Addison’s disease, also known as adrenal insufficiency, occurs when the adrenal gland cannot produce adequate amounts of the hormones cortisol and aldosterone. This can be a serious and potentially life-threatening situation, as the adrenal gland influences many essential functions in the body. The risk of getting this disease is the same for all people, regardless of age and other factors. Signs and symptoms may take months to appear, or they may develop very quickly and unexpectedly.
For example, if a patient with Addison’s disease also experiences muscle weakness and diarrhea (which is common). An acupuncturist and Oriental medicine practitioner may determine that spleen deficiency plays an important role in the way the disease presents itself. According Oriental medicine, some functions of the spleen include keeping the bowel’s movements running smoothly and helping maintain muscle and limb strength. So, no matter what your specific complaints may be, acupuncture and Oriental medicine is equipped to help you manage the signs and symptoms of Addison’s disease.
Endocrine glands impact every area of your health. Responsible for hormonal functions in the body, the endocrine system produces 30 distinct hormones, each of which has a very specific job to do.
This system controls your physical growth, mood, hormone output, reproduction, mental functionality, and immune system.
Typical symptoms of the endocrine disorders include: low immunity, fatigue, weight gain, depression, digestive issues, hair loss, arthritis, and feeling chilled regardless of the temperature.
Major endocrine glands in our bodies
Adrenal glands regulate the body’s response to stress. Made of two parts, the outer part produces corticosteroid hormones that regulate the balance of salt and water, stress response, metabolism, immune function, and the reproductive system; the inner part secretes adrenaline hormones that increase blood pressure and heart rate in response to stress.
The pancreas produces insulin and glucagon, two hormones that work together to provide the body with a constant supply of glucose which is the source of energy.
The pineal gland, also known as the “third eye,” produces the serotonin derivative melatonin, a hormone that affects the wake/sleep patterns and seasonal functions.
Hypothalamus and Pituitary –
As the primary link between the endocrine and central nervous systems, the pituitary gland secrete or suppress the release of various hormone messages to the other glands. The pituitary gland is also responsible for secreting growth hormones.
These glands secrete hormones that control the development of male and female characteristics. In males, these glands secrete androgen hormones, most importantly testosterone. In females, they produce estrogen, progesterone, eggs, and are involved in reproductive functions.
Thyroid hormones control the growth, temperature and function of every cell in the body. The gland acts as the metabolic engine of the body — if it secretes too little hormone, the body slows and dies; if it secretes too much, the body burns out and dies.
When it comes to treating the endocrine disorders, Chinese medicine seeks the root cause of the patient’s imbalance. The endocrine system is closely tied to the internal balance of the Yin energy (quiet, supportive, feminine, and cool) and the Yang energy (outward, strong, hot, and masculine).
Although imbalance between the Yin and Yang energy is the basis of any human disease, the most important element for endocrine disorder treatment is centered on the KIDNEY meridian.
By strengthening the KIDNEY (along with other organs like the Spleen, Liver, and Heart), acupuncture can restore hormonal balance, regulate energy levels, emotional stability, and help manage sleep and menstrual problems.
For endocrine disorders, we find that an integrated approach of Eastern and Western medicine often produce most optimal results. This is especially pertinent to infertility patients, many of whom may not have any “medical” issues according to conventional blood work.
It is estimated that 25.8 million people in the United States have diabetes, a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin.
Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life.
Untreated diabetes affects the whole body and can lead to other medical problems, including heart disease, kidney failure, blindness, peripheral neuropathy, digestive disorders and periodontal disease.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 4 people remain unaware that they live with diabetes. Sometimes the body will give warning signs that a person’s sugar metabolism is out of whack. Common signs of Type II(adult-onset) diabetes include:
Increased hunger (especially after eating)
Frequent urination or urinary infections
Unexplained weight loss (even though you are eating and feel hungry)
Fatigue (weak, tired feeling)
Diabetes is Called “A Wasting Disease” in Oriental Medicine
Acupuncture and Oriental medicines have been used to treat diabetes for over 2000 years.
According to Oriental medicine, diabetes is called “a wasting disease” caused by an imbalance of the cyclical flow of Qi within the meridians and organ systems.
This particular imbalance produces heat that depletes the body’s fluids and Qi, causing symptoms such as extreme fatigue, lethargy, unexplained weight loss, excessive thirst, excessive urination, excessive eating, slow healing of cuts and wounds, infections, irritability, tingling or numbness in the extremities, and blurry vision—all of which are signs of a person being “wasted.”
The treatment for diabetes will focus on regulating the circulation of blood and Qi and balancing the organ systems to improve pancreatic function and address internal heat and the depletion of fluids.
In addition, acupuncture can treat peripheral neuropathy, one of the most devastating symptoms of diabetes.
Common signs of peripheral neuropathy include tingling, numbness, loss of sensation, muscle weakness and pain. For some people, it is experienced as the uncomfortable sensation of “pins and needles”, or burning pain (especially at night) of their hands or feet. Others may suffer even more extreme symptoms such as muscle atrophy, paralysis, or organ or gland dysfunction.
Oriental medicine teaches that peripheral neuropathy is due to dampness moving to the limbs, where it obstructs the flow of Qi (energy) and blood within them.
The treatment is twofold: to treat the underlying factor that is causing this dampness to accumulate, and to directly facilitate the circulation of Qi and blood in the affected area.
By improving circulation, the nerve tissues of the affected area can be nourished to repair function and reduce pain.
Well-Known Procedures in Managing Diabetes
There are a number of well-publicized recommendations in managing diabetes.
1. Diet Changes
Anything too sweet must go. While a sweet taste delights our taste buds, overindulgence can cause or worsen digestive problems and upset our metabolic and emotional balance. In Oriental medicine, meats such as pork and chicken are considered sweet.
Vegetables such as yams, sweet potatoes, corn, snow peas, squash and even turnips are also considered sweet.
Anything heavily processed or too greasy must be abstained. Too much dairy, deep-fried foods or canned foods must be avoided. Even fruits are recommended only in moderate amounts due to their relatively high sugar content.
2. Adopt Healthy Life Habits
Healthy habits such as maintaining optimal weight, avoiding exposure to toxins, following a well-supervised exercise program, and limiting or avoiding alcohol consumption can reduce the physical and emotional effects of diabetes.
3. Boost Circulation with Massage (for neuropathy patients)
Massage can help boost circulation, which is generally poor and leaves these areas vulnerable to trauma. You can stimulate your feet, lower legs, hands and arms with gentle massage using light pressure.
4. Relax to Reduce External Triggers
Consider relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, self-hypnosis or biofeedback.
5. Soak for Pain Relief
A warm foot bath with Epsom salt may also help relieve pain. If there is loss of sensation in the hands or feet, you should avoid extreme temperatures, as you may not feel the damaging effects.