How Acupuncture Can Help Treat Autoimmune Disorders

How Acupuncture Can Help Treat Autoimmune Disorders

An autoimmune disease is a condition in which your immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys your own body’s cells, tissues, and organs.

Some common autoimmune disorders include: Rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Crohn’s disease, SLE/Lupus, Psoriasis, Sjogren’s disease, Alopecia, and Multiple Sclerosis

The exact cause of autoimmune diseases is unclear. It has been suggested that they are cultivated by the perfect storm of genetic mutations, stress, poor diet and gut health, environmental pollutants, and unresolved chronic infection.

These factors create a state of chronic systemic inflammation in the body and eventually trigger an autoimmune attack.

In traditional Chinese medicine terms, this autoimmune inflammation is seen as a combination of the following patterns (1):
– Yin deficiency
– Blood stasis
– Phlegm damp accumulation

Yin deficiency causes symptoms of heat and dryness. Nourishing yin can be understood as protecting the cells and tissues from attack and destruction. Clearing heat and transforming damp can be translated as reducing fever and inflammation. Dispersing blood stasis is equivalent to enhancing blood circulation, which nourishes tissues with an increase of oxygenated blood and delivers anti-inflammatory immune factors.

Bringing all these concepts into one treatment with a few well chosen acupuncture needles can have a powerful impact on autoimmune conditions.

Getting regular acupuncture treatments will not only ease the symptoms of the various autoimmune disorders, but will also regulate the body’s physiology to correct underlying dysfunctions.

Here is how acupuncture specifically affects the body’s physiology: –
– Reduces inflammatory markers (2)
– Enhances the autonomic nervous system (3)
– Increases neurotransmitter receptors (4)
– Increases healthy gut bacteria (5)
– Reduces auto-antibodies (6)
– Regulates pituitary hormones (7)
– Alters expression of genes related to immune function (8)
– Regulates T helper cell activity and the T cell subset balance (9)
– Reduces early cellular apoptosis (10)
– Promotes blood circulation (11)
– Alters neuro-function to reduce stress and anxiety (12)

If you are struggling to control an autoimmune disorder, consider adding acupuncture treatments as an adjunct to your existing care.




1. Hou, W., Xu, G., Wang,H. Treating Autoimmune disease with Chinese Medicine. 1st ed. Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2011.
Altern Ther Health Med. 2015 Jul-Aug;21(4):26-34.
2. Targeting NF-κΒ and TNF-α Activation by Electroacupuncture to Suppress Collagen-induced Rheumatoid Arthritis in Model Rats. Li J, Li J, Chen R, Cai G.
3. Unique immunomodulation by electro-acupuncture in humans possibly via stimulation of theautonomic nervous system.Mori H, Nishijo K, Kawamura H, Abo T. Neurosci Lett. 2002 Mar 1;320(1-2):21-4.
4. Neural Regen Res. 2016 Mar;11(3):465-8. “Warming yang and invigorating qi” acupuncture alters acetylcholine receptor expression in the neuromuscular junction of rats with experimental autoimmune myasthenia gravis. Huang HP1, Pan H2, Wang HF2.
5. Acupunct Med. 2013 Mar;31(1):116-7. Effect of acupuncture treatment for weight loss on gut flora in patients with simple obesity. Xu Z, Li R, Zhu C, Li M.
6. Zou Y et al. [Experimental study on action of acupoint embedding thread on ANCA in the rat of ulcerative colitis]. Zhongguo Jiu . 2005;25(7): 509-12.
7. Regulation of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activity and immunologic function contributed to the anti-inflammatory effect of acupuncture in the OVA-induced murine asthma model.Wei Y, Dong M, Zhong L, Liu J, Luo Q, Lv Y, Mo S, Sun J, Liu F, Xu F, Yan C, Dong J. Neurosci Lett. 2017 Jan 1;636:177-183.

8. Zhen Ci Yan Jiu. 2017 Jun 25;42(3):209-16. [Hypothalamic Transcription Profiles Associated with Twirling-reducing Needling in Rats with Stress-induced Prehypertension].[Article in Chinese] Sun QS1, Guo QY1, Jia WR1, Jin ZY1, Ji Z1, Guo QL1, Yang FY1, Zhan H1, Wang H1, Liu QG2.
9. Zhao C et al. Moxibustion and acupuncture ameliorate Crohn’s Disease by regulating the balance between Th17 and Treg cells in the intestinal mucosa. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;938054.
10. [Effects of electro-acupuncture on neuronal apoptosis and associative function in rats with spinal cord injury]. Li CM, Xie SJ, Wang T, Du WB, Yang ZB, Quan RF. Zhongguo Gu Shang. 2015 Aug;28(8):733-8. Chinese.
11. J Tradit Chin Med. 1998 Jun;18(2):134-9. Effects of electroacupuncture at neiguan on myocardial microcirculation in rabbits with acute myocardial ischemia. Cao Q1, Liu J, Chen S, Han Z.
12. Manual Acupuncture at PC6 Ameliorates Acute Restraint Stress-Induced Anxiety in Rats by Normalizing Amygdaloid Noradrenergic Response. Zhao Z, Kim SC, Liu H, Zhang J, Wang Y, Cho IJ, Lee BH, Song CH, Lee CW, Yang CH, Zhao R, Wu Y. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2017;2017:4351723.

Acupuncture for Weight Loss

With summer around the corner, I get asked almost daily, “Can acupuncture be used for weight loss?” The answer is yes, but it may not be in the way you think; it’s a bit complex. The needles themselves don’t make the pounds melt away and there are no “weight loss points”. The way acupuncture aids weight loss is by harmonizing any underlying imbalances in the body and by promoting the best environment for weight loss to be possible. The benefit of weight loss would come secondary to a balanced body. The following are some of the variety of ways acupuncture indirectly promotes weight loss.
– Acupuncture regulates hormones such as insulin, cortisol and thyroid hormones which may be negatively affecting metabolism, fat storage, and cravings.
– Acupuncture calms the mind and relaxes the body which improves mood, desire and motivation to exercise and diet. Relieving stress also lowers cortisol which when raised leads to excess abdominal fat.
– Acupuncture relieves back, neck, hip, and knee pain that may be interfering with exercise.
– Acupuncture promotes digestion which helps reduce bloating and constipation.
– Acupuncture can also boost energy which has many obvious benefits.
If you feel you are working hard to lose weight and not getting any results, acupuncture would certainly be a beneficial addition to your program. But if you aren’t eating healthy or exercising, don’t expect a miracle, the results will be minimal.
Eating healthy is the most important factor in weight loss. Keep your diet plan simple and not too restrictive. Cook at home more and cut back on packaged/processed foods. Focus on increasing fiber, protein, and healthy fats. It has been a long disproved myth that eating fat makes you fat. Modern research promotes eating mono and polyunsaturated fats such as nuts, avocado, salmon, tuna, olives, and flaxseed to lose weight.
In TCM terms, acupuncturists say avoid “damp” inducing foods such as raw, cold foods like salads, smoothies, fruit, dairy, and icy drinks. Eat more foods that are warm and gentle on your digestive system such as steamed veggies, white rice, soups and stews. Too much damp in the body leads to fatigue, sluggish digestion, and weight gain.
To boost your weight loss plan consider adding one or two of the following supplements.
– Omega 3s increase metabolism and reduce belly fat.
– Vitamin D has a role in telling cells to burn fat.
– Green tea, an antioxidant, reduces appetite and boosts metabolism.
– Fiber supplements, probiotics, and digestive enzymes all promote healthy digestion.
Don’t over do it on supplements, use as directed. More does not equal better. If you are taking medications, talk to your acupuncturist before starting supplements.
As with any acupuncture treatment plan, it’s important to commit to frequent and recurring treatments for better and faster results.