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Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine for Styes

By: Vanessa Vogel Batt L.Ac. MSOM

Styes are small, red bumps that form around the eye and can cause irritation and discomfort. Styes usually resolve on their own, but acupuncture and Oriental medicine can speed recovery and lessen symptoms.  A sty is a small, red lump that forms close to the eye, usually along the eyelid that often resembles a pimple or a boil. However, the temptation to pick at one should be avoided as doing so may further irritate the area and cause the infection to spread to other parts of the face.

Other symptoms such as eyelid pain, swelling, and excess tearing may accompany the presence of a sty.  In more extreme cases eyes may feel itchy and blurry vision may occur.  The majority of cases usually resolve in a couple days and taking simple measures at home may be all that is necessary.  This includes applying a warm compress to the afflicted area and making sure not to touch the area with dirty hands.  A sty requires medical treatment if it persists beyond 48 hours or if the pain starts to extend beyond the eye area.  

Treating a Sty with Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine

According to the theory of acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, eyelids fall under the dominion of the spleen organ. This means a disharmony in the spleen can contribute to problems with the eyelids.  In the case of a sty, improper digestion causes an excess of fluids to thicken in the stomach and spleen. This harmful accumulation then travels and settles around the eyes. In turn, the eyes become more vulnerable to harmful microbes and outside forces. The agent responsible for producing styes is usually the staphlycoccus bacteria.  The pathogen, simply called damp-heat in Oriental medicine terms, forms a pus-filled boil. Since it is both hot and damp in nature, the irritation often produces swelling, redness and discomfort.

Acupuncture point selection may include a distal and a local point. A local point is one located near the troublesome area, while a distal point is one residing far away from it. An excellent point to start with is the Four Whites, the English translation for an acupuncture point located on the stomach channel. A channel is the invisible pathway that healing energy traverses throughout the body.

Four Whites is found directly below the pupils, in the depression of the infraorbital foramen. You can feel for yourself as the little indents in the bone are the  perfect size for applying gentle acupressure with the pads of your fingertips. Applying acupuncture or acupressure here can help relieve any issue related to the eyes.

Another apt point is located on the hand, near the base of the thumb, called Hegu. While the functions of this point are numerous, it can address any problem on the face, head and neck. This includes the eyes, as well as all the sense organs of the face. As a combination, Four Whites and Hegu can tackle the symptoms of a sty and provide relief from the pain and inflammation.

To help support the acupuncture treatment, maintaining a healthy simple diet is recommended. Hot, stimulating foods such as coffee and hot peppers are not recommended. Better choices include cooling foods such as cucumbers, plain yogurt, and tofu. Green tea after meals, or in-between, can also help drive excess heat from the body.

Find an Acupuncturist to learn how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help you!

About the Author: Vanessa Vogel Batt, L.Ac., MSTOM, studied at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, and practiced acupuncture and Oriental medicine in New York for several years. Vanessa enjoys traveling the world, and has published articles on acupuncture and Oriental medicine and related health topics for websites and publications in both the U.S. and abroad.

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