TCM and Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis is an inherited disease that disrupts normal function of the epithelial cells in the body.  Epithelial cells line the passageways of many of our vital organs, including the lungs, liver, kidneys, reproductive system and the skin. Those who have cystic fibrosis have a defective gene that impairs epithelial cell function. This can lead to a buildup of sticky mucus throughout the body that may eventually lead to lung damage and chronic coughing, affecting how patients with cystic fibrosis breathe and filter air, digest their food and absorb the nutrients from that food. In the United States alone, there are nearly 12 million people who suffer from this disease. Unfortunately, there is no known cure and most of those affected with the disease only live into their 20s and 30s. Current modern medicine treatments focus on increasing the quality of life by managing symptoms. continue reading »

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Tired of Being Tired? Try Traditional Chinese Medicine.

There are many factors involved with fatigue. If you are overtired, Traditional Chinese Medicine might be able to pinpoint the culprit, give some extra pep and help you kick those afternoon blues.

In TCM the idea of treatment is to find the root of the problem instead of simply treating the symptoms. In the case of fatigue, there are many possible root causes to feeling tired including: stress, depression, over exercising, lack of sleep, poor diet, poor absorption of nutrients and vitamin deficiency. Of course, these can overlap and one can exacerbate the other.

In TCM, there are a few basic syndromes associated with fatigue.

Spleen Qi deficiency and dampness: This mainly comes from poor digestion and malabsorption of nutrients from an insufficient diet. Associated symptoms are a pale complexion, gas and bloating, to name a few. Dampness is excessive mucus and a feeling of heaviness in the head and body usually seen in overweight individuals. Since food is not transformed and transported well, food is not being absorbed adequately, which can lead to feeling sluggish. Treatment focuses on digestive issues and lifestyle choices to increase energy.

Blood deficiency: Similar to anemia, symptoms are pale complexion, dizziness and fatigue. Treatment focuses on building blood,herbal formulas and dietary advice.

Yin or yang deficiency: The body continually strives to achieve a yin and yang balance, as does everything in the universe. If there is an imbalance in one of these, there will be a relative change in the other. For example, if one is yin deficient the symptoms would include heat, dryness, sweating, irritability and thirst. This is seen typically in menopausal women, as the yin declines with hormone changes and normal aging.

On the other hand, yang deficiency (common in male aging and low testosterone) would have cold signs such as feeling cold, having low energy, weakness in the legs and wanting to curl up. The lower yang energy influences the balance of yin. This is so the yin is relatively higher. Treatment consists of building the deficiency and balancing your yin and yang.

In other terms, if it is a hormone imbalance, treatment would safely adjust hormone levels with safe and effective herbal formulas and acupuncture.

Shen disturbance: Shen refers to the mind and spirit. If one is stressed, angry and having anxiety, it may disrupt sleep patterns, which would cause fatigue. Unhappiness with one’s situation causes great emotional fatigue and lethargy. Feeling stuck causes stagnation in the liver channel and disrupts the free flow of energy. Treatment would include calming the mind and adjusting lifestyle choices.

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Research Update: Acupuncture and Side Effects of Chemotherapy

A 2018 study published in the World Journal of Acupuncture-Moxibustion looked at the effect of acupuncture treatments on rectal cancer patients who were experiencing hand-foot syndrome caused by their chemotherapy treatments. Hand-foot syndrome is a known side effect of chemotherapy characterized by redness, swelling, tingling, numbness, itching and pain in the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.

The researchers found acupuncture significantly reduced all of the symptoms associated with hand-foot syndrome to the extent they considered 17 percent of patients completely cured and the treatments were significantly effective in 70 percent of patients.

To conduct the study, researchers from Chongqing Cancer Institute recruited 60 patients with rectal cancer undergoing chemotherapy. Half of the patients received acupuncture and half were treated simply by taking B6 vitamins. Their hand-foot syndrome was scored using two internationally recognized scales indicating symptom severity and physical disability.

The patients in the acupuncture group received 30-minute treatments every day for two weeks. The patients in the B6 vitamin group took the supplement daily for two weeks.

According to traditional Chinese medicine, hand-foot syndrome indicates poor qi and blood circulation, a deficiency in qi and blood or dampness leading to a blockage in qi that prohibits nourishment from reaching the skin and muscles, causing numbness and pain. The acupuncture treatments were directed at promoting blood and qi circulation and removing stagnation.

After the treatments, patients in both groups showed improvement, but symptoms and physical disabilities for the patients in the acupuncture group decreased significantly more than for the patients in the B6 vitamin group. Based on the analysis of the scores, in the acupuncture group, the treatments cured five patients were effective for 16 patients, meaning their symptom score was downgraded to the lowest possible number on the scale and their physical ability score increased to between 80 and 89 out of 100 possible points. The treatments were effective for 70 percent of patients compared with 36 percent of patients in the B6 vitamin group.

The report concludes, “The results demonstrate that an integrative model of patient care utilizing acupuncture as a treatment modality produces significantly less adverse effects associated with chemotherapy.”

Research consistently shows acupuncture is effective at increasing circulation throughout the body, improving the flow of blood and therefore nutrients to injured cells, muscles or tissues.

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Research Update – Traditional Chinese Medicine and HIV

A study conducted at Yale University General Clinical Research Center and published by Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine shows promise for the efficacy of acupuncture in alleviating symptoms of human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV. The study, while small in numbers of subjects, allows for further study into the use of Traditional Chinese Medicine to support patients with HIV. The patients received acupuncture treatments twice a week for three weeks. Researchers tracked their symptom distress, psychological distress and overall quality of life. The data from this pilot study suggests the participants noticed an improvement in their symptoms and their quality of life.

Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome or AIDS is caused by a virus known as the human immunodeficiency virus or HIV. People can contract HIV through a number of ways, but the most common is having unprotected sex with an infected partner. It can also be spread by contact with infected blood or from mother to child during pregnancy. HIV slowly weakens the immune system, making the host susceptible to multiple infections and diseases that eventually kill the host.

The good news is the numbers of infected people in the United States are steadily declining, and not everybody who is diagnosed as HIV-positive will succumb to the virus. Huge strides in modern medicine have allowed people to live normal lives despite being infected with HIV. 

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is probably the most commonly known alternative to modern medicine due to its long history and the fact more and more people are seeking out ways to avoid taking pills and visiting hospitals.

TCM helps HIV-positive patients by boosting their immune systems, relieving symptoms and decreasing the side effects of prescription medications. Most people who are diagnosed with HIV are advised to start drug therapy as quickly as possible, but many of the medications prescribed have significant side effects.

Many patients report improvements in sleep, stress levels, digestion and immune function once they begin regular acupuncture treatments. And science backs this up. There are two ways the health of HIV-positive patients is monitored: their T-cell count and their overall viral load. For those who begin acupuncture treatments and are consistent with them, T-cell numbers remain high and sometimes even increase and the overall viral load in the body decreases. This helps keep their immune system functioning at a high level, while also combatting things like fatigue and stress associated with the infection.

TCM is unique in its approach to treating HIV because it is one of the few medical systems available that addresses the whole person without compartmentalizing their symptoms. This allows for the patient to receive help in healing not just the body, but also the mind. Multiple studies confirm emotions can affect the body and actually make us sick. TCM addresses the mind-body connection and treats the person holistically, thus providing for an overall better quality of life.


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Acupuncture for Temporomandibular Disorders

Temporomandibular disorders refers to a group of conditions that affect the joints of the jaw or the temporomandibular joints. These joints are located bilaterally on the face, in front of the ears and connecting the jaw bone to the skull. These joints are complicated, allowing for movement in multiple directions.

For some, temporomandibular disorders (TMD) can be caused by trauma such as a car accident or a hit to the face. But for most, these issues seem to appear out of nowhere. Many people do things on a daily basis or have underlying conditions that can cause or contribute to the development of temporomandibular disorders. Things like teeth grinding, gum chewing, excessive stress, malocclusion of teeth and even arthritis can all be reasons that TMD occurs. The most common symptoms of TMD include pain, headaches, muffled hearing, earaches, pain when chewing, dental pain, chipped or worn teeth, jaw clicking, dizziness, neck pain and difficulty moving the jaw.

Conventional treatments for TMD vary from eating soft foods to taking over-the-counter pain medications and using hot or cold packs. Often, mouth guards and physical therapy are also prescribed. Sometimes specific dental work may also be suggested. And as a last resort, steroid injections and jaw surgery may be used. Unfortunately, the success of these treatments is limited.

Traditional Chinese Medicine can be a great alternative. Acupuncture, moxibustion and electroacupuncture can be especially beneficial for people with TMD.

Numerous studies have shown acupuncture can reduce pain and inflammation caused by TMD. Acupuncture reduces the sensation of pain by directly stimulating the nerves, which changes the signaling to the brain. Acupuncture stimulates the release of neurotransmitters and endorphins in the body. These are naturally occurring substances that help decrease and block pain perception by the brain.

Placing acupuncture needles directly into the belly of the jaw muscle can also elicit a muscle twitch. This muscle twitch can then release the built up tension throughout the muscle, allowing it to reset. When the muscle tension is released, so too is the pain and tightness. By adding in electroacupuncture, the muscle is then reminded of how it is supposed to act.

Acupuncture is also proven to help reduce stress that is often associated with painful disorders like TMD. When people feel stressed, the brain releases a hormone called cortisol. Too much cortisol can alter the way the brain perceives pain, and it can also cause involuntary muscle spasms in the jaw muscles. This can lead to excessive pain in the temporomandibular joints.

If you or somebody you love is facing the pain of TMD, consider utilizing acupuncture and the other modalities of TCM to treat the issue. It is a much safer alternative, it can save a lot of money and these modalities offer improved overall health.


Are you suffering from pain, high level of stress, or just physical or mental tension?

Our wellness center offers acupuncture, cupping, herbal medicine, acupressure massage, and other forms of Traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of pain and other physical and mental/emotional symptoms.

We accept health insurance (if they cover acupuncture) and offer affordable care plans. We also have  payment plans available for those in financial need. For more information or to schedule  an appointment call us at 630-837-4241 or schedule online 

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