Hyperhidrosis / Excessive Sweating

I had hyper excessive sweating on my hands and feet for my entire life. I thought it was just something  I would have to deal with. Since receiving acupuncture the sweating has become what other people would consider normal. I am able to shake hands with confidence that I won’t get the other person all sweaty and I am able to wear sandals without worrying that my feet will slide everywhere and I won’t be able to walk properly. I didn’t feel embarrassed at all when I walked into Okanagan Acupuncture Centre as they were completely professional and showed me that I was not alone with my problem. They changed my life.” J.P., Kelowna

Disclaimer: Results may vary from person to person.*

Sweating is the body’s mechanism to cool itself and in most cases it is a natural and healthy response. But some people suffer from what is called hyperhidrosis- frequent or constant excessive sweating, much more than is needed to maintain a normal body temperature.

Sweating is a normal reaction of the body when it becomes overheated. By sweating, fluids evaporate on the surface of the skin and extract warmth from the body. When this process happens spontaneously, without need, it is called excessive sweating. Usually this happens on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, and the underarms, and may also happen on the head or the chest. It usually occurs at least once a week and for no obvious reason. It can be an embarrassing thing in public and makes people nervous and therefore even more prone to sweating.

Sweating is controlled by the sympathetic nervous system, a part of the autonomic nervous system. When the sympathetic system is overactive or no longer in balance with its opponent, the parasympathetic system, excessive sweating can be the result.

There are two kinds of excessive sweating: focal hyperhidrosis and generalized hyperhidrosis. Generalized hyperhidrosis affects large areas of the body and happens suddenly. This type of hyperhidrosis is part of an underlying condition such as menopause, hormonal imbalance, low blood sugar, some diseases, or thyroid problems. Treating the underlying condition or adjusting medication often solves this problem. Focal hyperhidrosis is excessive daytime sweating on the palms, soles, and sometimes the armpits, for no apparent reason. The cause of focal hyperhidrosis is unknown and it is not due to any underlying condition. This type of excessive sweating is much more of a mystery to western medicine.

Treatment in Western medicine consists of antiperspirants, iontophoresis (applying electric current on affected areas to block the action of the sweat glands), medications, botox, and in extreme cases, surgery (cutting nerves of the sympathetic nervous system or removing sweat glands). These therapies can sometimes be successful in moderate cases of hyperhidrosis, but are often not the final solution.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) sweating can have many causes. Sweating occurs as a result of internal heat (too much heat in the body), a deficiency of energy failing to contain body fluid, or an internal injury/weakness. A differentiation is made between spontaneous sweating and night sweating. Spontaneous sweating, which is a tendency to sweat in the daytime with no obvious cause, is due to a yang qi-energy deficiency, whereas night sweating, which is sweating at night that ceases upon waking, is most commonly associated with a yin deficiency. There are many areas a person can perspire from, and understanding the nature and location of the sweating can provide more diagnostic details in understanding the cause. Determining this underlying cause is what gives acupuncture its effectiveness in treating conditions and providing relief of symptoms.

According to more modern insights, acupuncture helps balance the sympathetic and parasympathetic functions of the autonomic nerve system, responsible for sweating. It does this by activating certain parts of the brain. Acupuncture influences the body’s internal systems to bring them back to their normal state of being, which is often the way in which acupuncture promotes healing- by correcting a bodily function that is caught in a state of dysfunction.

The advantage of acupuncture over conventional treatment methods is that the therapy is natural, non-aggressive and often very effective. Acupuncture is definitely a valuable alternative in treating this annoying and embarrassing condition and has shown its value many times over in the past.

James Kaufman is a Registered Acupuncturist at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St, downtown Kelowna, BC.

6 Comments

  1. Cammy Estrada October 11, 2013 at 6:28 pm - Reply

    This is a very informative article. I am located in San Diego CA, can you recommend someone in my area that is as knowledgable about hyperhidrosis as you?

    Thank You,

    Cammy Estrada

    • Jennifer October 15, 2013 at 3:58 pm - Reply

      Hi Cammy,

      Thanks for your interest in acupuncture! We aren’t familiar with any of San Diego’s acupuncturists but a quick Google search yields a lot of results! Our best recommendation would be to find:
      1) Someone in your geographical area/neighbourhood- narrow your results to someone close to you
      2) A L.Ac. or Licensed Acupuncturist/Doctor of Oriental Medicine, etc. There are other types of health practitioners who also perform acupuncture but for internal or complex conditions such as this, it is best to see someone who is specialized in the Chinese medical healing system (they will have a better understanding of the causes and of the appropriate treatment plan, which means more effective results for you)
      3) Review their websites and/or phone their clinic to get an understanding of their education, experience, and specializations. If it’s not something that they treat or have experience with, can they recommend someone to you?
      4) Cost: rates for acupuncture can vary. On the higher end of the scale, clinics tend to be more one-on-one and may offer additional therapies. On the other end of the spectrum, there are community acupuncture clinics which offer group setting treatments at a very reasonable rate. Both types of acupuncturists would be able to treat your condition.

      Most acupuncturists will be able to treat your hyperhidrosis effectively if they have a strong foundation in Chinese/Oriental medical approach to acupuncture. Finding the best practitioner for you will be a combination of location, education and experience, cost, and of course it’s also a personal fit- finding a clinic where you feel comfortable and a practitioner that you connect with.

      I hope this information helps! Good luck! ~Jennifer

    • Sarah October 22, 2014 at 10:44 am - Reply

      Hi Cammy-
      My husband also suffers with generalized hyperhydrosis and it is getting worse. I see this is a post from last year. Have you been successful in locating someone in the SD area that has some expertise in this area? I’m just starting my search now.
      Sarah

      • Jennifer October 29, 2014 at 10:09 am - Reply

        Hi Sarah,
        I do feel confident that a well-trained Chinese medicine acupuncturist will be able to help you with your hyperhydrosis. Acupuncture has a solid track record with treating this condition and someone with a strong foundation in Chinese medicine diagnosis and treatment will be able to formulate an effective treatment plan that is specific to your individual symptoms. However, I did a quick google search and did find an acupuncturist with specific experience with this if you would like to get in touch with him. There is a testimonial on his website from one of his patients who got very good results from acupuncture treatments with him. http://acupuncturesandiego.org/testimonials/
        Good luck with your search!

  2. margaret July 10, 2014 at 11:34 am - Reply

    I found this article very interesting as I do have as it appears to be focal hyperhidrosis and it has left me home bound except for going to work. Any type of motion I start to sweat. Walking through the mall is a nightmare. I will give acupuncture a try and hopefully it may help.

  3. Susan April 6, 2017 at 9:32 am - Reply

    I am just now seeing this article. My daughter suffers from hyperhydrosis, hands and feet. I took her to a very reputable Chinese acupuncturist here in the Dallas area. Three times a week for a few months. It helped with her anxiety but did nothing for her sweating. It became very expensive with little success.
    How long and how often do you recommend treatment to get results and is there a certain qualification I should look for when choosing a acupuncturist?
    Desperate to get her help:)

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