Chinese Medicine's View of Lyme Disease

I’m Brendan Kelly and I practice acupuncture and Western and Chinese herbal medicine at our clinic here in Burlington, Vermont, Jade Mountain Wellness. And I wanted to talk a little bit about our treatment of Lyme disease. Just to start again, we do not treat Lyme disease. Lyme disease is the Western diagnosis, Western understanding of the condition.

So the way we treat Lyme disease is by not treating Lyme disease. And I think that that’s important because what we’re trying to do is understand what’s happening with the unique person that we’re treating, who has this particular Western diagnosis. It’s not enough for us to understand that someone has a Lyme diagnosis or a cancer diagnosis or any other diagnosis because everyone is different. It’s not enough for us to, for example, with Lyme disease, to just try to kill things, to try to kill viruses or bacteria.

That approach is obviously one that is predominant in Western medicine. And if that works for people, that’s fine. But our experience is that when you have a medical system or a medical perspective, based on warfare, based on killing things off, you get a lot of collateral damage, and medically that collateral damage can be our energy, our vitality, the health of our digestive system, or our overall sense of wellbeing.

So when we treat folks with Lyme disease, part of what we’re doing is strengthening the person we’re strengthening the person’s ability to clear things out of the body because the natural state of things and natural state within us is health and wellbeing. And so it’s very, very important, especially when people are in a tired state, in a depleted state that they be provided with energy, that they be provided with strength.

So we don’t approach treating Lyme disease as war. We don’t approach Lyme disease as waging war against things against viruses or bacteria or other things like that. Because we think it’s much more effective in the short term and in the long-term to wage peace, to encourage wellness in the short and in the longterm. And that’s not too in any way diminish the really serious effects of Lyme disease.

That’s not to diminish the pain and the suffering that many people are going through. But ultimately my experience is that the body, when given the strength will heal itself when given the ability and the vitality, it will throw things off. It will throw off five viruses and bacteria, for example. So we don’t have particular acupuncture points that we use with everyone with Lyme disease. We don’t have particular herbs or a particular herb formulas because everyone is different.

We’re not trying to just mimic the Western medical approach. We’re not trying to use herbs rather than antibiotics. We’re not trying to use acupuncture rather than antibiotics. We’re really trying to treat the individual. We’re trying to provide the individual with the strength to clear things out. And there are very strong acupuncture and herbs treatments that clear out viruses, clear out bacteria, et cetera, but often it’s at least as important to strengthen someone, to increase their cheat, to increase their life force, to allow the healing process to occur.

So in my experience with treating Lyme folks or folks who have the Lyme diagnosis, because there are no line folks because we are not our disease, we are not our pathology where much more than that. But for folks who have a line diagnosis, there is a progression, a progression of the imbalance. So the progression starts as far as I can tell with inflammation, with heat in the body and heat is overstimulation the body, the organs, the energy being overexcited.

So from that overexcited place, the body, the organs, the energy creates heat with that heat. They, there is an experience of dryness, and dryness happens when the heat cooks off the fluid. So that’s like if you have a pot of water on the stove and you turn up the stove high, the water gets boiled off that’s dryness.

So the heat creates dryness and that dryness can create brittleness internally. It can create a sense of tension in the muscles and the tissues and the sinews as well can create a sense of stiffness things, kind of get dried out, and that can also contribute to temperature issues. The person can start to feel hot as well because as the coolant, the yin comes down, the fluids come down, the heat can go up.

So the heat creates dryness. The dryness creates what Chinese medicine calls, dampness, and dampness is analogous to the idea of phlegm in the body. And dampness is analogous to the environmental influence of humidity and humidity slows us down. It bogs us down. A lot of us don’t want to do a lot when things get really humid in the environment and dampness or flatten within us is also what prevents things from being released. It’s like a wet blanket. That’s on top, on top of the symptoms. It keeps things from being cleared out of the body or vented out of the body.

So when one view is that anything that’s lingering in the body of virus of bacteria from the Western view or a hot condition, for example, from the Chinese view, dampness traps, that condition, it prevents the body from venting it out from getting rid of it.

So the initial stage can be heat. Heat creates dryness. Dryness is a lack of fluid from this lack of fluid, the body essentially overcompensates and creates too much fluid, which is dampness, which is phlegm, which is what’s keeping things from being vented.

And the last stage of this progression is what Chinese medicine calls a wind and wind is associated with neurological conditions of all kinds. And that’s because the dampness is heavy and dampness is descending. That dampness is the inability to get rid of things. And as a response to that, to that condition, the body creates another condition, which is wind, which is like the winds of change. The winds are trying to blow things out of the body. The body’s not able to vent things because of the dampness. The body responds by creating wind and that wind is responsible for neurological conditions of all kinds.

So the significance of that progression is it’s, it’s important to understand those different stages and to understand that each of those stages perhaps needs to be treated in order to address the condition completely. It’s not enough to just deal with inflammation.

It’s not enough to just take things that are very herbs, for example, that are very bitter and cold, or to take antibiotics. Both of those are essentially trying to put out the fire, but the fire is connected to the dryness. The dryness is connected to the dampness and the dampness can be connected to the wind, which is the neurological condition.

So from several thousand years of development, Chinese medicine has a very, can have a very clear understanding of the progression of disease. And it’s very possible to treat all of those conditions at different points. And we’ve seen very, very good results with treating people in various stages of the line diagnosis from beginning and intermediate stage to people who have been on Western treatments for several years.

So I really think with line, in particular, it’s very hopeful. My experience is very hopeful. You’ve seen a number of people get very significant improvements, not only in the decreasing of their symptoms but in their feeling of strength and wellbeing.

So if we can be of help, please let us know.