Approximately 50 million Americans (20% of the population, or one in five people), suffer from autoimmune diseases. About 75% of autoimmune diseases occur in women. The reason for this is not totally understood. Hormones are believed to play an important role, as some autoimmune illnesses occur more frequently after menopause, while others improve or worsen during pregnancy. Some autoimmune conditions can also affect fertility and increase the risk of miscarriage. Other suspected triggers are genetics, environmental toxins, and viral illnesses. Whatever the cause, the toll is high - approximately 30 million women are affected, and autoimmune diseases currently represent the fourth largest cause of disability among women in the United States.
Autoimmune diseases are among the most poorly understood and misdiagnosed of any illnesses, and are rarely discussed as a Women's Health issue. Individual diseases can range from mild to severe. Symptoms can vary widely from one illness to another, and also within the same disease. Because the diseases affect multiple body systems, their symptoms are often misleading.
Typical Western treatments involve the use of medications with varying degrees of effectiveness and toxicity. These drugs do not cure the underlying cause of the disorder. Instead they address the symptoms or suppress the immune system in order to keep symptoms under control. The side effects of these drugs can be toxic, especially to the liver and kidneys.
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) treats autoimmune disorders by reducing inflammation, alleviating pain, improving energy and vitality, and addressing the wide variety of symptoms that occur. TCM also treats the root of the disease by bringing the immune system back into balance.
A study conducted by the Mayo Clinic found that fibromyalgia patients who received acupuncture had significant improvement in pain levels, fatigue, and anxiety. The researchers concluded that acupuncture would be very beneficial to fibromyalgia patients in managing the symptoms of the disease.
Several studies have also been done on TCM and chronic fatigue. These studies incorporated acupuncture with other TCM modalities. The conclusion of each study was that patients had significant improvement in energy, muscle strength, sleep, headaches, and memory.
There are approximately 80 recognized autoimmune diseases. Some of the more common autoimmune conditions that TCM can treat are (click on the links to see reviews):
- Alopecia Areata
- Celiac Disease
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Crohn's Disease
- Diabetes Millitus
- Fibromyalgia Syndrome
- Grave's Disease
- Hashimoto's Thyroiditis
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Myasthenia Gravis
- Raynaud's Phenomenom
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Sjogrens's Syndrome
- Systemic Lupus Erythmatosus (case report)
- General autoimmune
If you suffer from an autoimmune condition that is not listed above and would like to find out if TCM can help you, please contact Cindi for more information.
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