Cirrhosis & Traditional Korean Medicine
This case is about cirrhosis 4th stage. The patient was on the waiting list for a liver transplant when he came to my clinic. Here is the story.
He attended a wedding ceremony. While he ate food, he felt nausea and vomiting. He rushed to the toilet bowl and vomited lots of blood, seeing only red blood, but no food at all. He went to an M.D. right away. The M.D. examined him with an endoscope and found all veins in the stomach and esophagus were like large varicose veins (esophageal varicose) with a purple color. According to the test he received later, he threw up 1.5 liter of blood.
He was sent to a large hospital Emergency Room immediately. After all examinations and tests, he was diagnosed with cirrhosis 4th stage, meaning he needed liver transplant surgery. The hospital requested that he be put on the waiting list at the liver donation center and now he is on the waiting list. Being on the waiting list means you have to wait about three years in most cases, however if his family or relatives are willing to donate part of their liver and they match well, this period may be shortened. There is no good match from his family.
During my diagnostic interview, he stated he didn’t take alcohol or smoke. After diagnosing him, I told the patient that the blood vomited might come from lung, not from stomach, based on no foods in the vomit and the red blood color of the blood. The patient was surprised a bit and admitted that he had a few experiences of vomiting before. Each and every time he observed some food, acid taste and sticky saliva from the mouth, but this time strange enough only red blood. I also noticed his lung function was weak.
I recommended him to take acupuncture treatments. Liver transplant surgery just replaces a diseased liver with other person’s liver. If the patient has a problem with the blood stream in and out through liver, there is a good chance for a new replaced liver to become bad due to improper blood circulation through the liver. We explain this function in Traditional Korean Medicine as ‘the meridian may be blocked’. As long as this was a possibility, it is better to help proper blood circulation with acupuncture and Oriental medicine, and also have the transplant surgery. Acupuncture treatment doesn’t exclude the planned transplant surgery. He understood the concept and the treatments began.
Acupuncture & Korean herbal treatments
His anxiety began to disappear after 2 treatments. His tiredness also diminished. He used to become tired after one hour of driving and had to take a rest. He could work at his normal daily job without much difficulty. This was big progress for him.
When I suggested taking oriental herbs, he preferred not to take herbs as his M.D. told him not to take any herbs and asked him to write down all foods he takes.
I explained the progression of liver disease to him using TCM theory. Normal liver condition changes into hepatitis, inflammation of liver. This means liver produces heat. The heat consumes moisture, and then liver becomes hardened causing cirrhosis. If this continues without treatment, this turns into cancer. He used to feel fever, lassitude, and loss of appetite. He even he walked to one side instead of walking forward sometimes. I suspect he might suffer chronic hepatitis. He didn’t have proper treatment for this matter, and is hoping he recovers soon.
I told him he lost lots of blood when vomiting. I also asked him how he will make up all the lost blood. This is the first reason he needs herbs. Taking just iron is not enough to make new blood. We are able to use herbs to make new blood. I removed all unnecessary heat from liver already, and your liver needs more moisture and blood, since liver stores blood, according to acupuncture theory. He told me that he prays for more wisdom as his M.D. and I suggested differently. He decided to take herbs one week later and told me that my advice is more convincing and understandable. He also told me that I made his health better.
Unusual experience of peace and calm
After seven treatments, he experienced very unusual things. He awakened about 2 o’clock in the morning. Suddenly he felt that all the energies around him were being sucked into him. His expression was that ‘it was like vacuum cleaner sucking up dirt.’ His mind became calm, all worries disappeared and he became very peaceful. He experienced the same thing again 6 o’clock in the morning. This one happened slowly and for a longer period.
Regular check up by Western medical doctors
He got treatments three times a week from me. After 12 treatments, I told him that his condition was improved and treatments just two times a week may be alright. After 14 sessions he had a regular check up from his M.D. There were 2 surgeons and 10 interns around the table waiting for him. They checked him by listening with a stethoscope, took his blood pressure and number of pulses per minute, etc. They looked around at each other and wondered what happened.
They expected he would be suffering from ascites (ascites is excess fluid in the space between the tissues lining the abdomen and abdominal organs) on his abdominal area or would have become emaciated by now. What they saw was a perfect healthy man sitting there instead of a sick person. They asked him what happened. He told them he got acupuncture treatments. One surgeon nodded and said “I don’t have any objection to acupuncture.” However the patient didn’t tell them he took herbs, as he believed they may be disapproving. His M.D.’s decided no more surgery was required, but the application for a liver donation will not be cancelled just in case.
The patient is going to take acupuncture treatments once a week or every two weeks until his next regular check up from his M.D.
Lessons about cirrhosis and second opinions
- All hepatitis or cirrhosis may be caused due to poor blood circulation into and out of the liver. Obviously this is one of causes. We call this meridian obstruction. If the problem was begun due to poor blood circulation, surgery alone may be not enough. Any transplant must consider acupuncture, too. This idea should apply to kidney transplants, too.
- Patients need a second opinion. This opinion should include not only Western doctors, but also acupuncturists. Western medicine may not tell about meridian theory (proper blood circulation) in my opinion. Eastern medicine can’t do the surgery. Eastern and western medicine combined may provide the best service to patients.
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