I was recently asked by one of my patients whether or not I thought acupuncture treatments would benefit their sister who was told she had a bladder prolapse. Since most of my patients seek help for painful conditions, it reminded me that many people are not yet aware that Chinese medicine is also very beneficial for other types of disorders.
Yes! Unless the condition has progressed to the point of requiring immediate surgical repair, acupuncture may help prevent organ prolapse conditions from deteriorating, if not completely rectify the problem.
In Chinese medicine theory, prolapses of internal organs are usually explained by a weakness of the Spleen energy. Another name for energy is qi (pronounced “chee”). The normal direction of the Spleen qi is upwards. When that qi is weak, the body experiences a feeling of bearing down, fatigue, mental depression, diarrhea and the actual prolapse of internal organs. This aspect of qi deficiency is often referred to as “qi sinking”. And there are specific acupuncture points and herbs that have the effect of raising the qi.
The most powerful point on the body to raise the energy in the body and counter prolapse is Du20, which is located on the top of the head. Historically, it is well documented to treat the sinking of the yang energy at the other end of the Du meridian, hence rectal prolapse. In modern practice, this point has also been effective to treat the prolapse of the uterus and vagina. For this purpose, moxibustion is used to stimulate Du20.
For rectal prolapse, I add the Master Tung foot point Menjin which is on the Stomach meridian slightly proximal to ST43 and the traditional ST44 point. Ling Gu, another Master Tung point located proximal to LI4 is effective for rectal prolapse.
Extra point Tituo, located on the lower abdomen, is a primary point for treating uterine prolapse. A special needle technique is used. The needle is superficially threaded from its location (about four inches from the midline of the abdomen and about three inches below the navel) towards Ren-2. Then the needle is rotated until it is wrapped in the muscle fibers and pulled upward and outward . It is taped to the skin in this raised position for 20-30 minutes. This is not a painful procedure.
In the January 2001 issue of Acupuncture Today, there is an interesting article entitled “Prolapse: A Natural Condition With Oriental Medicine”, written by Skya Abbate. Since Dr. Abbate has a strong background in Japanese acupuncture, she suggests using KI-27, ST-13, LV-5 and a group of points slightly off of the LI meridian called the naganos to treat prolapses. Her article is excellent reading for an explanation of the energetics of these points. Click here to read the article.
Bu Zhong Yi Qi Wan is a famous Chinese herbal formula that historically has been used for organ prolapses, especially following childbirth. The formula includes many herbs that strongly tonify the Spleen qi including Huang Qi (astragalus) and Bai Zhu (atractylodes). Chai Hu (bupleurum) and Sheng Ma (cimicifuga) are also in this formula. Both are very effective to raise Spleen qi and pull up the prolapse.
Jake Fratkin cites a research study in his book “Chinese Herbal Patent Medicines”, where 23 cases of uterine prolapse were treated with a decoction of this formula along with instructions to perform Kegal exercises. Within two weeks, 76% were cured, 6% improved and 18% had no change.
In recent years, Bu Zhong Yi Qi Wan has become popular to treat many complaints based on a Chinese medicine diagnosis of Spleen Qi deficiency.