My herb teacher was ecstatic, “You just made a Gu Syndrome formula!” I had never heard of Gu Syndrome, so I was in for an education that day.
It was my third year of Oriental medical school and the beginning of my second year in student clinic. My patient had Epstein Barr Syndrome and had experienced brief periods of remission followed by low energy and body pain. I had enough education to figure out that Epstein Barr was a virus, and viruses must be expelled from the body according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). The tricky part is that
it is better to catch a virus before it goes deep in to the body and begins attacking organ systems and lodging in to tissue and muscles. It is much easier to expel viral infection at the exterior layer of the body, so expelling pathogens that have advanced to a chronic disease requires finesse.
Over the two decades that have passed since first learning about Gu Syndrome I have had countless opportunities to treat patients in clinic with all types of complicated lurking pathogens. People who are infected with these conditions suffer for years without finding lasting relief. While TCM is not often their first avenue of treatment, these patients will often seek out Chinese medicine as a viable solution to a perplexing medical condition. As a practitioner this situation is a mixed bag; on the one hand, we are able to sharpen our clinical skills treating difficult chronic diseases; on the other hand, simple acute injuries and acute health conditions are more quickly resolved and give both Chinese medical practitioner and patients immediate satisfaction.
The ideal situation is to keep the body strong and healthy so that the Wei Qi never actually allows a virus or bacteria to enter the body, but many people suffer from low energy or a less-than-perfect immune response. Alternatively, a pathogen can be so strong that it overtakes even a healthy person and travels deep in to the body quickly; this is more rare and would apply to an acute hemorrhagic disease for example rather than a chronic infection. With Gu Syndrome we are looking at diseases such as chronic fatigue, lyme, fibromyalgia, and some types of rheumatism; the Auto-immune Disease Foundation suggests that viral and bacterial infection leading to chronic disease is even more wide-spread as explained in the article Evidence that chronic disease is caused by pathogens.
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