Category Archives: Case Studies

A Head cold enters the Lungs

A patient recently came down with a head cold. She had the common presentation: nasal congestion, chills, fatigue, general malaise, and possibly a low fever.

After a few days of this, she contacted me because she simply couldn’t seem to shake the cold and it had started to enter her lungs. By the time I was able to see her, the symptoms had changed. Now, the illness had entered her lung. The symptoms were mainly a cough that might be categorized as “chesty” or a wet cough. While her nose had cleared up, ther lungs were now producing a yellow sticky phlegm that was moderately difficult to expectorate. The chills were gone, the cough was more frequent and kept the patient up all night. The fatigue was increasing, and the patient also developed a significantly painful sore throat.

Infectious type situations such as this, are better suited for treatment with herbal medicine than acupuncture. In this case, the patient was given a combination of two formulas plus one extra herb was added in. The herb formulas were Sang Ju Yin (aka Mulberry and Chrysanthemum Decoction) and Qing Qi Hua Tan Wan (aka Clear the QI and Transform Phlegm). The first formula is particularly indicated for sore throat with a cough. The herb ban lan gen (radix isatidis) was added in because it has excellent antiviral properties, and more specifically it is fantastic for treating sore throat. The other formula, Qing Qi Hua Tan Wan, is excellent for lung congestion and cough when there is yellow and/or green phlegm that is sticky and may be difficult to expectorate. It is said to treat the pattern of imbalance called phlegm heat in the lungs in Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).

So, what actually happened? Within 24 hours the patient reported that her sore throat had completely resolved, and that the phlegm became much easier to expectorate ( ie cough up and spit out). Upon further questioning, she stated that her lungs felt much clearer, breathing was easy, and she said, “I’m still tired but its not that type of tired you get when you’re sick, but just the type of tired you feel when you havent slept enough”. She went on to say that she could tell her body had beat the “bug” and now just needed to rest and recuperate.


Ear problems often present with dizziness or vertigo as a common symptom. In the last couple years, a number of people have come here to the clinic with these types of cases. Over time, I have found that many of these patients respond very well to a combination of therapies we use here at New England Acupuncture. Lets look at a handful of these cases. (As always, many details are changed to fully protect the identity of patients).

Jonathan the MapMaker came in presenting with a previously diagnosed case of Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo ( BPPV). This is a condition where a crystal in your ear breaks off, floating around, and causing vertigo. It is a temporary condition that eventually will resolve. The conventional therapy used by doctors and physical therapists, to treat this is the Epley maneuver. Even though it may be a self limiting condition, this makes it no less uncomfortable for patients.

In my experience, the Epley maneuver seems to perform poorly, as evidenced by the many patients who come here to the clinic after having gotten no relief from the Epley maneuver. Of course, this could be selection bias.

At any rate, Johnathan Map Maker, a 59 Swedish bodybuilder, had severe vertigo, had gotten no relief from Epley maneuver, and hoped I could give him some relief. On his first visit, he received acupuncture and craniosacral therapy. The acupuncture focused on treating both the channels (aka meridians) that ran through the ear area, as well as the kidney channel ( kidneys are said to govern hearing). Points used included TW 3(Triple Warmer 3), and empirical point known to treat ear problems, as well as GB41 and GB 40. These points are located on the gall bladder channel, which both connects with the Triple Warmer channel , which means that the two channels can help treat each other, and both run around the ear area. Also, the point GB 12, a point located near the mastoid process (behind and below the ear) was needled. Lastly, K3 and K2 were needled on the kidney channel.

When the needles were removed about 30 minutes later, acupressure and craniosacral therapy were applied. The very next day, the patient reported he felt 70% improved. One more treatment was given a few days later, the BPPV resolved and the patient has had no more symptoms. Other patients with BPPV have had similar success here with the same or very similar protocols.

Dizzy Dan

Dan, an 80 year old cop originally from Ontario, came to the clinic already having been diagnosed with Meniere’s disease. He had relatively frequent attacks of dizziness even though he had been taking the medication meclizine. The treatment protocol overlapped with the one used for the aforementioned case of BPPV. Craniosacral was applied similarly, but the acupuncture points were somewhat different. In this case, the local point GB 12. located near the ear was used again. Additionally, points that treat the imbalance known as damp phlegm were also used (st40, st36, sp9,etc) as well as TW6 and other points that assist the bodies ability to transform damp and phlegm. After two visits the patient reported less frequent flare ups of dizziness. After about 4 treatments, the improvements were significant enough that the patient only came once per month for maintenance.

This year another patient came in with meniere’s. He received a very similar treatment and gained similar relief. Though I have not seen him in a few months, he seemed to be doing fairly well at last visit.

The final ear related case we will discuss is Myrtle with the utricle. Myrtle is an older woman who had been diagnosed with some type of issue involving the utricle, and organ in the ear. Her symptom was that the world felt tilted to her, not actual dizziness. She had already started therapy with a physical therapist, and was engaging in various specific exercises involving her head and eyes. After making no improvement two weeks into that therapy, she came in for acupuncture.

Overall, she was fairly healthy, with her only issues being mild hypertension, well controlled with medications, and back pain from arthritis. From the principles of traditional Chinese medicine, she suffered from kidney vacuity. It is said that , “the kidneys open into the ears”. So, i utilized acupuncture points on the kidney and urinary bladder channels ( both of which share an important connection). Utilizing the imaging system from Dr. Tan, I selected and needle the appropriate points. After three treatments the symptom had improved by 50%. Myrtle continued receiving two acupuncture treatments per week, and after a few weeks, she had hardly any of the tilting symptom left.

There are a variety of ear related disorders. Many respond quite well. One condition, tinnitus, does not respond well. So, if someone you know has meniere’s, BPPV, or some other ear related ailment, go ahead and make an appointment.

A Cancer Patient Rejuvenates


Though Traditional Chinese Medicine is roughly 5000 years old, it has a lot it can offer patients who have cancer. In this case history, we will look at a patient who benefited greatly from some basic acupuncture, herbs, and moxibustion. This patient’s story is a really great example.

The patient, whom we will call Mr. C, had been in remission for some 2 years but was still getting chemotherapy twice a year. At that point, the patient was diagnosed with a bladder infection, and shortly after that, he contracted an intestinal infection known as c. diff, which can be life threatening. Additionally, he was informed that the cancer had returned and would need to begin undergoing regular scheduled chemo treatments as well as a new treatment of rituxin. By the time the proverbial smoke had cleared and the infections had resolved, the patient was quite “wiped out”. Furthermore, Mr C also suffered from loose stool (a side effect of chemo), weakness of the legs, and a general malaise and lack of his normal mental vibrancy.

How did we go about helping Mr C regain vitality, improved digestion, improved recovery time after chemo, and increased zest for life? We carried out what, in traditional Chinese Medicine, is referred to as ‘fu zheng therapy. The term means support the normal. Simply put, this means strengthening the normal functions of the body so that it can withstand the chemo and other treatments. Another way to think about it is that therapy is used to reduce side effects of the cancer treatmenent.

As was mentioned previously, Mr. C’s side effects included fatigue, weakness of the legs, unsteady gait/dizziness, loose stools, somewhat depressed affect and feeling cold. In fact, the abdomen and arms and legs on Mr. C were ice cold to the touch. Real improvement was made within even the first week. While acupuncture was used, the biggest contributors were moxibustion and herbal therapy. Moxibustion is a type of ancient heat therapy where a specific herb is burned safely and comfortably over certain acupuncture points to strengthen the body and is particularly indicated in cases such as this, where the body is very cold to the touch, significant fatigue is present, and the pulse is deep and forceless at the radial artery.

An herbal formula, known in Chinese as Shen Ling Bai zhu San was given. The herb formula immediately began to improve digestion and improve bowel movements so that they were no longer loose. Energy levels also began to improve within about a week. Additionally, after 3 treatments of moxibustion, the abdomen was no longer ice cold, but only very mildly cold, and the limbs also felt warmer to the touch. The radial pulse was improved, though not entirely. As of this writing, the patient has reported that he finally feels like his old self, with an enthusiasm for life returning. While no one can predict the future, we plan to keep helping Mr C, doing what we can, to feel the best he can feel under these difficult circumstances. Seeing him smiling and animated again is very satisfying

If you or a loved one is undergoing chemo or other conventional cancer treatments, it may be worth looking into complementary treatments to help improve quality of life and potentially have an even deeper positive impact. Always discuss these matters with your physician before trying anything new.

Success in 3 Cases of Knee Pain

In the last week, 2 different patients came in presenting with knee pain.  The first patient had pain on the medial side (inside of the leg) of their right knee. The pain was related to slipping on a hike.

In this first case, the knee pain was aggravated by both pressing on the area with even mild pressure, and also by going from a sitting to a standing position.  Acupuncture was given by using points in the lower leg as well as placing needles in points on the opposite arm near the elbow. After the needles were removed, there was still some soreness when the knee was pressed. At this point, I then employed a manual technique called PNT. This technique utilizes a very gentle pressing perpendicular to the muscles which run through the knee area. Immediately after, the patient tested the knee by sitting and moving to a standing position. She reported that all pain was completely gone, and the remaining soreness that occurred with pressure was also gone.

In the second patient with knee pain, there was significant soreness and pain just above the knee. Acupuncture needles were gently inserted into the opposite elbow area at points P3, Lu5, and LI11. The patient was then instructed to move the leg, flexing and extending the knee. She immediately reported that there was no longer any pain. Next she tested the knee by walking, and still no pain returned at all!

In both cases, I Ching/Balance Method style of acupuncture was used with good effect.  This is a particular type of acupuncture which typically gives instant pain relief for many types of pain.  As we mentioned, the first patient also needed some manual therapy. PNT is a simple manual technique which is very gentle, and utilizes the body’s own neurologic reflexes to ‘reset’ the muscles.

In many simple cases of knee pain, quick relief can be gained. When a patient has very advanced arthritis, such as when cartilage is completely worn away, and bone is rubbing on bone, then these techniques typically do not provide real relief. However, for mild to moderate arthritis, tendonitis, or bursitis, these techniques have been extremely effective in many patients who have come to New England Acupuncture.

For some people, simple nutritional therapies may also be helpful for joint pain, such as knee pain.  In a third patient who came in for bilateral knee pain (pain in both knees), and had a prior diagnosis of osteoarthritis from her doctor,  we have been able to almost completely eradicate her knee pain, even though she had been suffering pain for years before coming to the clinic.

In her case, we did a course of acupuncture treatment with excellent results. Still, there was a small flare up many months later. Along with a few more acupuncture treatments, it was suggested that she purchase some beef gelatin powder and take some daily. Recently, when the patient came in for a general ‘tune up’ treatment, she reported that the gelatin has been highly beneficial, and she is able to be active without pain in either knee, and also reported that the gelatin has improved her skin, hair, and nails.

These 3 cases of recent patients exemplify how simple and gentle treatments can significantly erase pain and return individuals to a more active lifestyle.