Nasal Allergy, Allergic Asthma and Eczema

Nasal allergy (also known as allergic rhinitis), allergic asthma and eczema are some commonly found clinically atopic diseases. General public might view them separately as three different diseases. Yet being a doctor, we usually see these conditions, either two or three types, happening at the same time. Why’s that?

The relation between Nasal Allergy, Asthma and Eczema
In general, it is more comprehensible that one suffers from nasal allergy and asthma at the same time since both diseases are related to pathological changes of the respiratory system. One of the Chinese Medicine concepts says that “the nose is the opening of the lung”. Continuous stimuli and inflammatory responses can cause nasal allergy. If it spreads out to the lower respiratory tract, asthma could be triggered. Eczema, which is a kind of pathological change in the skin, might not seem to have any relationship with the respiratory system but it is actually related. In Chinese Medicine the “lung is a connector of skin and hair”. Therefore, eczema, nasal allergy and asthma are all interrelated.
To summarize, the three mentioned diseases are considered as atopic diseases which is their common ground. The presence of atopic diseases is usually related to the patient’s body status. Patients who are not able to withstand extrinsic stimuli well respond vigorously and their body triggers an allergic reaction! Chinese medicine believes that in this situation the body has a “deficiency of Qi”.

Treatment Methodology
Western medicine in general would treat the patients suffering from the above diseases with anti-allergic drugs, and/or steroids, and/or antibiotics. The effect is insignificant and might repeat the responses again. Long-term intake of such medication could cause various levels of side effects such as pilosity, moon facies, buffalo hump (symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome), high blood pressure, diabetes and osteoporosis. Chinese medicine would view the above diseases as a proof of the “deficiency of Qi” (正氣不足 zhengqibuzu) with Qi deficiency in both, lung and spleen. The treatment should mainly benefit and nourish the lung and spleen. The spleen should be nourished based on the earth element* in order to tonify the lung (metal element*), while reducing sputum and clearing dampness.

*Based on the Inter-promoting cycles in the five elements theory of Traditional Chinese Medicine

References: Hong Kong Asthma, Hong Kong Department of Health

 

[staffbio staffname=”Dr Yue-Feng Guo”]Registered Chinese Medicine Practitioner
PhD Integrated Chinese and Western Medicine
M.D. Chinese Medicine Gynecology, B.D. Chinese Medicine[/staffbio]

Chinese Medicine Menopause – Balance Your Body Naturally

What Is Menopause and What Are Its Main Symptoms?
Menopause occurs as a natural part of a woman’s life transition. As a woman ages, her ovaries slowly stop producing the estrogen hormone, leading to biological changes throughout the entire body, from the brain to the skin. Menopause is not a disease, but for many women these hormonal changes bring about many unwelcome side effects that require medical intervention by health care professionals. The main complaints associated with menopause are hot flushes, genital atrophy, insomnia, and psychosomatic complaints such as irritability, depression and mood swings. These symptoms will usually last for 2-3 years but in some serious cases they can last for 5-10 years.

Women experiencing such symptoms should not be alarmed. According to recent research, in the US 80% of women who go through menopause experience light to severe menopausal symptoms; in both cases there are many solutions available. If you do suffer from the physical or mental symptoms mentioned above, please seek support as those that neglect to do so risk subjecting themselves to hypertension, heart attack, arteriosclerosis, or bone fracture due to osteoporosis.

Treatment Through Western Medicine and Its Limitations
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is commonly used to treat menopause symptoms in Western medicine. The purpose of HRT is to supply the body with an external source of hormones, including estrogen and/or progesterone. Premarin (conjugated estrogen) and Provera (medroxyprogesterone) remain the most popular brands.

However, recent research has indicated that the beneficial effects of HRT might last only up to 16 weeks, after which no difference was observable between the placebo and the control group. Despite the possible benefits, there are numerous controversies surrounding estrogen replacement therapy due to the staggering number of side-effects, including (but not limited to) an increased risk of breast, uterine or ovarian cancer, gallbladder diseases, and liver diseases amongst others. Progesterone is prescribed with estrogen to minimize the risk of cancer, however, it can cause side-effects such as an increase in cholesterol levels, edema, weight gain and bleeding.

Due to these side effects, women who have a family history of hormone related cancer, liver and kidney disease or diabetes probably should avoid HRT.

TCM Solutions and Their Benefits
Chinese Medicine Menopause herbs have been used to treat menopausal symptoms successfully for many years, and it is becoming increasingly popular as an alternative to hormone replacement therapy. The strengths of Chinese Medicine are:
• Chinese Medicine is a holistic treatment; treatment is based on syndrome differentiation. It analyzes the root cause of each individual’s symptoms and offers a specially tailored herbal therapy that not only addresses the symptoms but also corrects the fundamental imbalance inside the body. As a result, women can leverage this unique life transition period not only to replenish but also to strengthen the immunity system, prevent issues such as osteoporosis or cancer, and prepare the body for a healthy and long life in the years to come.
• Chinese Medicine effectively treats menopausal symptoms; it is safe and does not have the same side effects seen in the application of Western hormone therapies. The Chinese Medicine approach involves leveraging the natural healing power of herbs to slow down the aging process of the reproductive system, and increase its capacity to generate essential hormones during the process. If the change is slow and gradual, it makes it a lot easier for the body to adjust. This is very different from the HRT approach, wherein the injection of hormones into the body often decreases the body’s capacity to generate its own hormones. This is probably one of the reasons that the benefits of HRT wear-off after 16 weeks of usage.

How Chinese Medicine works
Chinese Medicine regards the root cause of menopause as being the result of; a weakening of the kidney, weakness in the reproductive organs, a lack of Yin (water, blood, body fluids) and hampered Qi and blood circulation. A lack of fluid inside the body leads to obstruction of the circulation to the liver and hence leads to an excess of heat accumulating inside the body. Internal humidity and restricted blood flow further exacerbate menopause. Even though a weakened kidney is often seen as the root cause of menopausal symptoms, the spleen, heart and liver can also be implicated. An excess of heat along with the production of phlegm in the heart & liver are often cited as major causes of symptoms. A given treatment should focus on the (1) kidney or (2) liver, spleen and kidney, or (3) heart, liver and kidney, or (4) the phlegm and slow blood inside the body. The practitioner will often offer treatment based on the combination of causes highlighted above.

Chinese Medicine can simultaneously target the symptoms and the root causes, making it very effective. In the case of menopause, Chinese medicine can replenish internal energy flows, whilst strengthening key internal organs including the kidney and liver. The body can be cleared of internal blockages & accumulations, which are often the source of common symptoms. Chinese medicine can help patients to reach new levels of balance in the body, improving the body’s overall health in the long-term.

Furthermore, herbal therapies can also be complimented with acupuncture, moxibustion, Tui Na, cupping and so forth to improve blood and energy circulation. Other elements of a patient’s lifestyle – particularly one’s diet and exercise regime – also need to be adjusted to maximize the benefits of Chinese medicine therapy, and to live a healthy life through the menopause period and beyond. We will share more information on such diet, exercise and lifestyle adjustments in our future blogs.

[staffbio staffname=”Judy Xu” staffimage=”http://orientalhealth.com.hk/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/JAN_6493-e1387943852637.jpg” stafftitle=”Practice Manager
Chinese Medicine Nutritionist, CUHK, INI
MBA HKUST” staffemail=”judy.xu@orientalhealth.com.hk”]Judy is the founder of Oriental Health and a practicing TCM nutritionist. [/staffbio]

Better Health Care with Integrated Chinese and Western Medicine

Many people in urban cities often feel uncomfortable in their body, dull and exhausted due to their busy and stressful lifestyles. What’s more, they may have a poor quality of sleep, poor appetite, patchiness on their faces and even constipation.

Under such circumstances, the difference between Chinese and western medicine becomes evidently clear: A health report based on western medicine could conceivably consider these people healthy, as it is what the data shows; Chinese medicine on the other hand would very likely diagnose these people as having a suboptimal health. That is, a state of health which renders the human body on the verge of being sick. More specifically, a western diagnosis fails to address the obvious loss of balance inside the body. In all likeliness these people are lacking in both Qi and Yin energy; to shift from a sub-healthy to a healthy state, they have to replenish this energy inside their bodies.

Natural Balance
This difference in the respective outcomes of western and Chinese diagnostic approaches results from how Chinese medicine understands the human body. Chinese medicine believes that there is a certain balance that exists between a human body and its environment. There are always explicit causes behind the loss of this balance that result in a person getting sick. The balance can be distorted through excess or through suppression of a number of body attributes. The key to regaining balance according to Chinese medicine is to “replenish what is lacking; reduce what is too much”.

The respective Strengths of Western Medicine and Chinese Medicine
Whereas Chinese medicine focuses on “macro—holistic diagnosis”, western medicine focuses on “micro diagnosis” at the level of a particular body part. The objectives of both Chinese and western approaches are to research and explore the (1) objective of regulating human life activities and (2) the methodology of prevention and treatment. Both approaches target the human being and disease. They each have their own medicinal systems due to their respective social, historical and philosophical differences.

The strength of western medicine lies in the accuracy of treatment. For example, after a conclusive diagnosis western medicine can offer effective treatment with a particular drug to address a specific disease. Western surgery is able to target a specific body part. This being said, western medicine is not able to deal with some diseases such as Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, psoriasis, and colitis amongst others, even though said diseases may be accurately diagnosed. In addition, western medicines are not particularly effective for dealing with menstrual disorder, menstrual pain, functionality pothalamic amenorrhea and postpartum hypogalactia, whilst Chinese medicine offers good solutions through dealing with the root of their respective causes. Treatments in western medicine involving surgery, Chemotherapy, radiation treatment and targeted therapy have their own indications and contraindications. Take radiation treatment and Chemotherapy as examples. Although they effectively kill cancer cells, they also induce toxic side effects.

Chinese medicine, in contrast, is holistic, immunity-strengthening, causing fewer side effects, and has long-term applications. Leveraged correctly these benefits of Chinese medicine can compensate for the weaknesses of western medicine. Arguably, the integration of Chinese and western medicine could offer better long-term healthcare and disease prevention.

Prevention through a healthy Lifestyle
As the old Chinese saying goes: “a good effort on preventing a disease prevents the need to treat the disease”. This saying grasps the spirit of Chinese medicine: having a healthy lifestyle is the best way to avoid getting a disease. With a focus on prevention, Chinese Medicine has developed different ways to improve health; by moderating one’s diet, through body constitution diagnosis, through acupuncture, massage, moxibustion, through Qi Gong exercise, through leveraging the seasonal natural powers, and so on. On the other hand, if a person lives unhealthily, his or her will to be healthy will be nothing but an impossible dream.

But how exactly can one leverage Chinese Medicine to avoid getting diseases or to treat disease more effectively? Stay tuned for our next blog!

[staffbio staffname=”Dr Yue-Feng Guo”]Registered Chinese Medicine Practitioner
PhD Integrated Chinese and Western Medicine
M.D. Chinese Medicine Gynecology, B.D. Chinese Medicine[/staffbio]