In autoimmune disorders, the body's defense, the immune system, wrongly attacks parts of the body. The causes are largely unknown. Some cases can be triggered by Infections, enviromental factors, hormones etc. Treatments involve "turning down/supressing"immune system activity, which bring side effects, especailly long term use. Some common diseases that are considered autoimmune cnclude Celiac disease, Inflammatirt bowel disease (IBD), Multiple sclerosis ((MS), Psoriasis, Rheumatoid arthritis, SLE, Hashimotos's thyroiditis, Vasculitis,Sjogren's.

I did 3 years post-graduate study in Autoimmune/Rheumatism. my dissertation was a clinical and experimental study on the treatment of SLE (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus). The conclusion was that Chinese herbal medicine, when used synergistically with conventional medication, can help with steroid withdrawal, minimize the use of corticosteroid and disease-modifying drugs hence the side effects from long term use. This has been proved by now ongoing clinical work; the combination of acupuncture and Chinese herbs (with or without minimal medication) works even better in keep the condition in remission and allow the patients the quality of life.

Case history

Discoid Lupus Erythematosus (DLE); Raynauld’s phenomenon; Hashimoto’s thyroiditis; Hepatitis C

D, 31, female. D was diagnosed Lupus 10 years ago. She had lost almost all her hair over the years, the worst was after she gave birth to her son. When she first came, scarring (white patches due to loss of pigment and skin atrophy due to tissue loss) on her cheeks, nose and chin, as well as some old hyperpigmented lesions on the edge of face. From time to time she gets new red itchy patches on her cheeks. She was having low grade fever, joint and muscle pain, lower back pain. Her hands/fingers were swollen and painful like sausages, pus on some badly affected fingers. She was fatigued and depressed.

Despite D smokes on and off which is not helping her conditionat all, she has persevered with the treatment (acupuncture and herbs) for 3 years. Her general symptoms of aches and pain and fever went very quickly. The skin on her face has improved dramatically; now she can go out without worrying about people starring at her face. Her fingers have gradually improved each year, they are not painful or swollen at all now. Her painful heavy periods have improved too, as well as the low mood. Her hair still hasn’t grown back unfortunately. She haven’t needed to take any medication including Methotrexate and Prednilosone apart from 200my of Hydroxychloroquine the last 3 years since she came to see me. She has even stopped the Hydroxychloroquine for 3 months due to the long term risk of retinopathy and she notices her vision is not as blurry.

Her Hashimoto has improved too. Currently she is only taking 25microgram Thyroixine. Another good news was that her hepatitis C treatment had worked last year.

She is moving to Newcastle and I wish her all the best and promised to continually support her.

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE); Osteoarthritis

S, 59, female. S’s SLE was diagnosed 12 years ago. She previously had discoid rash, mouth and nasal ulcers, inflammatory joint pains and weak positive ANA. She also has Osteoarthritis on her knees, fibromyalgia and she suffers from visual migraine attacks. S was a smoker for 25 years before she got ill. S has only been coming to me for a few months. Her hot flushes and night sweats have much improved, she had lost weight in the past year and still keeping active and eating well. She hasn’t had headaches/migraine. The only medication for SLE that S is otaking is 200my of Hydroxychloroquine. We are trying to gradually come off it due to the long term risks of retinopathy. The treatment is still ongoing.

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