Acupuncture treatment

Research shows that acupuncture is beneficial in treating a variety of health conditions. The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes acupuncture effectiveness in the treatment of over 40 common disorders, including:

Furthermore, a consensus statement released in 1997 by the National Institute of Health (NIH) stated that acupuncture could be useful by itself or in combination with other therapies to treat a variety of conditions such as post-operative and chemotherapy nausea, addiction, headaches, menstrual cramps, fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome, stroke rehabilitation and asthma.
Acupuncture originated in China more than 2000 years ago and is one of the oldest most commonly used healing systems in the world. According to a 1998 Harvard University study, Americans made more than 5 million visits to acupuncture practitioners. Acupuncture is a method of encouraging the body to promote natural healing and to improve functioning. This is done by inserting needles and applying heat or electrical stimulation at very precise acupuncture points. There are more than a thousand acupuncture points on the human body. These points are located along pathways called meridians. The meridians are like rivers flowing through the body to irrigate and nourish the tissues. An obstruction in the movement of these energy rivers is like a dam that backs up in others. The acupuncture needles unblock the obstructions at the dams, and reestablish the regular flow through the meridians.


Description: Asthma is a chronic inflammation of the bronchial tubes (airways) that causes swelling and narrowing (constriction) of the airways. The result is difficulty breathing. The bronchial narrowing is usually either totally or at least partially reversible with treatments. Asthma affects 15 million people in the US. A third of those are children.
In Chinese Medicine: In Traditional Chinese Medicine Asthma is related to disorders of the lung, spleen, liver and kidney. The major site of treatment is the lung. The traditional acupuncturist treats the whole person rather than a disease and therefore attempts to get to the root cause of the problem and identify the pattern.
Case: An 11 month old boy first visited me in March 2005. For most of the year he had nasal congestion, cough with phlegm and wheezing. I listened to his lungs asked his mother some questions about his symptoms, then looked at his tongue (it was purplish and greasy) and measured the pulse. I derived the diagnosis and treated his Chinese pattern with acupuncture and Chinese herbs. His mother managed to add the herbs to his bottle, by mixing in a lot of mangos. Within one week his nose was clear, it took two weeks to clear his lungs. I then treated the lungs and the defensive qi, to strengthen his immune system. The boy does not need any steroids.


Description: Coughing is one of the most common reasons for visits to health care providers. Normal coughing is important to keep the throat and airways clear. However, excessive coughing may mean there is an underlying disease or disorder.
In Chinese Medicine: In Chinese medicine, cough can be external (mostly acute cough) or internal (chronic). The location of the disorder is mainly the lungs. The secondary organs that are involved are: Spleen (creation of phlegm), Liver (attacks the lungs) and kidney (failing to grasp the qi).
Case: A 40 year old woman came to my office in April 2004. Her main complaint was sinus congestion, post nasal drip, with coughing and conjestion in the chest that lasted 6 months. Her tongue was pink purple and swollen with a greasy coating, Her pulse was deep and slippery I treated her with acupuncture and herbs. After 2 weeks of herbs the cough and congestion were reduced by 90

Lower Back Pain

Description: 80 percent of the world population will suffer from back pain during their life time. Low back pain accounts for millions of hours lost from work and millions of dollars spent on pain killers.
In Chinese Medicine: According to Chinese medicine, low back pain can be caused by traumatic injury, living in a damp environment or overwork. In most cases there is a blockage of qi and blood that causes the pain. The location of the disorder are the channels of the back (Bladder channel), and Kidney (for long term case).
Case: A 40 year old man "pulled his lower back" while running with his motor bike up a hill and planning to start the motor going down hill. He came to my office in April 2004, I treated him with acupuncture. He felt stiffness on the way out. The next morning his pain was 80

Urinary Tract Infection

Description: The urinary tract is the human body's filtering system for removal of liquid wastes. Women are especially susceptible to bacteria from the bowel that lives on the skin near the rectum or in the vagina which can spread and enter the urinary tract through the urethra. Approximately fifty percent of all women will have at least one UTI in their lifetime with many women having several infections throughout their lifetime.
In Chinese Medicine: In Chinese medicine the condition is mostly caused by damp heat in the bladder, it is triggered or aggravated by emotional stress, low immune system, lack of sleep, tight underwear and incorrect wiping after bowel movements (one should wipe only from front to back).
Case: 30 year old woman came to my office in February 2004, for painful dark urination that lasted over two weeks. She suffered from frequent UTIs since she was 10 years old. She had a lot of stress at that time, because she was in the midst of breaking up with her boyfriend. I treated her with acupuncture, and tailored an herbal formula for her for 1 week. Her symptoms disappeared completely. The next time she wanted a formula was a year later.


Description: Insomnia is a sleep disorder. It affects 40 percent of women and 30 percent of men. People with insomnia have one or more of the following: difficulty falling asleep; waking up often during the night and having trouble going back to sleep; waking up too early in the morning; unrefreshing sleep. Insomnia can cause problems during the day, such as sleepiness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and irritability.
In Chinese Medicine: Traditional Chinese medicine treats the underlying cause, and balances yin and yang in the body. The site of the disorder : Heart with Liver (blood and qi deficiency, or qi stagnation), Spleen (qi deficiency), Stomach (fullness from food stagnation), Kidney (yin deficiency- menopausal women).


Description: Obesity is a disorder in which the body weight is more than 20 percent the maximum desirable weight. It is estimated that one in every 5 men and almost one in every 3 women in the US is obese.
In Chinese Medicine: Obesity is associated with increases in illness and death from Diabetes, Hypertension, Stroke, Coronary Artery disease and Kidney and Gallbladder disorders.
Case: This disorder involves mainly the spleen (digestive function) and kidney (the root of the spleen qi). It also involves the liver (emotional strain).


Description: 16 percent of all Americans will have it during their lifetime. Women are almost twice as likely to become depressed as men.
In Chinese Medicine: Depression primarily involves the Liver (Liver qi stagnation), but often also the Spleen, Kidney and Heart. The treatment involves soothing the Liver as a primary objective.


Description: Retention of fluids in the eyelids, face, extremities, or the whole body.
In Chinese Medicine: There are 2 kinds of edema according to Chinese medicine: 1. yang edema which has a rapid onset, begins in the eyelids and face, no pitting when pressed, lasts a short time. 2. yin edema which has a slow onset, begins in the feet and legs, pitting when pressed, skin is slow to bounce back. Yang edema involves the Lung and the protective qi. Yin edema is mainly due to Spleen and Kidney deficiency. Spleen and Kidney too weak to properly transform fluids.


Description: Headache are a common condition, there are 3 types of headache: 1. tension headache: tightness, pressure around the head like a tight band. 2. cluster headache: intense pain, burning, penetrating sensation behind the eye, sometimes affecting cheeks or ears. 3. migraine: throbbing pain, usually starts on one side, may spread. Is related to many causes (emotions, stress, menstural cycle).
In Chinese Medicine: The organs involved: Liver, Spleen and Kidney. There is stagnation of qi and blood in the channels of the head.
Case: A 30 years old woman came to my office July 2004 with a migraine headache. She had it for 6 months. It was worse before the period. I treated her with acupuncture 6 times and the pain didn't come back. (see testimonials)

Epistaxis - Nose bleed

Description: In the US, Epistaxis occurs in 1 of every 7 people. Epistaxis is defined as bleeding from the nostril, nasal cavity, or nasopharynx. Bleeding is most commonly anterior, originating from the nasal septum. Most cases do not have an easily identifiable cause. Local trauma, dryness and erosion of the mucus membranes of the nose, bleeding disorders, hypertension and/or nose cancer are among the possible causes.
In Chinese Medicine: In Chinese Medicine, Epistaxis is mostly due to heat in the Lung, Stomach or Liver.

Gum Bleeding

Description: In the US Gum bleeding occurs in 70-90
In Chinese Medicine: of the population. Causes are: dental disorder, gum disease, liver problems and blood disorder.
Case: In Chinese Medicine the gums are related to the Yang Ming Channels: Stomach and Large Intestine meridians. They are also connected to the kidney (teeth). Stomach heat and Kidney yin deficiency are the main causes for gum bleeding.

Hemoptysis-coughing blood

Description: Blood-tinged mucus usually indicates a mild infection. In patients with a history of smoking or who are otherwise at risk for lung disease, hemoptysis can be a sign of serious illness, including cancer. Other serious diseases that can cause hemoptysis include bronchiectasis (chronic dilation and infection of the bronchioles and bronchii), pulmonary embolus (a clogged artery in the lungs that can lead to tissue death), pneumonia (a lung infection), and tuberculosis.
In Chinese Medicine: In Chinese Medicine the main organ is the Lung. Hemoptysis is usually accompanied by cough, phlegm mixed with blood or bright red blood without phlegm. It is also related to Liver and Kidney (Liver fire attacks the Lung), Kidney yin deficiency from Lung yin deficiency.
Case: A 48 year old woman and former smoker was coughing blood and was diagnosed with bronchiectasis. She combined western meds with Chinese herbal treatment. Her bleeding stopped and now I give her small dose of herbs to strengthen her immunity and her lung.

Hematemesis - vomiting blood

Description: The blood comes from the stomach and can be mixed with food. Color can be dark red to brown (mixed with stomach acid) or bright red. The disorder can result from ulcers or liver disorders.
In Chinese Medicine: In Chinese Medicine the main organ involved is the Stomach (Stomach fire, and Stomach yin deficiency), however the Liver (liver fire invades the Stomach) and Spleen (Spleen too weak to hold the blood in the vessels) are also involved.

Hematochezia - blood in the stools

Description: Can result from infection in the digestive system, gastric or duodenal ulcers, tumor, or hemorrhoids. The blood can be mixed with ths stool or pure blood when passing the stool.
In Chinese Medicine: In Chinese Medicine the most common reason for bleeding in the stool is damp heat in the large intestines especially for hemmorrhoids. Dampness accumulating in the intestines creates heat that damages blood vessels.
Case: A 38 year old man complained about hemmoroidal bleeding with anal pain. I treated him with an herbal formula and with a topical herbal cream. His symptoms were controlled within one week. I also gave him a dietary advice: avoid rich, greasy, spicy foods, also avoid sugar (sugar creates dampness).


Description: Infertility is defined as the inability to concieve in a woman who has been trying to get pregnant for 2 years. A broader view of infertility includes not being able to carry a pregnancy to term and have a baby. Infertility affects about 6.1 million Americans, or 10 percent of the reproductive aged population, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. It is a myth that infertility is always a "woman's problem." About one third of infertility cases are due to problems with the man (male factors) and one third are due to problems with the woman (female factors). Other cases are due to a combination of male and female factors or to unknown causes. 4 types of female problems:
  1. Infrequent ovulation or failure to ovulate, e.g. polycystic ovary syndrome.
  2. Fallopian tube blockage.
  3. Uterus dysfunction e.g. endometriosis, fibroids.
  4. Cervical problems.
In Chinese Medicine: According to Chinese medicine the most common cause is Kidney deficiency (mostly kidney yang and essence deficiency) due to: Constitutional weakness, or overwork for a long time can damage the kidney essence. Kidney is the root of the yin and yang of the body and it is the main support of the reproductive system. However Liver is also involved in most cases. Liver stores the blood of the uterus, it is responsible for the flow of qi in the body which affects the blood circulation.
Case: A 38 year old woman, came to the herbal practice after IVF failed 3 times. She recieved herbal preparations for 6 months to prepare the ovaries and the uterus for the pregnancy. Only after preparing the reproductive system, did she try IVF and became pregnant. She now has twins.

Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS)

Description: Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a group of symptoms related to the menstrual cycle. PMS symptoms occur in the week or two weeks before menstruation. The symptoms usually go away after your period starts. PMS may interfere with activities at home, school, or work. The causes of PMS are not yet clear. Some women may be more sensitive than others to the changing hormone levels during the menstrual cycle. Stress may make it worse. PMS can affect menstruating women of any age. PMS often includes both physical and emotional symptoms.
  1. breast swelling and tenderness
  2. fatigue and trouble sleeping
  3. upset stomach, bloating, constipation or diarrhea
  4. headache
  5. appetite changes or food cravings
  6. joint or muscle pain
  7. tension, irritability, mood swings, or crying spells
  8. anxiety or depression
  9. trouble concentrating or remembering.
PMS affects more than 90 percent of fertile women at some time in their lives.
In Chinese Medicine: According to Chinese Medicine PMS relates to disorders in the Liver, Heart, Kidney and Spleen. The most important organ is the Liver, emotional strain affects the liver and the flow of qi in the body is disturbed.
Case: A 45 year old woman with severe PMS symptoms lasting two weeks out of a 4 weeks cycle came to my practice. She had severe cramping, bloating, breast tenserness and extreme irritability. I treat her with an herbal formula 2 weeks out of the month, and with acupuncture every other week. Her symptoms are 90 percent reduced.

Irregular Periods- Early Periods

Description: Early periods refer to menstrual cycles that occur 7 to 14 days before the normal 28 day cycle. The amount of bleeding can be normal, excessive, or scanty.
In Chinese Medicine: There are two main reasons for early periods according to Chinese medicine:
  1. Qi deficiency of the Spleen or Kidney. The menses can't be controlled. (In this case the blood is pale). We treat this condition by tonifying the qi. This may be caused by constitutional weakness, excessive work, illness or emotional stress.
  2. Heat in the blood is another factor. Heat accelerates the flow of blood causing early periods. Heat in the blood can be due to yin deficiency, or Liver fire. In this case, the blood is dark and red. We treat the pathology according to the pattern. If it is a yin deficiency, we tonify the yin. If it is due to liver fire, we clear the liver heat and sooth the liver.

Irregular Periods- Late Periods

Description: Late periods refer to menstrual cycles that occur 7 days to 5 months later than the normal 28 day cycle. They can be accompanied by changes in the quantity and quality of the blood during menstruation.
In Chinese Medicine: There are two main causes for late periods:
  1. Blood deficiency: There is insufficient blood to fill up the uterus and flow on time. This condition may occur before Menopause. Organs involved: Kidney essence and Liver blood. We tonify the blood and the essence.
  2. Liver qi stagnation or other pathogen blockages like cold or dampness impair the flow. We try to eliminate the pathogen. If there is cold, we warm the uterus. If there is Liver qi stagnation, we sooth the liver.

Irregular Periods- Unpredictable Menstrual Cycle

Description: The time of cycle is not fixed. Sometimes it is early and sometimes it is late. This situation is normal in the first year after menarche (the onset of menstruation), and during menopause.
In Chinese Medicine: Three organs may be involved in the pathology: The Kidney (kidney qi or essence deficiency), Liver(qi stagnation), and Spleen (qi deficiency). The Kidney stores the essence and is the root of both yin and yang in the body. Due to a constitutional deficiency, over-exertion or excessive sexual activity, the kidney fails to stabilize the uterus and the distribution of blood. The Liver controls the flow of qi in the body. Due to emotional causes (anger and/or frustration), the qi does not flow smoothly, and the period is not fixed. The Spleen keeps the blood within the vessels and when it is weak, it fails to stabilize the period. We treat this condition by finding out the relevant pathology: if there is a deficiency we tonify and if there is stagnation, we move the qi.


Description: Dysmenorrhea is painful menstrual cramps. Primary dysmenorrhea is not associated with any other disease. Secondary dysmenorrhea is accompanied by another disease, for example, uterine fibroids, endometriosis, inflammation or tumor. Symptoms usually begin one to two days before menses and peak on the first day of flow. It then subsides during that day or over several days. However, the pain can occur during and after the period. The pain is typically described as dull, aching, cramping and often radiates to the lower back. In severe cases, pain may cause nausea, vomiting, headache and fainting. The cause of the pain, according to Chinese medicine, is caused by the stagnation of qi and blood.
In Chinese Medicine: The cause of this stagnation can be cold, heat, dampness or pathogens blocking the free flow of qi and blood. However, a deficiency of qi blood or essence can also cause the stagnation. In this case, there is not enough energy or force to move the qi and blood properly. In most cases, cold in the uterus is one the main reasons for dysmenorrhea. Cramps are a sign of contraction caused by cold. We warm the channels to releive the pain, regulate the qi and invigorate the blood.
Case: A 42 year old woman came to my clinic with severe cramping lasting 2 weeks before her period. She had pain radiating to the lower back. This Pain was accompanied by irritability and constipation. I treated her with acupuncture moxibustion and cupping, and gave her an herbal formula to use 2 weeks every month. The symptoms are completely controlled now.


Description: Primary amenorrhea is the absence of the menstrual period by the age of 16. Secondary amenorrhea is a condition in which menstruation begins at the appropriate age, but later stops for 6 or more months. It is commonly due to hormonal disorders, a psychological disorder or a chronic disease such as diabetes, nephritis or anaemia.
In Chinese Medicine: Causes in Chinese medicine include deficiency of qi and blood, Liver and Kidney deficiency and/or yin deficiency. Stagnation and obstruction by pathogens such as cold heat or phlegm can also cause the absence of periods. Once we identify the pattern we treat it: deficiency-tonify, excess-eliminate the pathogen.
Case: A 32 year old woman came to the Herbal Clinic in 2003 after having only one period at age 17. After 3 months, she got her first period, which was scanty and lasted 2 days. Her next period arrived after 60 days. Menstruation then came every 33-45 days. After 3 years of herbal treatment, she now has regular periods.


Description: Menopause is the permanent cessation of menstrual cycle. It is a normal condition. Major symptoms associated with menopause:
  1. Hot flashes and night sweats occur in about 75 percent or menopausal women. They vary in severity and frequency. Most women have them between 2 and 5 years.
  2. Vaginal dryness and reduction of sex drive. Dryness in the vagina results in painful intercourse which reduces sexual desire.
  3. Emotional symptoms such as irritability, nervousness and anxiety.
In Chinese Medicine: In Chinese medicine the menopausal symptoms are the result of Kidney deficiency i.e. Kidney Yin deficiency or Kidney Yang deficiency and Kidney Essence deficiency. Since the Kidney is the root of Yin and Yang in the body, their deficiency will influence other organs. Tonifying the Kidney is a major treatment strategy.
Case: A 52 year old woman came to my office for back pain and night sweats. I treated the back pain with acupuncture and her night sweats with herbs. After the first week, her night sweats were reduced by 20 percent. The second herbal formula reduced her night sweats by 80 percent. She used herbs for 3 months, then took a break. The night sweats came back a year later, but were much milder. I gave her one more herbal formula to treat her menopausal symptoms. She has very mild night sweats now.

Ruth Knill, Arlington Acupuncture Wellness, 390 Massachusetts Av., Arlington, MA 02474, © 2022