I just had to share my thoughts about an insightful lecture that I attended this Saturday. The speaker is a Master Herbalist named Heiner Freuhauf, who has been traveling to China and studying herbal theory for 30+ years. He is an expert in chronic inflammatory diseases and auto-immune conditions. Mr. Freuhauf also treats very serious acute infections – things like meningitis, encephalitis, and Lyme disease, which seems to be growing in scope.
The workshop was very valuable because often the patients who come to acupuncturists are those people who seem to have some kind of low-grade, nebulous malady. We all know someone like that…they are always vaguely sick or listless, and complain of transient joint or muscle pain. What can happen with these patients is that some kind of acute infection becomes chronic in nature, or perhaps they have been inundated with antibiotics as a child, and a depleted intestinal milieu leaves them vulnerable to the food-borne organisms that we all encounter in an industrialized food system. Someone with a vibrant gut flora has no trouble with the millions of little critters that ride along on our food, but other people are left vaguely ill, with no apparent cause of their symptoms.
Obviously, many people understand that Chinese herbal remedies were extremely valuable 2000 years ago when people got high fevers and malarial disorders. This was their emergency medicine! Today, when a loved one has a crazy fever and becomes delusional, it is natural to want to rush that person to the ER. Massive amounts of antibiotics will reduce their fever and "kill" the offending pathogen (hopefully, it’s a bacteria!). However, bacteria and microbes are tricky creatures. For example, the Lyme spirochete will actually develop a protective sheath when antibiotics are put into a petri dish with it. So the Lyme spirochete can be coaxed into “hiding” but it hasn’t been expunged from the body, and may cause chronic inflammation down the line. This is where the body’s immune system goes into overdrive, and auto-immune conditions can result. Because the auto-immune symptoms can sometimes result YEARS after the initial infection (or insect bite), it becomes very hard to diagnosis the patient’s root problem.
That's where herbal formulas come into play.
There are many powerful substances in the Chinese materia medica that have natural anti-parasitical action, without the harmful effects of antibiotics. These can be paired with herbs that will rebuild the body's energy/Qi and support healthy immune function. The downside is that some of these herbal protocols can take many years for the patient to really be free of the lurking inflammatory agents. After years of illness and toxic drugs, however, a natural remedy may finally restore health and well being to these very sick patients.