The little-known secret of Chinese medicine’s success in the treatment of mysterious and difficult-to-treat illnesses such as Lyme and tick-borne infections lies in some profound insights and treatment strategies that are as relevant today as when they were developed 3,000 years ago. Understanding the characteristics of Gu disease will give you immediate holistic insight into the nature of Lyme, parasitic, and chronic inflammatory disease.
The character Gu most often describes a situation of entrenched parasitism that eventually brings about a state of extreme stagnation, as well as mental and physical decay. Generally, the label Gu represents a syndrome that warrants the presence of particularly vicious parasites, or a super-infection of many different parasites that have combined their toxic potential to gradually putrefy the patient’s body and mind. From a modern perspective, this definition of Gu syndrome points to aggressive helminthic, protozoan, fungal, spirochetal, or viral afflictions that have become systemic in an immunocompromised patient.
In modern times, the Gu approach can be utilized for many different degenerative chronic infections, such as those caused by HIV and Lyme disease. In addition, this approach is useful in other difficult chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and GI disorders like IBS. The herbal principles that underlie the treatment of Gu syndrome are indispensable tools in the treatment of chronic disease. I have come to associate Gu with not only chronic parasitism, but also the broader category of “Chronic Inflammatory Disease”.
Gu, as described in the Classical Chinese medical texts, is characterized by a complex disease picture that first and foremost is triggered by infection from a parasitic organism such as Borreliosis burgdorferi, Babesia, or Bartonella.
This disease can manifest in a myriad of ways. Some of the clinical characteristics frequently highlighted in the traditional Gu literature are:
1. Gu pathogens are malicious and have life-threatening consequences.
2. Gu pathogens represent a type of toxin. This makes reference to their virulent epidemic quality, but also to the only recently corroborated fact that the metabolic byproducts of parasitic organisms have toxic effects on the body.
3. Gu pathogens are most likely to thrive in already deficient organisms, and once established, further harm the body’s source Qi.
4. Gu pathogens operate in the dark. It is often unclear when and how the pathogen was contracted, making an accurate diagnosis extremely difficult.
5. Typically, medical diagnostic exams turn up nothing. Both Lyme and Gu are the diagnosis that’s left when all else has been proven negative.
6. The disease experience feels like a terrible calamity, like the worst thing that has or could ever happen to you. Lyme patients will often say “I feel like I’m dying”, “I feel like I’m being tortured,” or “I can’t take any more”. This is a trademark characteristic of Gu syndrome.
Although it is one of the defining trademarks of Gu syndrome that it may involve virtually any symptom, for diagnostic purposes, the indications most consistently quoted in traditional texts can be summarized in the following way:
Digestive symptoms: chronic diarrhea, loose stool, or alternating diarrhea/constipation; explosive bowel movements; abdominal bloating or ascites; abdominal cramping and/or pain; nausea; intestinal bleeding and/or puss; poor appetite or ravenous appetite, peculiar food cravings.
Neuromuscular symptoms: muscle soreness, muscle heaviness, muscle weakness; wandering body pains; physical heat sensations; cold night sweats; aversion to bright light.
Mental symptoms: depression, frequent suicidal thoughts; flaring anger, fits of rage; unpredictable onset of strong yet volatile emotions; inner restlessness, insomnia; general sense of muddled-ness and confusion, chaotic thought patterns; visual and/or auditory hallucinations; epileptic seizures; sensation of “feeling possessed”.
Constitutional signs: progressing state of mental and physical exhaustion, indications of source qi damage; dark circle underneath the eyes; mystery symptoms that evade clear diagnosis; history of acute protozoan infection; history of travel to tropical regions.
Lyme disease is not just a spirochetal infection. Through the lens of Gu, we can see Lyme as more than simply a super-infection involving a combination of different strains of parasitic organisms. It also operates by consuming the resources of the host, leading to a physical and emotional wasting of the person, and creating great mental, physical and emotional suffering in the process.
Gu are chronic inflammatory degenerative syndromes, super-infections involving a variety of pathogens such as funguses, viruses and spirochetes, that may lead to malnourishment and a depleted, dysfunctional immune system.
These coexisting infections thrive upon each other as well as other toxic material stored within the body. They symbiotically assist each other in the process of feeding upon their more and more deficient host. Unfortunately, the choices humans have made over the recent past decades have led to our bodies becoming attractive havens and easy targets for infestation by these types of microbes.
This is the nature of Gu disease, as well as a very accurate description of Lyme and Lyme-like illnesses that we see in the modern clinic. The treatment approaches that were developed in response to Gu disease are still highly valuable today. In our clinic we’ve developed many protocols that evolved out of the Gu approach and are highly effective at bringing the modern Gu patient back to a state of health.
1. Borrelia is a highly evasive stealthy microbe
2. Borrelia grows very slowly
3. Borrelia becomes part of the microbiome
4. Microbial coinfections complicate therapy
5. Chronic use of antibiotics disrupts the microbiome
6. Chronic use of antibiotics disrupts the immune system
7. Antibiotics can damage mitochondria inside cells
8. Antibiotics can disrupt protective biofilm in the colon
9. People are still searching for solutions
Note: The primary situation where antibiotics have proven value is in early treatment of infections with more virulent tick-borne microbes such as Rickettsia rickettsii (the cause of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever), Ehrlichia, Anaplasma, and in some cases, Babesia. These microbes typically present with high fever and severe symptoms during acute infection. Being more virulent, they typically respond better to antibiotic therapy and generally, 1-2 months of antibiotics is curative if infections are caught early.
Successful treatment of complex chronic disease requires a multi-layered, strategic treatment approach. There are numerous strategies that we apply in different cases depending on the symptom presentation, diagnoses, and what phase of healing they are in. However, there are many crucial treatment strategies that are foundational to nearly all cases of chronic Lyme disease. They are:
1. Rebuild and restore the life force energy flow. This is the central factor around which our treatment plans are built and the primary principle that we use to navigate treatment decisions with our patients. This translates into TCM terms as tonifying the patient’s qi, blood, yin, and yang (emphasis varies patient to patient). Ancient Chinese physicians recognized that this kind of patient presents with a general exhaustion of Qi, Yin and Blood, due to the chronic nature of the disease. At the same time, the creators of Gu remedies knew that traditional tonics, ginseng especially, would also tonify the pathogen. In all of these categories, we therefore find a careful selection of herbs that are tonic and anti-parasitic at the same time. One of the ways these anti-parasitic herbs work is through their aromatic quality; they are basically fumigants. Constant herbal “fumigation” makes the system uninhabitable for any kind of pathogen. These tonics include blood tonics, Qi tonics, Yin tonics, and Yang tonics.
2. Break BioFilm – An aggregate of microorganisms that adhere to an internal body surface, using a self-produced matrix that is most difficult to break up and remove from the body. These herbs are aromatic qi/blood movers.
3. Eliminate Parasites – In this category we use Rectal Ozone, Ion Cleanse detoxification and Herbal Formulas that are primarily anti-parasitic and have been recognized as such in the traditional materia medica.
4. Extinguish Wind – Afflicted individuals often report that their main symptom is a constant flu-like feeling and an aversion to wind. The primary herbal category for the Gu approach has thus been called “release the surface with herbs that kill the snakes” (shashe fabiao). Most Gu formulas tend to feature 2-3 herbs from this category.
5. Detoxify and break up Qi and Blood stasis – Lyme is a disease of toxicity. The suffering it creates is largely a result of the endotoxins the Borreliosis spp. And other pathogens produce as they live, breed and die inside the body. Detoxification is always compromised in long-term and severe cases of Lyme disease, and the pathways of elimination must be strengthened before the true healing progress can begin. Herbs, Acupuncture are used here to course, harmonize and soften the liver qi, as well as to invigorate the movement of liver blood. Ozone treatments are used to further detoxify, reduce inflammation and kill bacterial, fungal and viral infections in the body.
In general, chronic inflammatory patients that belong to the category of Gu syndrome need to be treated for a period of 1.5 to 5 years. Since this class of disorders involves living pathogens that have the ability to adapt, We do a regular change in the details of the prescription. It is best to make modifications to a Gu prescription regimen every six weeks. Frequent alteration of remedies is a traditional component of Gu treatment. In this way, the general arrow of the therapeutic approach never changes, yet the formula is different enough each time to stay ahead of the microorganism’s attempts to adapt.
1. Herbs provide a wide spectrum of antimicrobial properties
2. Using multiple herbs together is synergistic
3. Herbs are inherently safe
4. Herbs enhance immune functions
5. Herbs support a balanced microbiome
6. Herbs help the body deal with biofilms and cyst forms
7. Herbs provide a wide spectrum of other benefits
More than anything, chronic Lyme disease is a breakdown of the body’s ability to fight off everyday threats and heal itself. It isn’t as much the microbes themselves, rather it is that the microbes are no longer constrained by a strong immune system, therefore they are no longer kept in check by the body.
The patient has likely harbored Borrelia and other stealth microbes long before they got sick — everyone harbors some stealth microbes in the grand mix of their microbiome. For example, people go through many years of rigorous work, eating on the run, and other bad health habits that weaken the immune system enough to allow the microbes to flourish. Creating a healing environment within the body is essential for the body’s recovery. Though herbs are essential for recovery, each patient needs to recognize that they need to curb the habits that contributed to their immune dysfunction in the first place.
Adequate restorative sleep is essential for overcoming any chronic illness. Most of the people suffering with this have insomnia.
Healthy Diet – Poor eating habits and antibiotics make a mess out of the intestinal tract. It is very important to make some drastic changes to the diet. Eating healthy will help the body heal a lot faster and strengthens the immune system, Qi, and Blood.
Calm mind – Learning how to manage stress on the fly is crucial. Being proactive about your own situation is essential for success. Having a meditation practice and becoming more aware of your thoughts will help you heal a lot faster, and it is a powerful space to create the life you desire. Meditation has so many benefits; it resets the nervous system, helping people with insomnia fall asleep at night. It creates an opportunity to listen to yourself deeply and to embrace the healing power inherent in our consciousness, and in our physical structures.
Learning about brain plasticity and how to harness your brain’s self-healing power, and going through the process of creating your own reality and destiny through the power of your thoughts – it is a very healing practice – together with herbal medicine, ozone therapy, and a healthy diet will slowly bring you back towards wellness.
Ozone therapy plays an important role in the treatment of lyme disease. It is the most useful adjunctive treatment I have worked with. Ozone adequately removes all the pathogens (including bacteria, parasites, mold, fungi, viruses), it also removes toxicity, and it reduces inflammation and helps breakdown biofilm helping improve immune system function and correcting the underlying cellular oxygen deficiencies, therefore improving symptoms and circulation, and protecting the liver.
Medical ozone or active oxygen is an energized form of oxygen which is highly reactive but completely non-toxic to humans when administered responsibly. For those suffering from Lyme disease, ozone therapy for lyme disease has provided an alternative treatment which is extremely low in Herxheimer reaction but still very effective.
Ozone can be used in a number of different ways to improve your health and well-being, and to help regenerate your body and cells. The most common are:
Ozonated Water – freshly ozonated water can be taken orally which will be absorbed through your stomach and small intestine. A great and simple way to infuse more ozone into your body. This will also act to kill any bad bacteria, fungi, virues, or parasites etc that may be in your stomach or intestinal system.
Rectal Ozone Insufflation – where ozone gas is inserted into the rectum. This technique is simple and has been used effectively for cardiovascular disorders, viral illness (hepatitis A, B & C), immune-activation, all gastro-intestinal illnesses, Candida albicans, leaky gut, and as part of a cancer therapy protocol. Usually anywhere from 50 – 800 mls of ozone is insufflated into the rectum over a period of several minutes.
Vaginal Ozone Insufflation – in this method ozone gas is introduced into vagina where it acts locally on the vagina, cervix and uterus. It can also from here find its way into the abdominal cavity. This method is useful for gynecological problems including yeast infections (candida), uterine infections and fibroids, and even cervical cancer.
Ear Ozone Insufflation – an ozone and oxygen mixture is used in this medical ozone treatment and is applied to the ear canal for a few minutes at a time. This method is particularly useful for middle ear infections, sinusitis, upper respiratory infections with congested sinuses, candida infections, bronchitis, and influenza. As Lyme Borrelia bacteria very often infiltrate the brain and nervous system, by using this form of ozone therapy we can access this part of the body immediately causes bacterial destruction.
It is often the case with Lyme disease that most of the symptoms of the illness are directly related to the neuro and other toxins released by the bacteria rather than directly related to the bacteria themselves.
“It is therefore of critical importance to not only use therapies to kill and eradicate the Lyme bacteria but to also quickly and safely remove the very dangerous toxins that can and do lead to often permanent damage of organs and systems, and even to death.”
Ozone Therapy works by correcting homeostatic imbalances in the body and works even better when combined with other therapies that also help to establish a healthy state of balance within the body.
The more severe or chronic your Lyme disease is, the more intense and longer duration treatment program utilizing this therapy you will require.
This is a basic principle in healing: the longer the time you have suffered from and the more intense the severity of your disease, the longer the treatment time and the more intense the treatment program required in order for you to recover your health.
Because Lyme disease can cause so many problems with very important organs and systems in your body, this therapy is vital because it will help to also heal and regenerate every part of your body.
In particular, Lyme bacteria can and do target the brain and nervous system (Lyme neuroborreliosis) and the heart (Lyme carditis), leading to often severe symptoms which may become chronic.
Ozone therapy is particularly effective for helping to protect and repair the brain/nervous system and also the heart.
It is therefore of significant benefit to any Lyme sufferer having these complications from this infection.
Consider this: your body goes through an elaborate process to take the foods that you eat and convert them into energy and building blocks for your cells. To do this, your body must have sufficient hydrochloric acid, bile and digestive enzymes to break down the fats, proteins and carbohydrates that come from your food, and healthy liver function to build new proteins from the amino acids and peptides in broken-down food. Many people with Lyme are deficient in digestive nutrients, have a leaky gut, and trouble creating energy for the body, and new proteins from amino acids and other nutrients.
The reasons for this are multiple. First, adrenal gland insufficiency is a common condition in Lyme, and causes hydrochloric acid (HCL) deficiency, as adrenal hormones play a role in HCL creation. When there isn’t enough HCL in the stomach, the pancreas isn’t stimulated to produce sufficient digestive enzymes, which then results in undigested food particles that leak into the bloodstream, where they cause inflammation. Or, they are simply removed from the body, causing nutritional deficiencies. At the same time, HCL deficiency allows for pathogens to get into the body, since stomach acid is the body’s first line of defense against microbes that enter it through the food, air and water.
Further, most people with Lyme suffer from a leaky gut, a syndrome whereby the villi, which are small fingerlike projections that line the small intestine, becomes damaged due to environmental toxins and microbes. Pesticides and herbicides, for instance, damage the villi, as do pathogenic microbes such as parasites like giardia and cryptosporidium, bacteria, yeasts and mold.
Taking a quality pre- and probiotic formula to re-inoculate your gut with friendly bacteria is very beneficial. This is especially important if you have taken antibiotics for Lyme disease. As I mentioned, these bacteria help to protect your body against pathogenic bacteria that enter your gut via the air and your food and water, and are an integral part of your immune system.
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This unique alternative to bovine colostrum supports a healthy mucosal immune system by decreasing immune activation and strengthening gut barrier function. The serum immunoglobulin in Mega IgG2000 has been the subject in over 10 published human clinical trials.
Heavy metal toxicity can be a major problem when also struggling to heal from Lyme disease. Heavy metal toxicity is abundant and virtually unavoidable in our world today and, like mold, it can slow the body down and prevent it from properly healing.
The most common heavy metals that can affect the body are Lead, Mercury, Arsenic, Aluminum and Cadmium. The symptoms for both heavy metal toxicity and chronic toxicity are pretty vague—similar, in fact, to those for Lyme disease. The most common symptoms are vomiting, nausea, convulsions, cramping, headaches, breathing problems, impaired motor and cognitive skills, sweating and more. Some chronic symptoms include: depression, fatigue, achy joints, digestive problems, blood sugar issues, menstrual problems, etc.
What does heavy metal toxicity mean for people also trying to heal from Lyme disease? Heavy metals in the body can begin to interfere with other treatments owing to the fact that heavy metals, once built up, will start to form protective layers. This not only prevents and protects the heavy metals themselves, but also other bad things that may be floating around in your body (ie. Lyme bacteria).
A great tool for heavy metal detox is the ion clean. In an Ion Cleanse session, the feet are immersed in a footpath of warm water. An array is placed in the water with the feet. This array generates electrical ions in the water. Ions are electrically charged particles, either negative (-) ions, or positive (+) ions. Because the human body is approximately 70% water, we will interact electrically with the ionic field set up by the Ion Cleanse.
The IonCleanse works by causing the neutralization and pulling out of toxins from all over the body and out through the pores of the feet, via electrical osmosis.
Detoxification occurs as these ions travel through the body, attaching themselves to toxins. Once attached, the toxin’s own electrical charge becomes neutral, which allows the toxin to be drawn out of the tissue where it was stored. The toxin can then be excreted via the organs of elimination; however, many of the toxins seem to travel great distances through the osmotic attraction of the higher ionic field within the water of the foot bath.
You will see the accumulation of particles in the previously clear water of the footpath. Over the course of a 30 minute session, the IonCleanse water will have quite a bit of toxic material of various colors floating around. This is desirable and represents the toxin that have been aggravating or potentially causing dysfunction in the body.
Step 1: Remove Inflammatory Foods
Borrelia burgdorferi induces an overwhelming inflammatory state in its host, in tissues ranging from the brain to the joints. Research indicates that nutrition has a profound impact on inflammatory balance within the body; therefore, since Lyme is an inflammatory disease, it is amenable to dietary changes.
Removing inflammatory foods from the diet is beneficial to shift the inflammatory balance. There are three food groups that individuals with Lyme disease should avoid:
Processed foods, which comprise much of the Standard American Diet, are associated with increased risks of chronic inflammatory diseases and do no favors for the Lyme disease patient. Refined carbohydrates and added sugars promote an inflammatory gut microbiota, exacerbating chronic inflammation. Industrial seed oils are potent inflammatory triggers that people suffering with Lyme disease should avoid altogether. Also most Lyme patients are better off avoiding gluten and dairy, along with the other inflammatory foods mentioned above. Gluten may exacerbate inflammation in people with Lyme disease by increasing intestinal permeability and inciting an inflammatory response. Gluten and dairy proteins share some structural similarities, which may explain why some gluten-sensitive Lyme patients also react to dairy products.
Step 2: Eat a Nutrient-Dense, Anti-imflammatory Diet
Once inflammatory foods have been removed, build a nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory dietary template by focusing on the following foods.
Grass-fed and organic animal proteins: Animal proteins contain the full spectrum of amino acids required for healthy physiological function, as well as iron and vitamin B12 for supporting energy production and cognitive function.
Wild-caught seafood: Wild-caught seafood is the richest dietary source of the anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. It is also rich in selenium, required for antioxidant enzyme activity, and iodine, essential for thyroid function. I recommend that people eat at least two to three servings of low-mercury wild seafood per week.
At least three to four servings of non-starchy vegetables per day: Non-starchy vegetables provide dietary fiber, vitamin C, B vitamins, and phytochemicals with anti-inflammatory and gut health-supporting properties.
Moderate amounts of starchy vegetables and whole fruit: Sweet potatoes, white potatoes, winter squash, plantains, other Paleo-friendly starches, and whole fruits can be a healthy part of a nutrition protocol for clients with Lyme disease. However, the amount of starches and whole fruit you can eat depends on blood sugar control; poor blood sugar control impairs the immune response to Borrelia burgdorferi.
Nuts and seeds: Nuts and seeds provide trace minerals, vitamin E, and B vitamins. A recommended serving size is one handful of nuts or one-fourth cup seeds. It is important to buy raw or lightly roasted nuts and seeds that are free of industrial seed oils.
Healthy fats: Healthy fats such as those found in olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, wild-caught seafood, and nuts and seeds help maintain a healthy inflammatory balance.