Ask an expert - general - sweats

4 questions

Q:  Can acupuncture help with chronic blushing and stop the body from overheating?

A: This is an interesting question. As far as the second half goes, there is a substantial element of Chinese medical theory devoted to understanding the balance of Yin and Yang in the body, and Cold and Heat are just one manifestation of this duality. The fact that someone feels that they are constantly over-heating is a symptom which can be interpreted very thoroughly in the system, and there are dozens of treatments which would be applied to help to reduce this feeling.

However, we are assuming that you have made your doctor aware of this problem. There are a number of pathologies from a western perspective, some more serious than others, and it is vital that your doctor is aware of the problem and has run the sorts of tests which would help him or her to eliminate health problems for which conventional treatment ought to be given promptly.

It may well be that blushing is a part of this process; the appearance of a flush on the face is often a local manifestation of a systemic problem, and there are a number of case studies of men having treatment for prostrate problems for whom hot flushes have been successfully brought under control with acupuncture. This one

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20605360

is not untypical. The manifestation of the problem often involves flushing of the face or blushing.

However, again the caution is that the symptom is understood for what it is. There are a number of physical reasons why someone might blush frequently and also several emotional reasons, and any practitioner worth their salt will want to establish the extent to which the emotions are also involved. It may well be that the situation is a complex mish-mash of causes, where the visible physical discomfort and change of appearance itself causes stresses which make the problem exacerbate, but all medical systems try to break spirals like this by understanding their complexity and looking for ways to intervene and stop the escalation.

The advice we often give, to visit a local BAcC member and obtain a face to face assessment, applies particularly here. There is a wide range of possibilities and while at a distance we would feel cautiously optimistic it would require sight of the problem and the diagnostic indicators to give a clear idea of what acupuncture treatment may achieve.

Q:  Can Accupuncture help in excess sweating of face and scalp

 

A: We have been asked this question before, and the response we gave was
 
Q: I suffer from severe hyperhydrosis, (severe excessive sweating), specifically of the head, face and neck. This condition is very distressing and frankly is ruining my life. Please can you tell me if acupuncture is an appropriate therapy for this condition? 
 

 

A:  We  replied:

 

 

 

We always stress in cases such as yours that the different way of looking at the body and its functions in Chinese medicine can sometimes offer additional possibilities for treatment. Although, as we said, there is not a great deal of research evidence accepted in the West, in China nearly every condition has been researched at some stage, including hyperhydrosis. Results are often slightly equivocal - the question becomes not 'does it work?' but 'how much does it work and how sustainable is the improvement?' - but this reflects life; some people improve after treatment, others don't.
 
We can say with certainty that treatment at the hands of a properly trained and qualified practitioner will not do you any harm, and the practitioner may, by assessing your problem in the light of what else is happening in your system, be able to offer some help. The best advice, as always, is to contact a BAcC member local to you and ask their advice face to face.

 

 

 

We would also add now that there are a number of specific syndromes recognised in Chinese medicine where sweating is a central symptom, and if there were other confirming evidence of this syndrome the practitioner could say with some confidence that they could offer some hope through treatment. Even where the symptom stands alone, the essence of Chinese medicine is to treat the person, not the condition, and the older systems were premised on the simple belief that if everything was functioning as it should then symptoms of whatever nature would resolve.

 

Q: I suffer from severe hyperhydrosis, (severe excessive sweating), specifically of the head, face and neck. This condition is very distressing and frankly is ruining my life. Please can you tell me if acupuncture is an appropriate therapy for this condition? I have had acupuncture previously (about 15 years ago) for back pain, and it worked beautifully, and I thoroughly enjoyed the sensation, I found it very relaxing.

 

A:  We have been asked this question before and we replied:

 

 

 

We always stress in cases such as yours that the different way of looking at the body and its functions in Chinese medicine can sometimes offer additional possibilities for treatment. Although, as we said, there is not a great deal of research evidence accepted in the West, in China nearly every condition has been researched at some stage, including hyperhydrosis. Results are often slightly equivocal - the question becomes not 'does it work?' but 'how much does it work and how sustainable is the improvement?' - but this reflects life; some people improve after treatment, others don't.
 
We can say with certainty that treatment at the hands of a properly trained and qualified practitioner will not do you any harm, and the practitioner may, by assessing your problem in the light of what else is happening in your system, be able to offer some help. The best advice, as always, is to contact a BAcC member local to you and ask their advice face to face.

 

 

 

We would add, though, that if you have had some success with acupuncture treatment before this bodes well. We often find that 'good responders' enjoy similarly good results from treatment for a variety of ailments. The underlying theories of acupuncture often ascribe the changes achieved by treatment not to the specific treatment of symptoms but to the re-establishment of the overall balance. If someone has a symptom which responds to this overall re-balancing, it is probable that other symptoms will be amenable to treatment.

 

 

 

 

Q:  I suffer from excessive sweating when any exercise (walking short distances, playing golf and the gym (the worst)) takes place or when I feel under pressure or nervous.

It feels like the heat mostly comes from my feet and a general high body temprature which makes chest sweating and head sweating a regular occurrence
 

Does Acupuncture help reduce sweating?

 

A:  Hyperhidrosis can be a very difficult social problem, aside from the discomfort which it causes. There is often a vicious circularity about its occurrence, too; being worried that it might happen can easily create the conditions where it does.
 
There is not a great deal of research which we can quote, not because it doesn't exist but because most of it has been done in China and is not methodologically rigorous enough for us to quote. The Chinese researchers often begin from the premise that acupuncture works and want to find out what works best, whereas the focus in the West remains whether it works at all, which demands a much more complex and expensive set of rules.
 
However, Chinese medicine has a different way of looking at human physiology, underpinned as it is by theories about the flow of energy, called 'qi' in the body. A symptom such as excess sweating points to weaknesses in specific parts of the system, and offers some chance that correcting the imbalances in this area may have an effect on the symptom. Of course, nothing in life is that simple, and the reality is that the appearance of a symptom does not mean that there is a straightforward correspondence between the symptom and a part of the system directly responsible for it. The problem may well lie elsewhere in the system, and the skill of the practitioner lies in making sure not that the alarm bell gets turned off but that the reason it is ringing is attended to.
 
It would be very worthwhile to visit a BAcC member local to you to get face to face advice on whether they think acupuncture would be a good option for you. Some of the more obvious causes, viewed from a Chinese medicine perspective, might be immediately apparent and might enable them to give them to give you a good idea of how successful treatment might be. Even if the immediate cause is not apparent there may still be reason nto give acupuncture a go. There is certainly evidence that it can help in dealing with anxiety, and this may itself help to break the cycles which make the symptom persist.        
 

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