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Acupuncture Treatment for Gynecological Disorders

By: Dr. Yong Q. Luo O.M.D.

Acupuncture has a long history of treating gynecological diseases. It has not only accumulated a wealth of experience through long-term clinical practices, but it also has its own uniqueness from a methodological point of view.

It is known that acupuncture treatment is the insertion of needles through various acupoints in the body to achieve a therapeutic purpose. How does the insertion of needles in the body cure diseases? This achievement is based on the Traditional Chinese Medicine's theory of meridians. At the same time, acupuncture treatment also follows the ideas of Traditional Chinese Medicine in that the methods of treatment use a balance restoration and elimination of pathogens through reinforcing the body's resistance. The so-called balance restoration is the insertion of needles through the acupoints that correspond to various diseases to restore the imbalance between the body's Yin and Yang, therefore reestablishing harmony within the body. The so-called elimination of pathogens through reinforcing the body's resistance is the insertion of needles using specific techniques through specific acupoints, prompting the pathogenic factors and metabolites to exit the body. On the other hand, Western medicine treats bacteria and other pathogens with antibiotics and other organic diseases by removing them with surgery. It could be said that acupuncture adopts a balanced adjustment approach, whereas Western medicine adopts a confront-and-kill method.

Although the approaches of the methods differ, the Traditional Chinese Medicine complements the Western medicine approach quite well. For example, treating chronic pelvic inflammatory disease, a common gynecological disease, by prolonged or repeated application of various antibiotics may lead to no significant effect. This is because long term use of antibiotics will often lead to greater tolerance by the disease, therefore reducing its efficacy. Pelvic inflammatory disease is not included in Tradition Chinese Medicine by name. However, symptoms from diseases such as Endometritis, Salpingitis, Oophoritis, and Pelvic Peritonitis suggest that pelvic inflammatory disease is categorized as a part of menstrual and miscellaneous diseases in Traditional Chinese Medicine's view. F rom large numbers of medical literature and Dr. Luo's clinical experience, treatment methods that utilize acupuncture and Chinese Medicine including Invigoration of the Ren Meridian (balance restoration), Tonification of the Kidney Qi (reinforcing the body's resistance), Heat Clearing and Elimination of Dampness (eliminating the pathogens), and Elimination of the Stagnant and Activation of the Blood (eliminating the pathogens) have been very effective in giving many women relief from gynecological problems. Acupuncture treatment proves useful for patients who are allergic to antibiotics, experiences serious side effects from hormone therapy, and where surgical treatment is inappropriate. Many gynecological diseases and endocrine disorders have strong correlations. From Traditional Chinese Medicine's point of view, these diseases are caused by imbalance of the Yin and the Yang. Balance restoration through acupuncture will allow the body to build up its ability to self-regulate, thus transforming the body from its pathological state to a harmonious state of function.

In addition to the methodological advantages acupuncture treatment has on gynecological diseases, Traditional Chinese Medicine also possesses unique understandings in areas such as menstruation, leukorrhea, pregnancy, and fertility. These understandings include the mechanism of menstruation, the relationship between organs and menstruation, the relationship between Qi/Blood and menstruation, and the relationship between the meridian and menstruation. The understanding of the meridian and menstruation relationship directly offers guidance to acupuncture treatment of gynecological diseases. While some terms and theories of Traditional Chinese Medicine are complex, they are well established through its 2000 year history and through years of observation and repeated clinical results.

In Dr. Luo's daily clinical practice, many patients come to seek treatment for gynecological diseases. Through his many years of clinical experience using acupuncture, he has effectively treated diseases such as: dysfunctional uterine bleeding, premenstrual syndrome, menstrual cycle disorders, amenorrhea, menopausal syndrome, infertility and uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts, and chronic pelvic inflammatory disease.

Some case examples of patients Dr. Luo has treated:

Example 1: A 41 year-old patient came to the clinic suffering from dysfunctional uterine bleeding. Dr. Luo began her treatment in May 2010.

  • Chief complaint: She had extended menstrual bleeding intermittently for more than six months. At times she would stop bleeding for only a few days before the next extended period begins. At the time she began her treatment, her menstrual period had extended to more than one month. The patient discontinued her hormone therapy due to her body's unwillingness to adapt, resulting in serious side effects.

  • Examination: The patient was extremely underweight, exhausted, pale, and appeared anxious due to long term bleeding. She had Deep and Thready Pulse, Dull-Purple Tongue, Thin and White Fur. Further inquiry found that the patient was bleeding dark colored blood with clots.

  • Diagnosis: The patient suffered from uterine bleeding. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, her condition is classified as Deficiency of the Qi and Stagnation of the Blood.

  • Treatment: Dr. Luo began her treatment with acupuncture twice weekly. The needles were inserted in the relevant acupoints in the abdomen, legs, and feet for the purpose of Reinforcing the Body's Resistance and Eliminating the Pathogens. (In Traditional Chinese Medicine's view, pathological products can lead to bleeding). The patient was also given Chinese herbal tea for the purpose of Promoting Blood by Tonifying the Qi. Her bleeding stopped two weeks into her treatment. Two months into her treatment, the patient experienced normal menstruation. Her acupuncture treatment changed to once weekly. The patient has had normal menstrual cycles after a six months follow up.

Example 2: A 52 year-old patient came to the clinic suffering from hot flashes (menopause). Dr. Luo began her treatment in June 2009.

  • Chief Complaint: The patient started to suffer from hot flashes two years prior to her treatment, with the frequency of five to eight times per day, each lasting two to three minutes. The flashes started from her ears, passed through her head, her neck, and ended on her chest. She experienced mood swings ranging from agitation to depression. The patient had difficulty falling and staying asleep due to hot flashes and sweating. She stated that she suffered from menopause three years prior and that she does not wish to be treated with hormone therapy.

  • Examination: the patient was slightly underweight, and she suffers from fatigue and memory
    loss due to lack of quality sleep.

  • Diagnosis: The patient suffered from menopausal syndrome and hot flashes. According to
    Traditional Chinese Medicine, her condition is classified as Deficiency of the Kidney-Yin and Liver-Yin.

  • Treatment: Dr. Luo began her treatment with acupuncture twice weekly. The needles were inserted in the relevant acupoints in the head and all four extremities for the purpose of Tranquilization and Nourishing the Yin. The patient was also given Chinese herbal tablets for heat clearing purposes. Six weeks into her treatment, the patient experiences of hot flashes reduced both in number and in degree. Her insomnia had also improved. The patient's treatment was temporarily interrupted due to busy work. Her treatment was resumed after three  months. Unfortunately, the conditions of hot flashes, anxiety, and insomnia returned to the point of the onset of her initial treatment. Dr. Luo returned to the initial acupuncture and herbal treatmentwith the addition of addressing other relevant acupoints in the patient's head. Three months into the second treatment, her hot flashes had completely dissipated and her insomnia had improved.

Example 3: A 23 year-old patient came to the clinic suffering from menstrual headaches. Dr. Luo began her treatment in April 2010.

  • Chief Complaint: The patient suffered from menstrual headaches for five years, the symptoms gradually worsened over the year prior to her treatment. The headaches generally began three days before the onset of her menstrual period and it gradually eased one to two days after her menstrual period. Her headaches are worse on the left side and the pain was often accompanied by nausea and occasionally bleeding in the gums. Her headaches were only temporarily alleviated when given painkillers. The patient occasionally had small blood clots during menstruation and her headaches were intensified when she experiences less than normal menstrual bleeding. The patient was unable to adapt to hormone treatment. At the time of her consultation, she was approximately two days from her menstrual period and experiencing headaches.

  • Examination: The patient was of medium weight and was experiencing normal menstruation and was experiencing irritability. The patient had Deep and Thready Pulse and Red Tongue.

  • Diagnosis: The patient suffered from menstrual headaches. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, her condition is classified as Deficiency of the Kidney-Yin and Liver-Yin and Excessive Rise of Liver-Yang.

  • Treatment: The patient's initial treatment consisted of her receiving acupuncture every other day for eight days. The needles were inserted in the relevant acupoints in the head and all four extremities for the purpose of nourishing the liver and the kidney. The patient experienced relief from menstrual headache and nausea. Subsequently, Dr. Luo commenced acupuncture treatment twice weekly two weeks prior to the start of her menstrual period, terminating at the end of her menstrual period. Additionally, Dr. Luo urged the patient to adjust her eating habits by drinking less coffee and eating more vegetables. After receiving treatments for three menstrual cycles, she experienced no recurrence of menstrual headaches.

About the Author: Dr. Yong Q. Luo O.M.D. graduated from Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, China, in 1983. He has practiced acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicines for a total of 28 years both in China and in the United States. In addition to clinical practice, Dr. Luo has done acupuncture research and teaching. After joining the staff of Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta GA, he did four years of acupuncture research with publications. He is also a former professor of acupuncture at Edgewood College of Oriental Medicine in Atlanta. Dr. Luo is the author of two books: "Traditional Chinese Medicine Diagnosis" and "Basic Traditional Chinese Medicine through Diagrams". He serves as a member of the Editorial Committee of "Science of Traditional Chinese Medicine". Dr. Luo has been featured on the radio, written magazine articles and Chinese medical journals.
If you have any comments or questions Dr. Luo can be reached at [email protected].

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