Ear Candling

Contents

Origins of ear candling
What can it help with
What are ear candles
What happens during treatment
Contraindications
Conditions that may need approval from your doctor
Cautions
Side effects
After-care advice
Frequency of ear candling

Origins of ear candling

Rock painting in the Hopi Tower, North Rim, Grand Canyon, USA
Rock painting in the Hopi Tower, Grand Canyon, USA

Pictorial records show the use of ear candles in cultures across the globe, the most famous being a rock painting in the Hopi Tower.

Ear candling was practised by ancient cultures such as the Aztecs, Greeks, Romans and Aborigines. The ancient Egyptians reputedly used reeds from the Nile coated with wax. It is generally accepted that ear candling was used for cleansing the ear canal and for spiritual purification. Ear candling was also practised in Italy, Spain, Hungary, Romania and Asia, using materials such as rolled tobacco leaves, corn husks, hollow reeds and waxed cloth or paper.

What can it help with

Many claims are made regarding the benefits of ear candling such as loosening of compacted ear wax, reduced signs and symptoms of tinnitus, headaches, migraines, sinus problems, snoring, bell’s palsy, hay fever, labyrinthitis, Ménière’s disease, dizziness, stress related insomnia and anxiety, to name but a few.

In my opinion the benefit of ear candling comes from its ability to de-stress combined with the stimulation and warming of local acupuncture points. This stimulation and warming, particularly when combined with acupressure massage, can stimulates the body’s healing processes potentially offering benefits from many health related problems.

What are ear candles

Ear candles by BIOSUN®
Ear candles by BIOSUN®

The term ‘candle’ is a little misleading as unlike everyday candles they are hollow, have no wick and are usually made from cotton, flax or hemp fibres. Good ear candles are made from unbleached organic crops and the fibres are stiffened by dipping into pure beeswax. Some candles incorporate herbs, essential oils and other ingredients.

What happens during treatment

Ear candling is most effective when combined with a face, neck, scalp and ear massage. The massage I offer incorporates acupressure to enhance the therapeutic effect in a similar way to acupuncture but without the needles. Massage is recommended but optional.

The session is in a warm treatment room with soft background music, you remain fully clothed. For the ear candling you will be asked to lie on the couch on your side (first one side then the other), for the massage you will lie face up.

Prior to treatment I will consider any contraindications and ask you to sign a consent form. Total treatment time with massage is about 50 minutes, without massage about 35 minutes.

Contraindications

The candles I use incorporate a filter, this protects the ear canal from the loose debris and wax produced by the burning candle.

If any of the following apply then ear candling may not be advisable, you should discuss your needs with Austin  before booking; it is likely that a suitable therapeutic alternative can be offered.

Acute infectious diseases – Such as flu, mumps, measles, tuberculosis and chicken pox are highly contagious.

Alcohol or drugs intoxication – May cause dizziness, nausea and inappropriate and dangerous behaviour.

Artificial ear drums – Residue could potentially damage an artificial eardrum.

Bruising, open cuts, abrasions or sunburn – These areas will be avoided during massage and if the outer ear is involved may negate ear candling.

Cochlear implants – May cause damage and feel uncomfortable. However, an external hearing aid that can be removed prior to treatment should be fine.

Ear grommets or tubes – Once the grommets or tubes have been removed you should wait 6 months.

Eczema or dermatitis – If in the outer ear may feel uncomfortable and cause irritation.

High temperature or heavy cold – Uncomfortable, potential dangerous and a risk of infecting others.
Outer ear infections May aggravate and spread the infection.

Perforated ear drum – Residue could be deposited in the middle ear.

Skin or scalp infections – Such as impetigo, scabies, conjunctivitis, folliculitis, and pediculosis capitis (lice) and tinea capitis (ringworm) carry a real risk of passing on the infection.

Conditions that may require approval from your doctor before ear candling

Serious medical conditions – Such as cancer, diabetes, thrombosis and heart conditions.

Disorders of the nervous system – Such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy and trigeminal neuralgia.

Epilepsy – Depending on your particular circumstances you need to be sure that the procedures and ingredients of ear candling will not trigger an episode.

Recent head or neck injury – Blows to the head, concussion or whiplash can dislocate the middle ear bones. If you are experiencing new ear problems you should consult your doctor.

Undiagnosed lumps, bumps and swellings – Any undiagnosed lumps, bumps or swellings should be seen by investigated by your doctor; these areas will be avoided during massage.

Cautions

Allergies  – You may be allergic to an ingredient used in the manufacture of the candles although these are present in such small amounts that it is rarely a problem

Low blood pressure – You may experience dizziness when sitting or standing up after treatment.

Oil used in the ear canal – The oil in your ear may get hot and vapours could stick to the oil causing residue to accumulate. You should wait 48 hours before ear candling.

Pregnancy – When pregnant you may be more sensitive to smells and prefer a candle with no added ingredients. It may be difficult to stay comfortable during treatment.

Reduced hearing – When there is compacted ear wax hearing may be reduced temporarily due to it hydrating and expanding. Hearing should improve after a day or two as ear wax is naturally expelled.

Side effects

Ear candling should be a gentle procedure and the side effects are usually positive rather than negative:

Change in sleep patterns, often improved

Changes in bowel movements (short-term)

Feeling of fullness in the ears (more treatments may be required before wax is expelled naturally)

Feeling of tiredness (short-term)

Feeling relaxed and de-stressed

Headache or light-headedness (drinking water after a treatment usually prevents a headache)

Increased appetite (short-term)

Increased mucus as sinuses are stimulated

Increased thirst (short-term)

Increased urination (short-term)

Release of muscle tension

After-care advice

Sit up slowly, you may be temporarily light-headed or disorientated

Drink some water to promote elimination and help prevent headache

Try to avoid water sports such as swimming for 24 hours

Occasionally your ears may feel more sensitive to the environment, if so avoid winds and draughts, or place a small amount of cotton wool just at the entrance to the ear canal

Never poke at your ears with cotton buds or other instruments as you may damage the eardrum

If you have sinus problems cut your intake of dairy products as these promote mucus

Frequency of ear candling

The effects of ear candling, such as pressure balancing and expulsion of earwax can continue for up 48 hours so a minimum of 2 days should be left between sessions.

Compacted earwax may clear after one session or may take two or more sessions

In general chronic and severe conditions require more treatments

Chronic sinus problems may require a minimum of 3 sessions not more than a week apart. Maintenance treatments once or twice a month may help to minimise your symptoms

Unless symptoms are completely clear you may benefit from further treatments

Traditional Acupuncture and Male Fertility

This short article originally appeared in the summer 2014 edition of Nurture magazine.

needlingAs a traditional acupuncturist I treat infertility based on traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) theories, treatments are either standalone or tailored to complement assisted reproduction techniques such as IVF. Statistics suggest that between 35-50% of infertility is due to male pathologies and the NHS suggests that in 25% of all cases the exact cause is unknown.

From a Western biomedical viewpoint it is thought that acupuncture stimulates the nervous system, influencing the production of hormones and neurotransmitters, thus activating the body’s self-regulating homeostatic systems encouraging your natural healing abilities. An increasing weight of evidence from Western scientific research is demonstrating the effectiveness of acupuncture for treating a wide variety of conditions.

Traditional acupuncture takes a holistic approach and regards illness or dysfunction as a sign that the body is out of balance. This holistic understanding that we are all individuals and that the exact pattern and degree of our imbalances are ultimately unique to us is one of the key strengths of TCM. My skill as an acupuncturist lies in identifying the precise nature of the underlying imbalances and selecting the most effective treatment plan.

Male fertility is influenced by many factors including genetics, environment, age, injury and physical or emotional stresses. I usually see men in the clinic after they have been tested and found to have a low sperm count, reduced motility or sperm with abnormal shape and size.

From a TCM perspective fertility problems typically fall under the influence of the Kidney. The Kidney is an approximate translation of the Chinese 腎 shèn and describes a conceptual framework affecting particular functions within the human body; the Kidney is often referred to as the ‘Root of Life’.

Kidney deficiency is commonly seen in male infertility and may include or lead to other pathologies such as Blood and Qi stagnation (Qi in this context means the flow of bodily functions or energies). I typically aim treatment at balancing and strengthening the Kidney and smoothing or invigoration the flow of Blood and Qi.

The Kidney thrives under moderation and a healthy lifestyle, difficult for many of us in these modern times. Stress relieving activities such as qigong, yoga and meditation are helpful as are refraining from long term excessive exercise, excessive physical work and excessive sexual activity. Long term consumption of cold and raw foods, living with chronic illness and just getting older all deplete the Kidney.

A diet high in fruit and vegetables, warm cooked foods and if possible organic foods is preferable. Reducing alcohol and caffeine, stopping smoking and reducing exposure to toxins and pollutants can all be helpful. Men should also ensure their testes are kept relatively cool by not using a laptop on the lap and avoiding tight underwear.

In my experience male and female fertility can often be directly improved through the use of traditional acupuncture and indirectly improved by relieving stress and anxiety and improving ones general sense of wellness.

Sources and further reading:

http://www.acupuncture.org.uk/a-to-z-of-conditions/a-to-z-of-conditions/male-infertility.html

http://acupuncture.rhizome.net.nz/infertility-men.aspx

Liang, L. (2004) Acupuncture & IVF Increase IVF Success By 40—60%, Boulder: Blue Poppy Press.

Lyttleton, J. (2004) Treatment of infertility with Chinese Medicine, Philadelphia, Churchill Livingstone.

http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Infertility/pages/causes.aspx

Ni, D., and Herko, D. (2008) The Tao of Fertility: A Healing Chinese Medicine Program to Prepare Body, Mind, and Spirit for New Life, New York:  HarperCollins.

http://www.resolve.org/diagnosis-management/infertility-diagnosis/male-factor.html

http://www.webmd.com/infertility-and-reproduction/news/20050803/acupuncture-may-improve-sperm-quality

Menstrual Cycle Diary & Most Fertile Times

As your Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner I may ask you to complete a menstrual cycle diary sheet as part of your treatment at Austin Acupuncture. The information gleamed from the diary will greatly assist in understanding your personal cycle and in treating disharmonies such as infertility, painful periods, irregular periods and pre-menstrual syndrome.

It is important that you understand your treatment and are as comfortable and stress free as you can be with the process, so if you have any queries or concerns please discuss them with me. If you feel that completing a menstrual cycle diary is too stressful don’t worry we can use your anecdotal information and rely on other diagnostic data.

Menstrual Cycle Diary

The menstrual cycle diary can record a large amount of information and is reasonably self-explanatory. During your consultation I will explain what sections should be completed for your particular needs.

Measuring Basal Body Temperature (BBT) requires a thermometer, I recommend a digital one specifically designed for BBT readings as this will bleep when the reading is complete and store the readings in memory, a useful feature to have first thing in the morning when you are half asleep.

You should take your temperature at the same time every morning after at least 3 hours of uninterrupted sleep. If you sleep past your normal waking time then some accuracy can be maintained by adjusting the temperature DOWN by 0.1oC (one square on the chart) for every hour of oversleeping, conversely if you wake earlier then adjust the temperature UP by one square for every hour earlier that you woke; this adjustment method should only be used occasionally as it will never be as accurate as a reading taken at a regular fixed time.

Most Fertile Times

It is generally accepted that the most fertile times for sexual intercourse are no more than 6 days before ovulation and Lyttleton (2004: 57) suggested some studies indicated the highest conception rate is 2 days before ovulation.

You can predict your ovulation date by understanding your cycle through your menstrual cycle diary and observing changes in your vaginal mucus and cervix. Some modern test devices predict ovulation and for many women these are a good and easy indicator of their most fertile times, however when there are disharmonies and abnormalities the additional data provided by a BBT record and associated data can prove invaluable in personalising treatments for maximum benefits.

Vaginal Mucus

Changes in vaginal mucus may be monitored as a personal feeling of moisture at the vulva, such as a dry feeling or a moist, slippery or lubricating feeling. More objective observation can be seen by collecting mucus (if plentiful) from the vaginal entrance or on underclothes, toilet tissue or your fingers. If mucus is less plentiful it can be collected with clean fingers gently from the cervix.

The mucus is usually clear, white or cloudy in colour with a non-offensive odour. If yours is excessive, sparse, yellow, green, bloody or smells more than you might think normal (often a strong fishy or leathery smell) then tell me as these are signs of disharmony that can be addressed in treatment.

The least fertile time is often associated with a dry feeling at the vulva (G-type mucus, see list below). The production of fertile (S-type) mucus usually starts as oestrogen peaks, about 6 days before ovulation.

Vaginal_mucusG_andS_type

To check for S-type mucus and your probable fertile days collect a little on the fingers and draw the fingers apart to observe the spinn. The last day of fertile mucus is often seen as P-type mucus and felt as a moist sensation and is referred to as the ‘Peak Day’, a highly fertile time. Sperm can live for up to 5 days in the reproductive tract but are most successful within the first 48 hours. Your egg is viable for 6-12 hours and some studies have suggested the highest conception rate through normal sexual intercourse is 2 days before ovulation (Lyttleton, 2004: 57).

Pharmaceutical Medications

Some common pharmaceutical medications can effect cervical mucus, however this is not necessarily a detrimental effect and stopping or modifying medication should be discussed with your doctor.

Medications

Cervical Changes It can be useful to observe changes in the shape, position and texture of the cervix as the uterine ligaments tighten in response to the peak of oestrogen that occurs just before ovulation; this pulls the uterus up positioning the cervix higher in the vagina.

check the cervical surfaceTo check the cervical surface some women may need to adopt a squatting position, see image.

The surface of the cervix is softer at ovulation (feeling more like your lips than the tip of your nose). As the cervical glands release fluid the uterine os [opening] opens. This may be checked at the same time as checking for fertile mucus, perhaps during an evening shower. Immediately after ovulation or from several hours to several days after ovulation (depending on the individual) the cervix returns to being low and firm (feeling again more like the tip of your nose and less like your lips) and the os becomes tightly closed – due to the stretching during labour women who have previously given birth vaginally may notice the os feels open at all times.

Conclusion

Information from the menstrual cycle diary and observations of the cervix and its secretions provide key information, for example only fertile mucus can indicate that ovulation is about to happen, and only the temperature shift observed in the BBT can show that ovulation has occurred. This information combined with length of the period, spotting, appearance of clots, mood swings, etc. can provide invaluable information allowing me to make an accurate pattern diagnosis, implement a suitable treatment plan and effectively monitor treatment progress.

References and further reading:

Liang, L. (2004) Acupuncture & IVF Increase IVF Success By 4-60%, Boulder: Blue Poppy Press.

Lyttleton, J. (2004) Treatment of infertility with Chinese Medicine, Philadelphia, Churchill Livingstone.

Maciocia, G. (1998) Obstetrics & Gynecology in Chinese Medicine, Philadelphia: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone.

Ni, D., and Herko, D. (2008) The Tao of Fertility: A Healing Chinese Medicine Program to Prepare Body, Mind, and Spirit for New Life, New York:  Harper Collins.

Preparing for Treatment

Normally you will have received (in person, via email or downloaded) a patient questionnaire to complete at your leisure and bring to your initial consultation. During your consultation I will consider this questionnaire and ask further questions and carry out any relevant examinations.

I will explain clearly the consultation, diagnosis and treatment plan. If there is anything you are unclear about or concerned about please tell me. Your understanding of your illness and its treatment is an important aspect your recovery. There are many traditional Chinese medicine treatment methods at my disposal* and if you are uncomfortable with a particular method I can usually offer a suitable therapeutic alternative.

When preparing for treatment please wear loose clothing with legs and sleeves that are easy to roll-up out of the way. You need to be prepared to remove items of clothing as required, but be assured that I am always mindful of your modesty and comfort.

To gain the best from treatment please enjoy a light meal beforehand and refrain from any strenuous activities for a few hours. No alcohol should be taken before or after treatment.

*Acupuncture is not always used, particularly if you are needle-phobic or have a condition or medication that is not suited to acupuncture. Other Traditional Chinese Medicine treatment methods I frequently use are acupressure, massage, moxibustion (heat treatment) and cupping therapy.

Tui Na (tuina) Massage

Chinese Tuina Hand massage
Tuina Hand Massage

Tui Na (tuina) massage is traditional Chinese therapeutic massage that has been practiced for thousands of years, evidence suggests it was used as far back as the Shang Dynasty of China, 1700 B.C.E.

Tuina is a therapeutic tool that can also be used for simple and effective relaxation and stress relief in the form of a neck, shoulder and back massage. It is excellent for treating musculoskeletal disorders and with the acupuncturist’s skilled knowledge of points and channels it can be used to treat a wide range of pathologies including stress related disorders, digestive, respiratory and reproductive problems.

Subject to a health consultation, contraindications and a pattern diagnosis* tuina and acupressure when administered by a skilled and caring practitioner is suitable for infants, children, adults and the elderly. I often combine treatments to gain the maximum benefits,  so a typical session may include acupuncture and or cupping combined with local tuina massage.

*Patterns of disharmony: Also called pattern diagnosis and pattern discrimination are the diagnosis that traditional Chinese medicine practitioners give to the disharmonies that lead to disease; it is these patterns that are treated to return your body and mind to a proper and healthy balance. After your initial consultation and throughout your treatments I will discuss with you your particular pattern diagnoses, bear in mind that these patterns can change as your condition changes or if you contract new conditions, such as a common cold or stiff neck. There are dozens of pattern disharmonies and some more common examples are Spleen Qi Deficiency, Liver Qi Stagnation, Dampness, Heat, Coldness, Liver Blood Deficiency, Kidney Yang Deficiency, Kidney Yin Deficiency and Lung Qi Deficiency.

Women’s Problems

Women’s Problems

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) acupuncture is very good for alleviating the underlying causes and signs & symptoms of many women’s problems such as period pains, erratic periods, heavy periods, long periods, short periods, PMS, endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), menopausal changes, anxiety and infertility.

I treat holistically, after all it is unlikely that one woman’s circumstances and signs & symptoms are exactly the same as another’s, they may be similar but there will be distinct differences, recognising this patient individuality is one of the distinctive strengths of TCM diagnosis and treatment.

No matter what the Western disease label, in Chinese medicine diagnosis we simply look at all the signs and symptoms, menstrual history, use of medications, contraceptives, general health and lifestyle of the patient. If offered I will also consider Western medicine evidence such as endocrine tests, bloods and scans. Treatment will be directed at alleviating the signs & symptoms (pain, bleeding, hot flashes, etc.) and treating the underlying disharmonies and imbalances such as blood deficiency, blood stasis and stress. Treatment may vary depending on where in her cycle the patient is and where I think we will get the best results. For instance when PMT plays a significant role then mid cycle treatment may be appropriate and where there is severe pain then treatments shortly before the period are suggested.

By Austin ©2014 Austin Austin www.austinaustin.co.uk

Sciatica – Lumbosacral Pain

I often treat patients who attend clinic with pain in the lumber, buttock and leg, commonly described as sciatica.

Sciatica is usually described by the patient as a stabbing or burning pain that radiates from the buttock down the back or side of the leg occasionally reaching the foot (generally following the path of the sciatic nerve). Typically it affects only one side and is aggravated by driving, walking, bending and coughing. The pain can vary in intensity and affect more or less areas of the leg at different times of the day. The pain can be severe, debilitating and very draining.

Western medicine breaks sciatica down into primary and secondary types. Primary sciatica is due to an infection affecting the sciatic nerve directly. Secondary sciatica is caused by adjacent structures causing pressure or displacement of the sciatic nerve, such as a prolapsed lumber disk, infection in the tissues about the sacrum, coccyx or pelvis, or muscular dysfunction. In clinic I find that a condition called piriformis syndrome, where the piriformis muscle in the buttock excerpts pressure on the sciatic nerve, is often the cause of sciatic pain.

It appears to me that the Western medicine treatment of sciatica  is often vague and comes down to taking pain killers and waiting for it to spontaneously resolve; unfortunately by the time I see a patient the pain has often been present for a long time and or the problem resolves briefly but returns frequently. Fortunately though traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) takes a more practical approach and is often an extremely effective treatment.

TCM classifies the signs and symptoms associated with sciatic pain as Bi Syndrome (pronounced ‘bee syndrome’), a particular diagnosis referring to a painful condition. The cause of this bi syndrome is most often considered to be due to stagnation of qi and blood in the Gall Bladder and or Bladder meridians that closely follow the pain route, see images below.

Bladder Channel

Gall Bladder Channel

This stagnation of qi and blood may be caused by various aetiologies but some common examples are:

  • Prolonged trauma or strain generally characterised by stabbing or piercing pain and a history of trauma. I have noticed that a poor driving position or excessive driving over many years can be a cause and trigger of sciatica
  • Invasion of Wind-Cold-Damp generally characterised by a radiating heaviness with the pain worse in cold damp weather or a cold damp environment, and better for a warm dry environment
  • Kidney Deficiency generally characterised by frequent recurrence of the sciatica. It is often aggravated by exertion, alleviated by rest and accompanied by a weak sore back and knees, tiredness and a feeling of cold in the affected area

Experience shows that TCM treatments are frequently effective in treating the underlying patterns causing qi and blood stasis and relieving the pain of sciatica. Treatment may consist of acupuncture, cupping, moxibustion, massage, or often a combination of these therapies. Usually the patient responds quickly with relatively few treatments, although further treatments may be recommended to treat the underling disorders to help prevent recurrence.

To prevent sudden relapse the patient should not let the affected area get cold and should slowly build up exercise and stretching. Where there is an underlying pattern involving Damp then it may also be advisable for the patient to modify their diet to avoid foods cold and dampening in nature.

By Austin ©2014 Austin Austin www.austinaustin.co.uk

Moxibustion The Power of Heat

Moxibustion is a traditional technique often used in combination with acupuncture or as a standalone treatment.  Moxibustion has been used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) for more than a thousand years to help maintain health and fight disease primarily by invigorating blood, stimulating Qi and expelling cold.

Moxibustion produces heat through the burning of moxa (herbs, principally mugwort – artemisia vulgaris), the heat and the intrinsic qualities of the herbs provide the therapeutic qualities. There are many ways to administer moxa and two common methods I use regularly are ‘sparrow pecking’ and ‘needle moxibustion’.

Sparrow Pecking

MoxibustionA cigar like stick of moxa is lit and the end is allowed to become red hot and smouldering, this smouldering end is used to warm the treatment area, acupoint or channel. The moxa stick is held about 1cm above the treatment area and moved back and forth, like a sparrow pecking. The moxa stick may also be moved above and along the treatment area or channel but never staying in one place long enough to burn. Warming of the channels can be very effective for clearing cold obstruction such as sciatic type pains. Moxa is often used to help turn a breach baby by stimulating acupoint BL-67 of the big toe.

Needle Moxibustion

Needle moxaA small cone of moxa is placed on the inserted acupuncture needle and then lit and allowed to smoulder. This is quite a pleasant experience and provides very precise heating to the acupuncture point. Each cone will burn for about 5 minutes and multiple cones may be used during one treatment. Needle moxa is ideal for treating deficiency and internal cold, it can tonify the function of the Kidneys, benefit lumber pain, treat tiredness and intestinal disorders, etc.

Safety

Moxibustion is ideally administered in the clinic however I often prescribed it to be used by patients at home. It is well suited to the treatment of some childhood ailments and parents can administer treatment regularly without attending clinic each time. Joint pain and chronic tiredness are often treated at home, and many midwifes are now familiar with using or referring for moxa to be used at home to help turn breech presentations.

Moxibustion is not suitable for everyone, it is important that you seek a proper pattern diagnosis* from a qualified practitioner as inappropriate use can aggravate certain conditions.

*Patterns of disharmony: Also called pattern diagnosis and pattern discrimination are the diagnosis that traditional Chinese medicine practitioners give to the disharmonies that lead to disease; it is these patterns that are treated to return your body and mind to a proper and healthy balance. After your initial consultation and throughout your treatments I will discuss with you your particular pattern diagnoses, bear in mind that these patterns can change as your condition changes or if you contract new conditions, such as a common cold or stiff neck. There are dozens of pattern disharmonies and some more common examples are Spleen Qi Deficiency, Liver Qi Stagnation, Dampness, Heat, Coldness, Liver Blood Deficiency, Kidney Yang Deficiency, Kidney Yin Deficiency and Lung Qi Deficiency.

By Austin ©2016 Austin Austin www.austinaustin.co.uk

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Acupuncture

“Acupuncture-moxibustion for irritable bowel syndrome is better than the conventional western medication treatment.” This is the conclusion of Pei LX, et al. (2012) in their meta-analysis, see abstract at end of this post.

IBS

I have known for many years that acupuncture and moxibustion frequently provide remarkable and life changing results in the treatment of the signs & symptoms of IBS. I have had many patients who have suffered with distressing signs and symptoms for years; they have been through numerous tests and visits to consultants eventually receiving a diagnosis of IBS. They are often prescribed a number of pharmaceutical medications, which in themselves may cause other problems, and are pretty much left to cope as best they can.

A course of acupuncture can relatively quickly relieve many of the signs and symptoms of IBS, such as bloating, stomach cramps, alternating diarrhoea and constipation and urgent stools, to name but a few. When acupuncture is combined with dietary changes based on a pattern disharmony* the results are often remarkable, and over a course of about 3 months many patients are able to get back to a ‘normal’ life.

In my experience for long term recovery it is imperative that acupuncture is combined with changes to the patient’s diet based on Chinese medicine food energetics. Chinese dietetics is different from our general Western ideas of how food affects our health, often changes to diet based on food energetics is not difficult to accomplish.


Acupuncture-moxibustion for irritable bowel syndrome is better than the conventional western medication treatment. This is the conclusion of Pei LX, et al. (2012) in their meta-analysis, see the following abstract from their study:

“OBJECTIVE:

To evaluate the clinical efficacy and safety of acupuncture-moxibustion in treatment of irritable bowel syndrome systematically.

METHODS:

Clinical randomized controlled trials on treatment of irritable bowel syndrome with acupuncture-moxibustion were collected. Through retrieval of CNKI (1979 – December of 2011) and VIP (1979- December of 2011), randomized and quasi-randomized controlled clinical trials on treatment of irritable bowel syndrome with control study between acupuncture and sham acupuncture or western medication were included. The test bias risk and quality assessment of each experiment were carried out by two researchers in accordance with the Cochrane Handbook 5.1.0 standard. And RevMan 5.1.6 software was adopted for the Meta analysis.

RESULTS:

Eleven researches were included with totally 969 patients. Meta analysis shows that the effective rate of the combined methods of acupuncture and moxibustion [RR = 1. 27, 95% CI ( 1.09, 1.49)] is superior to conventional western medication treatment.

CONCLUSION:

Acupuncture-moxibustion for irritable bowel syndrome is better than the conventional western medication treatment.

References:

Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2012 Oct;32(10):957-60. [Meta analysis of acupuncture-moxibustion in treatment of irritable bowel syndrome]. Pei LX, Zhang XC, Sun JH, Geng H, Wu XL. Acupuncture and Rehabilitation Department, Jiangsu Province Hospital of TCM, Nanjing, China.”

*Patterns of disharmony: Also called pattern diagnosis and pattern discrimination are the diagnosis that traditional Chinese medicine practitioners give to the disharmonies that lead to disease; it is these patterns that are treated to return your body and mind to a proper and healthy balance. After your initial consultation and throughout your treatments I will discuss with you your particular pattern diagnoses, bear in mind that these patterns can change as your condition changes or if you contract new conditions, such as a common cold or stiff neck. There are dozens of pattern disharmonies and some more common examples are Spleen Qi Deficiency, Liver Qi Stagnation, Dampness, Heat, Coldness, Liver Blood Deficiency, Kidney Yang Deficiency, Kidney Yin Deficiency and Lung Qi Deficiency.

By Austin ©Austin Austin 2014 www.austinaustin.co.uk

Hair Loss (Alopecia Areata)

Alopecia Areata is baldness in one or multiple areas and can occur anywhere hair grows but is often most problematic when it manifests as bald patches on the scalp. From a Western medicine perspective the cause is not fully understood but there may be a family connection and it may involve an autoimmune response. Some pharmaceutical medications such as those seen in chemotherapy can also cause hair loss. My experience also suggests that stress is a factor or trigger in some cases.

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) treatment can be effective in treating alopecia, particularly when the Western medicine aetiology is unclear and no obvious pharmaceutical cause is known. The cause of alopecia according to TCM diagnosis is often one of a Blood Deficiency and Liver Qi Stagnation either of which may cause the hair to become malnourished and fall out. Some of the following signs and symptoms may also be present with these patterns such as dizziness, dryness, painful periods, tight neck and shoulders, a feeling of a lump (plum stone) in the throat, palpitations, tight chest, insomnia, vivid dreams, depression, restlessness, cold hands and feet.

Both men and women can suffer from alopecia however it tends to be predominately women I see as it is perhaps more traumatic for women, and women are more easily prone to Blood Deficiency and Liver Qi Stagnation due to their female nature, menstrual cycle and the modern lifestyle stresses.

Fortunately TCM treatment can be effective in restoring hair growth by addressing the underling patterns of Blood Deficiency and or Liver Qi Stagnation. Subject to diagnosis the following methods may be employed:

Dietary advice to help strengthen the Spleen function and smooth the Liver Qi, by a modest increase in Blood nourishing and Qi invigorating foods such as described by Debra Betts here. It is important to have a proper TCM pattern diagnosis before making changes to your diet as not all cases of hair loss are due to Blood Deficiency or Liver Qi Stagnations and there may be other underling patterns that are more important to address.

Acupuncture to tonify the Spleen function and help your body produce good Blood and Qi. Acupuncture to smooth the Liver Qi, de-stress and help Qi and Blood move effectively to the extremities. Acupuncture to stimulate the area of hair loss to draw Qi and Blood to the area and nourish the follicles.

Plum blossom needling (a special tapping technique using small needles) to invigorate the area of hair loss drawing Qi and Blood to the area to nourish the follicles.

Moxibustion (an external herbal warming technique) to stimulate the area of hair loss drawing Qi and Blood to the area to nourish the follicles.

I will often utilise a combination of these therapies and it may also be useful for the patient to apply fresh ginger to the area once or twice a day until it is hot and flushed, but not immediately following an acupuncture treatment.

*Patterns of disharmony: Also called pattern diagnosis and pattern discrimination are the diagnosis that traditional Chinese medicine practitioners give to the disharmonies that lead to disease; it is these patterns that are treated to return your body and mind to a proper and healthy balance. After your initial consultation and throughout your treatments I will discuss with you your particular pattern diagnoses, bear in mind that these patterns can change as your condition changes or if you contract new conditions, such as a common cold or stiff neck. There are dozens of pattern disharmonies and some more common examples are Spleen Qi Deficiency, Liver Qi Stagnation, Dampness, Heat, Coldness, Liver Blood Deficiency, Kidney Yang Deficiency, Kidney Yin Deficiency and Lung Qi Deficiency.

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