Healing Allergies with Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine

Healing Allergies with Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine

Today, more and more people seem to be suffering from seasonal allergies. Allergies, or allergic rhinitis, are due to an over-reactivity of the immune system to certain environmental allergens. During Spring and Summer, allergies are generally induced by wind-born allergens and can cause such symptoms as: sneezing; nasal congestion; runny nose; watery, itchy, or red eyes; headaches; fatigue; and sometimes coughing and wheezing. When allergens and antibodies react in individuals with allergic rhinitis, their nasal mucosa becomes swollen and may obstruct drainage from the sinuses causing sinusitis in many people. Thus, chronic sinus infections are a frequent complication and consequence of allergic rhinitis.

While Spring and Summer are the seasons of the year that bring us outdoors, many people are unable to enjoy these warmer months due to uncomfortable symptoms. Adults and children are increasingly suffering with spring allergies from trees, pollen, flowers, weeds, grass, etc. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help bring relief of symptoms, correct imbalances of the immune system, resolve the allergic response to allergens, and allow healing of tissues of the sinuses, eyes, and mucous membranes.

From a Chinese point of view, allergic rhinitis is most often due to an immune system weakness and/or hyperactivity. We call this a weakness of the Lung and Kidney’s Defensive-Qi systems, combined with retention of chronic inflammation or “Wind Heat” in the upper respiratory system.

Dryness of the mucous membranes may result in increased sensitivity to environmental allergens. This dryness can come from a long winter of dry-heat.

A New Holistic Perspective on Glaucoma

A New Holistic Perspective on Glaucoma

By Andy Rosenfarb, ND, LAc.
Glaucoma is not just an eye disease; it’s an effect of a larger systemic disease pattern. In the field of holistic eye care, we realize that symptoms like peripheral vision loss (tunnel vision) and increased eye pressure are always effects of underlying health conditions. We need to understand and correct the underlying causes – treating symptoms has proven to be insufficient. Unlike conventional medicine, we do not try to control symptoms, we seek the root cause.

Primary GoalsThe primary goals are clinical objectives involved in addressing glaucoma include:

  • Regulate Autonomic Nervous System & Control the Global Stress Response
  • Regulate Oxygen Supply to the Eyes
  • Regulate Blood Sugar (Glucose) Supply to the Eyes
  • Regulate & Control Inflammatory Response
  • Promote Neuro-Protection by Activating Antioxidant Production
  • Essential Fatty Acid (EFA) Support

Reporting the Research

Specific herbs, vitamins and minerals and alternative therapies support and regulate each of the above stated objectives. I am working on putting together a research report demonstrating clear evidence-based research supporting this information. My goal is to have it available within the next year. Some of the supplements are already well known like Ginko, Turmeric, dang gui, bilberry, ginseng salvia, fish oil and more recently resveratrol. These among others are widely known nutrients and botanicals and have been used for thousands of years. It is just now that they are being researched and increasing evidence is supporting their efficacy. It is not enough to just say that “X” herb is helpful for glaucoma, we must understand why, when and how to use them. For example:

ANS Support – Ginseng
Oxygenation – Dang Gui, Salvia, Ginko
Blood Sugar Stabilization – (proper diet and nutrition)
Neuro Inflammation – Tumeric, Resveratrol
Neuro Protection – Alpha Lipoic Acid, N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC)
Fatty Acid Support – DHA, Omega 3, 6, 9

When we collectively consider and regulate all of potential trouble spots that may result in conditions like Glaucoma, we often see improvement in the overall health, and the condition of glaucoma may begin to improve. In many cases there is even some restoration of lost vision. When the above physiological processes are regulated we revitalize the dormant cells in the eyes. Dormant cells may be inactive, but are not dead or totally dysfunctional. It has been suggested by many experts in the field of neuro science that as long as the nucleolus of the cell is still alive and functioning, a cell may be restored to its normal, healthy state.

Dysfunctional Automonic Nervous System
In the field of holistic eye care, we never treat specific eye diseases, in this case Glaucoma. We treat the patient based on comprehensive clinical findings that paint a picture of a patient’s entire state of health. We make global observations about peoples’ overall health as they relate to certain health conditions – like Glaucoma. In this case we can say based on the holistic model that Glaucoma is an effect of an underlying dysfunction of the body’s Autonomic Nervous System (ANS). There is an overwhelming base of evidence in the field of neuro-science that supports this theory and it seems to be extremely accurate.

Co-Existing Conditions
In my years of clinical experience I observed that most of my patients with glaucoma had one or more of the following co-existing conditions: hypertension, elevated cholesterol, poor peripheral circulation, poor kidney function (based on blood test analysis), elevated homocystene & C-reactive protein (cardio inflammatory-stress markers), urination problems, poor digestion, poor hearing, poor memory, etc. Conventional medicine has recently been looking at each one of these as a causative factor for glaucoma including cardiovascular disease and H-pylori as possible causes for glaucoma. After spending much time researching brain and neuro science, it become obvious to me that the common thread in this clinical picture was improper functioning of the ANS. Although conventional medicine and the pharmaceutical companies have attempted to put out countless drugs in an attempt to regulate the ANS, none seem to be as effective as alternative therapies.

Regulating ANS with Acupuncture
In my experience there is nothing that regulates the ANS more effectively and more rapidly than acupuncture performed by a well trained professional. Acupuncture falls under the category of Sensory-Based Therapies (SBT). Drugs work fast but there are always side effects, acupuncture and most SBT’s have little or no known negative side effects. Risks only occur when acupuncture is performed by someone who is poorly trained. This includes physicians, or “Medical Acupuncturists” who have taken weekend courses or a 300 hour course (mostly on video). Be sure to ask about both training and experience if you wish to seek out acupuncture. There are few well trained acupuncturists who specialize in the treatment of eye disease and I train quite a few each year. You will find practitioners all over the country and our clinic is happy to help you find someone in your area that may be able to help you, a friend or family member.

The goal is to use safe and natural methods that will help improve and support the healthy regulation of the entire ANS, circulation, inflammation, glucose, and neuro-protective mechanism. Supporting these processes may dramatically slow the rate of or arrest the progression of degenerative vision loss. Other effective holistic therapies include supplementation (herbs, vitamins minerals), exercise, relaxation techniques, massage, diet, stress management, meditation, and lifestyle modifications.

I often get asked by my patients, “Why doesn’t my doctor know about or recommend alternative therapies?” There may be a host of reasons but the most common response I hear is that there is a lack of peer reviewed double-blind scientific research supporting it’s efficacy. That position is simply untrue.

It is a fact that there is little research performed in the US on the efficacy of alternative modalities that have positive effects on patients diagnosed with glaucoma. This is mainly because drugs are more profitable than herbs, and therapies l ike acupuncture are much more cost effective and hold significantly lower risk than eye surgery or medication. Here are some research studies on glaucoma and acupuncture that show a positive outcome. We can expect that there will always be someone who will criticize and the research methodology:

Acupuncture For Patients With Glaucoma
EXPLORE: The Journal of Science and Healing, Volume 1, Issue 5, Pages 372-376
M.Kurusu, K.Watanabe, T.Nakazawa, T.Seki, H.Arai, H.Sasaki, N.Fuse, M.Tamai

Henry H.L. Chan, Mason C.P. Leung, Kwok-Fai So. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. April 2005, 11(2): 315-322. doi:10.1089/acm.2005.11.315.

Teh-Ching Chu, David E. Potter. Journal of Ocular Pharmacology and Therapeutics. August 2002, 18(4): 293-305. doi:10.1089/10807680260218461.

It is not possible to patent herbs, vitamins, or minerals and therefore little money can be made – pharmaceutical companies are in the business of mass producing highly profitable drugs, and making sure that we stay on those drugs. It is in the company’s best interest to keep any new research on any non-medical beneficial information for glaucoma (and other health conditions), that is non-drug related from the general public. Why? Because it takes away from their profits. It is a sad truth that our country is “Pharmaceutically Biased” rather than “Scientifically Based.”

Virtually No Side Effects
The greatest advantage in using nutritional supplementation and sensory based therapies like acupuncture is that there are virtually no side effects. Cautions should be used when recommending supplements so as to avoid any negative herb-drug interactions. A well trained practitioner will be aware of these contra-indications. In general, holistic therapies are safe and pose little risk. Of course glaucoma meds have a lot of side effects including eye irritation, blood pressure irregularities, fatigue, frequent urination, headaches, etc. The risk of eye surgery and invasive procedures are present and there are increased risks for causing further damage to the eyes. Holistic therapies will not make vision worse, unless used by someone who is inadequately trained. The worst case scenario with holistic eye therapies is that they won’t work. The risks are small and the potential upside is great.

With the growing amount of information available on the internet, the public is rapidly becoming more aware of this state of affairs. New research on alternative treatments is showing up on sites like Google Scholar and other research-based web sites. Here are a few research abstracts that investigate the link between glaucoma and cardiovascular disease. They are on the right track but seem to be missing the ANS component:

The Role of Age and Cardiovascular Disease in Glaucomatous Optic Neuropathy1
Survey of Ophthalmology, Volume 43, Issue null, Pages S27-S42, S.Hayreh.

Retinal Microvascular Abnormalities and their Relationship with Hypertension, Cardiovascular Disease, and Mortality
Survey of Ophthalmology, Volume 46, Issue 1, Pages 59-80
T.Wong, R.Klein, B.Klein, J.Tielsch, L.Hubbard, F.Nieto

Relationship between Helicobacter pylori infection and glaucoma
Ophthalmology, Volume 108, Issue 3, Pages 599-604, J.Kountouras

The first two studies suggest the cardiovascular link to glaucoma, which we now know is rooted in ANS dysfunction. The third study suggests the link between glaucoma and H-pylori. The ANS also regulates digestion; impaired ANS regulation will have a degenerative effect on the Gastro-intestinal function rendering it more susceptible to infections like H-pylori. Do your own research and find out what is available to you!

About Dr. Rosenfarb
Dr. Andy Rosenfarb, ND, L.Ac. is an international leading authority on holistic eye health. He is a doctor of Naturopathy and a Licensed Acupuncturist. Dr. Rosenfarb has dedicated his life’s work to uncovering the underlying causes of degenerative vision loss. He has also created Acu-Gen, a holistic system that supports eye health. Acu-Gen has shown to be extremely helpful for most degenerative vision loss cases. Dr. Rosenfarb is the author of “Healing Your Eyes with Chinese Medicine.”

Nutri-Spec Testing & Macular Degeneration

Nutri-Spec Testing & Macular Degeneration

by Andy Rosenfarb, MTOM, Dipl. Ac., Dipl. C.H.In my acupuncture practice I specialize in treating patients with degenerative vision loss conditions including: wet and dry-type macular degeneration ARMD), Stargardt’s syndrome glaucoma, diabetic retin-opathy, retinitis pigmentosa, optic neuritis, etc. I have been using the Nutri-Spec system in an attempt to uncover some of the deeper metabolic imbalances associated with these kinds of eye conditions.

I have recently made some very interesting clinical findings about wet-type ARMD and dry-type ARMD. There seems to be a major difference between these two kinds of ARMD conditions. Patients with “true” dry-type ARMD typically test as having a high oxidation – dysaerobic imbalance. I suspect that these people have VERY little chance of ever getting the wet-type ARMD (retinal bleeding). On the other hand, patents diagnosed with wet-type ARMD show consistent anaerobic metabolic imbalances. Of the number of people with wet-type ARMD that I have tested, 100% have an anaerobic imbalance.

I have tested well over 100 people with degenerative vision loss, including wet-type and dry-type ARMD. My NUTRI-SPEC testing shows that at least 90% of dry-type ARMD patients have high oxidation and dysaerobic imbalances. Thirty-eight of the patients I have tested presented with wet-type ARMD, and fully 100% of those were positive for an anaerobic imbalance. Capillary-retinal bleeding is often associated with the anaerobic metabolic pattern.

Based on these findings we can now detect if a person is at risk for retinal bleeding and developing wet-type ARMD. Most MD & OD’s diagnose central vision loss as dry-type ARMD and then if there are signs of retinal bleeding they will diagnose wet-type ARMD. It appears from my NUTRI-SPEC findings that wet-type ARMD is a metabolic condition can be detected and prevented WAY before bleeding ever starts. True dry-type ARMD is usually a dysaerobic (also often glucogenic) metabolic imbalance. By correcting any shift towards anaerobic imbalances the risk of retinal bleeding can be reduced, if not eliminated.

So how can we help people? Basically, if we take a population of dry-type ARMD patients, medical research says that about 10% may develop wet-type ARMD, but how do we know which will “progress” to this condition? My use of NUTRI-SPEC testing suggests that it is the approximately 10% of dry-type ARMD with no dysaerobic imbalance who constitute the 10% who will ultimately develop wet-type ARMD. By monitoring anaerobic indicators among this population we can determine who is at risk for developing wet-type ARMD. Using supplements like Oxygenic A and Oxygenic A+ (and following the anaerobic dietary guidelines) can then reduce the potential for developing retinal bleeding, and help those who already have wet-type ARMD.

The great “hype” in the nutrition world is to use high doses of anti-oxidants and Omega fatty acids for all eye conditions. High doses of antioxidants will aggravate the anaerobic imbalance and could make the wet-ARMD situation worse (and often glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy). On the counterpart, people with high oxidation and dry-ARMD should not take supplements like “EFA’s”, fish oils, PUFA’s, etc., as it will aggravate dry ARMD by increasing the oxidation levels. As Dr. Schenker points out, these oils do more harm than good for our patients.

In a recent Nutri-Spec newsletter, Dr. Schenker discussed the oxidizing effects of cholesterol-lowering Statin drugs. Based on the research presented we now know that they deplete CoQ10 levels. Perhaps this is why vision loss is one of the leading side effects to taking Statin drugs. The depletion of CoQ10 leaves the retina more vulnerable to oxidative stress & free radical damage. The eye, and especially the retina, is extremely susceptible to oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can lead to a host of degenerative retina conditions. CoQ10 is another major supplement recommended for all patients with poor vision.

This specific research and findings are still quite new and need more time and patient trials to determine the long-term benefits for patients diagnosed with ARMD. However, it does seem that there may be hope in terms of preventing the development of wet-type ARMD and reducing oxidation in cases of dry-type ARMD. With NUTRI-SPEC we may be able to help many people with “incurable” eye diseases like ARMD maintain and even improve their sight.