Nearly half a million Americans have Multiple Sclerosis (MS), and two-thirds of this group are women. According to the American Academy of Neurology, women with MS are nearly 1.5 times more likely to carry the gene associated with the disease, and are more likely to transfer the gene to female offspring. MS is a progressive disease whereby the immune system mistakenly attacks the protective wrapper on nerve cells, known as myelin. As the damage accumulates, the brain and body communicate less well. Individuals with MS may experience loss of coordination, muscle weakness, numbness, tingling, dizziness, blurred vision, and paralysis.
Multiple Sclerosis presents with an array of symptoms and no two patients may share the same underlying pattern. That said, in acupuncture and Oriental medicine, MS as a whole reflects either underlying Wind or Dampness based problems.
The characteristics or signs of Wind-based problems can arise and abate suddenly, cause strong, intense symptoms; and jump between different areas of the body. Wind issues stem from trouble in the Wood element, which refers to anger, aggression, ambition, and decision-making. Cultural, social, or political pressures can limit the ability of women to effectively express areas of the Wood element. Like a shaken soda, the suppressed areas of Wood can abruptly explode.
The characteristics or signs of Dampness-based problems include swelling and bloating, muscle weakness or a sense of heaviness in the body, and unclear thinking. Dampness indicates a weak Earth element, which correlates with sympathy and empathy, caring and comfort, helping and nurturing. Unfortunately, by caring for too many things (or people, creatures, and plants), the Earth element becomes weak, and the appetite and digestion suffer.
Oriental medicine dietary approaches may help restore balance. Alcohol, red meat, caffeine, and sugar are extremely warming and can lead to Wind based conditions. Meanwhile, sweet and starchy foods can overstimulate the Earth element, leading to or perpetuating Dampness based conditions.
Electro-acupuncture on Earth and Metal acupuncture points may help MS patients, according to researchers from University of Campinas, Brazil. Researchers stimulated Earth and Metal acupuncture points, noting that patients experienced less pain and depression and greater overall quality of life.
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.