Autoimmune disorders affect many individuals, posing daily physical and emotional challenges, sometimes to the point of disability. The spectrum of autoimmune disorders range from mild to severe, examples including allergies, Crohn’s disease, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and lupus. Under normal physiological functioning, our immune system protects us against harmful and toxic substances like viruses and bacteria. In an autoimmune condition, however, the immune system has an inappropriate reaction against healthy cells and tissues and attacks the body. Consequently, autoimmune disorders affect the bones, joints, skin, blood, and organs. Doctors often will prescribe medications that provide symptomatic relief of inflammation and pain, as well as immunosuppressant drugs to control the immune system. Those with autoimmune conditions commonly experience fatigue and mental-emotional distress along with other physical symptoms.
How Acupuncture Helps
As a holistic medicine, acupuncture 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. In Chinese medicine, autoimmune disorders arise when patterns of disharmony in the body cause the immune system to act out of balance. The goal of acupuncture treatments is to bring the body back into balance, alleviate pain, and strengthen and regulate the immune system. 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.
In Classical Chinese Medicine, your practitioners may choose to work with the Divergent Meridians, a channel system that is especially helpful for autoimmune disorders. The name of this system speaks to exactly what it does: the meridians “divert”, or re-direct, pathogens away from attacking healthy cells and tissues. Using this meridian system protects the joints, bones, and organs from the autoimmune processes. In theory, the Divergent Meridians deal with our Wei Qi and our Yuan Qi. Wei Qi can be likened to our immune system, protecting and defending the body from disease and pathogens. Yuan Qi refers to our constitution, and the things that make up who we are: our DNA, genetics, and our vital organs. Working at the Wei Qi and Yuan Qi levels, the Divergent Meridians represent the process of autoimmune disorders, where the immune system (Wei Qi) acts out of balance and threatens the body’s organs and vitality (Yuan Qi). As a treatment option, the Divergent Meridians are a fascinating channel system and relate to the complex nature of autoimmune disorders.