14 Sep Treating Lupus with Acupuncture
Greetings Dear Readers,
If you or someone you know is living with Lupus there is hope. Oriental medicine has had a lot of success with many types of auto-immune diseases such as Lupus.
Systemic Lupus Erythmatosus (SLE) is an auto-immune disorder in which the immune system attacks its’ own tissues leading to chronic inflammation. Several organ systems may be affected such as kidneys, blood cells, joints, brain and skin. Western medicine explains the cause of lupus as essentially unknown but beyond that is believed to be a combination of genetics and environment where some people have a genetic predisposition to developing lupus and then various environmental factors such as sunlight, medications (anti-biotics, anti-seizure meds, blood pressure medications) can be the triggers that set off the lupus symptoms. Commonly used Western drugs such as NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), corticosteroids, anti-malarial drugs and immuno-suppressants are used to manage symptoms. Although these drugs may be able to control flare-ups to some extent, there are often side-effects with long-term use.
Natural therapies such as acupuncture that can achieve suppression of flare-ups as well as get to the root of the disease itself.
Oriental medicine describes Lupus as a situation of too much Yang (heat) and not enough Yin (yin=coolness, moisture) which also creates “Empty Heat” or Heat resulting from Deficient Yin. I will publish a post about Yin Deficiency soon.
The joint pain in lupus may be the result of the lack of body fluids (Yin) resulting in less sinovial fluids in the joints. It can also be from Liver Blood Deficiency as the Liver Blood’s role is to moisten the tendons and resulting in arthritic pain.
Without treatment Lupus can progress into kidney damage and failure. This can be a life-threatening illness so it’s important to chose your treatment strategy wisely. Where there are more severe and acute symptoms such as breathing difficulty and acute kidney issues it’s important to see a Western doctor quickly to prevent serious complications. Once things have stabilized, TCM acupuncture can focus on the other symptoms as well as addressing the root of the disorder.
The goals of acupuncture treatment with Lupus will depend on how the individual presents. In general, points will be used to clear the Heat/Fire and strengthen Yin and Blood of the affected channels and organ systems. This is achieved by selecting the correct acupuncture points that will do those jobs. Each acupuncture point has its own functions and indications so the treatment will be tailored to the patient’s unique presentation. The treatment for Lupus tends to be longer than other conditions because Yin Deficiency takes a long time to develop and so a longer time to remove. With persistent treatment as well as the guidance I offer in self-care including diet there should be a lessening of flare-ups as well as better energy and quality of life.
Yours in health,
Cynthia McGilvray, R.Ac.
1.Weil, Andrew, M.D., (August 2016). Lupus. Retrieved from: http://www.drweil.com/health-wellness/body-mind-spirit/autoimmune-disorders/lupus/
2. Mayo Clinic Staff, (November 2014). Lupus. Retrieved from: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/lupus/basics/definition/con-20019676
3. Maciocia, Giovanni. ( 2005). The Foundations of Chinese Medicine. 2nd Ed. Churchill & Livingstone.