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Succcess Stories from the Acupuncture Clinic: Fatigue, Menopause

One of the most common issues I treat in my acupuncture clinic is fatigue, and the conglomeration of symptoms that commonly go along with it.

Because we are currently in fall season, and the energy is waning everywhere around us, I thought I’d focus my success stories of this week around fatigue, since more and more people are coming in for treatment at this time of year for this issue, and see me throughout the winter to keep their energy and spirits up.

I will profile some of the patients I am currently treating, combining their common issues into just two examples which demonstrate how the same symptoms can come from two very different underlying imbalances.

Example A: Menopausal woman, extreme fatigue to the point of barely having the energy to make it through her daily tasks, anxiety, insomnia, restless leg syndrome, low grade headaches, general tension throughout body.

The patients I am profiling in Patient A have a grouping of the above symptoms.  A few of them have all of the above symptoms, while some of them have only the fatigue and anxiety or depression. 

The common theme between all of them is underlying stress, or liver imbalance. 

The problem with liver imbalance is that often, it is not actually an issue of having depleted Qi, or energy.  It is that the body is so busy constraining the Qi and locking it up, creating the tension that goes all through the body creating the above symptoms. 

One of the jobs of the liver according to Chinese Medicine is to keep our Qi flowing smoothly through our whole body, so we actually have access to it, and our organs get the Qi they need to function well, and we feel high energy.  When the liver gets locked up due to stress, the Qi gets busy doing pesky things like bottling up our energy in our muscles and organs. 

Acupuncture excels at resolving constrained Liver qi

These patients are generally very easy to treat and resolve quite nicely, since our main job is to get that liver Qi moving, which acupuncture is very good at.  Since I am currently treating several patients with the above symptoms and underlying diagnosis, I can attest to how well they resolve. 

All of my current patients are doing very well, noticing an almost immediate increase in their energy and overall sense of well-being_,_ as well as a reduction or elimination in all of the above symptoms.

Example B: Menopausal woman, extreme fatigue to the point of barely having the energy to make it through her daily tasks, depression, low grade headaches, digestive weakness including bowel issues and/or generalized bloating and discomfort.

You will notice that Patient B has very similar symptoms to Patient A.

The difference is that their underlying imbalance is completely different. 

Excess vs. Deficiency type patients with similar symptoms

While Patient A is actually an “excess” type patient, having that constrained energy throughout her body, Patient B is a “deficient” type, having a lack of Qi overall. 

The common theme in example B is depletion

This patient’s underlying imbalance is related to her spleen, which in Chinese Medicine is actually the main organ responsible for creating Qi in the body.  Due to overwork which taxes our system, as well as our poor American diets, many people suffer from Spleen Qi depletion. 

In Chinese medicine, the spleen relates to (and actually MEANS) the digestive organs, so when it’s weak, we can’t get the nutrients from our food. Since food is our source of energy, or Qi, over time, we get more and more depleted, eventually resulting in low energy or even fatigue or chronic fatigue situations. 

In this case, just moving the Qi around as for patient A will get us nowhere…we need to actually boost up the Qi, increasing the digestive function so that nutrients taken in will eventually result in increased energy. 

Like Patient A, these patients also respond very well to Chinese medicine, although in my experience, generally slower.  The body needs time to boost up what has been missing for a long time.  All of my patients with depleted spleen Qi combine their acupuncture with Chinese herbs, helping to boost our work in the clinic and bring exponential healing.  These patients will generally continue to see me throughout the fall and winter to continue to boost up their Qi. 

Happily, I can say that they are all responding well.

The problem with modern strategies for resolving fatigue

Fatigue is one of the most tricky issues to treat with western medicine, as it doesn’t really have any options or even drugs that patients can take. 

Energy seems to be an elusive thing in today’s culture, and is something that no pill can help us “fake” having.  The stimulants like coffee that we use to mitigate our fatigue only increase the problem in the long term.

And trendy supplements such as ginseng shots, in the wrong hands (like Patient A) can wreak havoc and make the situation much much worse.  Ginseng is a very hot and aggressive herb, and in people with liver imbalance, who already tend to be hot and constrained, it will just bottle them up more and make all their symptoms worse. 

In the Patient B type, it may or may not be beneficial, because it can still be very problematic since it usually needs to be combined with other herbs to make it digestible, and in menopausal women who are already hot it will just make them hotter.

Luckily, acupuncturists are readily available in most communities as a primary care option for fatigue.  And fall/winter is the perfect time to add acupuncture onto your self-care regimen to ensure a healthy cold season that sets you up for energy and vigor once spring sets in again!

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Tags: fatigue menopause