There are more than 80 chronic illnesses that are immune related including rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, thyroid disease, inflammatory bowel disease, lupus, and celiac disease.
Autoimmune diseases result when the immune system mistakenly attacks its own body’s tissues. Immune deficiency is more common than most people think; around 20 percent of the population suffers from some form of an autoimmune disorder, according to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association.
Although symptoms vary greatly depending on the specific disease, commons symptoms include chronic fatigue, joint pain, muscle weakness, weight loss, dry eyes and abdominal pain.
Autoimmune diseases are not always easily treated, as they are a chronic illness with no known cure. However, there are natural ways to ease and reduce symptoms such as acupuncture treatment.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is believed that immune deficiencies come from an imbalance in the body. When there is a stagnation in the body’s natural energy flow, called Qi, the body becomes out of balance, whether it is from a deficiency or excess of yin or yang.
Acupuncture works by addressing the body as a whole. By using specific acupuncture points on the body, the treatment is able to release any blockages and return the body back to its natural balance.
Research has shown that acupuncture can affect the release of hormones, proteins and chemicals in the body, which can affect blood pressure and the immune system.
Although there is no cure, immune deficiencies can be managed properly to have the best quality of life possible. Acupuncture has also been shown to help boost mood and lower stress and anxiety, which can be triggers for increased symptoms.
If you think you may have an autoimmune disease and are not getting a diagnosis, don’t give up. Immune deficiencies are hard to diagnose because of the wide range of symptoms. It may take multiple doctors to get a correct diagnosis.
Acupuncture is a safe, non-invasive treatment option that can decrease symptoms and improve overall well being.
Relieve Your Arthritis With Acupuncture
Arthritis is a painful and oftentimes debilitating condition that’s characterized by inflammation within one or more joints. According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 2 people will develop osteoarthritis of the knee by the age of 85. It’s important to note, however, that there are several different types of arthritis, with osteoarthritis being just one. Other common types include rheumatoid arthritis, gout, septic arthritis, Still’s disease, and ankylosing spondylitis.
While most people living with moderate-to-severe arthritis resort to prescription medication to mask their symptoms, a safer and more effective form of treatment may come in the form of a 2,000-plus-year-old Chinese practice called acupuncture. Numerous studies have found acupuncture to offer relief of many different types of arthritis. And best of all, it doesn’t come with the adverse side effects associated with arthritis medication.
Acupuncture aids in regulating the nervous system, which in turn produces the natural pain-relieving chemicals called endorphins.
Studies Reaffirm Acupuncture For Arthritis
A group of German researchers conducted a study on 304,674 patients suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee. Researchers split the patients into two groups, one of which received traditional routine care, while the other received 15 sessions of acupuncture. Researchers concluded that patients who had received acupuncture experienced better knee function, less pain, and an overall better quality of life than their counterparts.
Another study – this one originating out of China – found that both acupuncture and electroacupuncture were effective at reduce pain, inflammation and tenderness in parts of the body by arthritis. Granted, this was a small study with just 36 patients, but it’s just one more study attesting to the healing power of acupuncture.
Alternative Treatments for Fertility
About 10 percent of couples struggle with infertility and an inability to conceive, according to the Centers for Disease Control. For those struggling to have children, fertility treatment can become tiring and expensive very quickly. There are numerous alternative treatments including Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that have been thought to improve fertility.
By increasing blood flow and Qi (pronounced “chee”) to the reproductive organs, acupuncture can help increase fertility. Stress has been noted to cause infertility in women due to an increase in the hormone cortisol. A change in hormones can cause the body to be put out of balance, affecting fertility. Acupuncture can help by decreasing stress with acupuncture points and returning the body to balance.
Acupuncture infertility treatment has almost no side effects, compared to Western medications and hormone treatments that can cause lasting side effects.
Women who received Chinese herbal treatments once a week for about three months were found to be twice as likely to become pregnant as women who didn’t receive the treatment, according to a study in the journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine.
Chinese herbal therapy uses more than 150 herbs found in groups of about 15 herbs in each treatment. The treatments are made of formulas that include natural ingredients such as bark, root, leaf, flower and plant extracts. These treatments are most commonly given in pill or tea form.
Clinical studies in China have shown that 70 percent of those struggling with fertility who were treated with Chinese herbs have become pregnant.
Ask an acupuncturist or naturopathic doctor on how you can receive Chinese herbal treatment.
Yoga is another way to increase fertility by reducing stress and increasing blood flow, which can help gynecological function.
Breathing practices that are done in yoga can help to relax the mind and lower cortisol levels, bringing hormones back to a normal balance.
Some poses can increase circulation to the reproductive organs including Seated Angle Pose. This pose consists of sitting with your legs stretched out to stretch the hamstrings, bringing more blood flow to the pelvic area.
If you have experience or supervision, yoga inversions such as headstands or shoulder stands can be extremely helpful fertility boosters as they balance the hormones.
Simple lifestyle changes can also help boost your fertility including eating a healthy diet, avoiding alcohol, smoking and environmental toxins, and getting sufficient sleep.
Alternative treatments for fertility can be a less expensive, non-invasive option for improving fertility!
Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a common disease suffered by an estimated 25-45 million people in the United States. Symptoms include chronic abdominal pain, bloating, excess gas and irregular bowel movements. Symptoms can be brought on by a number of triggers including anxiety, insomnia and stress. Although there is no known cure to IBS, there are numerous alternative treatments to prescription medication that can help relieve symptoms.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) uses herbal remedies to treat a number of ailments and diseases including IBS.
Peppermint has been studied and used to help treat IBS discomfort. Because it is a natural antispasmodic, peppermint can help decrease muscle spasms in the gastrointestinal tract. Common ways to use peppermint include peppermint tea or peppermint oil, both can be found at your local health store and most grocery stores.
Ginger can also be used to help IBS symptoms. Ginger works as an anti-inflammatory and is thought to strengthen the gastric lining and decrease nausea. You can buy ginger tea as well as make your own by boiling water with ginger root.
Fennel can immensely help bloating and gas due to IBS. Fennel is considered a carminative, meaning it has properties that prevent the formation of excess gas in the gastrointestinal tract. Fennel can also help heartburn, indigestion and common stomach pain. You can find fennel seeds in your local health food store and can be used to make tea.
Acupuncture is commonly used to treat chronic abdominal pain, bloating and other IBS symptoms. There has been at least one study done that specifically looked at acupuncture as a treatment for IBS. Acupuncture has been shown to relieve pain and stress, which are common triggers for IBS. This is done by regulating blood flow and Qi (pronounced “chee”) through acupuncture points.
Probiotics are a healthy bacteria that normally live in your gut. It has been thought that those with IBS do not have enough probiotics in their intestinal tract. You can easily add probiotics to your diet by eating foods such as yogurt and sourdough bread. Kombucha and kefir are drinks that also include probiotics. Probiotic supplements can be found at your local health store.
Meditation and Exercise
Meditation and exercise are excellent stress relievers and in turn can relieve IBS symptoms that are commonly caused by stress and anxiety.
Not only does exercise release endorphins that help fight stress, but regular physical activity can help regulate your gastrointestinal system.
Research done at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on meditation and IBS found that women who practiced mediation had around a 38 percent reduction in symptoms, according to U.S. News.
Meditation focuses on deep breathing and staying in the moment to relax the mind and body.
Alternative medicine including TCM and acupuncture can largely decrease your IBS symptoms and help you live a more pain-free life!
Acupuncture Relieves Sinus Allergies
Acupuncture is safe and effective for allergy treatments. Research published in American Journal of Rhinology & Allergy finds acupuncture effective for the treatment of allergic rhinitis. This condition is often referred to as hay fever and is characterized by a runny nose, postnasal drip, sneezing, watery or itchy eyes, and irritation of the ears or throat. Acupuncture significantly lowered Immunoglobulin E (IgE), an antibody associated with allergies and hypersensitivities, in allergic rhinitis patients. In addition, subjective measures demonstrated acupuncture’s ability to improve quality of life scores. Acupuncture demonstrated significant efficaciousness in reducing allergic rhinitis symptoms including the reduction of nasal symptoms.
The researchers conducted a meta-analysis sorting for quality investigations from 174 randomized-controlled allergic rhinitis studies. A final selection of 13 quality trials consisting of a total sample size of 2,365 patients was examined. The researchers note that the study includes recent “multicenter, randomized, parallel-controlled trials with high quality” to support consistency of conclusions.
A primary outcome measure was the nasal symptom score. The researchers state that the, “Acupuncture group produced significantly greater diminution of nasal symptoms than did (the) control group.” Two randomized-controlled trials tested for a physical component score. Both demonstrated that acupuncture “was superior to the control group in improving physical health.” Three of the studies tested for IgE changes and all documented significant reductions in serum IgE. Two studies examined an overall mental component score. Both indicated “a significant trend in favor of the acupuncture group” for mental symptom improvement.
The researchers note, “Our meta-analysis showed that (the) acupuncture group has (a) superior effect in reduction of both rhinitis symptoms and the requirement for antiallergic medication compared with (the) control group.” The quality of life score significantly improved with acupuncture and was a measure of several components: sleep, non-nasal/eye symptoms, emotional function, practical problems, nasal symptoms, eye symptoms, activities. Serum IgE score improvements were found in the acupuncture group. The researchers note that, “This result showed strong and consistent evidence that acupuncture treatment leads to favorable responses in immunologic outcomes, which have been shown to be helpful in trials of proven therapeutic modalities, such as allergen-specific immunotherapy.”
Liu et al. compared allergic rhinitis acupuncture treatment with loratadine, a histamine antagonist drug used for the treatment of allergies. In the short term, acupuncture achieved a 96.7% total effective rate and the medication group achieved a 93.3% total effective rate. However, a long term follow-up demonstrated acupuncture’s ability to produce significantly superior positive patient outcomes. The follow-up reveals that acupuncture achieved an 86.7% total effective rate and loratadine achieve a 56.7% total effective rate. The researchers conclude, “The acupuncture at three nasal points and the acupoints selected by syndrome differentiation achieves the similar short-term efficacy on perennial allergic rhinitis as compared with the oral administration of loratadine. The acupuncture therapy presents the obvious advantages on long-term efficacy.”
The study compared the application of three acupuncture points compared with oral administration of loratadine. The randomized investigation divided allergic rhinitis patients into two groups of thirty patients in each group. The medication group received loratadine for four weeks, 10 mg per day. The acupuncture group received acupuncture every two days, three times per week for a total of four weeks. The three point acupuncture prescription used in the study was:
- Yingxiang (LI20)
- Yintang (EX-HN 3)
- Bitong (Extra)
Symptoms and physical signs were recorded and compared. Acupuncture slightly outperformed the medication group in the short-term and significantly outperformed the loratadine group in the long-term.
The treatment of allergic rhinitis is also treated with herbal medicine and Tuina (Chinese medical massage) within the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) system. Research supports these medical modalities. Yang et al. note, “The treatment of pediatric allergic rhinitis by combining Tuina and Chinese herbal medicines had an overall effectiveness rate of 85.71%.” The herbal medicines investigated in the study were classic TCM herbal formulas: Yu Ping Feng San, Gui Zhi Tang. Yang et al. add that Tuina combined with the herbal formulas produces positive therapeutic effects for pediatric allergic rhinitis “and should be considered as a treatment for this condition.”
A nationwide population study in Taiwan reveals that herbal medicine is a primary treatment of choice for children with allergic rhinitis. A study published in the International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology of 1,000,000 children under the age of 18 identified a total of 97,401 children with allergic rhinitis. A total of 63.11% of children with allergic rhinitis used TCM to treat the condition. Herbal medicine accounted for 99.1% of the children using TCM and 0.9% received acupuncture or manipulative therapies. The most commonly used herbal formula was Xin Yi Qing Fei Tang (Magnolia Flower Lung Clearing Decoction). A total of 23.44% of the children took this formulation. The single most used individual herb, at 13.78%, was Chan Tui (Periostracum cicada). The researchers note that “approximately two-thirds of pediatric AR (allergic rhinitis) patients were prescribed TCM treatments in Taiwan.”
Feng, Shaoyan, Miaomiao Han, Yunping Fan, Guangwei Yang, Zhenpeng Liao, Wei Liao, and Huabin Li. “Acupuncture for the treatment of allergic rhinitis: A systematic review and meta-analysis.” American journal of rhinology & allergy 29, no. 1 (2015): 57-62.
Liu, T. S., R. Qiu, and X. S. Lai. “[Efficacy on perennial allergic rhinitis treated with acupuncture at three nasal poinits and the acupoints selected by syndrome differentiation].” Zhongguo zhen jiu= Chinese acupuncture & moxibustion 34, no. 11 (2014): 1083-1086.
YANG, Zong-bao, L. I. U. Qiong, and Chen-guang WANG. “Treatment on 28 cases of pediatric allergic rhinitis by combining Tuina and Chinese herbal medicine.” World Journal of Acupuncture-Moxibustion 24, no. 3 (2014): 66-68.
Yen, Hung-Rong, Kai-Li Liang, Tzu-Ping Huang, Ji-Yu Fan, Tung-Ti Chang, and Mao-Feng Sun. “Characteristics of Traditional Chinese Medicine Use for Children with Allergic Rhinitis: A Nationwide Population-based Study.” International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology (2015).
Wondering about the impact of acupuncture? This is an hour long video (BBC Commentary)