The Rare disease society describes Sarcoidosis as an inflammatory disease characterized by the development and growth of tiny lumps of cells called granulomas. If these tiny granulomas grow and clump together in an organ, they can affect the organ’s structure and function. Overtime, this can lead to permanent scarring or thickening (also called fibrosis) of the organ tissue. Although the granulomas can be found in almost any part of the body, they occur most commonly in the lungs and lymph nodes.
The cause of sarcoidosis is currently unknown. Some scientists believe it is an immune system disorder that occurs in people with a genetic predisposition to the condition. They suspect that in people with a genetic risk for sarcoidosis, exposure to certain triggers in the environment (such as bacteria, viruses and/or chemicals) may cause an overactive or inappropriate immune response.
The lungs are affected in more than 90% of individuals with sarcoidosis, along with lymph involvement, the most common form of Sarcoidosis. Other symptoms include shortness of breath, a chronic, persistent cough that won’t go away, and chest pain.
The disease can appear suddenly and then disappear, or it can develop gradually and produce symptoms that come and go for a lifetime. Others may have no outward symptoms at all, even though organs are affected.
People with sarcoidosis may also experience some, or most of these and other symptoms:
- Aches and pains in the muscles and bones
- Vision problems, eye dryness or irritation
- Weight loss
- Skin rashes, ulcers or discoloration
- Enlarged liver or spleen
How my use of an integrative medicine approach to managing my symptoms, helped to put the disease in remission, and restore lung function.
My story – the short version: I was diagnosed with ‘Adult-onset asthma’ at the age of 35yrs. My respiratory symptoms gradually became worse, requiring the daily use of nebulizers, weekly use of a rescue inhaler, and too frequent steroid injections and high doses of Prednisone to keep my lungs functioning. Fast forward a few more years and I had a new diagnosis – Fibromyalgia accompanied by chronic fatigue, exhausting constant pain, and insomnia that lasted for nearly 6 years. A few years later I started having a chronic dry cough, and daily low-grade fever which spiked at night to 101/103 degrees for over 7 months. Had it been today, I’d have been tested for COVID, frequently. I broke my ribs twice during those 7 months due to the intensity and frequency of the coughs. It also didn’t help that I was dropping weight – 15 lbs. in a matter of a month. Doctors were baffled. Weekly visits to the ER, and too many hospital stays were wearing me out since all the tests came back negative for whatever the doctors though were ailing me.
On one such 4-day stay in the hospital, a doctor I had not seen before, ran a different set of tests. He came to my room a few hours later and triumphantly declared that he knew what was going on. “You have Sarcoidosis, and it’s affecting your lungs. There may be other organ involvement – we don’t know which at this time.” Mic drop! Treatment options Methotrexate, more inhalers, etc., etc. I also heard “no cure, lifetime of medications…”
I didn’t think about Chinese medicine or acupuncture at that time, but after a year of taking 120mg of Prednisone per day – moon face, flushed cheeks, irritability, mood swings, and depression to name a few, I decided to seek other ways of improving my health. I revamped my nutritional lifestyle and sought more holistic means so I could be weaned off Prednisone. It has taken me several years to figure out which combination of treatment modalities, herbal prescriptions, and supplements work best to keep my symptoms in remission.
I do have aches and pain, but they are nothing compared to what I had previously endured. I have excellent lung function and have not needed to use an inhaler for over 8 years. I run, jump, and can happily dance the night away.
Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture and How does Chinese medicine help?
For me, Chinese medicine and acupuncture helped by improving systemic circulation, reduced inflammation, alleviated pain, and improved lung function.
In general, acupuncture and Chinese herbal formulas offer powerful ways to help support lung function, eye health, and musculoskeletal function.
Chinese herbal formulas are famous for effectively treating a range of internal medicine health concerns, especially in cases where Western medicine fails to offer helpful solutions. Herbal formulas can improve blood quality, improve circulation, calm the inflammatory response, restore balance, and fight the harmful effects of anxiety and stress on the body.
In most instances, we use a combination of acupuncture and other integrative medicine modalities to reduce the symptoms, alleviate discomfort, improve circulation, reduce inflammation, and restore a healthy flow of qi throughout the body. Acupuncture can also be used to improve the function of the various organ systems, while also managing stress, calming anxiety and the busy mind.
Nutritional and Lifestyle Support
Avoiding exposure to dust, chemicals, fumes, gases, toxic inhalants and other substances that can harm your lungs.
Focus on eating lots of organic whole foods that have anti-inflammatory properties, support lung function, boost the immune system and general health and well-being.
- Eating A rainbow of fruits and veggies every day
- Beets, berries, pomegranate, and other dark-colored produce which are high in antioxidants
- Lots of Leafy greens to support optimal Nitric Oxide levels
- Beans and lentils
- Egg yolks
- Nuts and seeds
- Liver, Kidneys
- Omega-3-rich foods like fatty fish, and avocados
Incorporating fresh ginger in teas, sauté, and soups benefit respiratory function, and digestion.
From a Chinese Medicine perspective using food as medicine, in addition to using fresh ginger, one of my favourites is Bai Mu Er (Tremella), a type of mushroom that benefits the lungs, and stomach. It’s delicious in soups, meat stews, and vegetable stews.
Foods to Avoid
Reduce your intake of foods that are inflammatory or disrupt the healthy function of viscera, and cellular functions.
- Processed foods
- Foods with chemical additives.
Supplements such as Quercetin for immune support, and Mullein help to support healthy lung function.
Chinese medicine herbal formulas help to reduce phlegm production, postnasal drip, alleviate cough, and support improved lung health.
Regular exercise helps to support lung function and helps in managing and maintaining healthy weight.
Breathing exercises such as 4-7-8 help to improve pulmonary function, and also help to manage anxiety and stress.
Please reach out to us if you or a loved one has a diagnosis of Sarcoidosis. We can help.
If you still have questions or need more information, give us a call at (760) 637- 5069 or email us and we’ll be happy to have a conversation around how we may help.