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A: We are assuming that your question is about whether we think acupuncture would be good for sinus problems. We cannot, we're afraid, give individual recommendations; we take the view that all of our members are equally well-qualified to deal with whatever problems a patient may have.
 
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the evidence from the few trials there have been of sinus problems have not been that encouraging. This reflects the clinical experience of many practitioners, that sinus problems can be intractable and defy all attempts to relieve them. It would be good to be able to conclude that surgical options like rhinoplasty and sinus washes were the best alternative, but many acupuncture patients who come to treatment with sinus problems find that surgery has only offered temporary relief.
 
A great deal depends on the wider backdrop of your health against which the problems can be seen. Chinese medicine looks at the whole picture of someone's health, and it would be unusual for someone to be troubled by a single, quite unpleasant problem without their being other health issues, even if these are not particularly troublesome in themselves. It is this whole complex picture which can give the practitioner a better idea of what is happening and by the same logic a better idea of how difficult or how straightforward it will be to treat a problem. The best advice is to visit a BAcC member local to you so that they can offer a better assessment based on a face to face chat.
 
What we often find, however, is that there is often a lifestyle factor such as diet which is at least contributory to the problem. Many people eat a great deal of dairy produce in the form of milk or cheese, and this can often have aa significant effect on the body's fluids, from a Chinese medicine perspective making them more thick and less free-flowing. Cutting out some of these foods can often have a profound effect. A practitioner would very quickly be able to assess whether this was the case, and also consider other common contributory factors.   
 
 

We were asked a very similar question some time ago and we responded:
  

Q: I lost my sense of smell about three years ago, but can still taste. I have see my GP and hospital and have ruled out polyps, tumors etc. The hospital says there is no more they can do as probably an infection wiped out my sense of smell.  I occasionally am able to get a vague smell of some things.  i also suffer with a lot of mucus, but even when this is clear the smell is no different.

 

A: We are not quite clear from your question how best to advise you. Most of what people regard as 'taste' is in fact 'smell', and if someone has lost their sense of smell entirely the range of tastes which they can experience is very limited. If you are able to get a vague smell of things, it may mean that you have a small amount of residual function or it could mean that you are able to remember at some deep level the smells associated with certain foods and your brain is 'filling in the gaps.'
 
There is a frequently cited case study from nearly a decade ago http://aim.bmj.com/content/21/4/153.full.pdf+html
 
which reports the successful treatment of one case, but in all honesty there are very few others, and no substantial evidence suggesting that this has been replicated by other practitioners. Most members have had patients for whom the loss of the sense of small. anosmia, has been a secondary complaint, but we have heard very few reports of great success.
 
That said, the fact that you suffer from a great deal of mucus is something which most practitioners would immediately look at to see whether you did have some residual function but where the physical blockage of over-production of mucus could be affecting your sense of smell. This would be a long shot, and if mucus alone were the causal agent then anything which caused your nasal packages to unblock, like a very hot curry, or a cold which encouraged the expulsion of mucus would probably have left you with an improved sense of smell for a short while.
 
It may be worth you while to visit a BAcC member local to you to ask their advice face to face. If you were to decide to have acupuncture treatment, or indeed any treatment from a complementary medicine practitioner, we would advise you to be very clear about outcomes and reviews of progress. Our experience is that people can rapidly run up considerable costs chasing solutions when there is nothing substantive to suggest the treatment is having any effect, and the responsible practitioner will always draw a clear line in the sand if they are not achieving changes which the patient can experience and which underpin continued treatment. 

 
The same advice holds good for your question. Sinus problems can often cause persistent blockages throughout the nasal passages, and a combination of acupuncture and dietary advice may provide some benefit. Some patients use a combination of acupuncture and chinese herbal medicine, the advantage of the latter being that treatment can be reinforced daily. The greater majority of RCHM members are also BAcC members, so it should be relatively easy to find someone qualified in both modalities.
 
Having said that we would not want to give you an unrealistic expectation about the outcome. We have not heard many reports of this condition being treated successfully, and there are very few case reports on the web which report success.

A great deal depends on what is causing the dark circles to appear. Normally we all associate dark circles under the eyes with tiredness, but assuming that this is not the case with your question, there are a number of diagnostic patterns within Chinese medicine for which dark circles might indicate an underlying weakness of energy, or 'qi' as the Chinese call it. Some people's inherited energy, for example, can have been compromised by the health of either parent at conception or by a difficult pregnancy. In these sorts of cases, their management of their life has to be a little more careful, i.e. they may not be able to manage 60 hour working weeks and party all weekend. In some cases the dark circles are a permanent feature.
 
The key thing to bear in mind is that this will be one symptom or sign amongst a number of others, and treatment would generally be focused on the underlying imbalance. You will see, however, a growing number of websites which promise to do away with dark circles and other signs with facial or cosmetic acupuncture. The BAcC's view is that these procedures are useful when used in the context of a traditional diagnosis and treatment of the whole system. If they are simply applied as one-off symptomatic treatments in many cases whatever gains are made will be lost very rapidly. That is not to say that there may not be cases where this is a sign of local stagnation which acupuncture might help to clear, but in the majority of cases treating the whole system would probably be necessary as well.
 
We cannot give out referrals to specific members who focus on this kind of work, but it is a relatively straightforward search using google to find a BAcC member in your area who also does facial or cosmetic acupuncture. There are indeed a number of organisations set up by BAcC members as support networks for people doing this kind of work, and they have searchable databases of members who have taken postgraduate training in this area. We recommend that you find someone who is both a BAcC member and trained in cosmetic acupuncture to assess whether treatment may be of benefit to your specific needs.   
 
 

A: There are a number of small studies, of which this is an example
 
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20214065

which suggest that the use of acupuncture treatment in conjunction with conventional treatments, in this case the use of betablockers, can enhance the effect of the medication. There are also a number of interesting case studises, such as this one from the journal of the American doctors' acupuncture association
  
http://www.medicalacupuncture.org/aama_marf/journal/vol1_1/tremor.html

 

which report interesting and encouraging outcomes from treatment. However, the overall weight of evidence is a little too light for us to say with certainty that acupuncture can help. Indeed, it is one of the conditions which many practitioners have found to be treatment-resistant, i.e. where it has been a part of a much larger symptom pattern this is often the symptom which persist after everthing else has improved.

 

 

 

However, Chinese medicine has a very different conceptual basis from western medicine, and there are occasions when a symptom as described by a patient will make sense to the practitioner within the structure of Chinese medicine. This might give some hope that treatment could help to resolve it. One has to be realistic, though; if a problem has existed for many years it may take a while to shift, and at some point one needs to be able to make a good judgement about whether a long course of treatment is worthwhile. Nothing is worse for both practitioner and patient alike than the failed expectations of a long course of treatment where there were no clear reviews or outcome measures set from the off.

 

 

We would advise you to visit a BAcC member local to you and seek their advice based on a more detailed account of your problem than we have space for here - i.e. what caused it or was it 'just from nowhere', what has been the history of the problem (same all the time or dgenerating further), when/if it gets worse at specific times and so on. All of these factors will build up to give the practitioner the best possible chance to assess whether acupuncture treatment might be worth trying.     
 

There is no research of which we are aware that has looked specifically into the maintenance of air pressure in the ears, and on that basis we cannot offer you a judgement about whether acupuncture is useful.
 
A great deal depends on what you are asking, however. We are assuming that your question implies some failure of pressure maintenance, which implies either some form of physical damage or perforation, or some form of condition which affects the equalisation of pressures, such as a continuing infection or build up of fluids in the area. If it is the former, acupuncture treatment may not be appropriate, especially if the problem has been deemed to be irreversible in conventional medicine. If it is the latter, a great deal would depend on the exact nature of the problem, and for this our best advice is to visit a BAcC member local to you and seek their advice on whether they believe that on the basis of a face to face assessment there is some chance that they might help.

 

We always answer questions such as yours cautiously because there is an initial premise in Chinese medicine that acupuncture treatment restores functions by encouraging the proper flow of energy in the channels and by restoring the proper functioning of the internal Organs (the capital letter denotes the Chinese understanding of an Organ.). Many practitioners would argue that the sorts of problems generated by pressure maintenance problems in the ears have existed since ancient times, and the Chinese would have classified these within the recognised syndromes of Chinese medicine diagnosis. Ergo, they would be treatable on this basis. However, we have the advantage of much more sophisticated information by virtue of Xrays and scans, and there are a number of inner ear problems which will not be amenable to treatment, however closely the symptoms they generate conform to a recognised pattern within Chinese medicine diagnosis. 

 

As above, therefore, we recommend that you seek advice from a BAcC member who can address your specific concerns. 
 

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