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acupuncture

Chronic Inflamation

Chronic inflammation is the troll under the bridge. It's the nasty culprit creating a dangerous—even deadly--environment in our bodies. Inflammation is at the heart of a long list of disease, including Alzheimer's, asthma, multiple sclerosis, gout, fibromyalgia, cancer, and Lyme. Chronic inflammation can exist inside our bodies for years, suddenly wrecking havoc in our heart, kidneys, or liver.

So what's causing it? I've been reading Kenneth Singleton's terrific book, The Lyme Disease Solution. As he explains, when Lyme bacteria or its co-infections infect the body, the same as when other microorganisms attack--such as parasites, fungi, mold, and viruses—inflammation results. Sometimes you can see it. Sometimes you can't. As I understand it, a little bit of inflammation goes a long way. It is our immune system's natural reaction to infection. A cut on a finger is painful. It swells a bit and turns red. These factors indicate that the immune system is doing its job. White blood cells rush like EMTs to the site of the action. In a healthy person, the infection is stopped. The redness fades and the swelling goes down as the cut mends.

However, if the bacteria isn't killed by the actions of the immune system, the inflammation can become chronic.

“...whenever we are dealing with chronic infections like Lyme, we must be careful not only to treat a person with appropriate antibiotics, but also to address the chronic inflammation problems that have been triggered by Lyme.” Singleton, K. The Lyme Disease Solution (pp. 186-187). Kindle Edition.


The Do's and Don'ts
First, the don'ts. Don't give a helping hand to the inflammation troll. The following activities suppress or kill the endorphins that will help you heal.


Smoking. If you smoke, quit! Here's your good excuse.
Drinking alcohol. Same goes here.
Consuming fried foods, doughnuts, pastries. If it doesn't build healthy cells, it isn't good for you.
Consumption of sugar and artificial sweeteners.
Fifty pounds or more overweight.
Nursing a victim mentality and a negative attitude.
Being unable to forgive.
Averaging less than seven hours sleep per night.
Not drinking enough water.
Little to no sun exposure.

The good news? We can take action to prevent the inflammation troll from ruining our party. With shifts in dietary, lifestyle, and exercise routines, inflammation can be reduced or eliminated. The immune system produces these wonderful little gizmos called endorphins. They assist the NK (Natural Killer) cells in fighting the bad guys.

There's a short list of helpers to make our immune systems create more endorphins. You're gonna like it: Belly laughter, massage, chocolate, acupuncture, adequate sleep, and regular exercise. Eat fresh veggies, salmon (or Omega 3-s/Fish oil supplement), range-fed or organic meat consumption, and healthy oils, like olive. Indian curry, in particular the spice turmeric (curcumin), is a well-known anti-inflammatory agent. (However, please consult your doctor to see turmeric is okay for you. People with gallstones are not advised to consume turmeric.)

On the long list, you'll recognize these emotional and cultural keys that assist endorphin production, as well. We've seen them all before, but they're not trite. Not by a long shot. Indeed, these common-sense tips are central to healing body and mind:

Count your blessings.
Cultivate a positive outlook, and a spirit of generosity and giving.
Take time daily to pray and/or meditate—rejuvenate your spirit.
Do some deep breathing in fresh air.
If possible, get exposure to sunlight for ten minutes a day.
And nurture healthy relationships and social circles. You know, the kind that fluffs your feathers and fills up your love and laughter reserves. Seek out the company of people who make you feel good, not drained.

Antibiotics are necessary to kill the Lyme bacteria. Yet in many cases, they are not enough to return the body back to homeostasis, its natural state of balance. This is where lifestyle and dietary changes are needed to help us get a handle on inflammation.

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Acupuncture for healing Lyme


I've written about acupressure for pain relief, now let's talk about acupuncture. Yep, the kind with the needles.

Recently, I got the chance to talk with an acupuncture doctor in San Francisco Bay area, Palo Alto to be exact. This region is home to IGeneX Inc. and Google, and it is also where to find Jenny Qui, currently a doctoral student in Chinese Traditional Medicine. Jenny is focused on using acupuncture to help alleviate the symptoms of chronic pain, and Lyme disease in particular.

Jenny Qiu is having great success treating Lyme symptoms. The alternative medicines, to some people, are actually more traditional than what we call “traditional” or conventional medicine. That is because Western medicine, including antibiotics, only came about at about the turn of the 20th century, a hundred years ago. And acupuncture, acupressure, herbal tinctures, homeopathy, and bodywork (among others) are treatments that have been around for centuries.

Jenny explains that acupuncture, a traditional Chinese medicine treatment, is used alongside Chinese herbal medicine to treat any infectious disease. But she wanted to find out if it can help minimize symptoms, such as joint pain and chronic fatigue, caused by Lyme disease.


Her research has convinced her that Lyme patients can get relief using acupuncture. She is currently writing her dissertation on her work.

“Since 2008,” says Jenny, “I have been treating a Lyme patient at my clinic. He comes in biweekly for acupuncture treatment.”

The patient, who is also a patient of San Francisco Lyme disease expert Dr. Raphael Stricker, was diagnosed with Lyme in 1989. Jenny says that according to him, “acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine has been, by far, the most helpful and effective treatment for his major complaints of joint pain and chronic fatigue.

“The patient has minimized his use of Western medication during his years of alternative treatments,” she adds.

The Western cure for Lyme, antibiotics, can cause problems that have far-reaching effects on the immune system. The seat of the immune system lies in the intestines. As antibiotics destroy the pathogens in the guts, and they also decimate the friendly flora necessary for a healthy balance.

With acupuncture and herbal medicine, Jenny is aiming to minimize the damaging side effects of antibiotics. She wants to show how traditional Chinese treatments can work together with Western medicine to make healing from Lyme disease more bearable.

Taking proactive steps, such as seeing an acupuncturist, helps you move forward in your healing. What alternative or complementary medicines are you using, if any?


Join the LDRD and listen to the interview





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Relief for painful joints

One of the most common Lyme disease symptoms is achey knees, fingers, and other painful joints. If you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, you may find relief with moxibustion, which you can create with the heat from a lighted, tightly wrapped bunch of dried mugwort. Moxa is mugwort.

Author, Herbalist and acupuncturist Lesley Tierra, whose arthritis massage oil formula I've posted here, says many arthritis sufferers find relief from moxibustion. To use it on your knees or fingers, light one end of the moxa stick by holding it over a candle, or with a lighter. The flame will go out but the stick will still be burning, like hot coal. Hold the cool end and aim the hot end of the moxa over the achey place, close enough to feel the heat. Be careful not to touch the moxa to your skin. I've been using it on my aching knees for about ten minutes at a time, once a day. Sitting quietly for a few minutes and appreciating the soothing warmth flooding my joints has also helped remind me to slow down during a busy work week.

Moxibustion is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to warm a patient's skin and stimulate qi, the life force. You can obtain a moxibustion bundle from an acupuncturist, which is where I got mine. It's about the same size as a cigar, and while I think it smells a whole lot nicer than most cigars, it does create a fair amount of smoke and incense while burning.

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