Posts Tagged ‘medicine’
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.
Oct 22, 2012
Mushrooms are phenomenally versatile organisms. Some are delicious, some are remarkable medicine, and some are both.
When it comes to mushrooms to lower cholesterol, you can have your mushroom and eat it too!
How can mushrooms lower cholesterol?
Mushrooms are inherently good at lowering cholesterol due to their high fiber and protein content. Mushrooms make great protein substitutes for high cholesterol foods. For example in Asian cuisine, mushrooms are often mixed in a meat dish which reduces the amount of meat that is eaten and adds flavor.
Shiitake mushrooms in particular have cholesterol lowering abilities as medicinal mushrooms.1 This ability to reduce cholesterol is due to eritadenine, a component of shiitake. Eritadenine helps to increase the excretion of cholesterol which can lower circulating levels in the blood.
In one study, 9 grams of dried shitake mushrooms eaten daily lead to a reduction of 9-12% of total cholesterol. Triglycerides were reduced by 6-7%. Because shiitake are not known to containing lovastatin, the active constituent in most cholesterol medication, it is safe to eat them if you are taking medication.
Shiitake have a particularly high percentage of protein and robust flavor which makes it a great meat substitute.
Oyster mushrooms are very healthy and delicious. They’ve been touted for their cholesterol lowering capabilities because they naturally contain small amounts of lovastatin, the cholesterol lowering chemical that is widely used in cholesterol medication.
In nature, there are many strains of lovastatin, and the most potent comes from another fungus called Red Yeast Rice. Red yeast rice is used as the red dye for the famous dish Peking Duck.
Oyster mushrooms also have a wide range of anti inflammatory and hepatoprotective effects as well as the ability to reduce blood glucose levels. 1,2 This is why oyster mushrooms are a great way to improve overall health and protect against the deleterious effects of high cholesterol.
It is important to consult your physician before beginning a mushrooms products particularly if you are taking cholesterol medication.
1. Powell M. Medicinal Mushrooms: A Clinical Guide. Mycology Press. September 2010.
2.Khatun K, Mahtab H, Khanam PA, et.al. Oyster mushroom reduced blood glucose and cholesterol in diabetic subjects. KA.Mymensingh Med J. 2007 Jan;16(1):94-9.
Oct 2, 2012
Eye twitching is annoying. A fluttering eye will buzz on and off throughout the day causing distraction and frustration. Sometimes, the fluttering can be quite strong leading to total closing of the eye and impairing your vision.
Most often eye twitching is caused by stress, fatigue, use of alcohol, or irritation of the eye. In some, the eye twitch becomes chronic which is called benign essential blepharospasm. Benign essential blepharospasm not only is annoying but can lead to periodic trouble seeing.
In a very small number of individuals, chronic eye twitching is a sign of a neurological condition. If the eye twitching goes on for many weeks, it is best to consult a physician or healthcare professional.
Acupuncture and acupressure are very helpful for reducing eye twitches.
How does acupuncture understand eye twitches?
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine has beautiful imagery to describe health and illness. Health is a state of balance within the body as well as between the body and the environment. Environmental factors such as cold, heat, and wind can cause illness. These environmental factors also represent certain illness within the body.
Eye twitching is caused by wind. Just as the leaves in the trees are rattled by wind, the rattling in the body is caused by wind as well. We use acupuncture points along the proper channels to remove this wind from the body.
What is the root of the wind? This is from inhibition in the flow of qi.
The body’s qi or energy flows through channel and meridians. Stress, anxiety, and lack of sleep disrupts the flow of qi throughout the body leading to what we call stagnation. The stagnation causes pressure to develop and leads to the development of wind. This is why acupuncture treatment also should include points for moving the qi.
Acupressure for Eye Twitching
For many people with periodic eye twitching, acupressure can help stop the annoying twitch.
The acupressure point to start with would be San Jiao 5 (SJ 5). This point is located on the outside of the arm, 2 thumb widths up from the wrist between the radius bone and the the large tendons (extensor digitorum tendons) on the back of the arm.
Start by pressing this point for 30 seconds.
After finishing with SJ 5, GB 34 is the next point to treat. This point is located on the lateral aspect of the leg just below the knee. It is just below and in front of the head of the fibula. Press this point for 30 second on each side.
What’s Acupuncture treatment like for Eye Twitching?
For those with stronger, more persistent eye twitching, acupuncture may be needed. The acupuncture points for eye twitching are on the arms and legs. These points will help to reduce wind, promote the flow of qi, and are on the channels that address eye problems.
The channels of the San Jiao and Gallbladder both go to the eyes. Acupuncture points such as SJ 5 on the arm, GB 34 and GB 39 on the leg can help with the wind. Liver 3 and LI 4 on the hands and feet help to remove the stagnation.
Jul 27, 2012
Traditional Chinese Medicine has been used to treat skin conditions for thousands of years. While Perioral Dermatitis is a newly recognized disease, only about 35 years old, the Traditional Chinese Medicine treatments for similar skin conditions remain helpful in addressing the condition.
Symptoms of Perioral Dermatitis
Perioral Dermatitis is a skin disorder which causes an erythema (redness of the skin), red bumps (called papules and pustules), and scaling. Perioral Dermatitis can look like acne, although it is not the same condition.
As the name infers, the most common locations of Perioral Dermatitis include around the mouth, on the chin, cheeks, and next to the nose. It can also occur around the eyes or on the eyelids, which is referred to as Periocular Dermatitis. Characteristic of Perioral Dermatitis is the sparing of the vermillion border around the mouth. The condition is generally not itchy.
Perioral Dermatitis most often affects young women, but the condition can occur in children and men. The cause is unknown. It was thought to be triggered by topical steroid creams. However, there are many people who contract the condition without having used topical steroids. Stress can be a significant factor at the onset of the condition. In children, the dermatitis may be associated with foods or other substances irritating the face.
Although Perioral Dermatitis does not pose a serious risk to your health, it can be very stressful and upsetting to an otherwise healthy person.
Perioral Dermatitis in Traditional Chinese Medicine
Chinese medicine takes a holistic approach to the diagnosis and treatment of skin conditions. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, a state of health is reached when the body is in balance. In order to address Perioral Dermatitis, acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine bring the body back to balance.
During the examination, the acupuncturist will consider physical, emotional, and environmental factors, as well as the appearance of the skin. For example, the degree of redness, presence of papules and pustules, or scales will factor into the determinations of the imbalance. This is combined with information from taking the pulse, observing the tongue and the skin, and asking in-depth questions.
The predominant imbalances causing Perioral Dermatitis are stagnation and heat. If caused by stagnation or lack of circulation, symptoms most often include redness, thin scaling, and only a few pustules. The more redness and pustules, the more heat is present. If the erythema is persistent or becomes worse when you are hot or in the sun, the heat is more intense and deeper in the body. Digestive health can also be a factor.
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine Therapy for Perioral Dermatitis
The goal of acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine is to correct the imbalance underlying your condition. Once the imbalance is removed, the body is able to heal itself.
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese herbal therapy are tailored to your specific symptoms and imbalance. Both the herbal ingredients and the acupuncture points will vary, depending on the condition. Chinese herbs are generally given in combinations of 8-12 herbs. The herbs are thought to work by synergistically regulating the inflammatory process underlying the condition.
It is important to consult an acupuncturist or Chinese Medicine practitioner before taking herbs. When treating Perioral Dermatitis from stagnation, the herbs may include those which help circulate the qi such as chai hu. If there is more erythema, herbs such as sheng di huang will help remove the heat. If there are many pustules, herbs that reduce inflammation, such as ye ju hua, are used.
Jan 31, 2012
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.
Dec 29, 2011
What does acupuncture treat?
During the past year I have been adding a section to my website focusing on the commonly treated conditions in my clinic. It is not yet comprehensive, but over the next few months I will continue to build this section. Currently, I have a number of in depth articles detailing the acupuncture treatment.
- Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine for Eczema
- Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine for Psoriasis
- Acupuncture for Chronic Prostatitis and Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome
- Acupuncture for Interstitial Cystitis
Dec 27, 2011
As the year is coming to a close, I am looking over much of the writing I’ve been doing over the year.
In 2011, I wrote many articles explaining how acupuncture works. Here are some of my favorite.
- Acupuncture and the Healing Process
- How Much Time are Acupuncture Needles Retained
- How Long is an Acupuncture Treatment
Chinese Medicine Diagnosis
If you have a specific question about acupuncture or Traditional Chinese Medicine, let me know in the comment section.
Nov 28, 2011
Tension headaches are the most common type of headache. Everyone gets them from time to time, but in some it may become chronic. There is no need to suffer, acupuncture can treat your headaches and help you feel better.
You probably know when you have a tension headache. It is usually a dull aching pain that can come from being stressed out, upset, too tired, overworked, or stared at your computer too long.
There is often accompanied with tension of the neck muscles, pressure in the forehead, temples, or base of the skull.
For most people, the headache will last a few minutes to a few hours, but some have chronic headaches which occur for a long time. Severe chronic headache suffers can have it for more than a few days or months. Most cases are not an emergency, but if you experience an abrupt severe headache with a feeling of a snap in you head or if you headache is accompanied by a fever or trauma, you should go to the emergency room.
How does Acupuncture approach headaches?
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine work by addressing imbalances in the body. Once the imbalance is corrected, the body works to heal itself.
Each person’s imbalance can be different. The treatment is tailored specifically to your symptoms and complaints.
When it comes to chronic pain conditions, it is important to consider both the mind and the body, which effect one another. Chinese medicine is quite specific about this, and each organ is effected by different emotions.
Often with headaches, the diagnosis can be associated with imbalances in the body’s energy, or qi. Qi is the body’s energy (Qi is pronounced “chee,” and is sometimes spelled “chi.”).
In Chinese medicine, it is said “When the qi flows there is no pain, when qi stops, there is pain and illness.” When qi circulation is damaged, it is called qi stagnation. This can often happen from stress and anxiety. There can also be too little qi, what we call qi vacuity.
Acupuncture Treatment of Headaches
Acupuncture works to correct the imbalance causing the qi stagnation. An effective acupuncture treatment is based upon a specific and accurate diagnosis. The acupuncture point selection is tailored to the patients imbalance. For example, if there is qi vacuity, we may focus on the acupuncture points Kidney 3, Spleen 9, and Lung 5. But if it is based in qi stagnation, the the acupuncture points liver 3, Large Inesting 4, and Gall Bladder 34 may be selected.
Also combining acupressure with the acupuncture helps to relieve the muscle tension also associated with the tension headaches. Usually people will feel relief after only a few weekly visits.
Physiological, acupuncture works to reduce pain and inflammation through regulating neural pain pathways, stimulating the release of natural pain relievers in the body, such as opioids, as well as regulating pain relieving opioid receptors.
Acupuncture is also very relaxing. Most people feel very calm during the treatment and after the acupuncture treatment. This is because acupuncture does not separate the body and the mind. The mind influences the body, and the body influences the mind. So in treating the body we also relax the mind.
written by Joseph Alban
Last Edited 11/14/2011
Nov 11, 2011
I like to say that the acupuncture healing process is like hitting the reset switch. It works in the body to correct once healthy pathways that were knocked off kilter.
There is a process to getting to the root cause of the issue in order to reset the body. Like peeling off layers to get to to the core issue.
Many patients come to me with intense symptoms, often severe pain. The first goal is to reduce the pain to make them comfortable. Then we work on correcting the root issue causing the pain which can lead to long term relief.
In acupuncture and Chinese medicine we call this treating the root and the branch, that is treating the branch symptoms and the root cause. This is the key to the healing effect of Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese medicine.