Acupuncture is often a generalized reference to Chinese medicine as a whole. Within Chinese medicine exists a number of modalities, such as cupping, moxa, and herbology, as well as a unique conceptual framework for understanding the origins and treatment of disease. The following case involving Yolanda focuses on Chinese medical diagnostics and herbal therapy as it relates to nightsweats.
Yolanda came to me with a list of varying pain- and lifestyle-related complaints, the latter primarily being dietary in nature and causing such things as hypertension and diabetes, . . . with possible kidney failure 15 years down the line.
Among the list of symptoms was nightsweats. Yolanda is in her mid-fifties, so menopause was a plausible diagnosis. There are numerous herbal formulas for a presentation of this sort. The pills she was given were oriented toward nourishing and moving blood and draining damp. Many of the herbs have hormonal properties, but from a Chinese medical perspective blood movers work in the circulatory system and liver to nourish and enliven the coursing of blood in order to treat poor circulation and “weak” blood, something often associated with anemia. Interestingly, she craved munching ice, which is a symptom associated with anemia.
The formula abated the nightsweats, but when she didn’t take them they’d come back. Furthermore, after a month though the ice munching had ceased and blood pressure had lowered to safe ranges, a cough emerged. She said it was something she has had off-and-on for five years, since exposure to mold from her former apartment.
A very significant clue.
Nightsweats can also be a sign of lingering lung infection. The category of herbs for lingering infection differ from herbs for hormone or blood imbalances. The emergence of a weak cough, which was diagnosed as bronchitis arising from mold infection, meant that a lingering lung infection could be a more proximate cause for Yolanda’s nightsweats. Four bags of a customized decoction to be cooked at home were administered. After the first day, 1/2 a pot, the nightsweats and cough stopped. However, over the next four days the formula was consumed sporadically. Two bags and a full pot remained upon follow up. Though the symptoms were less pronouced, they still existed.
Now that the formula has proven effective at a low dose, a higher dose will address the infection more decisively. Mold is a stubborn infection, so we’ll continute to monitor to determine if any modifications are necessary. I’ll also be looking to see how she responds overall, particularly in terms water metabolism and kidney health. Infection robs the body of strength. Energy that could otherwise be powering kidney function is being allocated to keep the lung infection at bay. Clearing the infection should free up her energy to allow a more balance allocation of energy.
Nightsweats can be caused by a number of factors. Yolanda’s case demonstrates that one plausible cause, lingering lung infection, could be confused for another, menopause. This is not to say that both are not involved but it is a matter of degree. Yolanda’s ice craving, a sign of anemia, went away after a month on pills that nourish and move the blood. However, even though they stopped nightsweats the effects were not lasting. The emergence of a cough related to a mold infection in the second month indicated changing the treatment approach to address a lingering lung infection. Even with a small amount of the customized decoction, Yolanda’s nightsweats improved significantly and the cough abated entirely. She will now follow up with higher doses of the same formula.