Lupus is a complex disease involving an overactive immune system that fights unnecessarily and can injure the skin, joints, brain, and internal organs such as the heart, kidneys, and lungs. While lupus has no known cause, it may be hereditary. However, it can also be triggered by stress, environmental toxins, sunlight, or exposure to fluorescent light. It may also be triggered by some medications, including antibiotics and diuretics.
Individuals with lupus may exhibit the following symptoms:
- Red facial rashes, particularly across the nose and cheeks
- Engorged or sore joints
- Scalp hair loss
- Upper abdominal pain when breathing deeply
- Severe, chronic fatigue
- Memory problems
Though every patient may present differently, Oriental medicine views many lupus symptoms as a reflection of toxic heat. Good health requires balanced yin and yang, which reflect cold and heat, respectively as they both nourish and restrain each other. However, yang tends to multiply (or worsen) more quickly, whereas yin is slower to change. Women have more estrogen than testosterone, so they are more yin by nature and more vulnerable to invasion by disease. Both acupuncture and herbs may help clear heat and nourish the yin.
In a small study, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh found that by stimulating acupuncture points along the spine and on the four limbs, patients with Lupus experienced less pain. In 2013, researchers in Shanghai, China found that a special TCM herbal formula reduced symptoms of Lupus and enabled patients to take less corticosteroids.
Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help relieve pain and manage lupus symptoms. Reducing stress with exercise can work double-duty towards improving your overall health and reducing the likelihood of an outbreak. As always, exercise caution before making lifestyle changes and adding new herbal ingredients to your diet. Let your primary care provider know you are investigating other treatment options, and work with a qualified Oriental medicine provider who can give you safe and sustainable treatments, reputable herbal formulas, and above all, knowledgeable supervision throughout your treatment.
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Contact a practitioner today to find out more about how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can safely and effectively be integrated into your wellness plan!
Trina Lion, L.Ac., Dipl.Ac., is an American acupuncturist currently living in Shanghai, China, where for the past three years she has been teaching Traditional Chinese Medicine concepts including nutrition, herbs, and acupuncture. She has apprenticed in two clinics in Shanghai, practiced for two years in an expat clinic, and taught at Jiao Tong University, one of the oldest universities in China. In December 2013 she completed her first textbook for students describing TCM terminology. Prior to becoming an acupuncturist, Trina was an educator and literacy specialist who created educational materials for institutions that included the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the American Museum of Natural History, and the New York Public Library, among others.