Monthly Archives: June 2013

You are browsing the site archives by month.

If you have missed three periods in a row and you are not pregnant or menopausal, this is a matter of serious concern. You should be especially concerned if you are dealing with infertility issues, or are at risk for osteoporosis. Under these circumstances, it would be wise to visit a doctor or consult a women’s health specialist. The absence of menstruation in pre-menopausal women is called amenorrhea. If menstruation has not begun by the age 16, it is called “primary amenorrhea.” If previously normal menstruation stops for more than three months in a woman who is not pregnant or breast feeding and is not nearing menopause, it is called “secondary amenorrhea.”

Amenorrhea in Conventional Medicine
From the viewpoint of conventional Western medicine, normal menstrual cycles are based on a complex feedback system between the hypothalmus, the pituitary gland, and the ovaries, as well as the cyclical reaction of the lining of the uterus (the endometrium) to sex hormones. Primary amenorrhea is considered to be caused by one of the following disorders: hypothalamic disorder, such as deficiency of thyrotropic, adrenocorticotropic or gonadotropin-releasing hormones; pituitary insufficiency; or an ovarian disorder, such as a sex-chromosome problem. Secondary amenorrhea can be caused by any of the following disorders: pituitary dysfunction; ovarian dysfunction; adrenal gland dysfunction; thyroid dysfunction, etc. Quite a few hormones are involved in the absence of menstruation, including follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), prolactin, estrogen, progesterone, androgen, and gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH).

Because menstrual irregularities are so strongly linked to hormone imbalances, it is natural for doctors to prescribe hormone therapy to regulate menstrual cycles. Progesterone and estrogen are given to start or restart the periods. Estrogen supplements are frequently prescribed to help prevent osteoporosis in women with no underlying disorder if the amenorrhea has lasted for more than six months. Birth control pills are the most popular form of estrogen replacement therapy. If hormone replacement therapy is recommended to you, it is important for you to know about the functions of these hormones, as well as their side-effects and long-range effects. In this article, we will focus on secondary amenorrhea in the framework of Chinese medicine.

Amenorrhea in Chinese Medicine
In traditional Chinese medicine, the most important organs that regulate Blood and menstruation are the Liver, Spleen, and Kidneys; and the key Fundamental Substances are Chi and Blood. The Liver “stores the Blood,” and is responsible for maintaining a smooth and even flow of Blood, Chi, and emotions through the body. Emotions such as anger, irritation, resentment, and anxiety can lead to stagnation of Liver Chi, which in turn can lead to Blood Stasis (especially in the lower body). A main function of the Spleen is to produce Chi and Blood. If the Spleen is weak, there will eventually be a deficiency of Chi and/or Blood, so there will not be enough blood for normal menstruation, or enough Chi to regulate normal cycles. Also, if the Spleen is too weak, it can lead to a condition of Dampness in the body, and Phlegm-Damp can obstruct the uterus. The Kidneys are the organ responsible for conception, reproduction, and aging over time. Kidney-essence is the ultimate origin of menstrual blood.

Amenorrhea can be differentiated into Deficiency patterns or Excess patterns. With Deficiency patterns, the Blood is exhausted or deficient. With Excess patterns, Chi or Blood may be stagnant, retention of Phlegm-Dampness can lead to obstruction of menses, or there is Blood Stasis.

Besides the mechanisms discussed above, some lifestyle factors can cause amenorrhea. Long-term use of contraceptive pills can bring about Blood Deficiency or Kidney Chi Deficiency. Excessive physical exercise or participation in sports, with over-use of the muscles and sinews, can lead to a deficiency condition of the Spleen and Liver. The Spleen fails to produce adequate amounts of Blood, and the Liver fails to store Blood properly, which leads to amenorrhea.

Patterns and Herbal Treatment of Amenorrhea in Chinese Medicine
The following four patterns are very common in cases of secondary amenorrhea. The first two patterns, Kidney Liver Deficiency and Chi Blood Deficiency are Deficiency patterns. To treat these two patterns, the Deficiency must be tonified. The other two patterns, Chi Stagnation with Blood Stasis, and Phlegm Dampness Retention, are Excess patterns. For these two patterns, the Excess should be eliminated through the use of Chinese herbal medicines.

Kidney Liver Deficiency.General weakness, malnourishment of the Kidneys and Liver, or an irregular sex life are the origins of this pattern. Symptoms include: absence of menstruation for a significant period of time; a thin body; dizziness; palpitations; back and knee soreness; insomnia; dream-disturbed sleep; chest congestion; anxiety; hot flashes; excessive perspiration; a red tongue body, absence of tongue coating, or cracks on the tongue; and a wiry-rapid-thin pulse. Rehmannia (Shu Di Huang), dioscorea root (Shan Yao), and angelica (Dang Gui) are the leading herbs that tonify Kidney-essence and Liver Blood. Restoring Kidney Formula (Gui Shen Wan), which includes these herbs, is a wonderful formula for this pattern of amenorrhea.

Chi Blood Deficiency. Chronic illness; excessive bleeding from childbirth, miscarriage, or surgery; or prolonged breast feeding are possible origins of this pattern. Typically, periods become scantier and scantier at the end of the cycle, and eventually cease altogether. Other symptoms include: a pale complexion; dizziness; palpitations; weakness of the limbs; lassitude; loose stools; a pale, thin tongue; and a thin-wiry or thin-weak pulse. Ginseng (Dang Shen) is the top Chi tonic herb. Angelica (Dang Gui) is the leading Blood tonic herb. Chi Blood Tonic (Ba Zhen Tang) is the most widely-used herbal formula for the Chi Blood Deficiency pattern.

Chi Stagnation and Blood Stasis. Emotional stress or trauma is the most common origin of this pattern. Menstruation ceases after intense or prolonged emotional stress or trauma. Symptoms include: absence of menstruation; depression; anxiety; a sensation of fullness in the chest and under the rib cage; swelling or fullness of the abdomen with an aversion to pressure; lack of appetite; thirst; desire to drink cold water; constipation; sides of the tongue are purple, with a yellow-white-sticky tongue coating; and a thin-wiry or deep-choppy pulse. Buplerum (Chai Hu), angelica (Dang Gui), and white peony (Bai Shao) are some popular herbs, and Liver Spleen Harmonizer (Xiao Yao San) is a well-known herbal formula to address this pattern.

Phlegm Dampness Retention. Chronic overweight or a deficient Spleen are a common background for this pattern, as well as the habitual consumption of cold, raw, or greasy foods (especially dairy products). Overweight and Spleen Deficiency contribute to metabolism problems, and retention of Phlegm Dampness leads to absence of menstruation. Other symptoms include: a feeling of fullness and congestion in the chest and lower rib cage; nausea; vomiting; a feeling of sticky phlegm in the mouth; lassitude; large amounts of sticky, mucoid vaginal discharge; a yellow-white-sticky tongue coating; and a thin-slippery pulse. Single herbs such as atractylodes lancea tuber (Cang Zhu), cyperus tuber (Xiang Fu), and tangerine peel (Chen Pi), and an herbal formula, Phlegm Cleansing (Cang Fu Dao Tan Tang) are widely used to address this pattern of amenorrhea.
Acupuncture vs. Medications for Amenorrhea
Besides herbal medicine, acupuncture and moxibustion are two other widely-used healing tools in traditional Chinese medicine. Although both traditional Chinese medicine and conventional Western medicine aim to achieve the same goal — restart the periods and restore the normal cycle, a significant difference exists between these two modalities. Traditional Chinese medicine stimulates the body to regulate its naturally-occurring hormones and restore the normal hormone function, while conventional Western medicine restores the function of the thalamus-pituitary-ovary axis through the use of artificial hormones. The following clinical study shows that they have very different long-lasting effects.

A clinical study was conducted at the Thousand Buddha Mountain Hospital in Jinan, China, to determine the efficacy of acupuncture vs. medication for amenorrhea. There were ninety-five subjects in the study. All the patients amenorrhea has lasted for six months or more, and was attributed to the use of birth control pills. Fifty-seven of the patients were in the Acupuncture Treatment Group, and thirty-eight patients were in the Medication Group. Two patterns of amenorrhea, Spleen Liver deficiency and Liver-Chi stagnation, were differentiated in the Acupuncture Treatment Group. Acupuncture points Ren 3 (Zhong Ji), extra point Zi Gong, Ki 12 (Da He), Sp 6 (San Yin Jiao), and BL 32 (Ci Liao) were used. BL 20 (Pi Shu), BL 23 (Shen Shu), St 36 (Zu San Li), Sp 4 (Gong Sun) and moxibustion on these points were added for the Spleen Liver Deficiency pattern, while BL 18 (Gan Shu), Liv 13 (Qi Men), and Sp 9 (Yin Ling Quan) were added for the Liver Chi Stagnation pattern. A course of treatments consisted of twenty treatments. The whole treatment consisted of six courses, with five-day breaks between the courses. In the Medication Group, patients took Stilbestrol first, then Progesteronum was injected. One month after finishing the treatments, the effective rate (cure, great improvement and improvement) for the Acupuncture Treatment Group was 96.49%, while the effective rate for the Medication Group was 97.36%. Initially, there was no significant difference between these two groups. Six months after finishing the treatments, however, the effective rate was reported at 94.73% for the Acupuncture Treatment Group, while the effective rate dropped to 78.94% for the Medication Group. This is a significant difference between the two groups, suggesting that the long-range effects of acupuncture are very positive.

Many studies in China reveal that acupuncture, moxibustion, and Chinese herbal medicine are superior to conventional medicine in the treatment of menstrual disorders, including amenorrhea.

By Wei Liu, TCMD, MPH, LAC and Changzhen Gong, PhD, MS - The American Academy of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AAAOM)

 Pain ReliefMany people prefer to use herbal medicine & medications for pain relief instead of over the counter medications.

There are many of these herbal medications that can be used for pain relief that you can find in your local health food store, department store, or pharmacy.

Before taking any herbal medication, especially if you are on any prescription medicine, you should discuss them with your physician to ensure that there are not going to be any interacting between the two medications.

If you do not like taking over the counter medication for pain relief, here are some herbal medications that you can take instead.

Capsaicin – this is not really an herbal pain killer, but it can be beneficial in helping treat the pain. You can find it in a variety of hot peppers and is actually the chemical that causes the heat in the peppers. It can help reduce temporarily the sensitivity of nerve receptors in any area that is being affected with pain. It is said that it can help reduce the pain that is caused by a migraine and arthritis pain.

Fish Oil – there are a lot of stories going around about it helping with treating pain and it has been proven to be true. Some people have even been able to stop taking prescription medication pain pills completely after they began taking these supplements every day. Do not stop taking your medication unless you talk to your physician first.

Turmeric – this herb is widely used to make curry. It contains curcumin, which is an ingredient that can help fight against chronic inflammatory conditions so it is often combined with other herbal pain medication to help with the relief of pain.

Devil’s Claw – this herbal medication is used to help with pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis and is also a natural pain relief for tendonitis, back pain, osteoarthritis, and neck pain. Some patients were able to go off their pain medication after starting devil’s claw. It not only helps with the relief of pain, but can also help improve the overall quality of life.

Ginger Root – this herb is used for its warming properties. It can also help with the circulation of your blood and treating the pain that is associated with arthritis, backache, and menstrual cramps. You can even use it to help with your sore throat. It has anti-inflammatory properties and analgesic.




Over the last 50-75 years, the incidence of asthma in industrialized countries has steadily increased, especially among children, to alarming proportions. Scientists around the world are studying this “epidemic,” as well as researching the long-term effects of taking anti-asthma drugs such as bronchodilators. In China, research on the efficacy of acupuncture and herbal medicine in the treatment of asthma shows that traditional Chinese medicine compares favorably with standard Western treatment, and provides an alternative approach for those who want to strengthen their bodies natural defenses and avoid the long-term use of drugs.

Asthma is an immune-system-related respiratory disorder in which the breathing passages become narrow or blocked, and are typically inflamed. Asthma can be “extrinsic” or “intrinsic.” Extrinsic asthma is caused by an allergic reaction to a foreign substance (called an allergen) such as pollen, animal dander, animal fur, dust, mold, food additives, or feather pillows, and it is strongly seasonal. Intrinsic asthma is a non-seasonal, non-allergic type of asthma. Trigger factors for intrinsic asthma attacks include air pollutants, tobacco smoke, strong odors, cold weather, physical exertion, emotional stress, or temperature or humidity changes. Often, an episode of intrinsic asthma will follow a severe respiratory infection.

Asthma in Chinese Medicine
In traditional Chinese medicine theory, asthma is clearly differentiated between the actual attacks and the periods between attacks. When the attacks are happening, this is considered to be an acute, Excess condition, and the objective is to disperse the Excess and stop the attack. Wind, a non-substantial pathogenic factor, lodges in the bronchi and combines with Cold or Heat pathogenic factors to cause bronchospasms.

Between attacks, the body is considered to be in a Deficiency condition. The Lungs and Kidneys work together to produce “wei qi,” or Defensive Chi. Defensive Chi can be thought of as analogous to the immune system. It is a Yang energy that is manufactured from the food we eat. The Kidneys are the root of our ability to produce Defensive Chi, and the Lungs spread Defensive Chi near the outer surface of our bodies to ward off pathogenic factors like Wind, Cold, and Heat. When the Lungs or Kidneys (or both) are weak, there is often a deficiency of Defensive Chi, making us more vulnerable to colds, infections, asthma attacks, etc. It is thought that a person’s Defensive Chi can be weak due to a hereditary constitutional weakness (up to 75% of children with asthma have a family history of the disorder); but mothers who smoke during pregnancy and childhood immunizations are also cited as contributing factors in asthma.

Acupuncture can have a remarkable effect in stopping an acute asthma attack. Many patients experience immediate relief after an acupuncture treatment, feeling that the airway blockage was simply removed. Because bronchospasms result from over-stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system, some traditional acupuncture points for “calming the spirit” are widely used for asthma. Stimulation of these points can relieve both physical and emotional stress, possibly because they trigger the release of neurotransmitters in the brain. The patient can therefore experience both a physical release from his bronchial constriction, and also an emotional or psychological release from the fear of constriction and suffocation.

In Chinese philosophy, and in Chinese medicine, man is seen as an integral part of nature. The fact that allergen-induced asthma attacks are strongly seasonal, with the most devastating attacks occurring in winter and spring, leads Chinese medicine practitioners to coordinate their treatment of asthma sufferers with the seasons. In the winter and spring, during attacks, the emphasis is on dispersing the pathogenic factors of Wind, Cold, and Heat. In the summer, attention is turned to tonifying the Deficiency condition of the Lungs and Kidneys, and stimulating the body to increase its reserves of Defensive Chi. Because summer is the most Yang time of the year, the energy of the season is used to build up the body’s supply of Yang energy.

Science Says
Scientific studies in China and elsewhere show that the ancient Chinese medicine theories have a basis in scientific fact. The whole scope of traditional Chinese medicine is an elaborate and elegant construct which can’t be scientifically proven in its entirety, but modern research reveals a number of mechanisms that support the ancient healing arts:

Neuro-regulation of Air Passages. Researchers at Nanjing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine found that relieving asthma attacks by acupuncture is closely related to neuro-regulation of air passages. They further found that sympathetic nerve excitement and diastolization of the smooth muscle of the bronchial tubes can be achieved by stimulating acupuncture points on the back. The systaltic function of the smooth muscles of the airways is regulated through the neuroendocrine center of the hypothalamus, and this function can be measurably affected by needling certain back shu points.

Serum cAMP and cAMP/cGMP. Levels of certain substances in the blood called cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) and cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) seem to have a bearing on asthma patients. Asthma patients experiencing wheezing and breathlessness have lower serum levels of cAMP and cAMP/cGMP. Many clinical studies conducted in China found that acupuncture can increase the levels of serum cAMP and cAMP/cGMP.

RBC-CR1R. Red blood cells have the function of transporting oxygen to body tissues, and also aid in immunoabsorption. In traditional Chinese medicine, the Kidneys have the function of generating and controlling bone growth, storing our genetic essence, generating bone marrow, and aiding in the production of blood. Kidney Deficiency in traditional Chinese medicine and low red blood cell counts in conventional medicine are related. Research in Hangzhou Red Cross Hospital shows that the immunological index of red blood cells (RBC-CR1R) was markedly increased after optimum-timing acupuncture treatment for Kidney Deficiency, compared with the control group.

Acidocyte Regulation. An acidocyte is a type of white blood cell. An increase in acidocyte levels indicates allergic reaction in an organism. A clinical study at the Affiliated Yueyang Hospital of Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine shows that acupuncture at UB13 (Fei Shu), LU5 (Chi Ze), LU7 (Lie Que), ST40 (Feng Long), Ren 22 (Tian Tu), and extra point Ding Chuan can decrease acidocyte levels.

17-Hydroxy Corticosteroid in Urine. Traditional Chinese medicine believes that there exists a correlation between asthma and the pattern of Kidney Deficiency. Clinical observations reveal that asthma patients tend to have lower levels of the hormone 17-hydroxy corticosteroid in their urine, which is closely related to Kidney Deficiency in Chinese medicine. Many clinical studies show that acupuncture can increase the level of 17-hydroxy corticosteroid in urine.

Regulate Hypophalmus-pituitary-adrenocortical function. It is believed that asthma attacks are correlated with a lower hypophalmus-pituitary-adrenocortical function. Clinical research found that tonifying the Kidneys with acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can improve that function and relieve asthma attacks.

More Support
In a randomized, controlled clinical trial in the department of the Osler Chest Unit, Churchill Hospital, Oxford, England, twelve matched pairs of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease received either traditional acupuncture or placebo acupuncture over a three-week treatment period. After treatment, the traditional acupuncture group showed a significant improvement in terms of subjective scores of breathlessness and six-minute walking distance. Kim Jobst at Oxford University conducted a parallel study of the efficacy of acupuncture on asthma. This study also showed improvements by two measures: “quality of life” scores, and breathlessness measurements.

These clinical trials at Oxford indicate that acupuncture treatments achieved the following goals: reduced the spasmodic tendency in the bronchi; kept the lungs from contracting at the least little irritant in the air; opened narrowed blood vessels in the lungs; and promoted relaxation and the ability to breathe more fully.

 By Wei Liu, TCMD, MPH, LAC and Changzhen Gong, PhD, MS - The American Academy of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AAAOM)


Every year, sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS, affect 250 million people worldwide, including 12 million Americans. Because it is easier for a sexually transmitted disease to be transferred from a man to a woman, women suffer more adverse consequences from sexually transmitted diseases than do men. A woman’s reproductive system can be severely and permanently damaged by sexually transmitted diseases, so it is important for everyone to know something about them. Sexually transmitted diseases are caused by three types of pathogens: bacteria, virus, and parasitic insects (scabies, body lice, etc.).

AIDS (acquired immune deficiency) is a generally fatal disease caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). AIDS patients suffer from flu-like illness characterized by fever, tiredness, swollen lymph nodes and muscle aches. Symptoms of AIDS might be experienced only after many years  infection. Both clearing toxins and enhancing immunity are incorporated in the traditional Chinese medicine treatment.

Conventional medicine treats sexually transmitted diseases by identifying the pathogens of the disease and attacking them with antibiotics and other drugs. Traditional Chinese medicine treats sexually transmitted diseases (and all disease) by differentiating patterns of disease and then treating the specific pattern. Symptoms presented by the patient are analyzed and then classified into an overall pattern of disease or imbalance. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are then used to treat the problem. Chinese medicine therapies were well-established before microscopes permitted researchers to “see” bacteria and virus, but many of the traditional herbal formulas have anti-bacterial or anti-viral properties, and are highly effective against what modern science calls infection, and what classical Chinese texts call “heat toxins.” Other traditional herbal formulas “tonify” various Fundamental Substances of the body (such as Qi, Blood, Yin and Yang), and seem to have a positive effect on what modern science identifies as the immune system.

The following sections contain some historical background on sexually transmitted diseases in Chinese medicine, descriptions of the two most common patterns of sexually transmitted diseases, Chinese herbs used in the treatment of sexually transmitted disease patterns, and brief descriptions of common sexually transmitted diseases.

In Chinese medicine, the term “chancre” (Xia Gan) includes all diseases of the reproductive system which are sexually transmitted. This long legacy of Chinese medicine  the painstaking observation and analysis that differentiates patterns  is still valuable today in dealing with the increasing number of modern diseases.

Common Patterns of AIDS
Most expressions of AIDS fall into one of the two patterns discussed below. Generally, acute, infectious-type eruptions of disease fall into the “Toxic Heat” pattern, whereas chronic, debilitating expressions of disease fall into the “Chronic Deficiency” pattern. Symptoms of each pattern are detailed, as well as the Chinese herbal formulas commonly used in treatment.

Toxic Heat Pattern. Symptoms include: ruptured abscesses; itching and burning sensation in the genital area; fever; headache; nausea; vomiting; increased vaginal discharge; turbid/cloudy urine; a burning sensation during urination; painful urination; frequent urination; urgent urination; a red tongue body with a yellow tongue coating; and a rapid pulse. UT Clearing (Ba Zhen San), Damp Heat Clearing (Long Dan Xie Gan Tang), Toxin Cleansing (Wu Wei Xiao Du Yin), and Honeysuckle & Forsthia Decoction (Yin Chao Hong Jiang Jie Du Tang) are some widely used formulas for clearing Heat toxins.

Chronic Deficiency Pattern. Symptoms include: ruptured abscesses; low-grade fever; cough without sputum; dry throat; dizziness; back soreness; chest congestion; heart palpitations; insomnia; lassitude; irregular periods; dry bowel movements; weak pulse; and a red tongue body with a thin tongue coating. For this pattern, toxin-cleansing herbal formulas should be combined with tonic herbal formulas. Chi Yin Tonic (Sheng Mai Yin), Water Fire Balance (Zhi Bai Di Huang Tang), Chi Blood Tonic (Ba Zhen Tang), Chi Spleen Tonic (Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang), GI Strength (Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Wan), and Kidney Yang Tonic (Jin Gui Shen Qi Wan) are some time-tested formulas for tonifying the Qi and Blood, and nourishing and strengthening the Lung, Spleen and Kidneys.

Top Chinese Herbs for AIDS
From age-old sexually transmitted diseases such as syphilis to modern sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS, enhancing immunity is fundamental to the sufferers. People with a lowered immune-system response are more vulnerable to infections, and to the abnormal cell changes that can lead to cancer and tumors. The leading Chinese herbs for enhancing immunity and combating infections and tumor formation are as follows:
1. Herbs for Enhancing Immunity: The leading Chinese herbs which boost the immune system include: ginseng (Ren Shen), astragalus (Huang Qi), atractylodis (Bai Zhu), licorice (Gan Cao), rehmannia (Shu Di Huang), angelica (Dan Gui), white peony root (Bai Shao), and buplerum (Chai Hu). These herbs are traditionally used for tonifying Qi and Blood and nourishing the Kidneys and Spleen. Modern research indicates they are natural immune system enhancers.
2. Herbs that are Anti-infection Agents: Leading anti-infectious herbs in Chinese medicine include: honeysuckle (Jin Yin Hua), dandelion (Pu Gong Ying), woad leaf (Da Qing Ye), yedeon’s violet (Di Ding Cao), scabiosaefolia (Bai Jiang Cao), houttuynia (Yu Xing Cao), woad root (Ban Lan Gen), phellodendron (Huang Bai), and sophora (Ku Shen). Most of these herbs are traditionally used for clearing Heat and toxins. Modern pharmacological and clinical research focuses on their anti-microbial, anti-viral and anti-fungal effects.
3. Herbs that Counteract Tumors: Leading anti-tumor herbs in Chinese medicine include: bur-reed rhizome (San Ling), zedoary rhizome (E Zhu), edulis (Shan Ci Gu), nux-vomica (Ma Qian Cao), lobelia (Ban Zhi Lian), and odlenlandia (Bai Hua She She Cao). In traditional Chinese medicine, masses and tumors are diagnosed as Blood Stasis. The function of these herbs is to move and resolve Blood Stasis.

By Wei Liu, TCMD, MPH, LAC and Changzhen Gong, PhD, MS - The American Academy of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AAAOM)