The common causes of autoimmune reactions are viruses, emotional overload, stress, medications like steroids or antibiotics, inoculations, to name a few. The trigger gives rise to a type of Qi that we call ‘auto reactive Qi,’ Auto reactive Qi be felt on the pulse, sometimes in the first visit but sometimes it has to be brought to the surface [of the pulse] with Acupuncture.
The Patho-genesis of auto immunity
The explanation of how auto reactive Qi affects the body is complex and can not be exhaustive here. One meridian is involved, it is called the Chong mai (we use the Chinese name) and is an important pathway belonging to the system of the liver. A trigger (for example a virus) enters into the deepest part of the liver Qi bypassing or over powering defence systems. This triggers a response from the body, the defensive energy [of the body] functions by creating the opposite energy to that which has penetrated it, pacifying the invader, this is why our temperature rises when we catch a cold (viruses are particles of energetic coldness). In Autoimmunity it is coldness that has penetrated the tissues, the defensive energy reacts by creating heat equal to the force of the coldness, this ‘auto reactive heat’ is confused and dysfunctional. The physical manifestation of the heat is what is called an auto antibody, in an attempt to destroy the virus the antibody actually starts attacking its own tissues.
Acupuncture treatment protocol for auto-immunity
It is debatable whether this explanation is necessary, however I have to decided to include it as is in keeping with the purpose of this website to provide information. I know some people enjoy receiving all the details, although this might be too much information for some. The following text outlines how we reverse the auto-immune process, the protocol is not exactly the same for every auto-immune disease, so this is a broad brush stroke so to speak.
- Calm down the reactive heat.
- rebuild the defensive energy of the body.
- rebuild the Qi of the affected organ/meridian system.
- sedate the coldness (virus, emotion, medication etc)
1) calm the reactive heat
This is the most important step as the inflammatory process is the most destructive, it can happen quickly or take time to achieve. This seems to depend in part on the length of time with the symptoms. The auto reactive heat is calmed by using acupuncture to bring fresh Qi with a cold quality into the meridian where the inflammatory process is occurring, another method is to sedate the heat from the body directly. If the heat is successfully removed the reaction begins to calm.
2) Rebuild the defensive energy
In order for a virus (emotion, medication etc) to penetrate the system the defensive energy has to be diminished. It is built and maintained by the liver. There is a large number of Acupuncture points that can be used for this purpose.
3) Rebuild the Qi of the affected organ
Pathology will occur where the body is weakest. We rebuild the Qi of the affected organ by choosing acupuncture points that will feed into the weakened Qi. This is an easy thing to do with Acupuncture.
4) Sedate the coldness from the system
After the heat is calmed down, and the weakened parts have been rebuilt, we are then ready to remove the cause of the auto-immune reaction, the coldness. Using pulse diagnosis, the location of the coldness within the meridian system must be ascertained Then the correct points must be chosen that will be able to disperse the coldness from the body. If this can be accomplished the disease is resolved.
Western treatment of autoimmune disease
In general the treatment leaves a lot to be desired, either steroids or immunosuppressants, both causing many side effects. Drugs might be necessary for life threatening conditions like diabetes, encephalitis, or sarcoidosis, but commonly patients taking these drugs are worse off a few years later. Steroids are known to cause autoimmunity, this is not common knowledge to GPs. The situation with steroids is similar to antibiotics 5 years ago, the medical establishment was incredibly slow to catch up the the fact that antibiotics are harmful, every body knew but them! In fact now that doctors don’t prescribe antibiotics so readily they are falling back on steroids, however, they are still kicking the proverbial can down the road. As far as the acupuncture is concerned, these drugs will also need to be removed from the body at some stage because they are pathogenic.
Auto-immune diseases can be difficult to treat and can take time. In complex cases maintenance becomes an important strategy. Some autoimmune diseases are yet to be treated with acupuncture, one example is type 1 diabetes. But generally Acupuncture is doing well treating these conditions.