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TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine)

Discussion in 'Alternative Therapies' started by Eucalypta, Apr 1, 2010.

  1. Eucalypta

    Eucalypta Guest

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    lala-land
  2. Dreambirdie

    Dreambirdie work in progress

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    TCM has been my primary healing modality since 1984, so after studying it for over 25 years, I know a few things about it. :Retro wink::Retro smile::Retro smile: Here's the main things to consider when using Chinese herbs.

    WHAT IS YOUR SOURCE OF HERBS?

    Unfortunately many Chinese herbs grown in China (where environmental standards are pathetically lacking) are contaminated with heavy metal and pesticide residues. Because I have MCS as well as CFS, I am extremely sensitive to these kinds of contaminants, and have had adverse reactions when I used herbs laced with toxins. The herbs that I never had any problems with are the powdered (freeze dried) ones put out by Sun Ten/Brion. As far as I know they are the ONLY company that successfully fought California's Prop 65 suit, and won. (read below)

    "Of the numerous herbal companies sued to date, Sun Ten and Brion Herbs are the only companies who have successfully fought the Proposition 65 suit by proving that their products were not in violation of the California Law.

    The allegations stated that all of Sun Ten and Brion Herbs herbal formulations and single herbs were in violation of Proposition 65. Over a period of three years, Sun Ten Labs and Brion Herbs Corp. engaged in a process of costly research and methods of verification of manufacturing processes, using an international team of esteemed soil experts, herbal experts, pre-eminent academic experts, and scientists in related fields to document that all their herbal products, processing practices, sources of herbs and the soils in which they were grown do not add any metal pollutants, and that the heavy metals that occur naturally in soils were reduced to the lowest levels possible. In this process they were able to demonstrate that all their products met the requirements of Proposition 65.

    The winning of this case establishes that Sun Ten and Brion Herbs products are compliant with Proposition 65 requirements for heavy metals and that their manufacturing process supports the healthy results for which the products are intended."


    Besides Sun Ten/Brion http://www.brionherbs.com/ Evergreen Herbs is another company that has a good reputation among the practitioners I see. http://www.evherbs.com/for_patients/why_evergreen.html

    HOW MUCH DOES YOUR PRACTITIONER KNOW ABOUT CFS?

    It really does help if you see a practitioner who has a lot of experience with your condition. With the acupuncture part of TCM, I haven't found this to be as necessary, because acupuncture works more on the IMMEDIATE level. But with the herbal end of TCM, it makes a HUGE DIFFERENCE to work with someone who really GETS IT. The herbs work in a much more long term kind of way, on correcting the deep imbalances that are both the cause and effect of a particular condition. CFS is such a complex condition, which presents a huge and ever-changing assortment of really difficult-to-manage symptoms. So finding someone who is highly skilled and brilliant in working with CFS makes all the difference in the world. There is only one practitioner that I would highly recommend, after my many years of trying out 16 other ones. He's in L.A., booked 3 months in advance. He studied in China, speaks fluent Chinese, has over 25 years of clinical, research, and teaching experience in acupuncture and oriental medicine, and is the author of over fifty papers on topics including chronic fatigue syndrome, AIDS, autoimmune disease, breast cancer, and mercury toxicity. His clinical practice focuses on chronic infectious disease, immune dysfunction, and environmental illness (aka MCS). And there is talk of him being nominated for the Nobel prize in physics because of his research and work with biophoton testing--which he uses in his practice. I haven't been able to see him for the past 8 years, due to not having an eco-safe place to stay in LA anymore, And I really noticed a decline in my health when I stopped seeing him. If you PM me, I'll give you his name.

    CHUAN XIN LIAN

    I'm hoping that you know Chuan xin lian (andrographis) is the most bitter of herbs that are used in TCM. There is a Chinese expression: "my life is as bitter as chuan xin lian," which drives this point home. This is an herb that is really good for acute infections, but because it is so bitter and "cold," it's not a good idea to take it for a prolonged period of time. It can be really hard on your digestion if you use it too long and take too much, and that can make for troubles of its own. Most practitioners don't usually prescribe herbs that are this cold and bitter without adding something warming to the mix, to balance it out.

    So I hope that's enough for now! Let me know if you have other questions, and I'll share with you what I know.
     
  3. Eucalypta

    Eucalypta Guest

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    Thanks for your reply.
    I was aware of the information and have ben using TCM practically all my life. It's certainly very useful information for others who might consider TCM.
    There are many research articles available in China and other countries about ME/CFIDS, much more than we westerners realize.
    My practitioner has a wealth of experience in HIV and is now concentrating more of ME as well. His experience with HIV suits me very well as much of the medicine and herbs used can be useful for ME/CFIDS as well.

    i do not use TCM exclusively, i use Homeopathy, Naturopathy as Western medicine as well. I try to use the best of all that is available to me. I'm fortunate that my physicians/practitioners actually confer with each other and me so we can come up with a treatment plan that compliments each other.

    Of course I know about the bitterness, that was an easy one. ;-) I usually take the herbs in their purest form which was not possible with the Chuan Xin Lian, you have to be quick to swallow them or else you will discover why they are called the most bitter herbs. ;-) I did have an acute infection which called for the Chuan Xin Lian and I have no reason to doubt my practitioner, he knows me best and knows the results we try to achieve. So far I'm doing well on it.

    What kind of specific TCM's or herbs do you use and did you have good results with them?
     
  4. Dreambirdie

    Dreambirdie work in progress

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    Hi Eucalypta--

    I don't have specific TCM formulas that I use all the time. The herbs I'm prescribed are always changing, based on my condition at a given time. I also use vitamin supplements, and of course, foods are medicine too.

    I don't doubt that your practitioner knows what he's dong. Just adding my experience to the thread.
     
  5. zoe.a.m.

    zoe.a.m. Senior Member

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    I'm using TCM as my main modality, though I'm open to anything an MD has to offer (if they ever offered anything...), as well as a naturopath's guidance.

    I began about 5 years ago and herbs were the first treatment to assist with constant fever, weakness, etc. etc. etc. It was night and day compared to supplements and homeopathics (I was using mainly naturopathy then) for me. It was first explained to me as needing to clear pathogens before tonifying anything, versus supplements and Chinese formulas prescribed by my ND which were anti-pathogenic but tonifying as well.

    Week to week and month to month my formulas change. There are many herbs that "should be good" for me but which I've had adverse reactions to. Astragalus is tricky for me; it usually causes jerking limbs and insomnia. A few months ago my practitioner wanted me to try Compound GL (a formula touted for CFS), and I felt like I became somewhat stronger over the months I was taking it (not "better" but perhaps slightly more stamina, ability to fend off infections, fewer flares), but--as with most formulas--stopped taking it whenever a flare occurred. Generally I dislike the bottled formulas, but there are times when it is convenient not to have to cook raw herbs and reheat as needed. Also, my practitioner is often right, even when I don't feel he's doing exactly what I want him to. I will often say something like "this feels like how I felt in October of 2008, can I have those herbs?" without fully realizing that my "symptom picture" has changed since then!

    I also was taught to use Yin chiao whenever I got chilled or felt I was getting a virus (a normal-person, fleeting-type of virus) or if I was exposed to someone who was contagious. I was told to take a certain number of pills and get into bed with extra blankets and rest for at least half an hour. This has saved me more times than I can count. Recently, I started using Ilex 15 for a cold and it's like a better version of Yin Chiao! These work best if used at the onset of course. Also, Bi Yan Pian is my seasonal allergy (when my normal formulas aren't able to quash them) helper. I can take Benadryl with little effect, and then take Bi Yan Pian and they stop (with no side effects). These are just the simpler patent formulas I've used, but the raw herbs I get are very rarely named. I do know many herbs that draw damp and heat out are frequently in my formulas though.I have no doubt that I would be fully bedridden and have an unremitting fever without TCM. I recently had to go off of herbs for blood work for just 1 week, and quickly had sleep problems, an acute illness, and felt entirely unwell.

    The good practitioners of TCM sure have their work cut out for them, but they have tools for chronic illness that beat everything else I've experienced. I feel very lucky to have a person who started out in Western med and even worked on genetics research in infectious disease who then became an acupuncturist/herbalist. He is one of 2 people I've seen who I felt could help me, and he has a better appreciation for the hard realities of illness because, I believe, the physiological/Western side isn't outside of his realm. He seems passionate about treating people with ME/CFS, and I really appreciate that someone relatively new to medicine would actually want to work with ME/CFS! He mentions frequently reading that he does or something he has seen on the subject and he's open to every suggestion/question I have. It's good to know that someone is able to treat the symptoms as they wax and wane and who notices when something is too much or too little (basically a medical professional who is paying attention, listening, keeping track month-to-month and who will respond to questions or a need for a change in formulas within a day!

    He takes insurance too, which no other TCM practitioner does where I live, though there are many. Not that insurance helps a great deal, but it tells me that his practice is willing to deal with the realities of sick people: jmo.
     
  6. nkm

    nkm

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    I was so excited about TCM for my brother, after 9 weeks of treatment, it left him 95% bed-ridden! Made all his previous symptoms 10 times worse and we just didn't know why...until we did a hair analysis and it showed up with huge arsenic exposure.

    I wonder if this means that his symptoms are related to toxicity/metals given it made all pre-existing symptoms much worse?!?
     
  7. JPV

    JPV Senior Member

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    The only problem I have with Chinese Doctors, is that after seeing one, an hour later you have to see another one.
     
  8. creekfeet

    creekfeet Sockfeet

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    A family member is Chinese and has consulted traditional doctors all her life, and has offered to look into treatments, so I'm wondering what to offer her as leads. I live too far from any practitioners to go for visits so it seems to me dangerous to try anything on myself or especially on my kids via a secondhand recommendation, but perhaps if there are herbs that support mitochondrial function, brain myelination, blood flow: places where we know we're all attacked... and given our sensitivity, low doses of gentlest possible herbs?
     
  9. ramakentesh

    ramakentesh Senior Member

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    Ive been investigationg this angle for a little while with some sporadic results. Good to see others aer as well.
     
  10. slayadragon

    slayadragon Senior Member

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    I think there's actually some truth in this, at least with the acupuncture. Neural therapy, which I think of as "super acupuncture," tends to have longer term effects.

    My husband and I have both seen TCM doctors on occasion.

    His main problem is liver issues. The TCM (herbs and acupuncture) helped him a good bit.

    I think it was less effective for CFS. This is a newer disease and apparently a new paradigm (which I think is related to toxicity), and so "traditional" medicine of any type seems unprepared to effectively treat it.

    Best, Lisa
     
  11. Mark

    Mark Acting CEO

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    nkm: What you describe reminds me of problems lots of people have had with lots of treatments, in which as soon as they start to detox, the toxins coming out cause a massive exposure and cause a relapse. I suspect the key is to be aware of how those toxins are emitted (onto bedding perhaps? note that the reaction to toxins is not consciously appreciated at the time ie you can't necessarily feel it but it could be you sweated toxins out onto your sheets) and avoid continued exposure. But I'm sure if you search away here on detox you'll find some good tips on how to try to support yourself during detox. (Of course, another theoretical possibility is that your chinese doctor was poisoning your brother with arsenic, rather than unlocking a previously locked-up toxic exposure from where it was 'locked up' in his body undermining him, as the detox model claims).

    I recommend once again trying to find a good Shiatsu practitioner. The point about 'needing to see another doctor' is, in my view, because chinese healing is 'more of an art than a science'. What this means in practice is that effective and open communication between doctor and patient becomes critical. You need a good relationship for the holistic approach to be effective. Shiatsu is based on TCM, and my experience of that is that the more open, relaxed, meditative, and honest I can be, the more effective the treatment is. It's a partnership. Shiatsu also offers lots of other things like dietary and lifestyle advice. From my experience of it, I can say I went from complete scepticism about 'meridians' to complete certainty in the truth and reality of the model.

    I have always been diagnosed with dampness of the liver/spleen/limbs (I forget now exactly but think all 3 have been 'damp' at some time, and the underlying problems of 'heat and damp' used to be a problem. It's only through this site that I confirmed (through numerous details I didn't know about, eg meaning of orthostatic intolerance) my suspicion that my own somewhat atypical symptoms are very much related to ME/CFS. When I told my Shiatsu practitioner this, she confirmed that in TCM ME/CFS/FM is also 'dampness of the spleen'.

    I don't think it's accurate to say, Lisa, that traditional medicine is necessarily unprepared to treat ME/CFS. I think the Chinese model is able to offer a lot of help, and my experience is that its insights are just as relevant to 'new' conditions as to old ones. TCM practitioners probably don't have much or any knowledge of ME/CFS, but that doesn't put them at a disadvantage compared to most other doctors. Where they have an advantage is that they are able to diagnose problems that Western medicine can't see, and correctly determine the symptom pattern that represents, and thus work on addressing the imbalances. The way those imbalances present, react and progress might be a surprise and a challenge for them, but nevertheless I think they are able to address some of the issues.

    But I don't think it can ever offer a complete solution on its own, and I don't think anything really can at the moment; I think there are lots of things you have to do, for a long time, and even then, there is no guarantee the programme you have chosen will work for you, so trial and error is also necessary.
     
  12. slayadragon

    slayadragon Senior Member

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    You know, upon further reflection, I'm going to take back what I said.

    Liver problems are something that TCM is very good at treating, so it makes sense that my husband would have gotten good benefit from having TCM treatment of his.

    But the one truly accurate diagnosis of my illness that I had in the first 12 years that I was sick came from Chinese medicine.

    I was in Tokyo and went to a reflexology place staffed by people from mainland China. One started working on my feet, then got really concerned. He had a worried conversation with several other people there, and they all paid attention to my feet.

    Their diagnosis: "Your body is full of poison."

    Which, of course, was precisely correct.

    At the time, I thought it was a metaphor (e.g. "too much heat") and just kind of smiled. They knew what they were talking about though. No metaphor at all!

    The treatments were really helpful too. Between that and a stay in an old Japanese ryokan in the rural northern part of the country (good outside air, no inside mold, exchanged my own mold-contaminated clothes for their robe), I had as close to a remission as I did throughout my whole illness.

    And relapsed when I came home, of course.

    So maybe TCM is prepared to treat CFS after all. Or at least, the reflexologists were.

    Best, Lisa
     
  13. zoe.a.m.

    zoe.a.m. Senior Member

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    Well said Mark! TCM doctors are the answer to what Western docs consider "subclinical" or "low normal." They can really wipe the floor with a normal doc, even when it comes to antivirals, bacterials and fungals (assuming they have the herb training). I do have to say that I was surprised to find out recently that my acupuncturist/herbalist has several new texts written by TCM practitioners about treating ME/CFS! He let me borrow one, which I read most of, and it just knocked my socks off. I was shocked that such a relatively-thin volume managed to say things that I have never heard before, ever. It also made me appreciate that, even though my practitioner doesn't explain every choice he makes in detail, he's working way above any level of understanding of ME/CFS that I was giving him credit for. And you're quite right about "more of an art than a science" too and trying to treat this illness is like trying to hit a very-quickly-moving target.

    This is also one of my favorite things about TCM doctors: they understand heat, cold, wind, night sweats, chills, low fever, high fever, aches (here, there and everywhere), every neurological sensation imaginable and they actually use it to do something to help you! That said, I've seen much less skilled practitioners who only made my symptoms worse and who I know I wouldn't have improved with, and it's not so much that they were wrong, as it takes an exceptional practitioner to treat an exceptional constellation of symptoms.

    And the best part of TCM in my opinion: there's never a simple "no, can't help you" answer to a problem. The herbs might not be pitch perfect, but even if they're in the ballpark, I know some of my symptoms, even if it's just 3 or 4, will be improved in a few days or a week. I spent 3 years with a fever that no Western treatment could beat down and it means the world to me now to know that even though I'm going to get that fever (and swollen glands, and all the rest), it won't last forever and it might be a little less the next time. Hope is a good thing to have with ME/CFS.
     
  14. Sunday

    Sunday Senior Member

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    Amen to that. I'd be very interested to know the title and author of that TCM book on ME/CFIDS. Thanks for so clearly articulating your own experience and thoughts. Western medicine is great in a crisis, but it is c**p with chronic illness. Even such common chronic diseases as arthritis and carpal tunnel have no real western medical therapies, much less such complicated and mysterious illnesses as we've got. Neurologists are basically educated guessers much of the time, and much of the time they guess wrong in chronic illness. Western medicine has focussed more on catastrophic and emergency situations; it's real good at those. Chinese medicine does its best to prevent them.
     
  15. slayadragon

    slayadragon Senior Member

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    Perhaps it's like what I found to be the case with neural therapy (and with some allopathic therapies): yes, it does have beneficial effects, but it's not enough of a magic cure to make up for putting infinite levels of stress on the system.

    If people are being exposed to boatloads of poison every day, no treatment is going to make up for that.

    I wonder how well TCM would work, now that my toxic mold exposures are lower. I'd have to think better than it did back when I was living in the place with all the mold anyway.

    Perhaps I will give it a try sometime soon and report back.

    Best, Lisa
     
  16. zoe.a.m.

    zoe.a.m. Senior Member

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    I was put off by the title at first: Acupuncture Physical Medicine: An Acupuncture Touchpoint Approach to the Treatment of Chronic Fatigue, Pain, and Stress Disorders by Mark Seem PhD. I didn't expect much at all b/c of the "chronic fatigue" and "stress disorders" until I actually got through the introduction. I really had to appreciate that he was speaking about it from a different paradigm, but it is clear (right from the get-go) that he thinks CFIDS (I think that's how he refers to it in the book) is very seriously debilitating and there is nothing light about his presentation and treatments for it.

    When I was googling for the title, I found it was on the Hummingbird's list of bad books for ME/CFS. To each his/her own I think. He does speak candidly about the history of this illness in Western medicine and presents a really interesting case for what environmental medicine now has to become. One thing that I think is good for those less familiar with TCM to know is that "stress" doesn't mean what it means in Western medicine (i.e. that there is something wrong with you and you can't handle stress).

    I have to agree that it's just one modality in treating ME/CFS. And I know some supplements/naturopathic care have been necessary to make me strong enough to benefit from the TCM. As my practitioner has said, "sometimes it takes nothing less than everything to help someone."
     
  17. slayadragon

    slayadragon Senior Member

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    Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. 2009 Jun;29(6):501-5.
    [Effect of lixu jieyu recipe in treating 75 patients with chronic fatigue syndrome]

    [Article in Chinese]

    Zhang ZX, Wu LL, Chen M.

    Department of Integrative Medicine, Yueyang Hospital, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai. zhenxianzhang@hotmail.com
    Abstract

    OBJECTIVE: To investigate the effective Chinese medicine treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). METHODS: Seventy-five CFS patients meeting the inclusive criteria were enrolled from March 2007 to April 2008 and randomized into two groups. The 40 patients in the treated group were orally treated with Lixu Jieyu Recipe (LJR, consisted of milkvetch root 30 g, kudzuvine root 30 g, asiabell root 15 g, red sage root 10 g, aizoon stonecrop 15 g, epimeddium herb 10 g, curcuma root 10 g, and grassleaved sweetflag rhizome 10 g, made into 200 mL of decoction), for 100 mL twice a day. The 35 patients in the control group were treated with vitamin B tablets (10 mg twice a day), adenosine triphsphate (ATP, 20 mg, thrice a day) and Oryzanol tablets (20 mg thrice a day). The laboratory indicators including serum immunoglobulins (IgG, IgA, IgM, IgE), blood immune cells, as T-cells (Th and Ts), B-cells, natural killer cells, as well as CD4/CD8 ratio were measured before and after 3-month treatment. RESULTS: After treatment the difference in scores of fatigue symptoms between the two groups was significant (P < 0.01), the scores of various SCL-90 factors and the total score significantly reduced in the treated group after treatment (P < 0.01). Levels of the immunoglobulins measured before treatment were in an equilibrium state, they all were unchanged after treatment in both groups (P > 0.05), and showed no significant difference between groups either before or after treatment. As for the immune cells, significant increase of the lowered Th, Ts cells, and decrease of CD4/CD8 ratio were found in both groups after treatment (P < 0.05), but the improvement was more significant in the treated group, so the difference between groups in these indices after treatment also showed statistical significance (P < 0.05). CONCLUSION: LJR shows superiority in treating CFS.

    PMID: 19702080 [PubMed - in process]
     
  18. Sunday

    Sunday Senior Member

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    Thanks for the title of that book, Zoe, and your review: there's a lot of lit out there on us that is bull, so it's helpful to have you go over this. I can see how TCM has such a different way of looking things that words such as "stress" can mean something totally different (and I also think some of us are a bit gunshy about any psychological-sounding terms because of the whole "it's in your head" thing we so often get from Western med).

    And very interesting study abstract, slayadragon! Thanks for I'm tempted to see if I can find that formula...though I'm already doing a bunch of Chinese herb formulae.
     
  19. Jody

    Jody Senior Member

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    LOL

    I guess I'm pretty tired. Right now, this strikes me as the funniest thing I've ever heard. :D
     
  20. zoe.a.m.

    zoe.a.m. Senior Member

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    slayadragon,
    How did you find this? It's really great to see a published study/trial of herbal meds addressing this. It's also nice to see since I finally had an NK cell assay and CD4/CD8 done (after close to a decade), and everything was within normal. I realize the read on those tests is very subjective, but after such a very long wait to have a doctor order them, I found myself saying, "well, I've been on Chinese immune modulators for 4-5 years now, what did I expect?!" I'd like to see how Immunovir would compare--not that I expect one to be better or am rooting for one--just curious to have this kind of info looked at. I wonder what the cost comparisons would be. So many meds we use for so many heavy-hitter illnesses were once a simple herbs, and I'm a believer that a person generally benefits more from a combo of herbs or getting a med/supp from its original "food" source rather than the synthesized version.

    I hope you like it Sunday. I always worry when I recommend something since how we perceive things has to do with our state of mind at the time and where we get the info from, etc. I'm hoping it will hold up! I want to post an excerpt, the one that made me go "hello, this book is no joke," hopefully that is okay (don't know the rules of posting text like this--anyone feel free to edit if necessary).

    I worry a bit about the tone of the first paragraph since the quote's in isolation from the book--this man does not downplay the dire nature of "vague" complaints as he spends a fair amount of time discussing AIDS in this way as well. That last paragraph though, for me, is one of the most insightful and intelligent and comprehensive views of ME/CFS that I've heard proposed and one thing that Western medicine doesn't really have a foot in (other than environmental docs--but it ought to be a part of the language of all docs imo).
     

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