Acupuncture in Combination with Chinese Herbal Formulas Can Help Scleroderma Accompanied with Raynaud’s Disease

Case No. 1:

A 68-year-old female was admitted to the clinic for help with scleroderma accompanied with Raynaud’s syndrome (disease) for 16 years. She has suffered from hardening and tightness of the limbs, face and abdomen; coldness, purplish color of the four limbs. The symptoms were got worse when the weather became cold. There was damage showing on the tips of her fingers.

Recently she has had coldness, a purplish coloration, hardening and tightness of the hands, wrists, fingers and feet. These symptoms get worse when the weather starts getting cold; painful sensation on the hands and fingers but lowered sensation on the tips of fingers; ulcers on the tips of fingers often appear and disappear from time to time; necrosis appeared on the tips of her right middle, small and ring fingers 12 years ago, which broke the bone on the tip of her right middle finger 6 years ago; she also has stiffness and limited motion of the joints of the hands and fingers. She feels hardening and tightness of the face; the movement of the mouth and chewing has been slightly restricted. She always feels fatigued and coldness of the body, and has poor sleep, stress, and depression. These conditions get worse when it is cold. Her appetite is moderate, sometime dryness of the mouth and tongue; bowel movement once daily.

Examination showed thinness of the body, dry skin, and paleness of the face and a fixed facial expression; purplish coloration of the hands, fingers and feet; white coloration with ulcers on the tips of fingers; necrosis on the tips of her right small and ring fingers; there was a damaged and broken bone on the tip of right middle finger; finger flexion is slightly limited. She has painful sensations to slight touch on local area of fingers, decreased sensation to touch in local area of the tips. There was tightness and coldness of the face, abdomen, arms, hands and feet with touch or pressure. Her tongue body presented as thin and atrophied, pale and red color, with a thin white tongue coating; her pulse was weak and deep, pulse rate was 72; her BP was 120/80mmHP. (See the attachment of figures).

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine standards, her diagnosis is yang qi deficiency with cold of the meridians and blood stasis. The treatment principle used is to warm yang and dispel cold, tonify qi and move blood stasis, relieve pain.

Points includes Ren4, 6, 10, 12, SP6, ST36, LI4, DU20 and Yin Tang; applied once a week for acupuncture treatment.

Chinese herbal formula is a modified form of Dang Gui Si Ni San and Yang He Tang. It is 50g powder of an herb Rx for one week, to be taken orally 3 times a day, 2g per time max with about 2/3 cup of warm water. The herbs included are: Dang Shen, Huang Qi, Dang Gui, Chuan Xiong, Shu Di Huang, Bai Shao, Gan Jiang, Rou Gui, Da Zao, Gan Cao, Bai Jie Zi, Fang Fang, Xian Mao.

The treatment for follow-up visits will be employed by modifying some points of the acupuncture protocol and herbs in the herbal formula according to progression of the patient.

Result: After treatment for 3 months, her condition was improved as indicated by symptoms of the body and signs on the limbs and face. Most symptoms were improved, such as coldness of the body, cold and pain of the fingers, hardness of the face, abdomen and upper limbs. Color of the limbs went from purplish and changed to normal and weather was not as much of an effect on the limbs; white on the fingers became fresh and red, ulcers and necrosis on the tips of fingers were resolved, sensation on the tips was improved but slightly painful when touched. The patient’s condition was improved and fingers’ flexion limitation decreased.

Follow up later, the treatment plan was changed to once every two weeks and then once a month to continue acupuncture and refill Chinese herbal formulas. The patient stopped healing at the sixth month the treatment. After one and a half year of treatment termination, the report from patient was fine on the local area of limbs, only occasional coldness of the limbs when the weather changed.

Below are the photos of before and after treatment for the conditions of the hand and feet.

Case No. 2:

A 19-year-old female was admitted to the clinic for help with scleroderma accompanied with Raynaud’s syndrome (disease) for 2 years. She had a chief complaint of hardening and tightness of the limbs, face and abdomen; coldness, purplish coloration of the four limbs, ulcers on the fingers. The symptoms got worse when the weather became cold.

Presently she is feeling a hardening of the arms, hands, lower abdomen and legs; the skin becomes atrophied and thin on the arms and lower legs; stiffness and tightness of the face, the movement of the mouth and chewing has been slightly restricted; coldness and purplish of the hands, wrists, fingers, legs and feet; these symptoms got worse when it was getting cold; painful sensations on the tips of fingers, ulcers on the tips of fingers, elbow and ears. It often disappears and re-appears again; she also has slight stiffness and limited motion of the finger joints. She has fatigue, aversion to cold, poor sleep, stress and depression. Her appetite is normal, bowel movement once daily. Her first period appeared at 11 years of age, it came regularly once a month with dark blood and clots, moderate amount, 5 to 6 days per time and 27 days for each cycle. There was slight pain of the lower abdomen during the first day of the period cycle.

Examination showed thinness of the body, dark color of the skin, and paleness of the face and a slightly fixed facial expression; purplish coloration of  the arms, hands, fingers, legs and feet; whiteness with ulcers on the tips of fingers; fingers flexion is slightly limited. She has painful sensations to slight touch in local area of the finger tips. There was thinness of the arms and lower legs; tightness, hardness and coldness of the arms, hands, abdomen and legs when touched or pressure was applied. Her tongue body presented as thin a pale color, with a thin and white tongue coating; her pulse was weak and deep, pulse rate was 78; her BP was 110/75mmHP.

By Traditional Chinese Medicine standards, her diagnosis is yang qi deficiency with cold in the meridians and blood stasis. The treatment principle used is to warm yang and dispel cold, tonify qi and move blood stasis.

Points includes Ren4, 6, 10, 12, SP6, ST25, 29, 36, 44, LI4, SJ6, SI3, DU20, Yin tang; once a week for acupuncture treatment; cupping on the lower abdomen, performed following acupuncture treatments  once a week .

Chinese herbal formula is a modified form of Dang Gui Si Ni San and Yang He Tang. It is 50g powder of an herbal Rx for one week, to be taken orally 3 times a day, 2g per time max with about 2/3 cup of warm water. The herbs included are Dang Shen, Huang Qi, Dang Gui, Shu Di Huang, Bai Shao, Gan Jiang, Rou Gui, E Zhu, San Leng, Gan Cao, Bai Jie Zi, Fang Fang, Xian Mao.

The treatments for follow-up visits will be employed by modifying some points of the original acupuncture protocol and herbs in the herbal formula according to progression of the patient.

Result: After treatment for 1 month, her condition was improved including symptoms and signs of the limbs, face and abdomen; pain was also relieved; the coldness and purplish discoloration of the limbs was improved. After 2 months of treatment, most symptoms were improved, especially the skin hardening of the abdomen and lower limbs which gradually became soft. After 4 months of treatment, the skin hardening of the arms gradually became soft.

The author has treated a total of 5 cases scleroderma and 4 cases accompanied with Raynaud’s syndrome (disease) from 2/2007 to 12/2010. Most the symptoms of all patients improved with acupuncture and herbal formulas. Their different conditions improved after treatment lengths of 1 to 6 months. From clinical experience it has been found that acupuncture in combination with Chinese herbal formulas are effective to treat scleroderma’s syndrome and Raynaud’s syndrome but will take an extended length of time of treatment to effect lasting results.

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2 Responses to “Acupuncture in Combination with Chinese Herbal Formulas Can Help Scleroderma Accompanied with Raynaud’s Disease”

  1. Cheryl Kiplinger says:

    This is a difficult illness to have to live with, thanks for the uplifting information.

  2. A dear friend contracted Scleroderma, and I wish I knew this then, this is a very tough condition to live with.