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Is treating Lyme with herbs and acupuncture possible?


#1

I have had a wide range of strange symptoms for the past about ten years. I once wrote out all of the issues I had to hand to my GP, and the list wound up taking up a page and a half. The symptoms that trouble me the most are the neurological and cognitive issues; I feel very brain fogged and just cognitively deficient all of the time. It's become so difficult for me to do things that were once effortless to me. For example, it's a struggle to just finish a novel because I forget which character is which and what has happened thus far. Writing used to be a skill that came very naturally to me, and now I find myself staring at the computer screen trying to come up with the words to convey my thoughts whenever I write anything. I dreaded writing essays when I was still in school because writing an essay meant hours upon hours upon hours of frustration because I knew what I wanted to say in the paper but couldn't formulate the sentences to say it; it's hard to explain, sorry. That said, I also have more cardiac symptoms like nagging chest pain, heart palpitations, and a racing pulse as well as occasional nausea. Essentially, my entire body is screwed up, but I won't bore you all with a complete list of symptoms.

I've been to numerous doctors, and no one has been able to tell me anything after all kinds of testing. I'm pretty close to giving up on conventional medicine all together because the only thing I'm accomplishing is paying co-pay after co-pay to be told that there's nothing wrong with me and that it's all in my head. About two months ago, I consulted the opinion of an acupuncturist who said that a lot of my symptoms sound like they can be due to Lyme Disease (but of course ultimately, we just don't know). He has me taking an herbal formula and following a strict diet regimen and continues to perform acupuncture on me, but I don't feel like I've seen any benefit at all so far. I understand that Lyme isn't something you can cure overnight, but I also need to know whether it's normal to not feel ANY benefit after two months so I can stop going to see him if his treatments just aren't going to help me.

I'm in a rough place where I really want Chinese medicine to be the answer primarily for financial reasons. I've looked into LLMDs, but there are none in my area, and even if there were, I can't afford to see one. So if Chinese medicine can't help me, the only option I really have left is to give up seeking answers and relief all together and just hope that my health doesn't deteriorate further (and maybe that is the best option for me at this point. I don't know).

Can anyone provide any input on the effectiveness of Chinese medicine for treating Lyme and/or mystery chronic conditions? If anyone has had success treating it in his or her clinic, how long do patients usually take before they feel benefits? Thank you! :)


#2

First off a Lyme&#39s diagnosis is rarely extremely clear except in the most obvious of situations so I wouldn&#39t get too hung up on the idea overall. It&#39s a "diagnosis" that is rampant in alternative medicine circles and personally I am very leery of it and of those outside of the western medical profession who diagnosis it as such. That said, Chinese Medicine does not treat Lyme&#39s or any other western medical condition per se but patterns of illness, so properly applied your western diagnosis is meaningless (see What Does Acupuncture Treat? for more information on pattern treatments vs. western symptomatic treatments). In other words your practitioner will focus more on your overall set of signs and symptoms and treat all of those at once rather than going after specific medical complaints.


With regard to lyme&#39s specifically - Lyme&#39s and associated symptoms can be treated but with any of the immune/auto-immune based complaints the time frame is very unpredictable. Personally I have treated some awful cases of Lyme&#39s (again technically treating their underlying TCM diagnostic patterns of which lyme&#39s is just one aspect) particularly when I practiced in the northeast where it is far more common than in Chattanooga where I practice now and the majority of my patients have full resolution of symptoms. In fact, one person drove through a year or so ago from Boston on their way to Florida just to thank me again. That said, the more complicated symptoms that a person presents with the more important it is to see practitioners who regularly work with complicated cases (not one or two, but regularly) and these are harder to find admittedly. I would suggest, however, to be patient with who you have around as 3 months to a year or longer would not be unexpected, but again, within a reasonable time frame you should see obvious results in your symptoms. Some of your palpitations, etc. should have changed significantly within 2 months of treatment (although you don&#39t say how often you have gone or anything about what you have done herbally so it&#39s hard to say if you should be better in anything other than general terms). I would suggest, however, if you have seen no changes at all within that timeframe that you should see another practitioner.


It is within the realm of Chinese Medicine to help you but with these conditions there is a less clear time frame than with many of the more common complaints people see an acupuncturist for. In most cases, however, within 8-12 treatments at the most you should have significant changes in at least some of your related symptoms (which are from a Chinese Medicine perspective largely related anyhow).


From the few symptoms that you have mentioned you most likely have what we call Kidney Yin Deficiency from a Chinese Medicine perspective and perhaps some other patterns (you can have multiples). That is really what the treatments are aimed at resolving. If you look at the broad range of medical conditions that can be associated with Kidney Yin Deficiency for example (see on the kd yin page linked above) you will see how Chinese Medicine can often make you seem a lot better off (or at least better understood) than your list of seeming random symptoms might indicate.


#3

Hi Chad. Thank you for your insights!


Interesting you should say it sounds as though I have a deficiency since my acupuncturist said that my primary issue was excess, not that I know how any of that stuff works to know if it&#39s possible to have both. I don&#39t really know my Chinese diagnosis, though, because he speaks to me in very Western terms, and, I hate to speak ill of someone trying to help me, but, he always makes me feel stupid for asking whenever I try to get a diagnosis in more Chinese mediciney terms out of him. When he said I had a thick white coating on my tongue, I asked him what that implied, and he said "dampness." I asked what dampness meant, and he just said it meant I had phlegm. I tried asking what he felt in my pulse, and he just said it was thin. I wanted to know more about what he felt in relation to the different organ systems, but I was done trying to pry information out of him that I felt he should be giving me without me asking. I always feel that way about Western doctors, too, however, so perhaps I&#39m the problem and not the practitioners.


In terms of appointment frequency and herbal protocol, I only see him every other week, so perhaps that figures into why I&#39m not seeing quicker results (although I do take the herbs every day). He normally charges patients $65 if they come in once a week or $50 if they come in twice a week, and I let him know from the beginning that neither option was financially feasible for me (I only make $250 a week). He said that we could just do once every other week since he thinks that the herbs and not the acupuncture are going to be what help me primarily anyway. That&#39s another reason I&#39m sticking with him and not looking elsewhere; he&#39s probably the only or one of the only practioners who would be willing to work with me on terms that I can afford. The formula he gave me is called Lightning Pearls if you&#39ve heard of it. He said he&#39s studied with Heiner Fruehauf who came up with the formula and has watched him treat difficult patients with great success. There does seem to be some information online that suggests that Fruehauf does know his stuff, but I wasn&#39t able to find that much information on him or his company. He ordered another formula for me to begin alternating with the Lightning Pearls, but he hasn&#39t gotten it in yet, so I couldn&#39t tell you the name of it yet. I&#39m thinking it may not be another of Fruehauf&#39s formulas, though, because the bottles he went through when he was looking to see if he had the formula in stock did not look like they had the company&#39s logo on them. So we&#39ll see.


Thank you for the link to information on Kidney Yin Deficiency. I&#39m looking at it now, and I do have some of the associated symptoms but not all of them. I do have dizziness, tinnitus, and vertigo. I do not have constipation, night sweats, or a sore throat. I have a sore back occasionally, but it&#39s not one of my major issues. My tongue also has a coat on it (that link mentions a lack of a coat), and it&#39s usually more pinkish than red. The tip does become red and sore sometimes, though.


#4

Yes with your tongue symptoms you have dampness which arises generally from Spleen Qi Deficiency - although that alone doesn&#39t usually cause the palpitations, etc. so you very likely have a mixed pattern from a Chinese Medicine perspective. If you do have a majority of dampness symptoms, your practitioner is largely correct in that herbs will do a good job of clearing that up, but there will be more work to do after that moves to get to some of the deeper causes. But you are correct that every other week is probably a little less often than would be ideal given the relative severity of your symptoms - but with the herbs this can be less of an issue. And lightning pearls is another Fruehauf formula - personally I don&#39t use those so I can&#39t comment much on them unfortunately.


#5

Also, for what it&#39s worth, I was kind of surprised when he told me that excess was my main issue because I feel very "deficient." Like, sometimes I feel like I&#39m constantly eating and drinking to replenish nutrients or something in my body; if I don&#39t eat every couple of hours, I feel extremely weak and just "off," which is why I used to think I had an issue with my blood sugar, but my doctor said my blood glucose levels are fine. It just feels like there&#39s something my body is missing that it needs in order to function properly, so it keeps making me hungry in hopes that I&#39ll consume something that has whatever it&#39s lacking. I know that sounds really strange.


But my understanding of the terms excess and deficiency are probably completely different than the Chinese meanings of those words, so everything I typed is probably irrelevent haha.


#6

Thank you for your reply as well, yyh_staff. Lightning Pearls is actually the formula I&#39m on now. I was saying that I don&#39t think the formula he recently ordered for me is another Freuhauf concoction, but it might be. I just saw the bottles he looked through when he was checking to see if he had the new formula in stock before ordering it, and they didn&#39t appear to have the Classical Pearls logo on them. The palpitations are a weird thing because I actually don&#39t experience them all that often. I have nagging pain and/or pressure in the center of my chest quite often (I&#39ve actually had it pretty nonstop for the past about 6 weeks), but I only experience the palpitations maybe once a month. To be fair, I&#39m not sure that they&#39re palpitations, as I&#39ve never had a doctor diagnose me with them. I just know I get a feeling like my heart jumped followed by a sinking feeling, and everyone I&#39ve ever described this phenomenon to has said it sounded like palpitations. I would have no problem going in for acupuncture once or twice a week; it&#39s just a matter of financial feasibility. The other acupuncturists in the area that I know about charge the same rate or higher. I chose the guy I&#39m seeing because he struck me as the most clinical and "down to earth" that the area has to offer; the others in the area seem very into new agey kind of things, or they sell a bunch of detox products and such on their websites, which makes me uncomfortable. That said, I have wondered whether I would see better results if I saw someone who used other things I&#39ve heard of like cupping and moxibustion. The guy I&#39m seeing has only ever used needles on me without any electrical stimulation or anything else I&#39ve heard of other practitioners doing.


I think what I&#39ve decided is that I&#39m going to stick with this guy until the end of the year, and then if I don&#39t see any significant benefits, I&#39m just going to kind of give up on seeking answers. If my condition worsens, then I guess I&#39ll seek out other avenues. Frankly, I don&#39t have any reason to believe it WON&#39T continue to progress because the issues that I have did not all begin at once but, rather, have gradually appeared over the past decade. But I&#39m pretty exhausted from seeing doctor after doctor to no avail, too, and I&#39m never going to save up enough money to move out of my dad&#39s house if I keep tossing money at practitioners who can&#39t do anything for me.


#7

HI


the last time I took any (western) medication for my lyme was in Febr. Since than (40 times so far) I see an chinese doctor who treats me with acupuncture. I had very heavy neurological symptopms when I started (tremors, seizures, etc), they all gone by now. Same applies to my brain fog. It took my 10 months but I am completly pain -free. (Joins, muscle, etc)


So I can tell that is works. He did not give me any herbs (he never asked if I wanted to) until now, we will follow the protocol of Dr Zhang. It is possible to consult with him over the phone, there is a fee to pay for the first time, after that it is free.


My doctor knows nothing about lyme disease, he is relying competly on TCM and simply treats what he thinks to be the problem.


#8

Possible to consult with who? Your doctor, or Dr. Zhang? I actually emailed Dr. Zhang a couple of questions several weeks ago, and his responses to me were very short. He more or less said, "You need to discuss these things with your own practitioner," although, to be fair, he could have just not wanted to give up any information for free, which is understandable. Glad to hear you&#39re doing so well! I would do pretty much anything to be able to get rid of my cognitive issues. I can deal with the never-ending headache that I have, the chest pain, the tremors, the dizziness, etc....but not being able to think clearly and basically feeling like an idiot when I&#39ve always been such a cerebral person (never that great with physical activities, but was always pretty sharp mentally) is devastating.


#9

That&#39s one of the interesting aspects of Chinese Medicine and how our body works. People can appear to be weak but it&#39s actually because parts of their body are running more and working harder than they need to be - like a part stuck with the on switch activated. Otherwise things like coffee would be a miracle cure for all cases of tiredness. Instead for many it overstimulates certain functions while giving them temporary energy boosts and overall leaves them drained - creating a unhealthy cycle of low and acutely high energy. This is also why you have to have a clear diagnosis with many of the Chinese Herbal Formulas. Things are not always what they seem logically.


All that said, Chinese Medicine is a very good modality for your conditions but it can take awhile. Once it starts to unravel, however, things go fairly easily and reliably after that. It&#39s just making those deeper initial changes that start the process that can be difficult. I wish you the best in the process.


#10

Intriguiging. All of this terminology makes me want to study Chinese medicine so that I can understand it, lol. Maybe I will if it winds up working for me. Anyway, hope my practitioner is on track with his diagnosis, then! I feel like it would take a miracle for anyone to be able to come up with an accurate diagnosis for me because my symptoms are very inconsistent; it&#39s not like I have the same symptoms from day to day or the same tongue picture or whatever. Like, he said that I had a little bit of a coat on my tongue the first time he saw me. Then he said it seemed to mostly disappear. Then one visit, he was surprised to see that it was really thick. Then the next time, it was mostly gone. So I imagine that&#39s frustrating.


We&#39ll see. Fingers crossed. Thanks for your well wishes.


#11

Hi all,


Just a quick update to let you all know I&#39ve decided to discontinue the Chinese medicine treatment. It wasn&#39t helping at all, and I was getting really frustrated with my practitioner trying to convince me that it was when I knew for a fact that I still had every single symptom I had three months ago, and they were all as intense and frequent as they were if not worse. So yeah, that&#39s the end of my TCM road, but I thank you all for your input. I did find a doctor to test me for Lyme through IGeneX Labs. He was a complete sketchball and a total jerk to me, but at least he ran the test for me when no other doctor would even consider it. I also just got an MRI, so I&#39m nervously awaiting the results on the lab work and the scan. I recently consulted the input of a chiropractor/nutritionist as well, so I might try out some of his treatments. So yeah, seeking other avenues and trying not to lose my mind!



Thanks again :)


#12

I am sorry to hear it did not help you. True, it took me almost a full year to be symptom-free which I am now. Started with the Zhang protocol next to acupuncture and I improved a lot, almost 100% the old myself. Even my chinese doc was surprised.


Hopefully your Igenex test will solve at least part of the mystery. Keep your mind and spirit for later, you still might need it. :) I know from experience how easy to loose hope, I did many times and it was my luck only that I found this chinese guy who is the most caring doctor I ever had.


In case you are positive for Lyme and co, I can recommend you several very good Facebook groups where you can find answers and solutions.


Take good care of you,


Anita


#13

Yes, I did not expect to be symptom-free now, but I expected to feel some improvement, which I did not. Actually, I felt like the herbs were making me sicker. I know people speak of herx reactions with Lyme and all, but my intuition told me the herbs were harming me and I needed to get off of them.



My IGeneX results came back negative by both IGeneX and CDC standards. A lot of people on Lyme forums are insisting that, because I had several weak positives on bands as well as some indeterminate bands, I *am* Lyme positive, but...who knows.



I&#39m glad you were able to find a caring doctor who could help you! :) I&#39m still trying to find one of those.



Best,


MM7


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