Chronic Inflammatory Diseases and Chronic Parasitism: An Acupuncture Approach to Treatment

by Inger Giffin, L.Ac., Dipl. Ac.

Acupuncture Helps Women with Chronic Fatigue and FibromyalgiaRecently, I have become fascinated with the condition of Chronic Parasitism causing chronic inflammatory conditions.  Chronic inflammatory conditions are often combined under the term “knotty diseases” in Chinese medicine acupuncture theory, illustrating that they are difficult to unwind or untie…they are so deeply imbedded in the system that to get rid of them is like untying a tight knot, difficult and slow.

Chronic Multi-Organ System Symptoms

In my acupuncture clinic I see these inflammatory syndromes causing multi-organ system symptoms such as wandering pain and aching, fatigued muscles; brain fog and other nervous system dysfunctions; digestive issues; heightened emotional sensitivity; and just general chronic flu-like symptoms of exhaustion and malaise.

Western medicine often combines these conglomerations of symptoms into diagnoses such as Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue. While this is a huge step forward from the common diagnoses of just a handful of years ago (it’s “all in your head”), there is still much disagreement in the scientific world as to what is causing these syndromes.  It is commonly agreed among many that pathogens such as viruses,  yeast, bacterias, helminthes, and spirochetes  can cause these symptoms, and many too believe that some autoimmune disorders are also triggered by an initial pathogenic infection. If ancient Chinese medicine and the successful treatments that acupuncturists developed to treat these disorders are any clue, I believe that as research advances, we will find that indeed these syndromes are caused by a pathogenic infection.

Gu Syndrome

Gu Syndrome is the name used to describe what happens when a body is taken over by hidden pathogens. The word Gu literally means many things, one of them being a situation in which one is being attacked, but the victim doesn’t know what or who is causing the attack because it is all happening in the dark.  Many people who have been suffering for years with undiagnosed chronic issues, can relate to this definition—they’ve been to countless doctors, yet all tell them they can’t find anything wrong.  Everyone is completely in the dark as to what is causing the issue, yet clearly something is impacting their functioning.  If we base our belief on the theory that Gu means that a systemic pathogen has taken over, then another way Gu syndrome is explained is by comparing it to oil that has seeped into flour.  Unlike a normal illness or infection, which would be like rice in flour and much easier to just sift out, the oil (the Gu toxins or pathogens) seeps everywhere and becomes very difficult to remove.  Normal treatment methods which target one pathogen or cause specific pharmacological effects in one area of the body, do not suffice.  But what are we left with, then?

Treating Gu Syndrome

There are basically two approaches that I take with treating gu syndrome. One is pretty fast and easy, and the other can be very slow and tedious, even if necessary and effective.

We’ll start on a bright note, with the easy one:

There’s a common underlying imbalance that most people I see with chronic infections tend to have — which is what enables the infection to take over in the first place. When a patient presents with this specific underlying imbalance, herbal treatment is much faster and easier, often relieving symptoms even in the first few weeks, even if we need to continue a little longer with treatment. This is always an imbalance they had long before the infection came along, so symptoms they’ve dealt with their entire lives or for many years, go away as well.

Next, the difficult one: 

When the imbalance is not due to the above imbalance, we need to take the approach of slowly working away at killing the pathogen. This is what we mean when we say we’re using the Gu Treatment, and there are several important things to know about this approach. First, this treatment can simply be a very slow process and take a long time to rid the body of such overwhelming and systemic pathogenesis. In the process, patients who have already been suffering for sometimes years, are often reluctant to hang on and trust that healing is actually occurring.  Biofilm, which is like a slime that the pathogens produce that adheres to tissues and causes bacterium to stick together, is often residing in the whole body, and this is a very “sticky” (knotty) thing to get rid of. Second, patients with Gu syndrome are often extremely deficient—after years of illness and parasitic infection, their body has very little “source Qi” left, which makes it paramount that strong treatments that will rid the body of pathogens but deplete it at the same time, are not used.  A very gentle, yet steady and consistent approach that avoids strong die-off reactions which can weaken the body even more, must be taken. Third, depending on the person’s underlying imbalance, the cost of treatment alone can be prohibitive for some patients, as treatment, specifically herbal, often needs to continue for more than a year, and in some cases, for 3 years or more.

In addition to acupuncture, treatment consists of combing a variety of herbal medicinals, including many anti-parasitic substances chosen specifically for their ability to not only “fumigate” the body with their aromatic qualities, but to  nourish and build up a person’s energy and nourishment along with clearing out the sludgy “biofilm”.


Common Western Conditions Treated with Gu Technique

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Epstein-Barr Syndrome, Leaky Gut Syndrome, IBS, Lyme Disease, Lupus, and Multiple Sclerosis.

If you or someone you know has a chronic inflammatory condition, it may benefit from taking this approach to treatment.  While the usual TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) approach is usually sufficient for treating these conditions, when patients don’t respond as expected, it may be time to start considering the Gu treatment approach instead.



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