Factors of immunity include regulation, inflammation and protection of organs
When the body goes into an autoimmune state there is a fight between the normal repair processes and the regulatory centers. As tissues are damaged in most autoimmune disorders, including diabetes, Sjogren, and Lupus, the ability to respond in time to repair the damage is often interrupted by out-of-control inflammation.
In my experience working with Sjogren, Lyme, Lupus, and post-Covid illness, I have learned that the immune system is not a discrete entity that can be easily modified. By focusing on the regulatory system that is most out of balance I have been able to make inroads to boost energy, decrease inflammatory markers, and strengthen organs. For example, a patient with shortness of breath and skin problems presents a case that is showing signs of Lung deficiency. The Lung is also the organ that produces qi (synonymous with the production of oxygen in the body). The Lung is also associated with the skin. Using points and prescriptions to dispel Wind (a pathogen that penetrates the pores and spreads viruses and other “evils” such as Heat and Fire) and boost Lung qi is indicated.
There are many ways to treat symptoms using acupuncture points. Sometimes this is even enough to help the patient recover since dispersing pathogens can free up the energy needed to strengthen the immune system. For example, clearing enough inflammation in the right manner is the most important step when a flare is occurring. Inflammation can be seen in various systems, and knowing which one to address is paramount. I sometimes also rely on herbs to assist since they can reduce inflammation very quickly.
A combination of herbs and acupuncture is helpful to balance the immune response. The prescriptions for acupuncture and herbal formulae change regularly since there is a swing between the inflammatory or flare state and the homeostatic state. Herbs to reduce inflammation have shown evidence in trials of decreasing inflammation without side effects.
In some cases, herbals have also been shown to improve markers for auto-immunity as evidenced by labs taken before, during, and after the administration of herbs. A treatment plan is designed that addresses not only the type of autoimmune disorder but also specific signs and symptoms.
This is an area that does require medical supervision, however, and intervention with acupuncture and herbs should be used to help slow progress and reduce damage to tissues. Being followed by a physician is critical since auto-immune disorders are so unpredictable and affect so many systems of the body. When treating any autoimmune problem, whether in the early or later stages, Michelle will ask to see regular bloodwork. The types of labs needed depend upon the system of the body affected, i.e. thyroid markers for Hashimoto.
An interview to go over specific health history, and symptoms, is required in order to determine if Asian medicine is a good fit. Michelle also recommends bringing any recent and past lab results to your first appointment for review.
Zhong, L.LD., Wong, YP., Leung, CY. et al. Effects of Chinese medicine for COVID-19 rehabilitation: a multicenter observational study. Chin Med 17, 99 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13020-022-00654-z
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