Thursday, March 22, 2007
Multiple sclerosis is an inflammatory, autoimmune disease of the central nervous system, generally striking during early adult years. Its most frequent symptoms include numbness, impaired vision, loss of balance, weakness, bladder dysfunction and psychological changes. While there is no cure for the disease, acupuncturists can offer significant help managing symptoms and side effects. In a 2002 survey of multiple sclerosis patients at the Rocky Mountain MS Center in Boulder, Colo., more than 50 percent of patients receiving acupuncture noted significant improvement in symptoms of pain, anxiety, depression, fatigue, muscle stiffness and numbness. Additionally, many noted improvement in walking problems, weakness and balance, while others saw positive changes in urinary and bowel problems.
Traditional Chinese medicine, a 5,000-year-old medical tradition, has no definitive diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. Many classical texts refer to a syndrome known as a Wei (or atrophy) syndrome. There are multiple presentations of a Wei syndrome, and each can result from different factors. These may include any combination of improper diet, emotional stress, shock and possibly heredity.
Visits to a licensed acupuncturist for multiple sclerosis may include traditional acupuncture, electroacupuncture (gentle electrical stimulation of meridian points) as well as dietary advice, Qi Gong and Chinese herbs. Treatment will be designed to help resolve symptoms as well as address underlying conditions that may cause symptoms. Traditional Chinese medicine is in no way a replacement for conventional therapies. The medical advice of a board-certified neurologist should be followed during any course of treatment.
Michael Spano, Bastyr University Center for Natural Health
Bastyr is a non-profit, private university offering graduate and undergraduate degrees, with a multidisciplinary curriculum in science-based natural medicine. The university's Seattle teaching clinic, Bastyr Center for Natural Health, is the Northwest's largest natural medicine clinic. Go to bastyr.edu or bastyrcenter.org.