Patient Treatments with Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs
Many of our patients at the Acupuncture Center of New Jersey in Morristown complain of cold hands and feet, particularly when the temperatures start dropping in the fall. Stella is a patient who initially came to see me for acupuncture treatment for painful and irregular periods this summer. One of my basic questions when doing the in initial evaluation and exam is simply “do you get cold easily?” Stella said she was almost always cold and suffered from Reynaud’s disease. Her hands and feet especially were cold even in the summer and she dreaded the winter when her hands and feet could get numb and painful. Reynaud’s Syndrome is a medical condition defined by poor circulation to the extremities. Reynaud’s may be caused by an auto-immune disorder that constricts the flow of blood throughout the body. This can affect the peripheral nerves and cause numbness, weakness and pain in the feet and hands. Some drug therapy is available that dilates or forces the capillaries and circulatory system to open to allow more blood to flow, but some of these drugs can have undesirable side effects and should not be taken for long periods. Stella did not have an auto-immune disease but her cold hands and feet were a significant part of the pattern that also led to her irregular and painful menstrual cycles.
According to acupuncture and traditional Chinese medical theory a person who is often cold and craves warmth will be diagnosed as having a Cold constitution. Stella clearly had this condition. Her other important signs included fatigue, achy joints, weak digestion, a slow, tight pulse and a white coating on her tongue. Stella initially responded well during the summer months to a regimen of acupuncture treatments and herbal formulas that strengthened and moved her blood flow in her reproductive organs. This helped to significantly relieve her menstrual cramps and she started to menstruate regularly for the first time in years.
Stella recently returned for one of her regular acupuncture treatments and complained of her Reynaud’s symptoms. She was feeling very cold and her hands and feet were starting to feel numb and uncomfortable. The acupuncture point protocol and herbal formula were changed to improve circulation, strengthen and warm her internal organs, especially the Spleen and Kidneys, relax the Liver meridian to allow free flow of qi and blood, and stimulate the peripheral meridians in her fingers and toes. I used an infra-red heat lamp on her abdomen and toes and recommended she use a heating pad on her tummy at home and wear layers. I gave Stella a different herbal formula containing warming and blood moving herbs to take regularly. Most importantly I reminded Stella to avoid all cold food and drink: nothing from the refrigerator, only cooked foods and hot drinks. I recommended she prepare soups and stews with root vegetables like squash, carrots, parsnips and dark leafy greens such as kale or collard greens. She was not vegetarian so I advised her to add small portions of beef or chicken. If she was feeling particularly cold and felt like she was coming down with a cold she could try this recipe for bone broth.
If she wanted occasional fruits and raw vegetables they had to be in small portions and at room temperature. She needed to avoid sugar and coffee and drink herbal teas or root vegetables brews. I recommended to her to keep up with regular exercise and even go out on sunny days with lots of layers to get sunshine. Stella followed these recommendations and has continued to come for regular acupuncture treatment and take her warming Chinese herbal formula. She remains sensitive to the cold and jokes about moving to Tucson but she’s feeling much better and her hands and feet are much happier!