Sjogren’s Syndrome: Background
Sjogren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disease. It triggers a person’s white blood cells to destroy it’s own moisture-producing glands. Today, four million Americans suffer from this condition.
The most typical symptoms of Sjogren’s syndrome include dry eyes, dry mouth, fatigue and joint pain. Sjogren’s syndrome can also trigger problems with the kidneys, stomach, intestines, blood vessels, lungs, liver, pancreas, and the nervous system. Patients with Sjogren’s syndrome frequently feel fatigue and joint pain.
Sjogren’s syndrome is one of the most common autoimmune disorders in America. Interestingly, nine out of 10 patients are women. Half of the time Sjogren’s syndrome occurs by itself, and the other half it occurs along with diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or scleroderma, which are also autoimmune diseases.
Sjögren’s syndrome affects the whole body. Symptoms can be chronic, progressively get worse, or for the lucky few, go into remission. While some people experience mild discomfort, others suffer debilitating symptoms that greatly impair their daily functioning. Early diagnosis and proper treatment are critical — they may prevent serious complications and can greatly improve a patient’s quality of life.
Since symptoms of Sjögren’s syndrome are similar to other conditions, they can often be misunderstood and overlooked. It typically takes 4 years to receive a diagnosis of Sjogren’s syndrome.
This disease was first identified by Dr. Henrik Sjögren in 1933. It affects every racial and ethnic group. General awareness about Sjögren’s is still lacking and increased professional awareness is needed to help expedite new diagnoses and treatment options. As with most autoimmune diseases, Sjogren’s syndrome is on the rise.
Symptoms vary from person to person but often include:
• a dry, gritty or burning sensation in the eyes
• dry mouth
• difficulty talking, chewing or swallowing
• a sore or cracked tongue
• dry or burning throat
• dry or peeling lips
• a change in taste or smell
• increased dental decay
• joint pain
• vaginal and skin dryness
• digestive problems
• dry nose
• debilitating fatigue
Sjogren’s Syndrome: What Can Acupuncture Do?
The World Health Organization recognizes acupuncture’s ability to help relieve symptoms associates with Sjogren’s syndrome. And the key to understanding why it does this is to understand that acupuncture quiets the autoimmune response. In autoimmune conditions, the body is attacking itself, resulting in inflammation, irritation and pain. Acupuncture slows and softens the attack itself.
The way acupuncture works is to move Qi and blood in the body. In fact, it all comes down to Qi because it’s the Qi that moves the blood. Think of Qi as energy that flows through the body, nourishes the organs, builds and circulates the blood. Good Qi flow brings a body that is out of balance back into balance.
For example, someone suffering from digestive pain caused by Sjogren’s syndrome is actually dealing with Qi stagnation in the stomach. All pain is the result of Qi not moving freely. By getting the Qi to move smoothly in the stomach, the pain will naturally be reduced. But acupuncture is not only managing symptoms. Moving the Qi in specific organs affected by an autoimmune response will actually cause the organ to quiet down and stop attacking itself. It doesn’t “cure” the condition, but it improves it. Keeping the Qi flowing will provide long-term relief at the root level, not just at the branch, or symptom, level.
This is why acupuncture is effective in treating many autoimmune conditions like Lupus, MS (multiple sclerosis), and Crohn’s Disease. It is also very helping in controlling hay fever, allergies, and asthma. The healing mechanism described above (to move the Qi) is a simplified explanation, but the essence is correct. For each condition we will focus on a different set of organs, but moving the Qi is the key.
To find out more about how acupuncture treats Sjogren’s syndrome and other autoimmune conditions, give us a call at 303-828-6522 or 720-388-0386. Click on the names of our providers, Dr. Jade and Dr. Mark to watch a short video about them.