Endometriosis and Acupuncture

by Clark and Ann Zimmerman, L.Ac.

Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine is one of the few natural treatment options that can be profoundly helpful for women suffering from endometriosis. This condition, which occurs when the tissue that lines the endometrium is found to be growing outside the uterus, is a painful and sometimes debilitating condition that affects 10 to 20% of American women of childbearing age. The typical symptoms are severe menstrual cramping, irregular menstrual bleeding, lower back pain, pain after intercourse, fatigue, and occasionally difficulty in conception.

Endometriosis is seen as a sign of blood stagnation in Chinese medicine. This can be due to blood deficiency, kidney deficiency, or excessive internal cold. Each specific pattern tends to respond very well to treatment. There are some cases of endometrial growth, however, that are so pronounced that surgical intervention is necessary. Most mild to moderate cases can be treated with Chinese medicine.

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Hot Flashes

by Clark and Ann Zimmerman, L.Ac.

Many people are not aware that acupuncture and Oriental medicine have enjoyed a rich and extensive history in treating the gamut of female health concerns, from PMS to dysmenorrhea to postpartum issues. Menopause is another dimension of female health that can be extremely difficult for women, as hot flashes and night sweats can cause unbearable discomfort. Fortunately, acupuncture and herbs are excellent options for menopausal women, as they offer safe, noninvasive, and effective treatment for these often debilitating symptoms. Menopause is a time where many women become yin deficient, meaning that the cooling, moistening, and calming aspects of their physiology are weakening. As a result, they often get hot, irritated, anxious, and can’t sleep as well. The main treatment principle for menopausal women involves nourishing yin with acupuncture and herbs.

Acupuncture is considered to be a cooling therapy. The stainless steel needles that are used during treatment are said to disperse Qi. This means that they are unblocking energy that has become blocked or stuck. When energy gets blocked for too long, it generates heat which will burn yin and lead to yin deficiency. We have heard many women say that they felt cooler right after the needles were put in. The needles are actually deflating certain areas that have become overheated and compressed. Certain points are also used that have a direct effect on nourishing yin, thereby rejuvenating the cooling aspects of one’s physiology.

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Insomnia

by Clark and Ann Zimmerman, L.Ac.

Sleep disorders plague millions of Americans and can be attributed to a variety of causes. Perhaps the main cause of insomnia and restless sleep is the whirlwind pace that most modern people live with day in and day out. Our society emphasizes ‘doing’ much more than ‘being’. From the perspective of acupuncture, the yin aspect of life is quite depleted for the average modern American. In case you have never heard of yin and yang, these are the polar forces that are reflected in everything in the natural world. Yin is related to stillness, tranquility, and contemplation. Yang is related to movement, accomplishment, and function. We need yin and yang to be in balance within ourselves in order to experience true health and wellbeing. When we are yin deficient, we easily become restless, irritable, and excessively busy. Our ability to rest and restore is compromised, as we never seem to get a break from the constant activity in our minds and our lives.

This is one of the main dilemmas that we face in terms of experiencing deep states of continuous sleep. We have forgotten how to turn our minds off due to the frantic speed of everything around us and we have become yin deficient. The common word is stress, but there is a lot more to this picture than is implied. Another way to look at this is that the sympathetic nervous system is on overdrive. We are stuck in fight or flight mode, as we are trying to keep up with our hectic schedules and myriad responsibilities. We have excessive amounts of cortisol and adrenaline in our systems, which keep us feeling amped up and unable to rest. With the pattern of yin deficiency and a hyperactive sympathetic nervous system, we often feel too warm, excessively thirsty, dried out, and anxious. This pattern is extremely common in menopausal women. Due to the fact that we are in fight or flight, we sometimes can’t tell if we are tired. We often feel wired or manic. Yet other times a deep-seated exhaustion is felt that penetrates into our bones.

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