Chinese Medicine’s Insights Into Lyme Disease
Many people are drawn to Chinese medicine for its refined holistic diagnostic approach and untapped range of plant, dietary and lifestyle medicines for healing all types of infections and symptoms.
Yet the little-known secret sauce of Chinese medicine’s effectiveness in the treatment of mysterious and difficult to treat illnesses such as Lyme disease, lies in some profound insights and treatment strategies that are as relevant today as when they were developed 3,000 years ago.
Whether or not you are a Chinese medicine practitioner, understanding the characteristics of Gu disease will give you immediate holistic insight into the nature of Lyme, parasitic, and chronic inflammatory disease.
Gu Syndrome: Ancient Insights Into A Modern Epidemic
Gu zheng, which can be translated as “possession syndrome,” is a Chinese medical diagnosis that describes a situation where a person’s body is overcome with one or many parasitic type organisms. The visual pictogram (Chinese character) of Gu in written language depicts worms breeding in a pot.
Gu is one of the oldest Chinese characters, and therefore a very old concept in Chinese culture. It’s been part of medical practice for many thousands of years and is discussed in the earliest Chinese medical texts, which are 3,000 years old.
Ironically perhaps, due to decreased immunity, compromised genetics, the way we eat, our sedentary tendencies, and because many of us were given vaccines and antibiotics as children, the average modern person is actually much more susceptible to parasitic infection than people of the past.
Gu encompasses Lyme and all complex chronic infections and inflammatory diseases and gives us a profound understanding of what we’re dealing with when a patient has complex multi-systems health problems – whether or not we can identify the exact infection that a patient has through bloodwork.
The Characteristics of Gu (Lyme & Lyme-like) Diseases
Gu, as described in the classical Chinese medical texts, is characterized by a complex disease picture that first and foremost is triggered by infection by a parasitic organism, such as Borreliosis burgdorferi, Babesia, or Bartonella.
Next, it often manifests in a combination of digestive, mental/cognitive, and nervous system symptoms such as insomnia and anxiety.
It is understood to:
- Be a disease experience that feels like a terrible calamity – like the worst thing that has or could ever happen to you. Lyme patients often will say “I feel like I’m dying.” “I feel like I’m being tortured.” “I can’t take any more…” This is a hallmark characteristic of Gu syndrome.
- Involve non-sensical or unexplainable symptoms (both for patient and practitioner) – it doesn’t “make sense” that a person could have that physical or mental experience, such as a seizure type experience that doesn’t show up on an EEG; often patients have a hard time putting into words the sensations they feel; and what they describe sounds crazy or unusual. This is common with Lyme disease and with Gu.
- Typically, medical diagnostic exams turn up “nothing.” Both Lyme and Gu are the diagnosis that’s left when all else has been proven negative.
Gu pathogens also act as a type of toxin or poison (Gu du = Gu poison). We know this is true in Lyme disease because it’s corroborated by the fact that the metabolic byproducts of parasitic organisms are known to have a toxic effect on the body. Since the 7th century, classical Chinese medical texts have stated that, “Gu can transform itself into harmful toxins.”
Lyme disease re-defined: A super-infection that consumes host’s resources
Lyme disease is not just a spirochetal infection. Through the lens of Gu, we can see Lyme as not only a super-infection involving a combination of different strains of parasitic organisms. Additionally, it operates by hollowing out 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.
What Gu really is, is a chronic inflammatory syndrome, a super-infection involving lots of different pathogens like funguses, viruses and spirochetes at the same time that all thrive upon each other’s existence and symbiotically assist each other in the process of feeding upon their more and more deficient host. 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 diseases that we see in the modern clinic, and the treatment approaches that were developed in response to Gu disease are still highly valuable today.
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Wonderfully explained and really depicts Lyme patients plight. I have neurological, chronic Lyme and I could not verbalize the onset of symptoms. I felt like I was dying, that was my vocabulary, and my focus. As I am healing, my focus has changed and my perception has grown along with my vocabulary. I am empowered to be an active participant in my mental, emotional, and physical health. This has assisted with how I verbalize my current well-being.
Hi Jessica, Changing our perception of what is possible as we struggle with illness is an important step to healing. Thank you for posting about your journey. Your own transformation will help others heal as well. Let us know if we can be of service to you. If you think this blog post would resonate with others please share.
Thanks so much for this post. Have you come across any practitioners who use Chinese medicine, that you could refer me too? I have Lyme, plus co-infections; treatment has not been successful so far. Glad to see the growth in holistic training for medical practitioners. Thank you!
Hi Alexandra! Our clinic, Nourishing Life Health Center, uses principles of classical and traditional Chinese medicine as part of our holistic approach. We offer both in-person and virtual appointments. Feel free to call our clinic at 845 687 6211 or email email@example.com to schedule an appointment. Best of luck on your healing journey!