Immune Health in TCM and Ebola

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Normally we keep our newsletters as seasonal except for special events.  However considering the current state of health in the world with the Ebola concerns, I  thought it prudent to give you the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective, and inform you of possible options.  After all, there is more than one effective medicine in the world, and you have a right to be both informed and to make your own decisions about your health.

The view of pathogens, and invasions by pathogens in the body by TCM are complex and dynamic.  Of course a weak immune system can become sick by a pathogen.  But also, a strong immune system can still become sick if a pathogen is strong enough and overtakes it.  Regardless, boosting our immune system is the best pro-active way to not get sick in the cold and flu season and with epidemic diseases.  In TCM, our body has different layers of immunity.  There is a “first line of defense” called Defensive (Wei) Qi.  There is a “core immunity” called Upright (Zheng) Qi.  They both must work together to function well.  There are also different layers of meridians in the body that work together to fight off pathogens, and that can get sick.  We evaluate all of these to determine where the pathogen is (what level or layer of the body is sick) and the most effective individualized treatment to fighting colds, flus and epidemics.

One example of an illness by bug and viruses falls into a category TCM calls “half interior, half exterior”, where in a nutshell, the meridians affected are half deep into the body.  The symptoms for this are:  alternating chills and fever feeling, bitter taste in the mouth, fullness/congestion of the rib area and chest, nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, body aches and dry throat.  Sound familiar, perhaps like the flu?  This is where we classify the flu, and has been treated for thousands of years in TCM with Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs.

What is most interesting to me is that if one has Ebola symptoms, in fact they are virtually similar to a diagnosis in TCM of a febrile disease that has reached one of the deepest layers, at an accelerated rate.  Good news is that that TCM has been treating this for over 2,000 years, and has a “standard” herbal prescription that is used in this case of this deep layer being affected.  This deep layer affected is called the ‘Blood level’ of the “Four levels of a Febrile disease”.  The main signs and symptoms at this level in TCM are:  high fever, twitching, exposed macula or rashes, blood signs: nose bleeding, vomiting blood, blood in the stools, etc., mental depression, body aches, purple macula/skin spots.

Now take a look at the Ebola signs and symptoms:  Early signs and symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Severe headache
  • Joint and muscle aches
  • Chills
  • Weakness

Over time, symptoms become increasingly severe and may include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea (may be bloody)
  • Red eyes
  • Raised rash
  • Chest pain and cough
  • Stomach pain
  • Severe weight loss
  • Bleeding, usually from the eyes, and bruising (people near death may bleed from other orifices, such as ears, nose and rectum)
  • Internal bleeding

Look similar to some of the symptoms we mentioned?  They are.  Ebola in TCM is a rapid ascent of the pathogen to the deep layer of the body.  TCM has a way of treating these, and also can deal with any individual symptoms that may come along such as varying constitutions.

Take that one step further, and TCM has an army of immunity boosting herbal prescriptions for the cold and flu season.  Other things that you can do to help you immune system be at its strongest?  Get a good sleep, at least 7.5 to 8 hours per night.  Eat 3 meals per day, with a higher ratio of vegetables.  Reduce your stress in healthy ways, such as meditation, Tai Ji, Yoga, reading, writing, art.  Exercise moderately.  Love and nurture yourself first.

There is no need to feel despondent about what can be done in the current Western medical world.  Instead, feel empowered that you have information and choices, and that you can be pro-active this cold and flu season with a healthy immune system.

In the hub of it all, remember to stop and admire the colours of fall.  Find your balance.  That balance helps keep everything flowing well in body, mind and spirit.

Yours in good health and happiness,

Sonia & the Red Tree Wellness team

Sonia Tan

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