By Professor Duo Gao
As in the case of bacteria and the reaction of penicillin to the coccus bacteria, it is our theory in Chinese Medicine that every element of the natural chain is either a predator or food source. We say “the snake is the mouses’s natural enemy.” So what is the virus’ natural enemy?
The main problem is the virus’ composition is so close with its human host-cell. A viral cell can effectively hide within a human host cell and propagate itself using the host cell nutrients.
When the virus damages the host cell the immune system has a greater effort to identify a damaged human cell than a straightforward invading cell. At this stage the problem is further exacerbated by inflammation, oedema and decaying cells building up around the infected area. It will become more difficult for immunocytes to accumulate only at the focus point and identify the virus because of the extensive infiltration of the focus region and inflammation, which includes some physiochemical changes of the PH value and the change of osmotic pressure of the body fluid. The longer taken for the immune system to identify the virus the harder the task becomes.
Our classification of viral types uses TCM descriptions based on certain characteristics of viruses, such as the coryza cold and flu agents being parasites of the respiratory tract mucosa and spreading in winter compared to the rotavirus being parasitic in the intestinal mucosa and spreading in summer. It is this feature that we see as the main weakness of virus that even if they pass through various organs and tissues there is only one type where the virus will settle such as hepatitis B is carried by blood throughout the body but only settles in the liver. Similarly when it passes from person to person from liver to liver this theory remains true the virus will only become parasitic in the liver.
Our classifications are:-
- Wind, covering all cases that give rise to runny or blocked noses, headaches, stiffness of the neck and paralysis for which are prescribed wind expelling medicines particularly useful for respiratory tract virus and nervous system virus such as rubella, flu and facioplegia.
- Coldness, covering arthritis, swelling, stiffness of the nape of the neck, short breath and water retention. These usually attack in winter and so the prescriptions must be hot or heat producing.
- Dampness, with diarrhoea accompanied by nausea and vomiting or excess moisture causing skin blisters, such as ulcerous phlycten of the cornea, hepatitis, enteritis or chicken pox.
- Malevolent-dryness with dehydration, heat fever and cataplasia. Most common is autumn flu with a hacking cough, dry throat or laryngitis. Treated with similar herbs to wind but is only localised whereas wind can freely move throughout the body.
- Heat causing a chill, high temperature, constipation and dehydration. There are many effective treatments, which require further research.
- Summer-Heat with high temperature etc, similar to dampness and heat combined especially in humid climates where virus grow easily and dangerously.
There are similarities between the prescriptions for viral treatments and cancer treatments and between cancer cells and normal cells compared to virus-infected cells and normal cells so the study of TCM prescriptions for viral infections will produce positive results for cancers as well. They clear up inflammatory tissues, then improve or strengthen the neighbouring cells functions and stabilise the internal environment and finally remove the virus’s shelter leading to cure. Combined research with TCM will produce future good results. The special virulence of AIDS/HIV is caused by its host cell being the immune system, bone marrow and lymph glands which are the very areas that normally have to identify and cleanse other infected cells. When they themselves are affected the cure is even more difficult. But using our classification system and understanding of the host cells role we can still prescribe effective treatment.
London, April 2004