinusitis, commonly called chronic sinusitis, affects your energy, sleep, and work. Some research suggest that chronic sinusitis can even lead to depression and anxiety.
Conventional medication often is not completely successful in treating the symptoms. Many patients have been turning to acupuncture Chinese medicine for help. In our New York City acupuncture clinic, we often use acupuncture, acupressure, and herbs to reduce the symptoms of sinusitis, especially during the spring allergy seasons which can exacerbate the sinusitis symptoms.
A comprehensive approach to chronic sinusitis
When it comes to treating chronic sinusitis, it is important to include many of the modalities used in acupuncture therapy. I use acupuncture, acupressure, and sometimes Chinese herbal remedies to help relieve the symptoms of chronic rhinosinusitis, help people reduce medication, and avoid surgery.
The acupuncture therapy targets acupuncture points on channels that help reduce pain and pressure in the sinuses. Acupuncture points can be located on the arms or legs on channels which travel to the sinuses. These points are LI 4, LI 11, Lu 5, SP 9, ST 36, St 44, GB 34, and SJ 5. For some people, acupuncture points on top of or near the sinuses are needed. These points can include LI 20, ST 4, Bi Tong, and Yin Tang.
Acupuncture points selection is based upon the imbalances which cause the condition. For example, acupuncture discusses the circulation of energy, or qi, in the body. If there too little qi, a common cause of sinus headaches, then the qi should be boosted with ST 36 and SP 9. But if there is more heat which often happens with inflammation, acupuncture points such as LI 11 or ST 44 should be selected.
Acupressure on the neck, head, shoulders, and back helps to increase circulation, decrease pain, and drain the lymph. I will also instruct my patients on a self acupressure routine for patients to perform on their own. Often, patients will begin to feel relief after a few acupuncture sessions.
It is important to understand that acupuncture is not an either or when it comes to your conventional therapies for chronic sinusitis. The first goal to is help you feel better. When you are consistently feeling better you can work with your physician to reduce the amount of medication.
Research on the Integrative East West Medicine approach
A paper was recently published examining an east west integrative treatment protocol for patients with recurrent chronic rhinosinusitis (1).
The treatment involved a combination of the patient’s current therapies, most often nasal corticosteroid spray and nasal irrigation in addition to acupuncture, acupressure, dietary modifications, lifestyle modifications, and self-acupressure. As you can see, the researchers used a pretty comprehensive approach.
The study was small with only eleven patients. But it showed potential for this therapeutic approach. The patients, overall, reported improvements in their physical functioning, social engagement, less needing to blow their nose, and an improvement in their ability to concentrate. I hope that larger studies will be conducted to further explore the power of acupuncture to relieve symptoms, reduce dependence on medications, and help people avoid surgery.
1. Suh JD, Wu AW, Taw MB, Nguyen C, Wang MB. Treatment of recalcitrant chronic rhinosinusitis with integrative East-west medicine: a pilot study. Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2012 Mar;138(3):294-300.
Mar 26, 2012
The bladder can have a mind of its own. Normally, the bladder relaxes as it fills and contracts only when you need to urinate. Bladder spasms can occur when the bladder muscles suddenly contract causing a sudden need to urinate. In some people this can also cause pain.
Acupuncture is an excellent way to reduce bladder spasms. Acupuncture works by resetting the body to be healthy and allowing the bladder to relax.
Acupuncture therapy for bladder spasms
Acupuncture theory is based upon the idea that channels connect different parts of the body. These channels act like a communication system in the body. For acupuncture to be effective at treating bladder spasms, the correct acupuncture points must be used.
Specific acupuncture channels can be related to bladder spasms. The Bladder channel is one of the very important channels. This channel runs from the inner canthus of the eye, over the scalp, down the back, and to the outside of the foot. Points on the lower back, such as UB 28, UB 32, and UB 33 are very important for bladder spasm. Points near the ankles, like UB 60 is also helpful.
The Spleen and Kidney channel acupuncture points can also be helpful. The spleen channel runs from the inside of the big toe up the leg. Acupuncture points such as Spleen 9 and Spleen 6 are both very effective. Kidney 3 is on the inside of the ankle. The Ren channel is located on the center line of the front of the body. Acupuncture points such as Ren 3 and Ren 4 are also very effective for bladder spasms.
Electroacupuncture for bladder spasms
Electro-acupuncture is very similar to regular acupuncture. The acupuncture point selection is generally the same and the treatment time is also similar. Electro-acupuncture provides additional small amount electric stimulation to the acupuncture needles. The electric stimulation enhances muscle relaxation.
Mar 5, 2012
This is one of the top five common questions in my NYC acupuncture clinic.
Acupuncture does not hurt. We use very thin sterile solid needles which means they do not feel like a doctor’s needle. Upon insertion, some points can feel a prick, but many do not feel anything. The acupuncture needles remain in the acupuncture points for 20-30 minutes. Patients can feel numbness, tingling, warmth, heaviness, or movement at the acupuncture point. All of these feelings are good. At some acupuncture points the muscles will twitch. This is particularly true when using acupuncture points such as GB 30 for treating acupuncture for sciatica and acupuncture for chronic low back pain. Acupuncture is very relaxing and people will often fall asleep while lying on the massage table.
Traditionally, acupuncturists have called the feeling of acupuncture as “de qi.” The has been translated as “getting the qi” which means the acupuncture points has been adequately stimulated. In China, patients will tell their acupuncture doctors “zhong” which means heaviness, when the acupuncture point has been adequately stimulated.