Treating Autoimmune Disease with Acupuncture
Have you noticed there has been a tremendous rise in autoimmune disorders? Today over
50 million Americans suffer from some form of autoimmune disease including:
rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, thyroid disease, Addison’s disease, pernicious anemia, celiac disease,
IBD (Irritible Bowel Disorder which includes Crohn’s disease and colitis) , Type 1 diabetes,
multiple sclerosis, myasthenia gravis and Guillain-Barré syndrome to name a few. “Autoimmune
disease” is an umbrella term for dozens of conditions, most of which do not actually even use
the word“autoimmune” in their titles, and occurs when the body’s immune system attacks
healthy tissue. Due to the complexity of treating autoimmune disorders, integrative medicine
solutions including Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine have received much attention as
successful therapies in their treatment. Acupuncture is specifically noted for its use in pain
relief, regulating the immune system, managing symptoms and improving overall quality of life.
What Causes Autoimmune Disease?
Under normal conditions, an immune response cannot be triggered against the cells of one’s own
body. In certain cases, however, immune cells make a mistake and attack the very cells that they
are meant to protect. This can lead to a variety of autoimmune diseases. They encompass a broad
category of over 100 diseases in which the person’s immune system attacks his or her own cells
The exact mechanisms causing these changes are not completely understood, but bacteria, viruses,
toxins, and some drugs may play a role in triggering an autoimmune process in someone who
already has a genetic (inherited) predisposition to develop such a disorder. It is theorized that the
inflammation initiated by these agents–toxic or infectious–somehow provokes in the body a
“sensitization” (autoimmune reaction) in the involved tissues.
As the disease develops, vague symptoms start to appear, such as joint and muscle pain, general
muscle weakness, possible rashes or low-grade fever, trouble concentrating, or weight loss.
Numbness and tingling in hands and feet, dry eyes, hair loss, shortness of breath, heart
palpitations, or repeated miscarriages may also indicate that something is wrong with the
How Acupuncture Treats Autoimmune Disorders
According to Oriental medicine, autoimmune disorders occur when there is an imbalance
within the body. Acupuncture is used to help the body restore this imbalance by treating the
root of the cause, while specifically addressing the symptoms that are unique to each individual.
Clinical research has shown that acupuncture causes physical responses in nerve cells, the
pituitary gland and parts of the brain. These responses can cause the body to release proteins,
hormones and brain chemicals that control a number of body functions. It is proposed that,
by these actions, acupuncture affects blood pressure, body temperature and the immune system.
As a result acupuncture can quickly and safely manage acute and chronic pain, can alleviate
insomnia and depression, boost energy and mood, effectively treat digestive discomfort and
so much more! Because acupuncture works so well, most patients are able to decrease their
prescription drug intake as they progress with treatments.
In addition to acupuncture, your treatment program to manage your autoimmune disorder may
involve a combination of therapies, including stress reducing exercises, biopuncture, moderate
physical activity, herbal medicine, nutritional support and probiotics as well as bodywork.
To learn more about how acupuncture can safely and effectively be incorporated
into care for people with an autoimmune disorder, please call (904) 448-0046 for a
Food & Nutritional Tips for Autoimmune Disorders
Emerging research shows that most autoimmune conditions actually share a common root
hiding in the intestinal lining of individuals with autoimmune diseases, even years before the
symptoms manifest. A healthy intestinal lining provides an impermeable barrier for us between
bacteria and viruses. If that lining becomes compromised we then become more susceptible to
these diseases. Therefore, improving the intestinal permeability by improving gut-health could
actually better the management of autoimmune conditions and possibly slow down the auto-
immune reaction. In fact, many nutritionists will say that reversing symptoms of autoimmune
disease depends on healing the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. The most common components
of food that can damage your intestinal lining are proteins found in un-sprouted grains, sugar,
GMOs, and conventional dairy.
The 4 step plan to healing intestinal lining and improve gut-health are:
- REMOVE foods and factors that damage the gut
- REPLACE with healing foods
- REPAIR with specific supplements
- REBALANCE with probiotics
A class of plant chemicals — known as bioflavonoids — has been found to dramatically reduce
inflammation and improve symptoms associated with autoimmune disorders.
Both green and black tea contain the flavonoids catechins and theaflavins, which are beneficial
in autoimmune disease.
Apples (with the skin on) contain the flavonoid quercetin, which can reduce allergic reactions
and decrease inflammation.
Quercetin also occurs naturally in other foods, such as berries, red grapes, red onions, capers
and black tea.
Carotenoids are a family of plant pigments that include beta-carotene. A lack of carotenoids
in the diet is thought to promote inflammation.
Good sources of carotenoids include apricots, carrots, pumpkin, sweet potato, spinach, kale,
butternut squash and collard greens.
Recent studies show that ginger reduces inflammation by inhibiting prostaglandin and
suppresses the immune system’s production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines,
reducing disease severity in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
Omega-3 essential fatty acids can counter the formation of chemicals that cause inflammation.
Good natural sources include flaxseed oil and salmon.
A healthy and active colon can decrease food sensitivity, which, in turn, can lighten the burden
on your immune system.