Acupuncture for Chest Pain
In Chinese medicine this is also known as ‘Chest Painful Obstruction’ or ‘Chest Bi’. It is characterised by a feeling of oppression and pain in the chest, extending to the shoulders. If the pain is particularly severe then there may be a stabbing pain in the heart region on the left side of the chest extending to the left shoulder and down the left arm. This corresponds to the Heart channel in Traditional Chinese Acupuncture.
Normally patients who come to the clinic with chest pain have seen their GP and had various tests done. This is obviously very important and there are times when Western medical intervention is necessary, however that is not to say that acupuncture would not be beneficial. A combination of orthodox medicine and acupuncture may be a good approach to take.
Within Chinese medicine, the body is divided up into three burners; the upper burner, the middle burner and the lower burner. The Upper Burner houses the heart and lung organs. Due to their anatomical relationship and interdependent functions, a problem with the Lungs can affect the Heart and visa versa. According to the theory of Chinese medicine, the lungs govern the movement of qi (energy) and qi is needed to help the heart circulate blood throughout the body. Imbalances of the Lung and/ or Heart can lead to chest pain.
Differentiation of chest pain is made according to the theory of Chinese medicine and this will determine appropriate acupuncture treatment. All pain is caused by stagnation however it is important to identify what is causing this stagnation and at what level this is occurring. What follows is an outline of possible causes of chest pain.
(a) Cold from the environment can invade the chest and obstruct the movement of energy. The nature of cold is to contract things, we all feel this on a cold winter’s day when we tense up our muscles to try and stay warm. This is more likely to happen if you are someone who suffers from the cold easily and spends time outside in cold weather without wearing appropriate clothing.
(b) Poor diet can lead to the production of ‘Phlegm ‘ which then settles on the chest and obstructs the movement of Qi.
(c) Long term emotional problems (including stress) can cause qi to stagnate in the chest, resulting in chest pain.
(d) Old age. As we get older we are generally more prone to ‘stagnation’, i.e. aches and pains, digestive disturbances, etc., etc. Our energy becomes weaker and is unable to move so freely.
During the initial consultation a lot of information is gathered to determine what is causing the chest pain.
Acupuncture for Breast Pain
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Another way of saying ‘cough’ in Chinese medicine is ‘Rebellious Lung energy’. In other words, a cough is caused by disruption of the Lung qi that causes it to ‘rebell’ upwards. Now, there are many reasons why this may occur and I will give an overview of some of the mechanisms within Chinese Medicine Theory that could result in ‘rebellious Lung Qi’, or a cough.
A cough can occur because there is some kind of obstruction in the Lungs that prevents the proper movement of energy. This obstruction may be very tangible, such as phlegm on the chest that causes a rattling cough with the production of phlegm. In this case phlegm in the Lungs prevents the proper movement of Lung energy. Phlegm in this case is termed a ‘pathogen’. A pathogen is something in the body this is able to create an imbalance or illness. There are other types of pathogen that can effect the movement of Lung qi but they are not so obvious and they may not be visible, however the symptoms will be. For example, asthma is characterised by Wind lodged in the chest. Wind is not visible, however it does disrupt the movement of qi in the chest and can lead to chest tightness & wheezing. Pathogens often interact as well. For example, if there is Wind lodged in the chest then the Lung qi mechanism will be disrupted and this can lead to phlegm accumulating. ‘Wind’ is a Chinese medical term that has many different meanings.
Inevitably there is a weakness in the lungs that allows a pathogen to gain a foothold. Sometimes these pathogens never completely disappear, as is the case with children who suffer from recurrent coughs & colds that are repeatedly treated with antibiotics. This in term can lead to asthma in children.
There are many types of cough and they all have diagnostic value within Chinese medicine. During an initial consultation I obtain detailed information about the nature of the cough, what makes it better, what makes it worse, what time of the day it is worse, etc, etc. I will also ask questions to find out what imbalances there may be elsewhere in the body. For example, if there is phlegm in the Lungs then there will inevitably be an imbalance in the Spleen organ in Chinese medicine. The Spleen is related to the digestive process in Western medicine. Everything is interconnected within Chinese medicine and it is rare for just one part of the body to be out of balance. When treating Lung problems, attention is often drawn to the Liver, Spleen and Kidney organs.
Acupuncture for Asthma
The incidence of asthma has been steadily increasing in industrialised countries in the past decades. In spite of the introduction of several new drugs for the treatment of asthma, it is still by far the most common chronic debilitating disease in childhood. Some researchers are investigating the possibility that long-term use of some anti-asthma drugs such as bronchodilators may be detrimental. Children do become addicted to inhalers, and this does pose a problem during treatment.
To approach this subject I will identify three groupings of asthma:-
1. Asthma that starts in early childhood and is often associated with eczema from birth.
2. Asthma that starts early during childhood after repeated chest injections and the over-administration of antibiotics.
3. Asthma that started later on in life due to a number of different factors.
The first group is often familial and is the most difficult to treat. It is related to a type of allergic asthma that is triggered by common allergens such as house-dust mites, pollen, fungal spores, feathers, etc. The treatment of this condition will certainly take several months, and, depending on the severity, even years.
In the second group, asthma sufferers often have a history of upper respiratory infections that is either not treated properly or treated with antibiotics. This results in the retention of a pathogen (something which causes illlness) in the lungs that interferes with the correct movement of energy. The presence of this pathogen in the lungs predisposes the child to further respiratory invasions that make the situation worse. The child becomes progressively weakened and the situation becomes chronic. This type of asthma is easier to treat than the first group, especially in children. In most cases treatment should not take more than a few weeks.
The third group develop asthma later on in life and treatment will take several months at least. The cause of this type of asthma is a mixture of; repeated upper respiratory infections, irregular diet, emotional strain, overwork and excessive sexual activity.
Acupuncture is very effective at treating children with asthma and is arguable the number one treatment for this condition.
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Acupuncture for Strokes
The Chinese equivalent to a stroke is called ‘Windstroke ‘ or “Zhong Feng “.
“Zhong” has the meaning of “hitting a target” and “Feng” means “Wind”. The nature of Wind is “always moving and rapidly changing “, thus appearing without warning, just like a stroke. The swiftness and deadliness is likened to an arrow hitting a target, thus the name in Chinese “Zhong Feng “.
‘Windstrokes’ can be differentiated into subcategories according to the signs and symptoms. Broadly speaking, there are two main categories:-
Windstrokes (strokes) that only affect the acupuncture channels.
Windstrokes that affect the internal organs as well as the acupuncture channels. This type is more serious.
For the best chance of recovery, strokes should be treated as early as possible with acupuncture & physiotherapy. The longer it is left, the less likely the body is going to recover well. Saying this, it is still worth trying a few sessions of acupuncture (perhaps 6 treatments) since good results can be obtained. To treat the stroke early, I am talking of within the first 3 months following the incident.
Very importantly, Traditional Chinese acupuncture can help to prevent further strokes by identifying the energetic imbalance within the body and help to bring it back into balance.
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Acupuncture for Hypertension
High blood pressure can be treated with acupuncture and this is a viable treatment for many who do not wish to be taking medication on a permanent basis. It is worth monitoring your own blood pressure and making a record, as there may be times when it is notably high and a pattern may begin to emerge. Of course, if your blood pressure is dangerously high then Western drugs may be essential, at least for the short term. I am not against Western medicine and there are times when this is a necessity.
Traditional Chinese acupuncture has a very different perspective of illness, and often it can give a lot of insight into why your blood pressure may be abnormally high. Accordingly to the well-established theory of Chinese medicine, illnesses presents themselves as ‘patterns of disharmony’ and by identifying these patterns is it possible to find reasons as to why your blood pressure may be too high.
For example, many ‘patterns of disharmony’ leading to high blood pressure, have an imbalance in the Liver organ. The emotions of stress, anger, frustration, bitterness, resentment can all lead to high blood pressure if they continue unmanaged for a long period of time. In addition, the kidneys play an important role in preventing excessive Liver energy rising to the head (which can cause high blood pressure).
Acupuncture treatment for high blood pressure is normally weekly and treatment will be needed for several months. At the initial stages more frequent treatment may be necessary, depending on how high the blood pressure is.