Autoimmune disorders affect many individuals, posing daily physical and emotional challenges, sometimes to the point of disability. Autoimmune is an umbrella term that covers many diseases with which people suffer. There are so many factors that go into autoimmune diseases such as genetics, nutrition, environmental toxins, and other lifestyle habits. It can be a daunting disease to tackle for western and eastern medicine practitioners alike, but there is hope. Examples of autoimmune diseases for which we have successfully diminished symptoms or placed into remission include rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid disorders, multiple sclerosis, blood clotting conditions, immunological infertility, psoriasis, allergies, Crohn’s disease, fibromyalgia, diabetes, Raynaud’s disease, endometriosis and lupus, among others.
How Acupuncture Helps
As a holistic medicine, Chinese medicine is an extremely helpful ally in the treatment of autoimmune disorders because it addresses both the root of disease and the associated physical and emotional symptoms. The goal of acupuncture treatments is to bring the body back into balance, alleviate pain, and regulate the immune system. We always look at the pattern of imbalance which is presenting in the individual and create our treatment plan accordingly. This typically involves looking to see where heat (inflammation) is occurring in the body, moving any blood stagnation (which causes pain), and nourishing deficient yin.
Acupuncture affects the nervous system and how it responds, and the immune response is dependent on the nervous system and its integrity. Acupuncture helps calm what is overactive in our body and boost what is deficient. When describing autoimmune disorders, it is said that the body is attacking itself. With acupuncture, we are able to guide the body out of the sympathetic or “fight or flight” mode and into a parasympathetic state of “rest and digest” that allows for healing.
Lifestyle, diet and stress play significant roles in the presentation of symptoms within autoimmune disease. We support patients in identifying and reducing stressors, aggravating foods and other contributing factors while incorporating mindfulness, restorative activities, helpful herbs or supplements, and healthy, delicious meals into their daily lives. Given optimal health, autoimmune disorders can become dormant or even cease to exist for a person.
For those on immunosuppressant drugs, acupuncture becomes an important adjunctive therapy to encourage healthy functioning of the immune system in the long-term. Acupuncture and herbal medicine also promote restful nights, which are essential for maintaining and restoring good health. Studies have shown that lack of sleep increases pro-inflammatory processes of the body that cause pain and inflammation, the major symptoms of autoimmune disorders.