Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has thousands years history. It has unique basic theories and diagnostic methods. It is a very effective therapy in treating many chronic diseases and some acute diseases. If you are interested in TCM, welcome to pop in to this TCM forum, let's discuss on any topic about Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture. If you have any health problem, you are welcome to visit my clinic Knowhow Acupuncture at 1 Harley street, London. If you are far away from London, you can pop in my online clinic to get some help. If you like this blog please share it to your friends.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

A natural way of anti depression

Tiejun Tang
Do you feel depressed? Many people will say yes. Depression is the No.1 psychological disorder in the western world. About 20-30 % of people experience symptoms of depression and it is growing in all age groups. It can also happen with different life style, from unemployed to millionaire, from teenage student to puerpera. Statistics showed that 1 in 4 Britons suffers from a mental health problem within a given year, with anxiety and depression being the most common combination of mental health disorders in the UK.

Psychiatrist and Psychologist use antidepressants to treat this disorder, but some antidepressants cause sexual dysfunction in male (Jeffrey H. 1995), and cardiovascular toxicity in both male and female. (Pal Pacher, 2004). Although antidepressants can reduce the suicide rate of depression patients, most of them still prefer not to take them because of the side effects.

Christmas is coming soon and it is the right time to kick depression away! Chinese medicine can help you get rid of depression and give you health and a happier mood.

In traditional Chinese medicine, depression falls within the category of Yu Zheng (郁证) and Zang Zao (脏躁). Chinese medicine believes that low mood, anxiety and irritability are caused by liver qi stagnation; insomnia, dream disturbed sleep, memory loss and palpitation are due to heart shen disorder; poor appetite, low energy and other indigestion symptoms are due to spleen deficiency; hot flush, night sweat and dry mouth are due to yin deficiency; cold extremities, pale complexion and low libido are due to kidney yang deficiency.

TCM has many advantages in treating depression. According to the symptoms of different cases, we can remove the stagnated qi, regulate the function of Zang Fu organs, and balance yin and yang. We can select herb pills such as Xiaoyao Wan, Chaihu Shugan Wan or Guipi Wan. Alternatively, we can prescribe decoction based on Xiaoyao San, Ganmai Dazao Tang and Suanzaoren Tang. There may be different symptoms in each depression case, therefore we must modify our prescription according to individual conditions.

Selection of acupuncture points should focus on the liver and heart meridians, combining with some points on the Du meridian and extra points on the head. Commonly used points include Taicong (LV3), Ligou (LV5), Zhangmen (LV13), Qimen (LV14), Shenmen (HT7), Shaohai (HT3), Neiguan (PC6), Baihui (DU20), Shenting (DU24), Yintang (EX-HN3), Taiyang (EX-HN5). Apart from needling, some Tuina massage especially on the head points above will also help relieve depression. There were many clinical trials conducted on using acupuncture to treat depression. Treatment methods included manual acupuncture (John J 1998), electric acupuncture (Huan Cui 2004), and laser acupuncture (Joo Smith 2005). These research reports showed acupuncture could significantly relieve depression.

Lastly, enjoy your Christmas, enjoy your life. Without depression, you will be happier and healthier in the new year.

Allen B, Rosa.N et al. (1998). The Efficacy of Acupuncture in the Treatment of Major depression in Women. Psychological Science. 9(5): 397-401.
Han Cui, Li Xiaohong, Luo Hechun.(2004) Clinical study on Electro-acupuncture treatment for 30 cases of mental depression. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine. 24 (3): 172-176.
Joo Im Quah-Smith, Wai Mun Tang (2005). Laser acupuncture for mild to moderate depression in a primary care setting – a randomised controlled trial Acupunct Med 23(3):103-111.
Jeffrey H. Hsu (1995). Male Sexual Side Effects Associated with Antidepressants: A Descriptive Clinical Study of 32 Patients. The International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine. 25(2): 191-201.
Pal Pacher, Valeria Kecskemeti. (2004). Cardiovascular Side Effects of New Antidepressants and Antipsychotics: New Drugs, old Concerns? Curr Pharm 10(20): 2463–2475.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Hashimoto’s disease and its TCM treatment

Tiejun Tang

Hashimoto’s disease is a thyroiditis caused by an autoimmune reaction. This disease was first described by a Japanese doctor called Hashimoto when he was practising in Germany in 1912. The average incidence of this disease is 1-1.5 in 1000. The incidence of women is 15-20 times more than in men. It occurs more frequently in the age group of 30 to 50, but may also be seen at other times.

In some cases, no symptoms may be seen at early stage, but in most cases, symptoms are similar to those of hypothyroidism. Common symptoms include: fatigue, unexpected weight gain, aversion to cold, muscle aches, cramps, tenderness or stiffness, joint pain or swelling, pale skin and puffy face, hoarse voice, constipation, depression, visibly enlarged thyroid.

It is not very clear what triggers this autoimmune disorder. Factors such as iodine, medications, infection, smoking and possibly stress may be involved. If you want to prevent Hashimoto’s disease or stop it developing, you should try to avoid these possible causes.

In Western medicine, this is usually being treated with levothyroxine. This hormone replacement therapy can only partially recover thyroid functions but not regulate the immune system in general. It cannot reduce the level of antithyroid antibody. Patients need to take medicine all their life. For some cases with a large goitre, they may even need surgical operation. After operation they still need to take thyroxine.

In Chinese medicine, it is believed that this disease is due to Qi stagnation, blood stasis and phlegm accumulation in the neck. It falls within the category of Ying Liu (瘿瘤) in the classic text of Chinese medicine. In China, we usually treat this disease with integrated traditional Chinese medicine and western medicine. I believe that the operation and iodine radioactive therapy will accelerate the process of hypothyroidism. Instead, we can use Chinese herbs to remove the liver qi stagnation and blood stasis. We can expel phlegm and soften the goitre by Chinese herbs. I usually use Chaihu (Bupleuri Radix), Chenpi (Pericarpium Citri Reticulatae), Xiangfu (Cyperus rotundus) for qi stagnation; Chishao (Radix Platycodi), Danshen (Savia miltiorrhiza) and Danggui (Angelica sinensis) for blood stasis; Banxia (pinellia tuberifera tenore), Houpo (Magnolia officinalis Rehd.), Zhebeimu (Fritillaria thunbergii Miq) and Dannanxing (Arisaema Cum Bile) for phlegm accumulation. In the past two decades, there were some different opinions about applying herbs which contain iodine such as Haizao (Sargassum), Kunbu (ThallusLaminariae) and Huangyaozi (Rhizoma Dioscoreae Bulbiferae). Some people believed that this kind of herbs will cause Wolff–Chaikoff effect which is harmful to the thyroid. Some people believed that herbs with iodine content are different from iodine preparation. I think it is still safe to use these herbs for some thyroid diseases with small doses administered for a short time, especially for cases with low iodine. I believe that Chinese herbs have many advantages in treating Hashimoto’s disease and it is good for improving symptoms and reducing side effects of western medicine.

This disease needs proper treatment once it is diagnosed. There are reports of patients with Hashimoto's thyroiditis being three times more likely to have thyroid cancer. (Larson SD. 2007).
To conclude, integrated traditional Chinese medicine and western medicine is always better than any single therapy.

Larson SD, Jackson LN, Riall TS, et al (2007) Increased incidence of well-differentiated thyroid cancer associated with Hashimoto thyroiditis and the role of the PI3k/Akt pathway. J Am Coll Surg. 204 (5):764-73.