Case Study 1
by Alistair Booth (2015)
Male, 60 years old. The patient was one of the first to receive a treatment during this project. He had had laser eye surgery 12 years ago on his left eye, which had been unsuccessful, to a point where he had lost his sight and subsequently the eye itself.
His symptoms upon arrival were tremors in both his arms and legs with associated pain in all four limbs. The tremors in the arms had been occurring for about 6 months and those in the legs somewhat longer.
Aetiology and pathology
The failure of the surgery, probable blood loss*and subsequent loss of the eye led to a wind invasion. Upon palpation of the legs, the pain which was accompanying the tremors was in the Liver channel.
The pulse on the right was weak and the left slippery, the tongue was pointed and red.
Tremors are often associated with a wind invasion combined with overwork and diet of greasy, fried food, which was something seen in many of the patients that were treated in the clinic.
Many of the male patients were local subsistence farmers who had worked excessively hard and showed kidney deficiency symptoms. Many also had problems with indigestion, particularly acid type indigestion.
Taking all the lifestyle factors and his medical history together, a diagnosis of Liver Yin Xu with wind and fire was made.
Over the course of the project the patient received 9 treatments.
The first two treatments concentrated on smoothing and clearing Liver wind and Qi stagnation in the Liver channel and calming the patient. Points included opening of Yang Qiao Mai and also introducing the ear protocol for Parkinson’s disease.
Using Yang Qiao Mai was considered because by opening this channel is said to help the sinews and muscles. Using the Parkinson’s protocol was considered as even though the patient is not strictly speaking a sufferer (there were none of the precursors to the tremors), the aetiology and symptoms which were displayed were similar in terms of a TCM diagnosis.
The third and fourth treatments followed the same pattern, but with the addition of points to tonify the blood, in order to fill the spaces currently occupied by the wind.
Over these treatments the patient reported that the pain was reducing, but the tremors were observed to be constant.
During the 5th and 6th treatments the tremors in the hands were seen to reduce and the pain had similarly lessened. During the treatments, the hands were still, but the shaking returned after removal of the needles. The treatment principles employed were again to tonify blood, and also expel wind.
On treatment 7 the patient reported a 70% improvement in his condition, this was confirmed by observation; the tremors in the hand had stopped completely, and the patient had two days with no shaking of the hands.
With treatment 8, further improvement was observed; the tremors in the hands had not returned. The improvement was now with the legs, where the shaking had visibly reduced. This was quantified to be 50% improved from when the patient was first treated.
On the final (9th) treatment, again the same ear protocol was employed; as it had been since treatment 2, additionally the body points were used to nourish blood and expel wind. The pulses were more balanced, with the right stronger and the left less slippery, although there was still a weakness to the overall feel of them.
The needles were left in for 40 minutes as the patient had fallen asleep on the couch and the tremors had ceased in all four limbs. Although they did return in the legs once the needles were removed it was at a much reduced level, compared with the initial levels 10 days earlier during the first consultation.
The protocols and treatments clearly had the desired effect for this patient. Furthermore, where the aetiology and causes of the condition are so clearly defined, the direction and efficacy of the treatment can be clearly monitored. Even though the treatments for this patient were carried out by different members of the project team, his case was discussed between the team, to ensure a consistent approach to both diagnosis and point prescriptions used.
The improvement in this patient was remarkable and we can only hope that the changes are permanent and that he will return next time the team is in Chaparda in November 2016 or January 2017.
In our clinics in the UK we rarely have the opportunity to treat a patient so intensely. Frequently, we have patients saying they are now pain free or that the sweating or insomnia has gone, but with a case such as this, where the symptoms are clearly observable to the clinician, it is so much easier to calibrate and quantify the improvements; even more so in this clinic, where all our consultations where done through interpreters and by hand signals and gestures!