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Canadian author hopes to shed new light on Fibromyalgia
Sunday 16 October 2011
EMC News - Fybromyalgia isn't a life sentence, says Perth acupuncturist Lynn Dowdall.
Dowdall, who has operated the Perth Acupuncture Clinic for the past 15 years, is currently working on a book she says will serve as a guide to treating and overcoming the disease. "Fybromyalgia: The 'F' Word, A Guide to Self Help," will be published in early the new year.
"My book is a guide to getting better," said Dowdall. "I'm almost finished the book, and now I'm looking for people to contact me who have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia."
Dowdall's interest in the subject stems from personal experience. In 1987, she was involved in a motor vehicle accident that left her disabled and in chronic pain. Dowdall was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 1990.
"In 1990 I was told, "You have fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. Accept it and learn to live with it,'" Dowdall told the EMC this week.
"That made me want to help other people," Dowdall added. "You don't have to have it forever, you can get better."
Dowdall was diagnosed with fibromyalgia at a time when the condition was still believed by many physicians to be psychosomatic. "At first, apparently, doctors would say, 'It's all in your head,'" she recalled. "I didn't get that, because I'd been in a car accident."
Fibromyalgia, said Dowdall, is a very real condition characterized by wide-spread, debilitating pain, and an associated sleeping disorder. The majority of patients are female.
The aftermath of her car accident led Dowdall, a native of Ottawa who was formerly employed as a secretary, to enter the medical profession as a lab technician. Then, 16 years ago, she travelled to Sri Lanka to study acupuncture. Although acupuncture is normally associated with China, where it originated 5,000 years ago, it was practiced in Sri Lanka after that country sent a number of doctors to China in the 1950s to be trained. Dowdall studied under one of those doctors, radiologist Dr. Anton Jayasuriya.
Dowdall was one of 17 "First World" students in a class of 41, and attended classes 10 to 11 hours a day. Although she says "it was more like being in the army than going to school," Dowdall recalls the training as "a wonderful, unique experience." She has since continued her education with post-graduate studies in traditional Chinese medicine, and has recently become a certified herbalist. She moved to Perth from Ottawa in the late 1970s.
Dowdall's new book is based on the premise that patients don't need pills to recover from fibromyalgia. "That's my conclusion from my own experience," she said. "I think the most important point is that they have to have hope, that they don't always have to be where they are right now, and that they can improve."
Dowdall said acupuncture is only one of the non-pharmaceutical therapies that can help with fibromyalgia. She said lifestyle changes can also help, but cautions people that they shouldn't stop taking prescribed medications without consulting their doctors.
In 1990, Dowdall was given medication to treat her fibromyalgia. She agreed to try it, but immediately decided there had to be another way. "The rest is history," she said.
Dowdall's forthcoming book on fibromyalgia is her second. In 2004 she published a book for children titled "What is Acupuncture?" illustrated with drawings produced by her daughter-in-law, Gail Greer.
Although acupuncture today is considered mainstream medicine, and she receives numerous referrals from physicians, Dowdall said many people still think "it's just for sore backs," and only for adults.
Acupuncture is said to work on the energy of the body by inserting extremely fine needles into acupuncture points, which in turn disperses blockages, increases the function of specific organs, and balances the overall energy of the body. Dowdall said acupuncture can be used to treat addictions, asthma, carpal tunnel syndrome, insomnia, and mental disorders, among other conditions. Side benefits of the treatment, she said, include a healthier immune system, improved energy, relaxation, and improved sleep patterns.
Dowdall said acupuncture can be used to treat children, and that children respond faster to treatment than adults. She said a girl of six or seven who had seasonal allergies was cured after four treatments, when an adult would have needed 10 treatments to get the same results. She is available to speak to groups on the topic of acupuncture.
Dowdall asked anyone interested in sharing their experiences with fibromyalgia for her book to call her at 613-267-1119. More information is also available at www.perthacupuncture.ca.
The above originally appeared here.
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