More than 50 million Americans suffer from autoimmune disease. An autoimmune disease occurs when the body’s immune system attacks healthy tissue. Common conditions can be rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid disease, multiple sclerosis and crohn’s disease. Treating autoimmune disorders can be complex, but integrative medicine solutions including Acupuncture and Oriental medicine have received much attention as successful therapies. Acupuncture is specifically noted for its use in pain relief, regulating the immune system, managing symptoms and improving quality of life.
What causes the diseases? Under normal conditions our immune response cannot be triggered against the cells of one’s own body. However if the immune system fails it can attack the very cells that it’s meant to protect. This process can lead to a variety of more than 100 autoimmune diseases. The exact mechanisms causing these changes are not completely understood, but bacteria, viruses, toxins, and some drugs may all play a role in triggering an autoimmune response in someone who already has a genetic (inherited) predisposition to develop such a disorder.
According to Oriental medicine, autoimmune disorders occur when there is imbalance within the body.
Imbalance can come from an excess or deficiency of yin and yang that disrupts the flow of “qi”, or vital energy, through the body. Acupuncture is used to help the body restore balance, treating the root of the disorder, 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. By these actions, acupuncture can affect blood pressure, body temperature and the immune system.
In addition to Acupuncture, a treatment program to manage autoimmune disorder may involve a combination of therapies including stress reducing exercises, moderate physical activity, herbal medicine, nutritional support and bodywork.