Many symptoms that women experience during pregnancy are often from a western medical diagnostic perspective just put down to “hormonal changes”. In the case of sinusitis that comes on during pregnancy, it is thought that the hormonal changes lead to a drying out of the membranes causing sinusitis.
From a traditional Chinese medicine diagnostic perspective, women who experience sinusitis during pregnancy are thought to have a weakness in the energy of the stomach and spleen.
Dr Debra Betts, PhD, in her book, The Essential Guide to Acupuncture in Pregnancy and Childbirth, has a chapter devoted to this condition which includes acupuncture point selections and an extensive discussion of their application. Debra Betts also lectures at the New Zealand School of Acupuncture and TCM.
How can the spleen and stomach affect sinusitis during pregnancy according to Traditional Chinese Medicine?
Chinese medicine practitioners believe that the spleen plays a role in the movement and distribution of body fluids and that if the spleen is weak, body fluids can form into “dampness”. This dampness state in the head can then be aggravated by seasonal weather factors such as wind and lead to accumulation of phlegm and blockages in the face and nose.
Where are the needles placed for sinusitis during pregnancy?
We ask Laura Callaghan of the Newtown Acupuncture Centre, opposite Wellington hospital, where the needles are placed and if it is safe, “Depending on the diagnosis of the patient, points are commonly selected on the arms and legs as well as local points on the face. I use acupuncture through all stages of the pregnancy but I find sinusitis more common in the later stages of pregnancy. It is important to know which acupuncture points can be used at the various stages of pregnancy for efficacy and safety.”
Do the needles on the face hurt?
Laura Callaghan goes on to say, “Actually, the acupuncture needles we use on the face are very thin and obviously not inserted deeply. Women are often surprised that they have even been inserted at all and find the whole acupuncture experience very relaxing.”
Many women choose to stay away from antibiotics and sinus medication during pregnancy and acupuncture is a safe alternative.