Acupuncture For Narcolepsy
Acupuncture is a very effective treatment modality to control the symptoms of narcolepsy.
Different techniques are at the practitioners’ disposal to choose from;
Scalp points can improve neurological function, meridian points can tonify the usually weak spleen, and auricular techniques can affect neuro-points responsible for the synthesis of the neurotransmitters involved in the sleep cycle.
Understanding the underlying biomedical pathophysiology makes it possible for the practitioner to decide on the appropriate acupuncture treatments, which then can be tailored accordingly. Therefore, traditional medicine can complement the western medical therapies or it can be used as a stand alone modality in mild cases or whenever patients are reluctant to succumb to taking psychoactive medications.
Genetic reasons, abnormal neurotransmitter availability and/or receptor sensitivity, and impaired immune modulation are the most frequently mentioned reasons in the medical literature.
The role of the posterior hypothalamus in the “mechanism of staying awake” is more and more emphasized, and the imbalance among certain neurotransmitters like GABA, Dopamine, serotonine appear to be responsible for the impaired sleep cycle during night, and excessive sleepiness during daytime.
Therefore, western drugs inhibiting Dopamine reuptake (Modafinil) consequently increasing dopamine level, psychostimulants,(Amphetamine), and antidepressants altering the levels of serotonin have effect on enhancing wakefulness. Needless to say that these drugs are serious psychoactive modulators with potential serious side effects, therefore, understandably, many affected patients seek alternative solutions.
Examining patients suffering from narcolepsy one commonly finds spleen weakness. Many times the neck diagnostic area reveals extreme tenderness at the spleen point in YNSA, the pulse is often weak, or rapid, or wiry and slippery, and the swollen tongue will have sticky coating and will manifest the classic cracks on the sides, all of this the classic giveaway of chronic Spleen deficiency. Because the spleen sends clear Yang/Qi toward the muscles as well as up to the head, and controls the “blood”, if it fails to transport body fluids, dampness and phlegm will accumulate. Overall, sleep deficiency will result in depression, disturbed sleep, poor memory, blurred vision, and narcolepsy.
Consequently, the therapy aims to improve Spleen function, enhancing the rise of clear yang Qi to the head.
Scalp Treatments and Auricular Medicine show promising results in controlling the symptoms of narcolepsy by modulating brain neuro functions as well as balancing the neurotransmitters, whereas certain meridian points can unblock the spleen channel, and help mobilizing the accumulated phlegm, and raise depleted Yang energy.
LU 9 and TH 5 regulate fluid dissemination
Ming Men tonifies kidney and increase overall energy level, thus increasing depleted YIN to normal level
SP 3 and St 36 unblock and tonify Spleen
SP 9 and St 40 mobilize phlegm
These are the usually used points in my practice but obviously only those are piqued that are active...
Substantia Nigra stimulation increases brain dopamine synthesis...stimulating posterior hypothalamus increases wakefulness.