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Archive for February, 2015

TCM & Acupuncture Therapies for Herpes Zoster

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Shingles, also known as Herpes zoster is caused by the varicella-zoster virus. This is a pathogen that infects the nerves of certain parts of the skin. This condition is marked by a bunch of vesicular eruptions that is painful. These eruptions are known as Che Chuan Chuang (meaning snake cluster sores) in Chinese medicine.

Symptoms and Signs

Poor appetite, malaise, fever and chills are some of the prodromal symptoms of shingles which may last for 3 to 4 days prior to any appearances of the classical shingle skin lesions. Pain and a burning sensation can develop over the area of the still-yet-to-appear lesions. Around the 4th or 5th day, a bunch of vesicles on an erythematous base becomes visible in the skin. These manifestations develop along the route of the affected nerve(s) that is usually accompanied by severe pain. The loin, stomach and thoracic regions are the areas usually affected. The vesicles contain clear fluid, at first that turns cloudy after 4 to 5 days. Around the 5th day, the vesicles start to dry and scab. Shingles may affect certain areas of the body including the medial part of the upper legs, chest, eyes and the face. After undergoing a herpes zoster attack, the person often becomes immune to this disease; it can recur but only in very rare instances. The pain may linger for months or even years, long after the condition has healed and this can be particularly true for old people. Shingles generally lasts around a couple of weeks to less than a month.

Differential diagnosis

Diagnosing shingles may be difficult during its early stage; when the vesicles begin to appear the disease can be easily diagnosed. Herpes zoster is also known for the pain it induces along with the development of the vesicles.

If the stomach and thoracic regions experience pain, it must be distinguished from that of renal colic, appendicitis, colitis and gallstones.

Lesions caused by herpes simplex lesions often look very much like that of herpes zoster. One difference between the two is that herpes simplex often comes back while zoster rarely does.

Vesicles with erythematous skin lesions can also be a sign of contact dermatitis although it usually will be caused by contact of the skin with an offending substance, and no pain usually comes with the contact dermatitis.

Traditional Chinese Medicine’s Perspective on Shingles in Cleveland

Toxin and fire in the liver meridian is the main cause of herpes zoster. Deficiency of Spleen and poor function of conveyance and transformation causing damp heat is likewise a known factor in the rise of herpes zoster.

In older individuals, the factors that make them susceptible for developing skin lesions include blood and qi stagnation, too much damp-heat toxin, toxins affecting the body, fatigue, too much liver yang, blood deficiency and weakness of the body.


Internal treatment

1. Blood and qi stasis

Shingles may not be evident in older people although pain may be experienced.

Plan of Treatment: Stop pain, nourish the blood, move qi and soothe the liver

Herbal remedy: Modified Hsiao Yao San

Acupuncture points:

LI 4, LI 11, SP 10, ST 36, SP 6, PC6 and SJ 6 ← this may be used if pain endures for a long time

Once a day treatment using even and strong needle manipulation; needles inserted for around 20 to 30 minutes

Auricular points: Shen Men and Spleen. Needles are inserted and left in the skin for 3 day until pain is alleviated.

External treatment

1. Once a day external wash using herbal decoction (Hse Lan 30g, Bo He 30g, Da Wang 60g, and Hse Bai Ye 60g)

2. Puncture the unbroken blister using a three-edged needle and drain to help relieve the pain.

2 Damp-heat in the spleen meridian

Upper legs and stomach infected with Herpes zoster

Plan of Treatment: Dry dampness and fortify spleen

Herbal Remedy: Modified Tiu Shi Wei Lin Tang


For stomach distention: include Zhi Shi 10g and Mu Hsiang 10g

Thirst with no desire to drink: include Pei Lan 10g and Huo Hsiang 10g,

Acupuncture points: SP 9, SP 6, LI 11, ST 36, GB 34

Lesions below the umbilicus: ST40

Lesions above the umbilicus: LI4

Even strong needle manipulation done once a day. Insert needles for 20 to 30 minutes

Once each day, surround needles over the skin lesions. Leave the needles in place for half an hour

Auricular points: Shen Men and Spleen – leave needles for 3 days until pain is alleviated

3. Toxin and Fire in the liver meridian

The thoracic, face and head areas are affected.

Plan of Treatment: Clear heat, dry damp and clear liver fire

Herbal Remedy: Modified Long Dan Hsie Gan Tang


For face lesions: include Ye Ju Hwa 15g and Niu Bang Hsi 15g,

Lesions around the eyes: include Cao Chue Ming 15g and Chiu Hua 12g

Herpes zoster accompanied by blood blisters: include Mu Dan Pi 10g and Ce Bai Ye 12g

Acupuncture points: LV 3, LI 4, LI 11, GB 34, and PC 6

Lesions on the jaw: ST5, ST 4, ST6

Lesions on the cheeks: ST 7, BL 1, and ST2

Lesions near the eyes: GB 14, ST 8 and Tai Yang

Once a day treat with even and strong needle manipulation. Insert the needles for 20 to 30 minutes.

Once a day, circle the needles around the skin lesions and leave it there for half an hour, and retain the needles for 30 minutes.

Auricular points: Shen Men and Liver – leave the needles for three days till the pain dissipates


On the health regions between the skin lesions apply moxibustion using moxa roll. The heat will lead to severe itching. Keep up the moxibustion till the itching ceases and transforms into a feeling of extreme heat; stop treatment. Do this once a day. After 3 to 4 sessions, the lesions will start to heal.

Written by Valerie

February 26th, 2015 at 12:23 am

Posted in Acupuncture

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Iron-Deficiency Anemia: How to Treat It

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If you are suffering from anemia caused by a deficiency in iron, it may be very hard or even impossible to cure this chronic health issue. Iron-deficiency anemia deprives the cells of oxygen needed for the basic functions of the body. Thus, it is very important to immediately identify and treat this condition

Iron-deficiency anemia, what is it?

There are several types of anemia; iron-deficiency anemia, however, is the number one type of anemia and the leading cause of nutritional deficiency in the United States. Iron is needed by the body to create hemoglobin, a component of blood cells that contains oxygen. When the body is low in iron, it creates fewer and smaller red blood cells. Red blood cell deficiency results in the body not being supplied with adequate amounts of oxygen.

Why is oxygen important to the body?

If the body has a sufficient amount of oxygen in it, it functions in a healthy manner. Human cells all contain tiny power plants in them known as mitochondria. These mitochondria are responsible for the manufacture of ATP or adenosine triphosphate, the molecule that houses and releases energy. ATP is needed for a number of very important physiological processes including cellular communication, removal or disposal of toxins and waste, conversion of food to energy, removal of old tissue and creation of new ones. Healthy ATP production and mitochondrial function are integral in the prevention and healing of diseases. They all need oxygen to perform normally.

What are the factors that cause iron-deficiency anemia?

Poor iron absorption – A person suffering from celiac disease is usually also deficient in iron. This inflames and damages the small intestines making it unable to properly absorb food nutrients. Green leafy vegetables, eggs and meat can help increase iron levels in your body.

Pregnancy – As the fetus inside a pregnant woman grows, the mother needs to maintain adequate supply of iron both for herself and for her baby

Chronic loss of blood – Blood loss can occur due to frequent intake of aspirin, cancer, hemorrhoids, uterine fibroids, severe menstrual bleeding and ulcers.

Iron-deficiency anemia symptoms

The best way to know if you are suffering from iron-deficiency anemia is through a functional blood chemistry panel. This diagnostic test will observe your iron markers and entire blood count.

Some of the symptoms of iron-deficiency anemia include:

-Concentration difficulties
-Shortness of breath
-Pale gums, nail beds and skin
-Crankiness or grumpiness

Proper management of iron-deficiency anemia

In order to treat the symptoms caused by iron-deficiency anemia as well as address its underlying cause, repairing the gut and avoiding gluten is important. If you are required to take iron supplements, you need to select one that your body can properly absorb and will not cause constipation and stomach ache. Consult your doctor for advice.

Avoid iron toxicity

As mentioned earlier, there are several forms of anemia including anemia resulting from an autoimmune disease, inflammation or B12 deficiency. If you take iron supplements for anemia that does not require the intake of such supplements, it can elevate your iron levels to the point of toxicity. So, properly identify what type of anemia you have first before taking steps to resolve it.

Dr. Vickery is a licensed acupuncturist in Tarzana, CA., and the founder and clinical director of Vickery Health and Wellness.

Written by Valerie

February 18th, 2015 at 2:03 am

Posted in Acupuncture

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Even Medical Doctors Now Practice Acupuncture for the Treatment of Hyperhidrosis

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If you constantly suffer from profuse and excessive sweating, then you may have a condition known as hyperhidrosis. This condition is difficult to control and heavy deodorants and other remedies such as Iontophoresis may not be enough to protect you from this potentially embarrassing disorder. If that is the case, then acupuncture for hyperhidrosis treatment may be what you need.

Acupuncture for the treatment of hyperhidrosis begun in Asia. This extremely effective therapy is often overlooked by a lot of medical physicians who have been trained to solely dispense products coming from pharmaceutical companies. Holistic medicine is often overlooked, and worse, belittled by Western Medicine. The sad fact is, holistic medicine such as Eastern Medicine is oftentimes more effective and safer than Western medicine.

Some sufferers of hyperhidrosis have tried acupuncture for two months and a lot of them have verified the efficacy of this procedure. They are able to control their sweating and do not perspire as much as before.

There have been studies done dealing with the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating hyperhidrosis. Acupuncture is a procedure that stimulates acupuncture points across the body and it usually involves the use of needles. Most people have a basic idea what acupuncture is all about.

The needles used for hyperhidrosis treatment are as thin as a strand of hair on your scalp. Under the hands of a qualified and licensed acupuncturist, the insertion of the needle in the skin does not cause pain. For the treatment of hyperhidorsis, more than one needle may be needed. The needle does not really penetrate deep into the skin, just deep enough to penetrate the skin’s top layer.

Most of acupuncture patients feel a tingling but mild sensation when the needles penetrate the skin. Others have reported soreness or discomfort a day after the treatment.

Because of the growing popularity of acupuncture, a number of medical doctors have integrated it into their practice. These days, you can now find doctors who have been trained and are licensed to practice acupuncture for the treatment of hyperhidrosis. Others doctors who are not acupuncturists usually refer their patients to a reputable practitioner if the need for them arises.

Western medicine’s explanation of how acupuncture works in the treatment of hyperhidrosis goes like this.

Just underneath the acupuncture points, the points in the body where the needles are inserted lie nerves known as dermatomes. When the needles hit a dermatome, it causes an effect on the nervous system.

Acupuncture treatment for hyperhidrosis usually needle points where dermatomes corresponding to stress and anxiety are located. The studies that observed the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating hyperhidrosis showed that a person’s emotions were responsible for triggering the profuse sweating.

The dermatomes involved in hyperhidrosis were also associated with internal body temperature.

Acupuncture treatment for hyperhidrosis may depend on the location and severity of the symptoms. For example, a person suffering from plantar or palmar hyperhidrosis may need to undergo treatment on the feet and hands and on the sympathetic dermatome nerves located in the ribcage or chest.

Some acupuncturists may select a more generalized approach. The treatment is really decided by the acupuncturist although he/she will base it on the severity of the symptoms and the part of the body where symptoms manifest. Acupuncture for the treatment of hyperhidrosis may produce results on the first treatment but a total of two to three weeks may be needed for the therapy to produce optimal results.

Nelya de Brun is a licensed acupuncturist in Boynton Beach, FL., practicing acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine and Western medical pathology. She is also the founder of Classical Oriental Medicine, LLC.

Written by Valerie

February 10th, 2015 at 1:03 am

Posted in Acupuncture

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GERD Symptoms and Alternative Therapies Such as Acupuncture

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When a person experiences heartburn two times or more each week, it may be an indication of a really serious condition known as GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease. When GERD occurs, the stomach contents and acid can damage the lining of the esophagus, leading to painful complications such as swallowing difficulty, ulcers and even esophageal cancer. To avert these, besides changing of lifestyle, individuals may be required to take drugs to treat their condition. The problem with this is that these drugs can cause harmful side effects when taken for long periods of time.

Antacids that can be bought over the counter are the most common treatments for heartburn. But when they are taken for years and without the supervision of a doctor, it can increase the likelihood of a form of cancer known as esophageal adenocarcinoma. Prescription drugs such as PPIs or proton pump inhibitors are quite good in lowering the symptoms of GERD. Unfortunately, they can also lessen bone density that can lead to bone fracture. The US FDA (US Food and Drugs Administration) last May 2010, announced that changes need to be done in the labeling of both OTC and prescription drugs. Proton pump inhibitors need to add to their labels information referring to the increased likelihood for spine, wrist and hip fractures related to the intake of these drugs.

Taking these issues regarding conventional medicine for GERD into account, many individuals are now choosing natural and alternative therapies to alleviate their symptoms. Sadly, very little alternative and complementary treatments have actually shown effectiveness in the relief of GERD symptoms.

Alternative Treatments for GERD

The following are some of the alternative treatments that are reported to be useful in addressing GERD symptoms:

-Guided imagery
-Relaxation therapy
-Herbal medicine
-Dietary supplements

Acupuncture is Quite Effective in Treating GERD

Research works have revealed that the ancient healing art of acupuncture can help patients suffering from digestive issues such as GERD because it modifies the secretion of acids that impact movement of materials in the gastrointestinal tract. Acupuncture basically is the use of very fine and thin needles inserted on certain points in the body to resolve several emotional, mental and physiological conditions. Several doctors have either integrated acupuncture into their practice or referred their patients to acupuncturists when they feel acupuncture can help them resolve their conditions.

A study endeavored to analyze the effectiveness of acupuncture versus that of conventional GERD therapies in patients who are trying to find relief of their GERD symptoms using a proton pump inhibitor. The results of the study showed that acupuncture treatment plus a single dose of GERD medication can substantially lower heartburn during day and night. The subjects also experienced much lower incidence of acid regurgitation compared to what they initially experienced prior to the start of their treatment.

When these patients were given acupuncture plus a twice dosage of medication, there was really no significant change in the outcomes of the study.

Other Alternative Therapies for GERD

Guided imagery and relaxation therapy also showed some signs of effectiveness in the treatment of GERD. Guided imagery is an activity in which the person visualizes attacking the disease or visualizes himself/herself feeling better. Some people find guided imagery helpful in resolving gastrointestinal conditions.

Other recommended alternative therapies, however, do not really work for GERD conditions.

For example:

There are certain health practitioners who recommend that GERD sufferers take an herb known as deglycyrrhizinated licorice. This special kind of licorice has shown potential in the healing of ulcers, but not for GERD.

Herbal remedies such as slippery elm, marshmallow, garlic, artesimia, antioxidants, aloe vera and other herbal supplements recommended to treat GERD symptoms have zero evidence that they work.

In terms of the effectiveness of alternative therapies in treating GERD, only meditation and acupuncture have proven to work although they have only a 20% rate of effectiveness. They have better rates of success though when they are used as adjunct therapies to conventional care.

One significant benefit of alternative therapies such as acupuncture and meditation is that it can help patients who require surgery to avoid it. For someone with a severe case of GERD, acupuncture can help resolve 20% of his/her symptoms while meditation can resolve another 20% of them. The likelihood of a patient needing surgery then is significantly reduced.

The US FDA (Food and Drug administration) does not regulate the use of herbs and supplements and so there is no guaranty that the effectiveness, potency, purity and safety of the product will meet FDA standards.

Besides that, herbs and dietary supplements can interact with other drugs you are presently taking, and that also includes drugs for GERD. So, before you use any of these herbs and supplements, be sure to inform your doctor first and never take any new medication without your doctor first knowing about it.

Alida van Heerden is a licensed New York acupuncturist and a NADA certified acupuncture detoxification specialist.

Written by Valerie

February 3rd, 2015 at 9:24 pm

Posted in Acupuncture

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