Friday, July 19, 2013

Sanfujiu: A Traditional, Non-Invasive Treatment for Allergic Rhinitis, Asthma and Chronic Respiratory Illness.

    In recent years, Taiwan has seen a resurgence in the use of a traditional treatment called “Sanfujiu” (三伏灸) for patients with a wide variety of respiratory problems. The treatment is simple – herbal patches are placed on specified acupoints on the back and left for one day three times throughout the summer – but the results, both anecdotally and scientifically, have attracted increasing attention from patients and practitioners in Taiwan and abroad.

    According to Chinese Medical theory, allergies, asthma and chronic bronchitis are often caused by deficiencies in the yang qi of the lung. Sanfujiu uses herbal patches that supplement yang qi on points corresponding to the lung. Additionally, practitioners traditionally choose to treat on three days in the summer when “environmental yang qi” and the body’s yang qi are both thought to be at their highest. The rationale is that a treatment for supplementing yang qi will be most effective when environmental yang qi and bodily yang qi are at their respective peaks. [i]

    Until recently, the efficacy of Sanfujiu had only been corroborated on an anecdotal level, but a growing body[ii] of scientific evidence now confirms that Sanfujiu can be effective in treating allergic rhinitis, asthma and chronic bronchitis. In particular, a research study conducted by Harvard School of Public Health and a team of Taiwanese collaborators found that:

 The acupoint herbal patch (sanfujiu) is a valuable treatment for allergic rhinitis, especially in the symptoms of sneezing, running and itchy nose. The results of the SF-36 indicate a distinct improvement in GH (general health) and VT (vitality) in patients treated with acupoint herbal patches. This study supports the belief that the acupoint herbal patch is an effective treatment for allergic rhinitis and can significantly improve general health, social life and vitality in quality of life.[iii]

    Additionally, informal studies carried out within the China Medical University of Taiwan report 80% efficacy in patients with asthma and seasonal allergies who have received 3 consecutive years of treatment. Such efficacy rates help explain why Sanfujiu has achieved such wide-ranging popularity in Taiwan and receives increasing attention abroad.

A video showing a Sanfujiu treatment (in Chinese):

By: William Ceurvels

·                                 [i] Chen-Jei Tai, Chia-Pei Chang, et al. (2007) Efficacy of Sanfujiu to Treat Allergies: Patient Outcomes at 1 Year after Treatment. Evidence Based Complementary Alternative Medicine. 2007 June; 4(2): 241–246. PMC1876606
[ii]  See reference section of above article for a long list of related studies.    
            [iii] Wei-Hung Hsu, et al. (2010) Chinese Medicine Acupoint Herbal Patching for Allergic Rhinitis: A Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial. The American Journal of Chinese Medicine. No.4 661-673. DOI: 10.1142/S0192415X10008135.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Excessive Sweating

Did you ever have the experience that you are in a fight-or-flight condition; your heart and breathing rates go up, your pupils dilate and your hands are sweating to cope with the emergency situation due to the adrenaline release? After the emergency is over, you end up with cold hands and feet and you are very tired. If this condition becomes worse, you could constantly have sweaty palms whenever you are multitasking, rushing around or nervous about something, and you may get diagnosed as excessive sweating.
We know that excessive sweating is caused by overactive sweat glands. The sweat gland is controlled by branches of sympathetic nerves in the chest area, which are controlled by the hypothalamus, a part of the brain controlling appetite, body temperature, thirst, fatigue, anger and circadian cycles. People suffering from this condition can sweat spontaneously, even at room temperature, and excessively in a slightly warm environment. The most common parts of the body that sweat are the palms, feet, armpits, chest, abdominal area and face. Unfortunately, those who sweat excessively tend to have a special body odor, so that they smell bad- another thing to be self-conscious about. 
If you have this problem, you can most likely blame your parents, because genetic make-up plays a big part. People with very sensitive sympathetic nervous systems tend to have hyperhidrosis. Excessive sweating and very sensitive nervous systems tend to run in the family. Thus, you may have inherited your problems from your mom, but you do not have to accept them. You can return that bad hand you have been dealt and get a much better one, so do not worry. If you are willing to change your life style a little bit, you might be able to change the gene expression.
However, you must do some work yourself. There are lifestyle choices you can make that will lessen this problem or possibly make it go away completely. You can make decisions that will change things. Start by drinking less alcohol, which can intensify the symptoms. Alcohol can produce a lot of heat inside your body and get your nervous system going. In order to maintain a normal body temperature, you have to expel extra heat through sweat and urination. That is why people tend to drink more alcohol in cold weather.. Alcoholics tend to have clammy hands and feet. There are cases where people never had this problem growing up, only to have it appear later in life, usually triggered by drinking too much alcohol. So, please drink less for your own health, dignity and peace of mind. You do not have to stop completely, just reduce, reduce, and reduce until your problem goes away. 
Other things that stimulate your nervous system that you can reduce:
1. Caffeine stimulates your sympathetic nerves, so your body becomes even more sensitive to temperature changes and stress.
2. Warm drinks and food can make you sweat more.
3. Low and high blood sugar levels can induce adrenaline release to intensify sweating.
4. Stress can induce cortisol and adrenaline release to stimulate the nervous system.
5. Multitasking: when you do three things at the same time, your body has to release more adrenaline, which stimulates the nervous system.
6. Imbalanced progesterone and estrogen levels also sensitize your nervous system, so that your body may react very strongly to small temperature changes. That is why menopausal women sweat easily, then quickly feel chilled afterwards. Men who use testosterone cream for a long time tend to sweat a lot with a special body odor.
7. Obesity: Obese people have higher levels of cortisol and estrogen. They can tolerate stress better than skinny people, but they have less tolerance for heat. When obese women go through menopause, they have more hot flashes than average-weight women.
8. Spicy foods also produce internal heat. People can tolerate spicy foods in a very damp and cold climate, but if they leave for warmer places, they have to change their eating habits accordingly.
Acupuncture, meditation, yoga and Qi Gong will help balance your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. The majority of acupuncture points can be used to calm down the sympathetic nerves and strengthen the parasympathetic nerves. If your sympathetic nerves are in a more stable condition, your body will not respond to temperature changes as strongly. Food and herbs, such as bitter melon and dandelion, which have a bitter taste tend to help clear the body heat and reduce the sweating and inflammation. Sour-tasting food can help your body generate more body fluids, so that the Yin ( the essence of the body) and Yang (the energy part of the body) can be balanced. In order to achieve a happier and healthier life, the Yin and Yang have to be balanced, so that your body will sweat properly.