Fatigue & Chronic Illness

Fatigue and chronic illnesses are difficult and demoralizing to live with, especially when the standard, conventional medical treatments do not have much to offer in terms of resolution. I know this because I was gravely ill with Lyme disease in the 1990’s. I attribute my recovery to Chinese medicine and homeopathy.

The experience caused me to change careers paths, and gives me a sincere empathy and understanding of what those who suffer from chronic disease are dealing with.

Though there are a wide variety of chronic diseases, all manifesting differently in the body in terms of presentation and symptomology, my clinical experience shows that Chinese medicine has much to offer chronic disease sufferers of all types.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Treatment Expectations for Chronic Illness

Many chronic diseases, such as MS, Parkinson’s disease and lupus [and ] are expected to be life long illnesses the patient must learn to live and deal with. In these cases Chinese Medicine can reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms and increase the quality of life, bringing the body into a remission or a marked reduction of adverse symptoms. When the condition worsens, the acupuncture treatment interval is increased in frequency until symptoms abate. Then the patient can return to a maintenance interval. So these patients are looking at long-term care, and an individualized treatment plan is devised that they can maintain.

Other conditions, such as fatigue , are quite treatable. These patients must be able to commit to a longer course of treatment, but given time they can expect to regain a normal quality of life.

How Does TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) Treat Chronic Diseases?

Of course there are a wide variety of chronic illnesses which present quite differently from one another. From the point of view of Chinese medicine, what chronic disease patients share in common is deficiency: by and large chronic disease patients are weak. This weakness may manifest in an obvious way, such as fatigue and lack of strength.  Or it may present as weak immune function. Many chronic disease patients also present with a mixed pattern of excess and deficiency. Excess meaning too much of something: generally heat or toxicity and inflammation. These mixed patterns are more challenging and difficult to treat, and an experienced practitioner is required.

How Chinese Medicine Treats Excess & Deficiency

For deficiency, or weakness, we need to build up the patient. In this case we are generally talking about deficiency of Qi (energy) and other processes (Yin, Blood) such as immune function. In these cases Chinese herbal therapy [link to Chinese Herb page] is critical to build up the substance of the body and strengthening the patient.

Excesses, such as heat, toxicity and inflammation, must be drained or reduced to clear and eliminate it from the body. When the patient is deficient, a draining technique is tricky, as these methods can further weaken the patient, and this is why an experienced practitioner must be employed.

In addition to addressing excess and deficient patterns, Chinese medicine focuses on specific symptoms, such as spasticity, tremors, fatigue, rashes, pain and so on. Over time, these symptoms will lessen and abate with TCM treatment.

 Chinese Herbs Are Important to Treat Chronic Diseases

Chinese herbal therapy is an important component of the treatment plan for chronic diseases patients. Herbs build up the substance of the body, clear heat and toxicity, reduce inflammation, tonify Qi (energy) as well as addressing particular problems or symptoms. I write custom herbal formulas for my patients. The formulas are specific to the individual nuances of each patient and the manifestations of her/his condition. When addressing a difficult to treat condition, such as chronic illness, this individualized approach greatly improves patients’ treatment outcomes.

How Often/Long Should I Come for Acupuncture Treatment?

Fatigue and chronic illnesses take time to address. Weekly acupuncture treatments are optimal, but with the addition of Chinese herbal therapy, the patient could continue biweekly after an initial course of weekly treatments. I have treated a wide variety of chronic illnesses, including fibromyalgia, Lyme disease, MS, Parkinson’s and various fatigue disorders, with and without a western medical diagnosis. All of these conditions respond well to Chinese medicine. The do require long-term care so the patient must be able to make a commitment to an extended treatment plan.