Press enter to begin your search

Cultivating Awareness: Treatment of Endocrine Disorders with Acupuncture

Cultivating Awareness: Treatment of Endocrine Disorders with Acupuncture

Endocrine disorders are on the rise in the United States. Diabetes, metabolic syndrome (hyperthyroid and hypothyroid) and osteoporosis being the most prevalent. 16 million Americans have been diagnosed with Diabetes (800,000 new cases diagnosed each year), 20 million with thyroid disorders.

Endocrine disorders are a common cause of mental-emotional symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia and depression. Hormonal deficiency and/or abnormality have also been associated with various degenerative and autoimmune diseases: the nervous system, immune system and glands of the body are highly involved with one another. Endocrine disorders can lead to stroke, cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, infertility, obesity, insomnia, prostate problems and numerous other physical and mental manifestations.

The endocrine system remains one the most mysterious of the organ systems. There is still much to be discovered about the glands of the body. Chinese Medicine has much to contribute to the field of endocrinology. Acupuncture, being “energetic medicine” is highly suited for treatment of the mysterious workings of the hormones and glands.

In Chinese Medicine, endocrinology is seen as the study of the body’s fluid physiology: the actual fluids (exocrine and endocrine) and the energy that moves and creates them.

There exists a synergy to the body’s glands. They balance once another. This can cause confusion, as symptoms may manifest in one gland as a response to imbalance in another gland. Unfortunately many mainstream treatments often focus only on the area where symptoms are manifesting, ignoring synergistic relationship to other glands, often missing the root of the problem.

This is why systemic therapy systems like acupuncture are so helpful in the treatment of endocrine disorders, as they focus on balancing all of the glands. For example, thyroid hyperactivity can result in gonadal hyperactivity. Just as low thyroid can cause low gonadal function. Problems originating in the upper part of the body (the neck) can cause manifestations in the lower body, such as accumulations in the pelvis (cysts, fibroids), hernias, prostate problems, changes in libido, sexual aggression, leakages and discharge.

To understand the endocrine system through Chinese Medicine, one must gain an appreciation of the body’s organ systems. In Chinese Medicine, all functions of the body are organized into “systems,” grouped under the 12 primary organs. For example, thyroid function is associated with the stomach, adrenal function with the kidneys.

There are many subdivisions within each organ system. There is the “yang” of the organ (its functionality) and the “yin” (its substance and structure). All physiology in the body can be divided into yang and yin; just as all disturbances in the body can be seen as a yin or yang problem.

Health is predicated on movement. When things are moving they stay alive (constantly regenerating) and fresh. When they get stuck, decay sets in. There is a saying in Chinese Medicine: “moving water never decays.” A problem may result because there is not enough yin (dehydration, hormonal deficiency, anemia) or not enough yang (decreased function; weakness of movement, transportation and transformation). Problems can also result from too much yin (fluid swelling, accumulation of water dampness) or too much yang (inflammation, higher than normal metabolic function). Issues can also be the result of the yin and yang not cooperating: blockage of yin not feeding the yang (blood stagnation in an area failing to engender energy in another) or (yang) metabolic energy failing to digest food, causing accumulation and obesity.

Endocrinology becomes even more fascinating when the psychological aspect is considered. The dynamics of psycho-endocrinology illustrate how our emotions and the way we think effect our bodies, and vice versa. Within Chinese Medicine the mind and emotions are thought to circulate through the blood. The blood is composed of 82% water. It is water that carries the “spirit” throughout the body. Water is the vehicle. It is also the vehicle for detox of waste. The essence of life is movement. The same is true for the mind and emotions. When they become stuck, pain, inflammation and degeneration result. Mental fixation can often have the same physical results as blood or fluid stagnation.

Working with the hormones is not just about nourishing them. It’s also about getting them to move and circulate: an area where acupuncture excels. Many problem occurs when things become stuck. Things accumulate and the areas of the body become like cesspools.

Sublimation of emotional material into the lower abdomen is a good example of the process of psycho-physical manifestation. This can manifest as growths and swellings (fibroids, cysts, prostatitis, hernias). It can also manifest as sexual or urogenital dysfunction. The orifices of the lower abdomen are outlets for many of the organs of the body.

Emotional expression normally occurs through a cathartic release via the upper sense orifices: the tongue via speech, the eyes and nose via crying (fluid release). However when the body lacks such upward and outward expression, material is sublimated into the lower part of the body: it goes down and in. The chest tightens, preventing upward movement. Soon pressure of trapped material, stuck in the chest sinks into the abdomen and urogenital region where it eventually solidifies.

Science and physiology are always considered inseparable from philosophy in Classical Chinese Medicine. We as humans are more than the sum of our parts. We are not just physical entities. We have a soul, a purpose. Our life is a search for meaning.

The endocrine system is our response to ourselves and the world. It is a feedback system. The Thymus for example is often called “the great educator.” It is associated with the heart in Chinese Medicine. Both have a strong effect on the immune system: the sense of right and wrong. The heart is associated with the virtues of righteousness and integrity. It is influenced by what we are taught socially, as well as what we know intuitively. Our endocrine systems react to the inner and outer worlds, relating to right and wrong.

Some of us feel we are in constant danger, that we always must protect ourselves from a toxic world. We are always on guard. Others feel their internal world is toxic, filled with shame, guilt and confusion. Working with endocrine disorders often involves confronting our emotional responses. We may need to come to terms with our relationship to the world; sometimes to our relationship with ourselves. Is our hyper-vigilance or sense of guilt supporting or diminishing our health? Do we need to amp up our immune response? Are we letting too much that is toxic into our systems? Do we need to make different choices: surround ourselves with different people, places, things and activities?

Healing is about more than going to the doctor to “get fixed.” It also involves self-cultivation, examination of our choices, and a change in consciousness. Within the alchemical tradition of ancient Chinese Medicine, the glands of the body were seen as “portals” into higher states of consciousness. Endocrinology, at its root involves working with consciousness.

There is an intuitive inner knowing within each of us. Our bodies know what is right for us. This inner knowing can be influenced, suppressed or invigorated by social influences. Our immune systems may be responding to a toxic environment that disempowers us. Or maybe we lack the willpower and sense of responsibility to step into our roles in society.

For many of us, true healing requires the creation of a healing environment. We begin a process of self-examination, asking ourselves whether our outer and inner environments support or challenge our intuitive knowledge of what’s right. Does our life support our health and wellness? Maybe there are some aspects we need to detox and let go of. Maybe there are others we need to cultivate. To me as a healer, this is the truly exciting part of the healing process: the awakening of consciousness and transformation of our lives to fully support our essential self.

Nicholas Sieben, MS, L.Ac.

Nicholas is a healer who uses acupuncture and reiki to help awaken and heal. His mission is to promote greater freedom of body, mind and spirit through compassionate self-awareness. Through the use of ancient medical practices and the spiritual philosophies of Taoism and Buddhism, Nicholas helps illuminate the path to healing. He is a student of the renown Taoist priest and Chinese Medical Master Jeffrey Yuen. He completed his acupuncture studies under Mr. Yuen at the Swedish Institute College of Health Sciences, and received a B.A. from Brandeis University in Sociology and Philosophy. He has a practice in New York City.

No Comments

Post a Comment