Chronic Complex Disease

integrative TCM

Chronic disease effects 50% of people in Australia and one in five people suffer from multiple chronic diseases. Chronic diseases are health conditions that persist over a long period of time, leading to a deterioration in lifestyle and quality of life. Chronic disease is the leading cause of death in Australia (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare).

Our team at the Rozelle Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Centre Sydney has had very promising results using acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine to address a large range of complex chronic diseases that complement medical or allied health interventions.

Complementary treatment may be offered to support better long term management, prevention and deterioration of disease, assist in a speedier recovery, reduce chronic pain, and enhance wellbeing and quality of life.

The chronic conditions listed under Conditions Treated are those our team has had a great deal of experience in supporting with acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine. Our team genuinely wants to make a difference and we support all age groups, including: babies, children, young people, and the elderly.

Our practitioners address a wide range of chronic diseases because many clients present with multiple symptoms and health conditions that are often related in Chinese medicine.

Generally, all presenting symptoms need to be addressed to make a difference to a person's recovery and quality of life. As such, the holistic model of Chinese medicine (CM) is well suited to identifying and addressing multiple diseases and symptoms at the same time (see Chinese Medicine).

Across Sydney our team works with a collection of like-minded specialists who support our clients with dedication and understanding. Where possible we recommend allied professionals who both excel in their field and are thoroughly committed to best practice for their patients.

We aim to integrate the very best investigative and holistic observation of the Chinese medicine theory of ‘patterns of disharmony’ with the most progressive medical diagnosis and investigation in Sydney, while being open to constant learning, honest feedback, and discussion.

Our team places prevention and risk management of disease as a high priority. Through Chinese medicine assessment and under guidance of the most up to date research, pathology labs, and scans, we identify areas of risk to health and to the onset of disease.

We appreciate that all chronic diseases are generally also inflammatory diseases and we assess general constitutional risk of inflammation on this basis from a Chinese medicine perspective. We discuss strengths and weaknesses and all measures that can be taken to prevent inflammation and ongoing disease, based on current best research.

We support the use of diet, lifestyle changes, exercise, good relationships, and meditation. We listen to the needs, hopes, and concerns of our clients and make pain management and poor health and disease prevention a priority.

Our passion for supporting an holistic approach to disease prevention and treatment while monitoring ongoing research and best practice across the board, helps our clients to seamlessly integrate our service to complement the work of related medical specialists.

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Chronic Infections

Chronic infections conribute to a multitude of diseases and conditions, and much of the treatment principles we use to address these conditions come from the ancient text ‘The Shang Han Lun’, written around 260 AD by Zhang Zhong Jing.

Many of the herbs and herbal formulas in this text have been extensively researched, and have also been incorporated into modern day pharmaceuticals. For example, the Chinese herb ‘ma huang’, first discussed in the Shang Han Lun, contains the extract ‘ephedrine’, used in modern day ‘Ventolin’.

Our team also provides specific treatments based on the feedback and insights of a significant body of clinical research. This research has extensively focused on the actions of Chinese herbal remedies and acupuncture on immune response and disease prevention and treatment. The references listed below provide some evidence of this exhaustive work.

Our team of Sydney-based Chinese medicine practitioners provides acupuncture and moxibustion as well as Chinese herbal remedies to address the following conditions in adults, children, and infants:

Respiratory infections: Recurring colds and flu, chest infections, bronchitis, asthma, sinus, and ear, nose and throat infections.

Liver disease: Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and liver cirrhosis. Gastrointestinal infections: (see also Digestive Disorders).

Urinary tract infections: Recurring and chronic cystitis and thrush and vaginitis or vulvovaginitis and ‘Interstitial cystitis’.

Radiation and chemotherapy induced weakened immune response: Low white blood cell count and higher susceptibility to infections and fatigue.

Lyme’s disease: Symptoms such as exhaustion and fatigue, body aches and pains, poor absorption and digestive disorders, endocrine and hormonal imbalance, anxiety, and stress.

HIV infection: Improving quality of life, general well being, and T Cell count.

Poor wound healing: Ulcers, wounds and skin infections that do not heal or respond to standard medical intervention. Wounds can be a result of surgery, accident, biopsy, or burns. See Chronic Wounds - Poor Healing.

For more information see also Paediatrics, Chinese Medicine, Acupuncture, and Chinese Herbal Medicine.


  1. Seef, L B., Lindsay, KL., Bacon, B R., Kresing, T F., Heafnagle, JH. Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Chronic liver disease. Hepatology September 2001.
  2. Bensky, D., Barolet, R. Chinese Herbal Medicine Formulas and Strategies (Compiled and translated). 1990 Eastland Press, Incorporated Washington.
  3. Mitchell, C., Wiseman., N. Shang Han Lun on Cold Damage: Translations and Commentaries. 1999 by Paradigm Publications.
  4. Wiseman, N., Wilms, S. (Translations and commentaries) Jin Gui Yao Lue: Essential prescriptions of the Golden Cabinet. An Eighteen-Hundred Year Old Medical Text on Miscellaneous Disease by Zhang Ji (Zhang Zhong-Jing). Published by Paradigm 2013.
  5. Flaws, B. Li Dong-Yuan’s Treatise on the Spleen and Stomach. A translation of the Pei Wei Lun. 2nd Edition Blue Poppy Press 2004.

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Chronic wounds

Chronic wounds are estimated to affect more than 433,000 Australians a year (WHIA 2017), while costing over $2.85 billion per annum. Experts believe that the suffering as a result of chronic wounds remains a largely hidden and poorly supported problem in the community, and should be categorised as a chronic disease of national significance (Kapp and Sanataria 2015).

The team at the Rozelle Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Centre (RACM), has extensive experience over nearly three decades treating chronic wounds that have not responded well to conventional medical treatment. Our anecdotal evidence shows that very few chronic conditions respond so dramatically and positively after one acupuncture and moxibustion session, as has the chronic non healing wound.

The worst wounds that we have treated at RACM have been related to deep and wide melanoma incisions that remain red, open, seeping, and swollen, with swelling and infection dangerously spreading; a large open abdominal wound a year after surgery; weeping and inflamed leg ulcers in the elderly that do not improve after months of standard medical wound care management; and spreading redness, swelling and infection after plant and coral cuts, as well as insect and animal bites.

Chinese medicine (CM) theory teaches two acupuncture methods for treating chronic poor healing wounds called the ‘Turtle technique’ and ‘Circling the Dragon’. Our team has had excellent results when these acupuncture techniques are used in conjunction with moxibustion (a warm needle technique).

Encouragingly, there has also been some promising research over many decades supporting the use of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine for chronic non-healing wounds as a result of:

  • Burns,
  • Surgery,
  • Ulcers,
  • Biopsies,
  • Diabetes,
  • Car accidents,
  • Falls,
  • Infections.

Our CM team complements the work of medical specialists in promoting the healing of chronic wounds, and supports the continued use of standard medical intervention alongside acupuncture and moxibustion. Below is a list of some of the more recent clinical studies and systematic reviews investigating acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine treatment of chronic non-healing wounds.


  1. Foel, J. Acupuncture as an add on treatment in the management of a patient with ecthyma gangrenosum. (2012) doi: 10.1126/acumed/ 2012-010135.
  2. Kashiba H., Veda Y. Acupuncture to the skin induces release of substance P and calcitonin gene- related peptide from peripheral terminals of primary sensory neurones in the rat. Am J Chin Med 1991; 19:189-97.
  3. Lee JA., Jeong HJ., Park HJ., Jean S., Hong SU. Acupuncture accelerates wound healing in burn injured mice. Burns. 2011 Feb; 37 (1): 117-25.
  4. Mears T. Acupuncture for chronic venous ulceration. Acupuncture Med 2003; 21:150-2.
  5. Segura E and Para O. Acupuncture treatment of lower extremity ulcers. 5th International Medicine Acupuncture Conference. Barcelona 2011.
  6. Vas J., Modesto M., Mendez C, et al. Effectiveness of acupuncture, special dressings and simple, low adherence dressings for healing venous leg ulcers in primary health care: study protocol for a cluster-randomised open-labeled trial. BMC Complement Altern Med 2008: 8:29.
  7. Sumano H., Mateos G. The use of acupuncture-like electrical stimulation for wound healing of lesions unresponsive to conventional treatment. American Journal of Acupuncture 1999; 27(1/2): 5-14.
  8. Wound Prevalence Research, Wound Healing Institute Australia, Feb 2017.
  9. Kapp S., Santamaria N. Chronic wounds should be one of Australia’s National Health Priority Areas. Journal of the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association. June 2015.

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Autoimmune Disease

In Australia autoimmune disease affects between 5 to 10% of the population and is more common than cancer or heart disease.

An autoimmune disease occurs when a person's immune system mistakenly attacks their own body. Normally our immune system produces a range of cells and chemicals that fight infection, such as bacteria and viruses. However, in autoimmune disease, these defence cells attack the body's own cells, joints, and organs.

At present there are over 80 different types of autoimmune diseases that range in severity from mild to disabling, depending on which system of the body is affected. Common symptoms of autoimmune disorder include: fatigue, a general feeling of being unwell, joint pain, dizziness, and a rash or low grade fever. Blood tests for diagnosis include autoantibody tests, as well as tests for inflammation such as CRP and ESR.

At Rozelle Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Centre (RACM) we have many years' experience, and very promising anecdotal evidence, to support the effectiveness of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine in the relief of autoimmune symptoms. Importantly, there has been numerous research studies giving further promising support to the role of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine in the treatment of the following:

  • Type II diabetes,
  • Graves disease,
  • Multiple sclerosis,
  • Psoriasis,
  • Rheumatoid arthritis,
  • Hashimoto disease,
  • Lupus,
  • Celiac,
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS),
  • Crohn's disease.

The RACM team works holistically with patients who are suffering from auto-immune disease. We use Chinese Medicine (CM) 'patterns of disharmony' to thoroughly assess the root cause of the disease and we provide treatment using best evidence acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, and nutritional supplementation, as well as CM diet therapy, and lifestyle advice. We also commonly observe parasite and heavy metal toxicity compounding the autoimmune picture, particularly for example, in Graves disease, and we advise on diagnosis and treatment.

Of particular interest to us is the link between chronic long term stress and autoimmune disease. As a result, our team often focus on stress reduction protocols that include acupuncture, breathing techniques, and meditation, as well as CM herbal formulas and naturopathic supplements.

Additionally, there is much research-based evidence to suggest that a dysfunction in the gut micro-biome and inflammation in the digestive tract also plays a role in the development of autoimmune disease. One of the pioneers of this research is Dr Alessio Fasano who has published over 200 peer-reviewed articles related to Celiac Disease, gluten intolerance, intestinal permeability, and autoimmune disease. He has established clear links between intestinal permeability, food sensitivities, and the development of autoimmune disease.

A growing body of research is showing a significant connection between autoimmune disease, diet and lifestyle choices, and we believe that Chinese medicine diet therapy holds key insights into the gut-autoimmune connection. Our team uses probiotics and dietary changes to improve digestive function and reduce dysfunction in the gut micro-biome, thus helping to mediate autoimmune response. Blood tests such as thyroid antibody tests monitor the improvements in autoimmune disease states.

These changes can occur over a relatively short period of time if a client is following strict diet protocols that limit 'damp foods' gluten and foods that promote 'damp Bi syndrome', a classic CM pattern of autoimmune disease. Acupuncture can also assist in the regulation of the immune system, to reduce inflammation in the digestive tract.

Additionally, there is significant clinical research supporting the use of acupuncture to modulate the immune system response in autoimmune disease. Studies show decreased CRP levels in those treated with acupuncture, highlighting how acupuncture can decrease the inflammatory markers associated with autoimmune disease (Bao, 2014; Kim, 2010).

There is also research conducted into the ways in which acupuncture can be used to treat Type II Diabetes and this research is showing encouraging results. The research shows that acupuncture can positively help regulate glucose and lipid metabolism in patients with Type II Diabetes and with insulin resistance (Wang, 2014; Liang, 2010). Another research paper found that acupuncture was effective in treating diabetic peripheral neuropathy (Tong, 2010).

Both Crohn's Disease and IBS respond well to acupuncture treatment and a research meta analysis (wide-ranging review) confirmed that acupuncture clinically and statistically presents significant improvements in the symptoms associated with these diseases (Chao, 2014). At RACM we have also seen this with our patients, some who have suffered for many years with little improvement despite numerous interventions. Acupuncture calms the inflammation associated with these diseases, as well as the stress-related component of their manifestation.

As autoimmune diseases become more common it has become evident that our lifestyles have a significant effect on their prevalence. It is only through an holistic approach that these diseases can be treated at their root causes, and the RACM team has experience working with patients struggling with autoimmune disease and helping them to improve their quality of life, through thorough CM diagnosis and an holistic treatment strategy.

See also the separate topic Autoimmune Disease.


  1. Bao et al (2014) Randomised controlled trial: Moxibustion and Acupuncture for the treatment of Crohn's disease. World Journal of Gastroenterology. 2014 Aug 21; 20(31); 11000-11011.
  2. Kim et al (2010) Acupuncture and immune modulation. Autonomic Neuroscience. 2010 Oct 28; 157(1-2): 38-41.
  3. Wang et al (2014) Efficacy Analysis on Type II Diabetes Mellitus treated with acupuncture in females. ZhongGuo Zhen Jiu, 2014 Jan; 34(1):21-4.
  4. Liang et al (2010) Acupuncture: is it an effective treatment for insulin resistance? Diabetes Obes Metab. 2010 Jul; 12(7); 555-69.
  5. Tong et al (2010) Fifteen-day acupuncture treatment relieves diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Journal of Acupuncture Meridian Studies. 2010 Jun; 3(2):95-103.
  6. Chao et al (2014) Effectiveness of Acupuncture to treat IBS: A meta analysis. World Journal of Gastroenterology. 2014 Feb 21; 20(7): 1871-1877.

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