Combatting Meniere’s Disease with Acupuncture

Okay, so by now you have eliminated all sources of stress from your life. Right?

Yeah, yeah, I know that is impossible.  Ridding your life of stress is far easier said than done.  I am well aware of that.  That doesn’t mean that we should not try.  Greatly reducing the stresses in our life has benefits beyond purging the symptoms of Meniere’s from our lives.  It will improve our moods, increase health in all areas, and improve our ability to get a good night’s sleep.

Today, I would like to address the second weapon in my arsenal to combat Meniere’s disease: acupuncture.  Acupuncture is one of those things that is not well understood and must be judged on its results.  If you can find a very good acupuncturist, it is a great tool in helping you heal from various health problems.

Acupuncture is a component of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and has been in practice for centuries. It is based on the concept that there is energy, called chi (or qi) flowing through your body. Chi (pronounced like the “chee” in “cheese”) flows in different channels called meridians. TCM purports that imbalance or stagnation in this flow is what makes us sick. Restoring balance to this flow or removing these blocks is done by the stimulation of specific acupuncture points. Acupuncture uses the insertion of needles to provide that stimulation.

While chi is life force, it is not just the life force for one individual; it is universal energy. It permeates everything both animate and inanimate. Like x-rays, we cannot see chi. Chi is constantly flowing. It is taken into a body much like eating or breathing and then waste chi is eliminated. The good chi that comes in replenishes the body. Food that a nutritionist might declare as vitamin-rich, a Chinese doctor might call rich in chi. People are born with an allocation of chi and replenish it with air and food intake.

Depending on your reference, there are over 400 recognized acupuncture points and new ones are continually discovered. There are twelve major and eight extra meridians. The main acupuncture points reside on the twelve primary and two of the secondary meridians. This defines fourteen channels through which the flow of chi can be influenced.

While there are hundreds of existing acupuncture points, a small subset of those are used by a practicing acupuncturist. If you have ever seen an acupuncture point chart, it is quite impressive. It consists of a picture of a human being with acupuncture points scattered all over the body. Be assured that not all those points are used in one session, and the points accessed on your body will be determined by your condition and the symptoms you hope to address.

Acupuncture is a holistic therapy. Holistic medicine treats the patient as a whole–not just as a sum of different body parts. Consequently, seeking acupuncture relief for one ailment may result in the alleviation of other symptoms. When I had my first treatment back in 2002 for Meniere’s disease, I was also relieved of some knee pain that I had been experiencing for a year previously. It was an unexpected benefit of a holistic treatment.

TCM has a more preventative outlook than merely fixing the problem. Western medicine may just cut out an offending part when you have a problem; TCM looks more for the root of the problem and removes the cause. Again, the goal is to restore your body’s natural energy flow so that it can get on healing itself.

The advantages of acupuncture over conventional medicine are that it is cheaper and you do not suffer from the side effects of strong drugs. Powerful drugs and the trauma of surgery can have grave side effects that can take a long time to recover from. Drugs often make the cure worse than the original illness. In addition, a patient managing symptoms using drugs often must stay on those drugs for the rest of their lives, while those visiting an acupuncturist may go months and even years between visits.

In general, Chinese medicine is most effective when addressing a health problem early on. However, do not rule out TCM as an alternative or complementary therapy if you have been suffering for a long time. I had been diagnosed with Meniere’s disease for eight years before finding relief with acupuncture.

Relief via acupuncture usually comes in one of three ways. Sometimes relief comes immediately upon the removal of the needle. Sometimes effects are felt the next morning. Finally, it may take longer to feel relief; you may feel the effects gradually over numerous treatments. I seldom visit my main acupuncturist more than twice to address an ailment. Some acupuncturists require up to ten visits or more. You will need to talk with your acupuncturist to find out how long it will take before you feel relief.

In my next post, I will describe what to expect when visiting an acupuncturist.




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