Posts Tagged ‘heat’
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
Jul 13, 2012
The heat and humidity this year is strong. Not only is it uncomfortable, many find that their headaches are increased during the hot and humid summer.
I previously wrote a post explaining how acupuncture understands the connection between hot weather and headaches.
Read more about acupuncture treatment of headaches:
Mar 19, 2012
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years to reduce joint pain, swelling, and stiffness which comes from arthritis.
Acupuncture and Arthritis Symptoms
Pain and stiffness are the most common symptoms from arthritis. Arthritis can effect both small joints, such as the hands and feet, as well as larger joints, such as the hips, back, knees, and shoulder. Arthritis may cause your joints to crack, swell, and have limited movement.
Acupuncture works to relieve pain and stiffness of arthritis by stimulating the release of natural pain relievers, such as opioids, as well as regulating pain relieving opioid receptors. Acupuncture also changes the way the nervous system feels pain, helping to relieve pain for long periods of time. In addition, acupuncture has an anti-inflammatory effect, reducing the circulating inflammatory hormones in the blood (1). Many clinical trials of acupuncture have shown acupuncture to be effective for reducing pain in patients with arthritis (2).
Acupuncture view of Arthritis
Most people with arthritis experience greater pain in the cold and damp weather. In acupuncture and Chinese medicine, the reason this occurs is because the cold and damp impede circulation in the joints. The lack of circulation leads pain, stiffness, and swelling. The goal of the acupuncture is to increase circulation and warm the joints to relieve pain.
What is the Acupuncture treatment for arthritis like?
During the first visit, we will complete a medical history and physical examination, which focuses on an examination of effected and painful joints. Acupuncture diagnosis and treatment focuses on identifying the specific root imbalance causing the condition and tailoring the treatment for you.
In addition to the acupuncture, treatment often includes manual therapies such as tui na (acupressure), cupping, and heat. Electroacupuncture is particularly effective for pain relief in arthritis.
Acupuncture is most effective through a treatment course. The treatment should decrease pain and inflammation and improve mobility in the joints. Many people find rapid relief, within a few weeks of beginning the treatment. For others, it may take longer to have an effect. Generally, patients come in for acupuncture once to twice a week depending on the severity, and gradually get acupuncture less frequently. The treatment course generally last 2-4 months. Often, patients will experience be long lasting pain relief.
1. Napadow V, Ahn A, Longhurst J, et.al. The Status and Future of Acupuncture Mechanism Research. J Altern Complement Med. 2008 September; 14(7): 861–869.
2. Berman BM, Lao L, Langenberg P, Lee WL, Gilpin AMK, Hochberg MC. Effectiveness of Acupuncture as Adjunctive Therapy in Osteoarthritis of the Knee: A Randomized, Controlled Trial. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2004; 141(12):901910.
Jan 9, 2012
The Meaning of Zhen Jiu ( 针灸)
Acupuncture is not just acupuncture. In fact, the word for acupuncture in Chinese, Zhen Jiu, actually translates to “acupuncture and moxibustion” which shows how central moxibustion is within acupuncture.
Moxibustion is the warming of acupuncture points or needles. Most often, this is done through burning an herb called mugwort. It can also be done with heat lamps as well as herbal lotions.
In my office, we use smokeless moxibustion because it is treated and does not create much smoke.
How does Moxibustion work?
Just like with acupuncture, moxibustion focuses on correcting the underlying imbalance in the body.
Because it is warming, generally moxibustion is used when there is cold in the body. Moxibustion can help to warm the body and add qi as well. The warmth also helps to increase circulation.
Boosting the Qi
There is a tradition that one can use moxibustion on the acupuncture point Stomach 36 for 100 consecutive days in order to boost the body’s qi. I think this therapy is particularly effective for those with poor digestion or asthma due to low energy.
Jan 5, 2012
Winter is here. It comes as no surprise that the cold and damp weather means achy and painful joints and an exacerbation of arthritis.
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine have understood this seasonal phenomena for thousands of years. According to acupuncture, cold and damp can become stuck in the joints disrupting the normal function and circulation which leads to pain.
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine work to warm the body and increase circulation leading to a decrease in pain. Warming the acupuncture points and acupuncture channels helps to dislodge the cold.
How can acupuncture warm the joints?
In the west, most people think of acupuncture as the use of acupuncture needles with acupuncture points. But really, acupuncture therapy encompasses much more.
In Chinese, acupuncture is not just acupuncture. Acupuncture is called 针灸 (pronounced Zhen Jiu). This translates to acupuncture and moxibustion.
Moxibustion refers to the warming of the acupuncture needles or acupuncture points. Most often it is done with the burning of an herb called mugwort. It can also be done with a heat lamp or warming herbal extracts rubbed onto acupuncture points or the affected muscle.
By warming the acupuncture points and acupuncture needles with moxibustion, we can stimulated improved circulation and pain relief.
What can you treat with Acupuncture and Moxibustion?
Moxibustion is very effective for treating many conditions causes by cold. During the winter in particular, I use it for back pain, arthritis, osteoarthritis, knee pain, and joint pain. For some women, it is very effective for menstrual cramps.
In our New York Acupuncture office, we use smokeless moxibustion. The herb mugwort is treated in order that when it is used it does not create much smoke when used.
Nov 29, 2011
“And when you do find one, observe with care…they almost always have crystals in their hearts.”
From Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
To understand Chinese medicine better, we also have to think about how acupuncture and Chinese medicine conceptualize and describe the body.
The Language of Acupuncture and Chinese medicine
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese medicine is a comprehensive medical system with it own diagnosis and treatment. The terminology and language is also unique.
Sometimes, acupuncture language may sound a little magical. We may say that a headache is caused by liver qi stagnation in one person but in another person it may be from heat. Similarly, anxiety can come from heart blood vacuity but it also can be related to heat irritating the heart.
It is very important that the language and theory is consistent throughout the acupuncture diagnosis and treatment. In fact, if the wrong diagnosis is made, say heat instead of liver qi stagnation, the incorrect treatment will be used which can make the condition worse.
I like to think of these imbalances as metaphors describing the symptoms of your illness.
A Scholarly History
The causes and treatment of disease have been debated, discussed, and experimented with by clinicians and scholars throughout the more than 2500 years of Chinese medicine history.
They have evolved, as historian Paul Unschuld has written, into a system of medical correspondences. These debates still continue today about the best methods to approach and treat different diseases.
Health in Traditional Chinese Medicine
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine view health as a state of balance in the body, as well as balance within the enviornment.
Some of the most common imbalances pertain to the body’s energy, or qi. The qi can be too little, what we call qi vacuity, or it may not circulate as it should, called qi stagnation.
Other imbalances coorespond to the enviornment. Cold, heat, dryness, and wind can all cause diseases.
The Body Acupuncture
Acupuncture visualizes the body as a complex interconnected web. Meridians travelling throughout the body, connecting the surface to the interior, the upper body with the lower body.
The body’s energy circulates freely. If there is too little energy or if the energy gets stuck, imbalances occur. A build up of any imbalance, heat, cold, stagnation, or others leads to developing into an illness.
To correct the imbalance, we use acupuncture points and treatment methods specific to your imbalance.
For example, a headache from liver qi stagnation, we could use the acupuncture points LI 4, Liver 3, and Liver 14. But if it is from heat, we may choose Liver 2, Gallbladder 34, and San Jiao 5.
Oct 20, 2011
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine are effective treatments for atopic eczema. This guide will explain how acupuncture and Chinese herbs work to treat atopic eczema.
Atopic eczema, also called atopic dermatitis, is the most common type of chronic eczema (1). Those with atopic eczema often have a family history eczema, hay fever, and asthma.
Symptoms of Atopic Eczema
Atopic eczema nearly always begins in childhood. For most people, it clears before becoming an adult. However, for some it will cycle between flare ups and remittance. Flare up can be caused by infection, stress, chemical irritants, or sometimes changes in the weather.
Eczema causes terrible itching. Particularly in atopic patients, the scratching of an itch in many cases is what leads to the development of dry, irritated, and inflamed skin associated with eczema. The itch is very intense it is often difficult to control during sleep.
Eczema can occur on the face, or patches in the body. Commonly, eczema occurs on the inside of the elbows and back of the knees. Chronic, long term eczema, may lead to thickening of the skin called lichenification.
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 (2).
Chinese medicine takes a holistic approach to diagnosing eczema, considering physical, emotional, and environmental factors. The primary diagnosis is made by looking at the skin. This is combined with information from taking the pulse, observing the tongue and the skin, and asking in depth questions.
In Chinese medicine, too much “heat” is a common cause of eczema, which leads to the itch, redness, and irritation. Other imbalances called “dampness” can result in swelling and in some cases vesicles. Another possible imbalance is too little energy, or what we call “qi deficiency.” The acupuncture and herbs help to clear the heat from the body or to boost the body’s energy.
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine treatment of Atopic Eczema
The treatment will often combine acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and topical herbal creams. 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).
Chinese 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) may be used to clear heat. Many of the heat reducing herbs are also potent anti-inflammatory and perhaps have immunoregulatory properties. Dampness is also a possible cause of eczema. For this, ku shen (sophroa) is effective. 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. Generally, I want to see some reduction in itching and inflammation within the first 2-4 weeks. The treatment course is about 3-4 months.
For many patients, acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine leads to long term reduction of symptoms.
1. PubMed Health. Atoptic Eczema. Accessed 10/21/2011.
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.
written by Joseph Alban
Oct 13, 2011
Observing the tongue and taking the pulse are two of the most common diagnostic techniques in Chinese medicine.
Why look at the tongue?
Chinese medicine uses diagnostic approaches, like the tongue and the pulse, because they reflect the imbalances that are causing your health problem.
What are we looking for in the tongue?
When I am looking at the tongue, I am looking at the the color of the tongue, the size and shape of the tongue body, and the coating on top of the tongue.
If the tongue is very red, or very pale that can show there is heat, or qi deficiency. If the tongue body is purplish, it can show stagnation, a lack of circulation in the body’s channels. If the tongue coating is very thick and white, it can be dampness. But if the tongue coating is yellow and sticky, that can signal intense heat. If the tongue is very red and there is very little tongue coating, then the heat has damaged the fluids in the body.
The size of the tongue can differ as well. A common tongue sign is called toothmarked, where the sides of the tongue almost look like they have teeth marks in them. The tongue body can also be cracked, which can show too little yin.
Eczema: A clinical example of the holistic diagnosis
The information from the tongue is not taken in isolation, but rather combined with other techniques, such as the pulse, asking questions, and in the case of eczema, observing the skin.
When it comes to eczema, looking at the skin is very important. If the skin is very red, irritated, dry, and itchy, then it is probably caused by heat. We then look at the tongue. If the tongue is red with a sticky yellow coating, then it is certainly excess heat causing the eczema. The herbs and acupuncture are focused clearing heat.
But if the tongue is pale and large, with a thick white coat, then it may be heat mixed with qi deficiency, or lack of energy. The herbs and acupuncture would have to also address the underlying lack of energy.
Read more on Acupuncture for Eczema
- Chinese herbs for Winter Eczema: A Success Story
- TCM Treatment for Dyshidrotic Eczema
- Personalized Acupuncture and Herbs for Eczema
Photo: Mike Burns
Sep 26, 2011
It takes many years for an acupuncturist to develop skills in taking the pulse. A properly trained and skilled acupuncturist can find out a lot from your pulse.
The pulse is a significant aspect the Chinese medicine diagnosis process.
The pulse reflects the imbalances in the body and the strength of the body’s energy. This helps to determine the root cause of your health concern.
What does an acupuncturist look for in the pulse?
The pulse is a reflection of the what is going on inside the body. As an acupuncturist, when I take the pulse, I don’t just thin about if it is too fast or slow. I am looking for is it very strong, or very weak, is it bounding, or is it receding? Is the pulse thick or thin? Strong or weak?
Acupuncturist also look for patterns such as stringlike. This pulse will hit our fingers like a guitar string.
Positions of the pulse
Different parts and aspects of the pulse provide information about your health. There are three positions to the Chinese medicine pulse. They pertain to different parts of the body. Acupuncturists also take the pulse from different depths to look for more information about the location of the imbalances in the body.
What does the Chinese medicine pulse mean?
Different pulses are represent specific imbalances. If your pulse is very fast or pounding it may reveal that there is heat in the body. If it is very weak and deep, then you may have qi stagnation. Then the acupuncture and Chinese medicine treatment is focused on correcting these imbalances.
The meaning of the pulse is most powerfully explored in the context of the person as a whole. This deeper level takes many years of practice.
Acupuncture for Neck Pain: An Example from the Clinic
Illnesses can show signs of one imbalance such as stagnation or lack of circulation. This can often happen in chronic neck pain. The muscles can be tight and have knots. This looks like it may be stagnation because muscle of the muscle tightness. But if the pulse is very weak, then the root cause is lack of energy.
Often, people with an underlying weakness have tried many treatments and therapies without relief. The only way to improve this situation is through boosting the energy. A very strong treatment may even lead to further tightness.
In this example, the pulse will reveal the true nature of the imbalance, which is a weakness.
Read More: Acupuncture Success Stories
Jul 5, 2011
It is officially hot here in New York City.
Chinese medicine has many remedies to cool down and reduce the risk of heat conditions in the summer. One of my favorite secrets is a cooling herbal tea made of chrysanthemum flowers and gou ji berries.
The Summertime Eight Treasures tea is also another way to cool the body down. This tea has a couple more herbs like yi yi ren and bai zhu to drain dampness as well. Good to humid environments like NYC.