Lupus, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Crohn’s disease…You may have heard of these conditions, but do you know what they have in common? They are all types of autoimmune disease and they are all lifelong conditions.
Approximately 50 million Americans are living with an autoimmune disease. If you are facing one of these conditions, you know how crucial it is to have a treatment plan in place to help you manage your symptoms and live the healthiest, most active life possible.
Acupuncture and Classical Chinese Medicine (CCM) can be powerful allies in living with an autoimmune disease. They can help:
• Strengthen your immune system
• Relieve painful symptoms
• Reduce your stress, and
• Bolster your overall health
Perhaps most importantly, your practitioner will focus on YOU as an individual. Your care will be tailored to your specific needs and symptoms, so you won’t ever receive a “one-size-fits-all” treatment.
When the immune response goes wrong
To understand autoimmune disease, we must first understand how the immune system works. The immune system generally acts as the body’s protection against foreign substances and microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses. When the immune system is working properly, it can tell the difference between the body’s own tissues and outside organisms.
In the case of autoimmune diseases the immune system stops being able to differentiate, and begins to attack the body’s own cells, tissues, and organs. This immune response causes harmful inflammation that eventually leads to an autoimmune condition. There are about 80 recognized autoimmune diseases, and several other conditions such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and fibromyalgia that are currently believed to have an autoimmune component.
Autoimmune conditions are often difficult to diagnose and treat because their symptoms and progression can vary from person to person. These conditions may either affect many organs or target one specific part of the body. The symptoms may be persistent, get progressively worse, or go into remission with occasional “flare-ups,” and can range from being mild to so severe that they become disabling.
The exact causes of autoimmune diseases are unknown, but since many conditions run in families, it’s believed there is a genetic relationship. Since women are at a much higher risk for many autoimmune diseases, hormones may also play a part.
Treatments generally rely upon a variety of medications, which can help to relieve symptoms, but may have uncomfortable side effects.
How acupuncture can help
Acupuncture and CCM take a holistic, or whole body approach to healing based on the idea of body fluids. The body’s main resource for health and wellness are its body fluids. Body fluids are like gasoline; they provide the fuel for the function of all organ systems. When the body fluids are abundant and recuperated the body is able to make energy, more body fluids/lubrication, blood, and hormones. If the body fluids are compromised by stress, poor diet, over-consumption of alcohol/drugs/dairy/sugar, or trauma, the body cant make its necessary goods or conduct proper functioning of the organ systems. This means immunity is compromised, and the person becomes vulnerable, and unable to absorb nutrients. The body instead makes pathological fluids called dampness, which is stored instead of excreted and further blocks function. From this cascade, disease can result.
The goal of treatment will be to find and treat the underlying imbalances that are affecting absorption, production and excretion. By addressing the root cause of the disease, CCM can help your body regain balance and help improve your overall health.
During treatment, fine, sterile needles will be inserted at specific points along the meridians in order to unblock any obstruction and allow vital energy to flow freely. Your practitioner may also help improve your nutrition, reduce your stress, or start you on an exercise program.
In addition, your practitioner may recommend herbal remedies and supplements designed to support your health and boost your immune system. It’s important to communicate with all of your health providers in order to maximize your healing potential.
Acupuncture and CCM have proven effective against a wide variety of health concerns. By incorporating these powerful tools into your treatment program, you’re making the decision to support and nourish your body and take control of your autoimmune condition.