Welcome back to the third and final part of these series where I explain how I treat Lyme disease with Chinese medicine.
Phase 3: Rebuild vitality, restore the gut and immune system.
This is usually the last phase of my general approach to treatments for Lyme and other chronic infections. At this stage, a person shows good improvement after undergoing an antimicrobial treatment (phase 2), or scientific testing shows that the infection has been cleared.
By now the infection itself might be considered treated, but there is still more work to do, especially in the area of recovery. Why? Because Lyme operates in a fashion that disrupts the way different systems work so it can perpetuate itself, particularly the digestive system (gut) and immune system.
The theory of Tai Yin (Greater Yin) and its relationship to the gut and immunity.
On of the main diagnostic frameworks used in modern Chinese medicine is the one from the Shang Han Lun (Treatise on Cold Damage), created by the ancient Chinese doctor Zhang Zhong Jing around the year 200 A.D. One of its main advantages is that it classifies the relationships between different systems into the progression or recovery from infectious diseases.
The Tai Yin (Greater Yin) level is represented by the gut (Spleen concept in TCM) and the relationship between the immune system and vitality (Lung concept in TCM). These two functions work together to maintain proper health by means of a good digestion (nutrients break down and absorption), vitality (proper oxygenation and cellular respiration) and killing foreign invaders (immunity).
Zhang Zhong Jing maintained that the Tai Yin is the entry for a disease to start affecting us at deeper levels and that damaging this gut/immune axis renders a condition chronic and a lot harder to get rid off. This axis (TaiYin) is usually damaged by the time we clear the infection and it makes sense that to recover its function is the main key to all the other systems recovery.
I would like to point that this is not the only system axis that needs repair but it is probably the most important one. Another crucial axis to recover is the one that pertains to adrenal fatigue which is known as ShaoYin (Lesser Yin), but I will cover this topic in a separate blog about chronic fatigue and its treatment with Chinese medicine.
The recovery treatment strategy is a combination of Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture, plus dietary and lifestyle guidelines. This phase can take the longest to work with and it's usually done in combination with my health support group which includes integrative medical doctors and naturopaths.
As a final thought:
Some people might ask: Why you don't write the names of the specific herbs or formulas that you use?
Well, there can be a whole lot of different substances that can be used depending on the particular presentation at that moment. This is due to the fact that there are no real protocols in Chinese medicine, it's all about individually tailoring the treatment for every single patient. There might be treatment guidelines like the ones from the Shang Han Lun, or even modern authors like Stephen Buhner, but the real results come from prescribing what is appropriate for every individual patient.
Image Credit: Michael Dorausch from Flickr.