Everybody sweats. But some people sweat excessively. This is called hyperhidrosis which may be very uncomfortable and embarrassing. This often causes people to avoid social situations.
But there is hope, acupuncture has been shown to help hyperhydrosis. I have helped numerous people with acupuncture reduce excessive sweating by addressing the underlying imbalance at the root of the problem.
What are the causes of hyperhidrosis?
Most often, hyperhidrosis is caused by overactive sweat glands and occurs without any other medical condition. This is called primary hyperhidrosis. Anxiety and nervousness can make sweating worse in many people. A small number of people have secondary hyperhidrosis, which is abnormal sweating due to another condition including cancer, infections, hyperthyroidism, menopause, Parkinson’s disease, and stroke. It is best to see your doctor to find out why you have excessive sweating.
How does acupuncture help hyperhydrosis?
Traditional Chinese Medicine works by correcting imbalances in the body. Treating the imbalance does not just treat the symptoms or mask the condition, like medications that inhibit sweating or antiperspirants, but rather corrects the root of the problem by encouraging self-healing of the body. Each person’s imbalance is different, and the diagnosis and treatment is tailored to that specific imbalance. By correcting the underlying imbalance, you can experience better results. Chinese medicine is not a one size fits all therapy, and it is important to seek out a well trained and experienced practitioner.
What are the most common imbalances causing excessive sweating?
Qi Imbalances– Often the root cause of excessive sweating is an imbalance of the body’s vital energy, or qi (pronounced chee). The two most common imbalances in qi are when there is too little qi or when the qi circulation becomes impaired. One way acupuncture and Chinese herbs work to stop sweating is by helping to improve the circulation and the amount of qi.
Those with too little qi may experience the symptoms of poor digestion, bloating, loose and sticky stools, fatigue, shortness of breath, sinus headaches, soft voice, a weak pulse, and pale tongue.
Qi stagnation, when the qi is not circulating well, can also lead to excessive sweating. 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, irritability, anger, and depression.
Heat– Chinese medicine also uses metaphors to describe imbalances in the body. One metaphor is the idea of heat. Just like heat outside the body can cause sweating, excessive heat can develop inside the body and also cause sweating. Signs of heat include a red face, red tongue, rapid pulse, insomnia, and excessive hunger. Depending on the location of the heat, sometimes your hands and feet but your body is hot and other times, the hands and feet are excessive sweaty and the body is cold.
How does acupuncture address excess sweating?
Acupuncture stimulates the body to heal itself by activating and deactivating parts of the brain. This is possibly how it regulates sweating. Sweating is controlled by a part of the brain called the hypothalamus. Using an fMRI, a type of brain scan, acupuncture has been shown to activate the hypothalamus to decrease pain and regulate hormones. It is possible that it also works to regulate excess sweating through this part of the brain.
Most often I use acupuncture points and electroacupuncture on the back that help to calm the mind and the body. I find this type of treatment is most effective for hyperhydrosis.
Lifestyle and Diet
The two most important choices for you to do on your own are eating right and relaxing. According to Chinese Medicine, eating right is simple. Choose local organic seasonal foods and try to avoid greasy and spicy food. In Chinese Medicine, greasy and spicy foods can build up extra dampness in the body, and can further cause more excess sweating. It is also important to cook your foods and not eat too much salad and cold food, which is harder to digest and harder to absorb the energy from the food.
Another important choice is doing something to relax the body and the mind. Breathing techniques are great relaxation. They work with the brain to bring quiet and peace, which can help reduce the amount of sweating. Also, qi gong, yoga, and tai chi can help naturally calm the body, mind, and spirit.
If you have excessive sweating and hyperhidrosis, there is hope. Practice these tips on your own and you will feel better in both mind and body. Also, find an acupuncturist in your area to see if they have experience with this condition.
Here are some simple instructions on breathing exercises for relaxing the mind and body.