Retinitis Pigmentosa with allergies and poor circulation
Dr. Steven Li was born in Boston and studied very hard at a private school in Wellesley. He finished his college at Boston University with a full scholarship and went to Harvard Law after serving in the Army in Fort Lauderdale for 4 years. The GI bill paid over $200,000 for his three years at law school in Boston. Like many attorneys, he enjoyed alcohol because it would help him relax and make him drowsy at night. He never got drunk during his 30 years of practice at his law office in Needham, but he gradually developed different kinds of allergies to many kinds of food. He also gained 30lbs over a period of 20 years.
By the age of 55, his vision started changing. After going through all the tests at Newton Wellesley Hospital, he was told he has an eye disease called retinitis pigmentosa. His night vision was declining very fast, he also noticed that his sleep was not very deep; he tends to wake up in the middle of the night and has a hard time falling asleep. He then drinks two to three cups of coffee to help him get through the intense intellectual work in his law office. Sometimes he needs to add the fourth cup of coffee to help him stay awake. By the end of the day, his brain is so stimulated from the caffeine that he needs to drink alcohol to help unwind and relax, and ideally, help him sleep. Over the years, his sleep has become more and more interrupted, effecting his energy levels the next day.
His allergies worsened even though he was trying to avoid many kinds of foods such as nuts, green tea, and gluten; but one thing he did not avoid was alcohol. Alcohol increases your histamine levels, which can lead to more allergic reactions. The blood circulation in his hands and feet is very poor. He uses hand/foot warmers to keep them warm during the winter in Boston. Gradually he developed Reynaud’s syndrome due to the inflammation in his blood vessels and nerves.
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He also tends to eat sweets when he wakes up in the middle of the night, thinking that if he eats something, it may help him go back to sleep. His blood sugar levels would increase causing further damage to his blood vessels in his gut, hands, and feet.
By the age of 60, he had to carry an epi-pen in order to avoid life-threatening anaphylactic shock. Despite the restrictions he made to his diet such as eliminating dairy and gluten, the two things he continued every day were coffee and alcohol consumption. These continued to wreak havoc on his immune system.
He was on different kinds of antihistamine medications over the years that were supposed to help with the food allergies and improve his sleep, however, his allergies continued to get worse. He even had to be rushed to the ER one time when he was having dinner at a restaurant in downtown Boston. Nobody ever told him that his alcohol intake was making his allergies and inflammation worse, so he continued with his alcohol in the evenings and two to three cups of coffee in the morning at his home in Weston.
When he finally started to notice that his vision was changing and remembered being told that a person will become blind a few years after being diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, Dr. Steven Li did thorough research on his condition and decided to visit an acupuncturist in Boston. He showed his acupuncturist what he found on how electrical acupuncture can slow down the progression of retinitis pigmentosa during his first visit, at her office in Boston.
His acupuncturist collected all the information about his diet and lifestyle. She connected all his symptoms: allergies, Reynaud’s syndrome, vision changes, weight gain, poor digestion, and insomnia with leaky gut and inflammation in his blood vessels and nervous system. His acupuncturist recommended him to cut down on his coffee and alcohol intake to reduce the inflammation and balance his nervous system so he can sleep better. If he can sleep better, his body can repair the nerves and blood vessels much faster.
Changing these habits was very difficult for him. He found all the evidence to verify his alcohol intake as beneficial, and his coffee as necessary.
He started acupuncture treatment twice a week for 12 visits, then once a week for 24 visits. He did have some improvement in his vision after 24 acupuncture visits. His night vision improved, and he was able to see things much sharper. But he continued his alcohol and coffee consumption, hindering his circulation and increasing the inflammation. He ended up stopping his acupuncture treatments due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In this case, if he would have limited or stopped his alcohol consumption and cut down on the amount of coffee he was drinking, he may have seen greater improvements in his sleep quality, circulation, and vision. Every 5 years, our body goes through major changes; we need to change our habits gradually so we can avoid pain and inflammation if we want to function well when we reach 90 years old. Changing habits can create stress, but if you can combine acupuncture and meditation, your stress level will be lowered and you will be successful to make slow changes.