Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Treats Hyperhidrosis
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Everybody sweats. Sweating normally occurs when a person becomes too hot or in reaction to emotions such as nervousness, anxiety, fear, and anger. But some people sweat a lot without being hot, nervous, or anxious. The sweating usually occurs on the hands, feet, armpits, and the head. This is called hyperhidrosis which may be very uncomfortable and embarrassing. This even causes some people to avoid social situations. But there is hope, acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help reduce the excessive sweating by addressing the underlying imbalance at the root of the problem.

What are the causes of hyperhidrosis?
Most often, hyperhidrosis is caused by overactive sweat glands and occurs without any other medical condition. This is called primary hyperhidrosis. Anxiety and nervousness can make sweating worse in many people. A small number of people have secondary hyperhidrosis, which is abnormal sweating due to another condition including cancer, infections, hyperthyroidism, menopause, Parkinson’s disease, and stroke. It is best to see your doctor to find out why you have excessive sweating.

How does acupuncture and Chinese Medicine help?
Traditional Chinese Medicine works by correcting imbalances in the body. Treating the imbalance does not just treat the symptoms or mask the condition, like medications that inhibit sweating or antiperspirants, but rather corrects the root of the problem by encouraging self-healing of the body. Each person’s imbalance is different, and the diagnosis and treatment is tailored to that specific imbalance. By correcting the underlying imbalance, you can experience better results. Chinese medicine is not a one size fits all therapy, and it is important to seek out a well trained and experienced practitioner.

What are the most common imbalances causing excessive sweating?
Qi Imbalances– Often the root cause of excessive sweating is an imbalance of the body’s vital energy, or qi (pronounced chee). The two most common imbalances in qi are when there is too little qi or when the qi circulation becomes impaired. One way acupuncture and Chinese herbs work to stop sweating is by helping to improve the circulation and the amount of qi.

Those with too little qi may experience the symptoms of poor digestion, bloating, loose and sticky stools, fatigue, shortness of breath, sinus headaches, soft voice, a weak pulse, and pale tongue. For this issue, herbal formulas such as shen ling bai zhu san are effective, and acupuncture point like Sp 9, Lu 9, St 36, and Kd 3 are helpful.

Qi stagnation, when the qi is not circulating well, can also lead to excessive sweating. Those with qi stagnation will often get a cold after a stressful or emotional situation. They also may be prone to headaches, irregular bowel movements, ribside pain, irritability, anger, and depression. Jia wei xiao yao wan is a great formula for this condition. Acupuncture points such as Liv 2, SJ 3, GB 43 and GB 34 can be very helpful.

Heat– Chinese medicine also uses metaphors to describe imbalances in the body. One metaphor is the idea of heat. Just like heat outside the body can cause sweating, excessive heat can develop inside the body and also cause sweating. Signs of heat include a red face, red tongue, rapid pulse, insomnia, and excessive hunger. Depending on the location of the heat, sometimes your hands and feet but your body is hot and other times, the hands and feet are excessive sweaty and the body is cold. The formulas should aim to get rid of the heat in the body. Si ni san or mai men dong tang can be effective, depending on the type of heat that is causing the sweating. Acupuncture is also very effective to get rid of heat. Points such as PC 4, Lu 6, St 44, Liv 2, and Gb 34 can be used.

How does acupuncture address excess sweating?
Acupuncture stimulates the body to heal itself by activating and deactivating parts of the brain. This is possibly how it regulates sweating. Sweating is controlled by a part of the brain called the hypothalamus. Using an fMRI, a type of brain scan, acupuncture has been shown to activate the hypothalamus to decrease pain and regulate hormones. It is possible that it also works to regulate excess sweating through this part of the brain.

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