clinical observation and treatment of thousands of people with HIV and
AIDS, clinical evaluation of the tongues of over 600 people with HIV
infection and/or AIDS, and the use of pulse diagnosis, I have come to
understand that HIV infection is triggered by Toxic Heat, and initially
attacks the Spleen and Stomach Organ Systems. They are the central
organs involved in this complex syndrome and must be supported
throughout the entire course of the disease even when the HIV-related
disharmonies expand to involve all the other organ systems as well.
The Impact of Toxic Heat
Toxic Heat creates the initial flu-like symptoms that for many people accompany initial exposure to HIV. And as the Toxic Heat moves more deeply into all systems of the body, it triggers a whole variety of common HIV-related symptoms: pruritis (chronic itching), sore throats, increase in body temperature, feeling like you always have a fever even if one is not present, a nagging sensation that something toxic is present in the body.
Toxic Heat is also responsible for the cascade of Organ System disharmonies in the Spleen and Stomach, Kidney and Liver, which contribute to the major complication associated with HIV infection, wasting. (For detailed information on nutritional management and therapy see the Diet Therapy chapter and the three-part âWasting Program: The Daily Diary;â âThe Cleansing Diet;ââ The Anti-Wasting Programâ in The HIV Wellness Sourcebook.)
Role of the Spleen and Stomach Systems in the Progression from HIV to AIDS
The Spleen and Stomach Systems govern the digestive process, transforming food energy and fluid into Qi and Xue (blood). As a result the Spleen and Stomach moisten and nurture all the other Organ Systems and channels.
When Toxic Heat disrupts the Spleen and Stomach Systems, it triggers symptoms that are associated with the very early stages of HIV infection. These symptoms include
- inability to gain weight no matter how much is eaten,
- loose stools,
- bloating, gas and flatulence and/or dull pain in the abdomen,
- needing to take naps after meals, and/or
- frequent infections.
Spleen Qi deficiency also causes deficient Xue (blood). Once this sets in, the door is opened to allow Toxic Heat to enter the depleted blood and penetrate ever deeper into the body. The body them moves into more advanced stages of HIV/AIDS. If unchecked, an increasing depletion of the fluids of the Spleen (the Spleenâs Yin aspect) leads to overall Yin deficiency, which in turn can lead to Yang depletion.
Although today the combination of Western and Chinese therapies can arrest (for some period of time) the progression of HIV infection to end-stage AIDS for many people, when the cascade of Spleen-Stomach triggered disorders causes overall Yin deficiency and Yang depletion, wasting becomes severe. Diarrhea stops. The skin becomes drier and drier. Thirst is unquenchable. Fevers spike every afternoon and often in the evenings. The pulse is rapid, thready and superficial. This is a terminal stage of HIV disease. (ED: Yes it is called HIV disease.) Acupuncture and herbs are used to support the Shen (spirit) and the passing over to a new phase of existence.
Associated Disharmonies and Opportunistic Infections
Toxic Heat and the Spleen-Stomach disharmonies weaken the bodyâs overall resistance to assault from both internal and external disease factors and allow other organ systems to become involved. This leads to the development of HIV-related disorders and opportunistic infections. For example, if Toxic heat assaults the Lungs, PCP (Pneumocystis Carinii pneumonia) may develop. Xue disharmonies are associated with Kaposiâs sarcoma (a proliferative, circulatory cell disease that causes skin lesions); dampness is associated with candidiasis (yeast infections) and fungal invasions; Yin deficiency and Xue deficiency are associated with MAC (Mycobacterium Avian Complex) ; dampness and Spleen and Lung disharmonies may manifest as chronic sinusitis; disturbed Shen that is associated with mental disturbances that accompany HIV/AIDS; and many more.
Each of these syndromes is detailed in the individual treatment programs in the last section of the book. However, I wanted to make the point here that looking at HIV disease as an assault by Toxic Heat that starts with damage to the Spleen and Stomach, and moves on to include other organ systems and Essential Substances, provides a concise method of describing, diagnosing and treating the whole constellation of HIV-related diseases.
- A View from the East: Toward understanding Chinese medicine and its ability to improve the treatment of people with HIV infection.
Copyright 2006 - All rights reserved.
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About the Author
Dr. Misha Ruth Cohen, OMD, L.Ac., has over 25 years experience in
the practice of Asian medicine--including acupuncture, herbal medicine,
nutrition and diet, and Asian bodywork.
Misha is the author of three books: The Chinese Way to Healing: Many Paths to Wholeness; The HIV Wellness Sourcebook: and The Hepatitis C Helpbook. She is internationally known as a practitioner, teacher, and mentor to Chinese medicine practitioners around the world.
Today, Cohen has developed great expertise in the area of gynecology
and is considered one of the pioneers of utilizing Chinese medicine to
help treat HIV and AIDS.