Log in

No account? Create an account
Mama Deb
.:::.:....... ..::...:
Mama Deb [userpic]

I will grant that I am skeptic about such things in the first place, but I know someone who has what she believes is a sinus infection. She is treating it with acupuncture instead of antibiotics because she hates pills.

And because she's rather treat the symptoms, not the cause.

I am a major skeptic when it comes to acupuncture in the first place, but even if it worked as advertised, they don't advertise as treating infections, just pain. If you have an infection, why not treat the infection? That'll take care of the pain, too - and there's no reason you can't do the alternative at the same time if you really want to.


Most reputable acupuncturists won't tell you what a sham western medicine is, in fact, they firmly believe it has its place, they WILL talk about where it has gone wrong, i.e. where it treats symptoms and not causes (see: women's menstrual cramps) or goes overboard and causes problems later. However a sinus infection left untreated IS actually deadly.

Which means that her acupuncturist *isn't* acting according to the accepted norms of the profession, because he or she is allowing her to do just that. Or the person I know isn't being honest with them.

I didn't think they had any problems with antibiotics.

I'm amazed at the person I know, not the practicioner.

Well. It's a matter of information. Did your friend just not tell the practitioner they aren't taking meds, just said "I have a sinus infection and the symptoms suck" etc, because they CAN help sinuses drain and relieve pressure and such, so in that case, I'd say your friend is being a dork, if she did say and the practitioner didn't counsel her to go get some antibiotics (and really, unless she has some special strain, even WITHOUT insurance it'll cost $30 max) then there's an issue. But a good acupuncturist can definitely reduce symptoms and the need for OTC meds.

I can't call her a friend, precisely, but from what her husband has said, it's all her decision to not use antibiotics because she hates pills. I have no idea what her acupuncturist has said to her. And I can very much believe she's being a dork.

Chiming in here, because ami linked me to this post. I'm an acupuncturist & chinese herbalist with a solid background in science and skepticism.

However a sinus infection left untreated IS actually deadly.

Replace that with "can be", rather than IS. A sinus infection, along with many other things, can be self-limiting. I would NOT, however bet the farm or even my own health on that. What I will say to patients routinely is that if they see no difference in a few days, to get their ass over to the doctor's office because a sinus infection is scary due to the proximity of the sinuses to the brain. We like brains.

HOWEVER, in the argument against antibiotic usage, not all infections are bacterial. Some are viral. And if it's a viral infection, the antibiotics aren't going to do jack shit. (A technical term.) And doctors seldom test for bacteria that before giving out pill prescriptions, leading to unnecessary treatment and side-effects, not to mention all the dangers of antibiotic resistant bacteria, etc.

On the pro-side, if a patient is on antibiotics already, and they tell me they decide not to finish the prescription because they feel better, I'll be the first person to yell at them. That's how you breed resistant bacteria and relapse like crazy. (I just delivered this lecture to a patient last month.)

As to treating the infection vs treating the symptoms, ie., pain -- many (I'd hope most) acupuncturists will be treating the entire person -- symtoms, immune system boosting, and any bacterial/viral invasion that exists within the body. It depends on the training of the practitioner. If the person doing the treating is a "medical acupuncturist" or an MD or DC with an acupuncture license, it usually means they have 250-300 hours of training in pain relief and little else. An acupuncturist fully trained in Traditional Chinese Medicine or japanese acupuncture has (about) 2500-4000 hours of training in acupuncture *theory* and how to treat the whole body. I've treated (successfully) a great number of people for things that aren't pain related -- such as panic attacks, PMS & menstrual irregularities, eczema, asthma, chronic fatigue syndrome, and so on. One patient credits me with the conception/birth of her child. The WHO (World Health Organization) officially approves of acupuncture to treat a wide variety of illnesses, pain being only one kind.

The "advertising" you see for just treating pain comes from another source as well. Legalese is not our friend. In this country if you say that you are treating a "sinus infection" or "eczema" or any *medical condition*, then you are technically practicing medicine without a license and you get the book thrown at you. Legally, we are required to say that we treat the symptoms, not the disease. Frankly that is SUCH a laugh, given that much of western medicine is TOTALLY band-aid oriented. Ie, cover up the symptoms, pills for everything that only make things temporarily better. How many people do you know are on how many kinds of pills for life? If I've done my job as a Chinese Medicine Practitioner correctly, then when I make changes to a person's health, they stay made, or at least need less treatment as time goes on if a person is unwilling/unable to change the lifestyle that got them into trouble in the first place.

As to why not just go with antibiotics -- sometimes, they're incredibly hard on the body, and sometimes they don't work. I can think of one person I treated (a few years ago) who went through 3 rounds of increasingly strong (and rough on the system) antibiotics before coming to me because he didn't want to do a course of antibiotics by IV. (In this case, not a sinus infection, but a massive case of "everything-itis" from the adenoids to deep in the throat, tonsils, pharynx, larynx, etc.) His throat hurt less immediately after he got off the table and I believe all symptoms were gone within 3-4 days, not to return. Another person who gets recurrent ear infections, finds that the antibiotics knock him off his feet for two weeks in a way that sounds like mono crossed with flu body aches. The side effects are just really rough for some people.

Once again - I was posting about my acquaintance, who herself has said she wants to treat the symptoms, not the cause. I have no idea what her acupuncturist told her, or what she told her acupuncturist, and I know she hasn't seen her physician - and we all know self-diagnosis is a risky thing.

and we all know self-diagnosis is a risky thing.

Oi. Self-diagnosis made my professional life infinitely more interesting (read: annoying and painful) until I learned to start asking questions like "Are you diagnosed for condition X? No? Why do you think you have it?"

*shrug* Like I said, I chimed in due to Ami linking me, which I assumed was her asking me to do so. And then words just kept pouring out and I couldn't seem to shut up. :)

I know about the self-diagnosis from, um, personal experience. Fortunately, I don't self-prescribe and do see appropriate people. Who perform appropriate tests and tell me I'm wrong. :) Which I nearly always am.

I am a firm believer in the benefits of acupuncture; I go once a week and it's just about gotten rid of my migraines and significantly cut down on the daily headaches I used to get, as well as anxiety and panic attacks.

Recently I thought I had a sinus infection and went to the doctor, who gave me antibiotics. After ten days on Augmentin I felt no different but after two sessions of acupuncture my head was draining and I didn't feel the pressure. It really can help with sinus pressure and drainage.

Which are two completely different things *G*, but I agree, they CAN help with the symptoms, but that doesn't mean that skipping the antibiotics is a good idea.

True, and I didn't mean to imply it was. However, sometimes you get doctors who are just like "here, have antibiotics" even when it's not necessary, and sometimes a sinus infection is a cold in disguise.

I'm not a doctor, I have no way of telling whether someone has an actual sinus infection or anything else, and I agree that if you think you have a sinus infection, seeing a doctor is probably a good idea.

I'm glad it worked for you.

Since she doesn't mind needles, next time she can just ask for the antibiotics to be injected straight into her tush.

(no subject) - (Anonymous)

I am a deep skeptic about most alternative treatments - I simply don't buy them. But I know that the science behind Western medicine works.

well, if i may speak in my official capacity as a biologist (hee hee hee)
a healthy person with a strong immune system will clear a minor bacterial infection without antibiotics. Acupuncture can increase blood flow, produce endorphins, and other things that can help the immune system do its job, etc. many sinus infections, ear infections, what have you, are viral and antibiotics wont help anyway. that said, if your immune system CANT clear the bacterial infection on its own, antibiotics help! and um, if your immune system is completely shot, conversely, antibiotics wont help you, much. antibiotics and the body work together. overusing antibiotics is bad, bad bad- bad for world health, bad for individuals, bad for food safety, bad for almost everything. but judicious use of antibiotics is good. and access/availability/proper diagnosis and prescription of the right antibios for the job is critical.

My immune system is plenty strong - it works overtime to the point that at one point, I needed to take two different allergy meds daily just to not go insane. (Thank goodness, it's settled down to the point that I only need one and that not daily.) I'd rather it was normal. I really can't see how sticking needles in me would change that.

Are there studies about acupuncture?

Yeah, that seems sort of silly. I mean, as a complementary treatment or perhaps if you're like me and antibiotics don't touch sinus infections any more (random: I ran across a study recently that indicated that a goodly amount of sinusitis cases are actually viral and antibiotics aren't going to do any good but doctors prescribe them anyway which made me wonder about whatever the heck it is I had going on until just before allergy season hit. Figures.), that makes sense. But not as a primary treatment.

On the other hand, I get drug resistant sinus infections. No antibiotics work for me anymore. The only think that works is rinsing my sinuses with tea tree oil, eucalyptus and warm water 4 times a day.

Acupuncture can help when it is used to strengthen your own immune system and to stimulate areas that have been bogged down with chronic conditions. Sometimes I "sharp poke" is what's needed to get things moving again. If you can get the sinuses draining and the immune system to kick in, your body IS capable of fighting off an infection on it's own. If it weren't, we'd have all gone extinct the first time humans were ever exposed to a cold or flu germ.

I have a feeling that colds and flus were pretty deadly once upon a time. In fact, the flu can be deadly now.

I just don't buy acupuncture doing anything to the immune system at all.

Acupuncture is actually part of a complete medical system - Traditional Chinese Medicine purports to address the full spectrum of human health, just as Western medicine does. & TCM has been around far longer than Western medicine, and is still used extensively in China, including in their hospitals. It's not exclusively for pain management, though I would believe there are places in the US where acupuncturists are restricted to advertising only helping with pain (just as doctors of Chinese Medicine are relegated to complimentary care in the US - this is not true in China). Your acquaintance is wrong in thinking that acupuncture would only treat the symptoms - TCM is very much about finding & treating root causes (IME far more than Western medicine, where symptoms only get a name when there's a drug to treat them).

Speaking specifically about sinus infections, the TCM approach would be to strengthen the body so it can fight off the infection (in Western terms, this would be strengthening the immune system so it can do its job), but also to look at why the infection happened in the first place & work on correcting that imbalance so infection won't recur. Contrast that with antibiotics, which kill off this infection (doing the work of the immune system for it) but do nothing about any underlying condition making sinus infections more likely. Given how many people I know who get recurrent sinus infections, a more holistic approach just makes more sense to me, even if one chooses to use antibiotics.

Antibiotics on the other hand can have some pretty bad side effects. There's certainly a time & a place for antibiotics (as there is for Western medicine), and I can't speak to this particular instance, but my experience is that alternatives can be less harmful & as effective, depending on the severity of the infection. One hopes that if the acupuncture isn't helping, she'll reconsider antibiotics or at least consulting a Western doctor. A good acupuncturist knows her limits and refers as necessary.

& I say all of this as a skeptic as well, but also as someone who has a bunch of experience in alternative medicine.

Your acquaintance is wrong in thinking that acupuncture would only treat the symptoms - TCM is very much about finding & treating root causes (IME far more than Western medicine, where symptoms only get a name when there's a drug to treat them).

Oh, how true it is. I like my GYN, but her response to me not menstruating is "here, take birth control". My acupuncturist is like "hmm...let's see if we can work on the underlying cause of why you're not menstruating and do something about it". Guess which one I like better?

(disclaimer: my acupuncturist managed to induce my period twice, but for some reason it's just not showing up this time, which means that when I see the GYN in a few weeks I'll have to ask for a prescription to induce it.)

I get so frustrated with the default answer to all hormonal issues in women is birth control pills. I ended up on them as a teenager because I was (as I know now) having panic attacks - obviously that's a hormonal issue.

I know a bunch of women have found good results with diet & lifestyle changes in terms of hormonal issues. Won't fix everything of course, and not everyone's willing or able to make those changes, but since bearfairie has done a lot with PCOS & related conditions, I figured I'd mention it. I am continually amazed at how big a difference those changes have made for me (though not for a hormonal issue since mine now come out of a pump).

Again, maybe I've been lucky, but I've seen several gyns and none of them have suggested that for me and my pcos.

Metformin has given me regular periods but that's not why I take it. I just reached a point in the diabetes where diet and exercise stopped working.

Funny. I've had highly irregular periods - sometimes nonexistent up to a year at a time - until the last few years. Not once has a gynecologist suggested I go on birth control. I took the pill for a grand total of one month while I was undergoing fertility treatments, but that was the least of the hormones I'd ingested/injected into my body during that time - my reproductive endocrinologist just wanted to be able to predict when I'd have my period. And that was for the second attempt - he didn't bother for the third. I think it reduced the number of eggs I produced.

I'm actually more or less regular now because I'm taking metformin for my diabetes. It's a side effect.

They would ask if my irregular periods bothered me. I would tell them the truth, which was that it didn't, and that was that.


I feel like I should put a disclaimer here saying I've not been officially diagnosed with PCOS; however, I have been told that I just don't ovulate, which is why I don't get my period. Add in everything else and it looks pretty much like I have PCOS, or something equivalent.

I've seen two different gynecologists since I started going annually. The first--and this is a doctor I really liked--told me that I needed to be on something to regulate my period, because not menstruating for months at a time wasn't healthy. I was told that women who don't menstruate regularly (i.e. months between periods) have a much higher risk of things like uterine and cervical cancer and if I didn't go on the pill, I was potentially looking at a high cancer risk by the time I was thirty.

My second gyn, the one I'm seeing now, hasn't given me the cancer speech. However, she does think that not menstruating the way I do is extremely unhealthy and I need to be on some kind of pill to regulate it so the linings don't keep building up.

Neither doctor ever bothered to look at what might be the underlying cause here and why I'm not getting my period or what could be done to change that. The pill doesn't even help with what's wrong; it produces an artificial period. So I'm still not menstruating regularly, nor am I ovulating, but because I get a fake period every four weeks it must be okay.

Thanks, no.

Yeah, well.

That's just not true. Having monthly periods is something new, evolutionarily speaking. Most women spent the time between puberty and menopause (assuming they reached menopause) pregnant or nursing.

Which why there are women taking bc pills nonstop to not have periods and why there are formulations such as Seasonale.

I've never gotten that speech, or had any gyn tell me that it was healthier to have a period.

Gah. Anon comment above is me; I didn't see I wasn't logged in.

I unscreened it.