Myasthenia gravis is an autoimmune disorder, characterized by the formation of antibodies against the acetylcholine receptors (Ach-R) situated in the neuromuscular junction. The anti-AchR antibodies block the signals from the nerves to the muscles which are manifested by muscle weakness that worsens at the end of the day.
The weakness of the eye muscles causes double vision and drooping, the involvement of the facial muscles is represented by a difficulty to hold the head straight and the mouth closed.
Problems with chewing and swallowing as well as voice changes may be the first symptoms. Other muscle groups are less commonly affected, but the involvement of the diaphragms during a myasthenic crisis is potentially life-threatening.
The role of Chinese medicine
Conventional medications such as acetylcholinesterase inhibitors and corticosteroids are used in the management of Myasthenia gravis. In addition, various researches have demonstrated improved treatment results if standard drugs are being combined with acupuncture or traditional Chinese medicine herbs.
The beneficial results from both these alternative medicine methods are due to:
1. Huang H, Pan H, Wang HF, Warming yang and invigorating qi” acupuncture alters acetylcholine receptor expression in the neuromuscular junction of rats with experimental autoimmune myasthenia gravis, Neural Regen Res. 2016 Mar; 11(3): 465–468. doi: 10.4103/1673-5374.179060
2. Qi G, Gu Sh, Liu P, Effects of combined traditional Chinese medicine with immunosuppressive agents for patients with myasthenia gravis, Int J Clin Exp Med. 2015; 8(10): 19044–19050
Qi GY, Liu P, Gao BL, Shenqi Fuzheng Injection Alleviates the Transient Worsening Caused by Steroids Pulse Therapy in Treating Myasthenia Gravis, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Volume 2013 (2013)
Wang JK, Zhang XF, Yang MS, A Prospective Study of Tablet Fuzhengqiangjin Therapy in Patients with Myasthenia Gravis, Chinese Journal of Neuroimmunology and Neurology, 2007-02
Xi-qian Yang et al. Efficacy and Safety of the TCM Qi-Supplementing Therapy in Patients with Myasthenia Gravis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.Volume 2017, Article ID 6512572
CHEN, C.PAN, Y. LIU Sixty cases of ocular myasthenia gravis treated with acupuncture and moxibustion at extra-meridian and collateral. World Journal of Acupuncture – Moxibustion, Volume 22, Issue 4, December 2012, Pages 56-59
Wang SH, Cui X, Feng J. Electroacupuncture warming therapy combined with western medicine for the treatment of myasthenia gravis and effect on IL-4 level in the patients. Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2007 Dec;27(12):901-3