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Home > Newsletters > April 2005 >

Ask the Doctor

Q: I have hyperhidrosis on my palms, feet and axial area. What can acupuncture do for me?

A: First, there are different types of Hyperhidrosis:

Hyperhidrosis

According to current western medical research, hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating beyond that needed to regulate normal body temperature) affects 1 out of every 25 people in the United States (approximately 12 million people). In the Asian population alone, it affects 1 out of every 5 people. Hyperhidrosis is categorized into two groups: primary and secondary.

Primary Hyperhidrosis
In primary hyperhidrosis, the cause is likely hereditary in at least 40% of individuals and involves hyperactivity of the sympathetic nervous system (the part of the nervous system which controls the sweat glands). Symptoms of excessive sweating and heat loss occur in the face, underarms, hands, and/or feet and make them feel clammy, moist, and even wet. These symptoms may occur spontaneously for brief periods or remain constant throughout the day and night. While feelings of Anxiety, embarrassment, and/or emotional upset can aggravate the symptoms further, these are not considered to be the root cause. Common treatments include alternative therapies including acupuncture, and as a last resort, ETS (Endoscopic Thoracic Surgery) in which the sympathetic nerve is severed or clamped at the level of T2, and/or T3-T4 of the thoracic spine.

Secondary Hyperhidrosis
In secondary hyperhidrosis, there is generalized excessive body sweating. In this case, the cause is attributed to long-standing conditions such as chronic infection or illness (e.g. autoimmune disorders, hyperthyroidism, malignancies). This condition can often be confirmed through lab tests of thyroid hormone levels. Secondary hyperhidrosis does not respond well to surgical methods.

What Acupuncture Can Do For You

From a western medical perspective, acupoints placed in dermatomes (sensory nerves of the skin) can effect changes in the nervous system. In hyperhidrosis then, needles inserted into acupoints found in the T2-T4 dermatome areas can be used to temper the over activity of the sympathetic system (that controls sweat gland function) to reduce sweating and regulate normal body temperature. Points that are commonly used for stress relief and relaxation can also lessen the impact of any aggravating factors such as shyness, Anxiety, or emotional turbulence.

From a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective, the points used to treat a condition such as hyperhidrosis would be dependent on an individual personís accompanying signs and symptoms, overall health, and lifestyle. This means that not all persons suffering from hyperhidrosis would necessarily be treated alike. Both local and distal points (away from the area of concern) may be used with different point combinations to address a particular personís condition and general constitution. The primary goals of TCM and acupuncture would be to regulate excessive sweating by correcting any energetic balances in the body based on pattern differentiation, and to harmonize the mind and body so that emotional disturbances do not aggravate the condition further.

-Fay-Meling von Moltke Pao


About our Doctors

Fay-Meling von Moltke Pao, DAc, BHSc, Hon.BA, is a licensed acupuncturist and practitioner of Oriental medicine in Toronto, Ontario. After completing her degree in Biomedical Ethics at the University of Toronto, she continued her studies and graduated from a four-year degree program in Acupuncture and Oriental medicine from the Michener Institute of Applied Health Sciences (recognized by ACAOM). In her practice, Fay-Meling combines classical and modern acupuncture techniques with herbal medicine, nutrition and diet therapy, counselling, tuina (Chinese massage therapy), and qigong where appropriate.

"My aim is to provide patients with an integrative form of health care that utilizes the best of eastern and western medicine. As such, I am committed to working closely with other physicians and health care practitioners involved in an individual's care, and enabling the person's own healing abilities. I warmly welcome all patients to my clinic."

-Fay-Meling von Moltke Pao

For more information on her practice and Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine please visit her website at: Acupuncture Toronto - Acupao - Home

This Month's Articles

April, 2005
Volume 3, Number 4

Veterinary Acupuncture

Overcoming Insomnia - How to Achieve Quality, Peaceful Sleep

Qi Soup for the TCM Soul

Recent Research

Ask The Doctor

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