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Effects of moxibustion in immune deficiencies

AIMS:

To prove that the use of moxibustion in points BL23 (Shenshu), the GV 4 (Mingmen), the area from the CV4 (Guanyuan) to the CV6 (Qihai) with the BL 43 (Gaohuangshu), the ST 36 (Zusanli), and the CV12 (Zhongwang), elevate the Qi, nourish the blood and stimulate the immune system.




INTRODUCTION:

IMMUNITY   ACCORDING TO MEDICAL PHYSIOLOGY

Before starting to talk about the effect of moxibustion in immune deficiencies, let's review the concept of immunity.

Immunity (from Latin: the privilege of exemption or “being free”) is the resistance of a living organism to an illness or infectious process.

The active acquired immunity happens when exposure to the infection has occurred (or vaccination has taken place) and specific antibodies and immune memory cells have been created, which in turn will resist eventual infections of the same kind.

The passive acquired immunity is short-lasting and takes place when specific antibodies are administered.

The immune system protects the body from a wide range of infectious agents; it can recognise the components of a pathologic agent to give a later series of   responses intended to eliminate it. The basic features of such responses are the specific nature and the memory , which give origin to two types of defence systems: the humoural immunity , immunity response in terms of antibodies, and the cellular immunity , in terms of cells.

The humoural defence system, featured by type B lymphocytes, creates circulating       antibodies in the fraction globulin-gamma of the plasma proteins. The antibodies are proteins produced by B lymphocytes in the presence of antigens (molecules detected by the body as likely dangers); they run through blood and attack and neutralise the antigens The humoural immunity is the main defence against bacteria infections resulting from the circulating antigens carried in the immunoglobulins IgA, IgG, and IgM.

The cellular defence system is featured by type T lymphocytes , essential in the immune system. The lymphocytes are effector cells that give an immunity response to antigens that is to say, to foreign substances, thus provoking reactions intended to neutralise or destroy them.

The immune responses play an essential role in the body protection against a micro-organisms invasion. Furthermore, they offer a control system over the development of bad tumours by the attacking cells.

In order to be effective, the immune system must be capable of distinguishing between the components of its own body and those which may be harmful. The goal is met through the interaction of   antigens and antibodies as well as that of antigens and surface receptors of T cells called “help cells”. These cells stimulate a second type of cells called “cytotoxic” or “killer cells” , which attack the cell carrying the antigen.

This way, they can destroy the tissues attacked by parasite viruses or that are suffering cancerous changes. Besides, they act over retarded allergic reactions as well as over cells of tissues that have been transplanted, causing the transplant rejection.

Body cells contain surface indicators that the immune system recognises, thus it does not attack them. Any not recognised antigen is considered as foreign by the immune system, hence it is subject to being attacked.

In the case of autoimmune diseases, the system produces antibodies (called autoantibodies) that attack the body cells, often causing serious results.

As regards mammals, the system is remarkably capable of producing antibodies against   millions of different foreign agents that may invade the body. The antibodies kill such agents in various ways. Moreover, as the immune system “remembers”, a second exposure to a foreign substance elicits a faster and better response, for B and T “memory” cells have been exposed to an antigen and quickly transform into effector cells when in contact with the same antigen. In contrast to other lymphocytes, the cells remain in the body for months and even years.

The number of different antigens recognised by lymphocytes in the body is huge; the capacity of recognition is innate and does not require exposure to the antigen.

During foetus development , the predecessors of the lymphocytes come from the bone-marrow. Those that are in the thymus are transformed into the lymphocytes in charge of cellular immunity. (T lymphocytes).

After birth , some lymphocytes are formed in the bone-marrow; however, most come from the lymphatic swellings , the thymus and the spleen , from predecessor cells, which come originally from the bone-marrow.

The immune system usually distinguishes what is of its own from what is foreign. Evidence shows that certain B and T developing cells create antibodies and receptors against own antigens.

Sometimes, the processes that eliminate the antibodies against the own antigens fail. Consequently, a great variety of autoimmune diseases are originated.

More than 50 immune deficiency syndromes have been found, due to irregularities in the immune cells function. Such abnormalities range from a mild increase in the effect of infections to serious disorders, usually fatal.

Whenever the system is not capable of distinguishing what is of its own from what is foreign, it is fair to say that it is not acting according to its nature.

So far, we have briefly spoken about immunity, which represents the protection system in our body. We have said that the lymphocytes play an essential role within said system and we have also said that they are originated in the bone-marrow in the pre-natal phase and that after birth the formation of lymphocytes comes from the thymus, the lymphatic swellings and the spleen.

Let's now see what the Traditional Chinese Medicine has to say about it.




TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE AND IMMUNITY

To TCM, health is continuos movement and balance of   the yin and yang: to be “in” and “with” the nature of all things. It means the adaptation of the body to changes and the transformation the disease process into health.

In TCM we talk about protection systems available to the body in order to fight against external pathologic agents, such as syndromes caused by cold, heat, the wind effects, etc.

Weiqi is the External Energy Protection system which is distributed throughout the skin, the arms and legs and within the organs and viscera and generally runs out of the vessels. It is originated in the Stomach and the Spleen and its function is to feed and warm the inside as well as the outside, to protect the surface, to fight the external pathogenic energy, to nourish the subcutaneous region ( cou li ) and to open and close the sweating holes in order to protect the body from the external pathogenic factors. Hence, it is called Defensive Qi.

Any failure or excess in the Stomach or Spleen meridians may alter the vital energy and theweiqi , consequently provoking the failure of the external protection system.

We can compare the Traditional Chinese Medicine and the Western Medicine in terms of immunity, although the way of approaching them are different. However, both approaches complement each other.

During the embryonic phase the main energy is the essential energy, the jing qi , which once included in the essential jing energy of the man and in the essential jing energy of the woman will be in charge of the creation of a new being. This is known as essential or   ancestral energy ( xian tian zhi qi ).

After the union, this energy will be in charge of all growing and developing processes, both intrauterine and out of this organ.   It constitutes the main element in the capacity to preserve the species by helping the sexual organs to mature and function properly. Ageing is closely related to a decrease in the essential energy, jing qi .

On the other hand, the jing energy also includes the most substantial and purest part of the food outside the uterus, known as essential acquired energy ( hou tian zhi qi ).

The intrauterine energy is “stored” since birth in the Kidneys. Likewise, the vital post natal energy is “stored” in the Stomach.

All the above mentioned means that as from birth the essential-ancestral energy capable of preserving the species and that controls the growth, development and ageing processes, will be kept in the kidneys to be used, specially, in the natural transformation moments of a person.

As to energetic physiology, the Kidneys are closely linked to the bones, the brain (as “Sea of the Marrow”, nourished by the kidney essence) and the growth. The Kidneys essence is the “primary root” of our energy.

We have already said that during the foetus development, the lymphocytes predecessors come from the bone-marrow: to TCM, the Kidney, element “Water”, nourishes the bones and produces the marrow in the pre natal phase.

Hence, it can be argued that the energy and essence of the kidney prevail in the embryonic growth and development in the pre-natal phase. Similarly, in the post-natal phase the energy involved is that of the element “Earth”, the Stomach and the Spleen. Such energy corresponds to the vital energy (z heng oi ) deriving from the basic structure   which the vital activity of the human being keeps through the air, the food and the essence. In that way, after birth, the Spleen, the Thymus and the Lymphatic Swellings are the lymphocytes producers.

  Western Medicine Western Medicine
PRE- NATAL PHASE Lymphocytes: originated in the bone-marrow.

Kidney: element: “Water”. It rules over the bones and the brain (as “Sea of the Marrow nourished by the kidney essence).It also rules over the growth, development, ageing and the functioning of the sexual organs).


POST-NATAL PHASE
Lymphocytes: originated in the lymphatic swellings, the Thymus and the Spleen. Stomach and Spleen: element: “Earth”. They rule over the transport and transformation of the essence and vital energy.

The element “Earth”, Stomach and Spleen, is basic in TCM for the development and efficiency of the vital energy and the weiqi .
Stress and long diseases cause an emptiness in the Spleen and exhaustion of the vital energy. Thus, the body lacks of health and the resistance to fight diseases results deficient.
In this same way, the cellular memory diminishes its response capacity and the immune system is altered and attacked.
As the defence system weakens, the vital energy (stored in the element earth) is consumed and if such energy is not restored, the body, capable of self-regulation, will take what is necessary from   the reserves, i.e. from “the root” (Kidney), which will also remain vulnerable to the processes of ageing due to the consumption of ancestral energy. The person will feel weak, suffer from backaches, lack of brain nutrition, problems in the bones and in the immune system.
Another physiologic energetic function kept in the Kidney related to emotions is the concept ofzhi : the Will and the Courage. If the ancestral energy is consumed both will diminish.

The will and   courage are associated with the preserving instinct of the individual as well as of the species; it is an expression of zhi , the will. When the kidney is not capable of storing thezhi , the life desire is lost and the ill person surrenders, something which gives place to the emotions of the kidney: fear or panic (common reasons for the visits).

As the kidney is considered the place where the ancestral energy given by the parents   is stored, the root, and the function of such energy is nourishng the huo zhen , the real fire, the life flame, this fire must be kept, for it is a basic feature of the protection and feeding system of the essence. If we fail to do this, the patient's will to keep living is lost. If we succeed, we contribute to live a long healthy life.




MATERIAL AND METHOD:

Material:

Research done over 50 patients suffering from immune deficient pathologies. All 50 patients were under conventional treatment (e.g.: chemotherapy, antibiotics, retro virals).

Body:

•  25 patients suffering from HIV under traditional treatment (3TC, D4T, Nelfinavir, AZT, Kaletra and Efavirens).
•  5 patients suffering from Hashimoto Disease (self-immune thyroid disease).
•  10 patients suffering from cancer (breast, colon, prostate).
•  10 patients suffering from repeated infectious diseases.

The reason for the visit of all patients had the same origin: both physical and psychical exhaustion and lack of desired organic response to the conventional treatment. This led to an increase of the dose of the medication which caused that the side effects generated more weakness, listlessness, vomiting and depression in some cases.
Their pulses were very weak, slow or fast   according to the stage of the disease and to the deficiency level of the yin-yang, the blood ( xue ), the body liquids consumption and how long they had suffered from the disease.  
In tongue diagnosis a pale, thin tongue was observed (due to insufficient blood) or a thin, red one in advanced cases of insufficient yin.

Method:

The indirect moxibustion method was applied, with Tai Yi moxa cigars, on the following points:

BL23
 (Shenshu) in the Kidney: it strengthens chronic kidney failure: it strengthens “the root”.
GV4 (Mingmen), “Life's Gate”: it nourishes the yin and yang that strengthens the Kidney essence.
BL43 (Goahuangshu): “we nourish and enrich” the Blood (XUE), prescribed for anaemia.
ST36 (Zusanli), point that stimulates immunity, considered by TCM as “antibiotic” point within the system: it elevates the yangqi and produces nourishing energy. It is said to act over B lymphocytes.
CV12 (Zhongwang), influence point that rules over Fu organs: it stimulates the middle Jiao, where the transformation and transport of substances and nutrients take place. It stimulates the vital energy.

The area from the CV4 (Gaunyuan) to the CV6 (Qihai) was also stimulated daily for 10 minutes, before midday, by the patients. 
In advanced weakness, two daily applications were required and the stimulation time was doubled (20 minutes).
By stimulating the area, the “Sea of Energy” and the “Destiny's Gate” are strengthened and reinforced, thus elevating (or raising) the Qi and nourishing the vital and essential energy.




RESULTS:

  1) 25 HIV patients 2) 5 Hashimoto Disease patients 3) 10 cancer patients 4) 10 repeated infectious diseases patients
Moxibustion Effects 40 to 60 % improvement in the first month of treatment (temporary improvement in active consumers). Over 70% improvement in the first month of treatment. 40 to 70 % improvement out of 70 % of patients. Life quality improvement of the remaining 30%. Decrease of the frequency in 100%of the patients. Decrease of 80% after 3-year-treatment.

1) 25 patients suffering from HIV.

Out of the 25 patients, 10 were recovering addicts, 10 were carriers (non addict) and 5 were active consumers during the treatment. All the patients noticed an improvement of a 40 to 60% in the first month of treatment, which was increased after 2 years of treatment. Such improvement was only temporary in those patients that remained as active consumers during the treatment. Thus, no permanent results were achieved.

2) 5 patients suffering from Hashimoto Disease.

All of the patients improved over a 70% during the first month of treatment in respect to the reasons for the appointment (exhaustion, listlessness, general pains).

3) 10 patients suffering from cancer.

7 patients felt a decrease of the symptoms (nausea, vomits, anorexia, listlessness and exhaustion) of a 50 to 70%, according to the stage of the disease. The remaining 3 patients improved their life quality until their death.

4) 10 patients suffering from repeated infectious diseases.

A 100% experienced a decrease of the frequency between a disease period and another, and a decrease of an 80% has been noticed since 2001 so far.

In all cases, patients were advised to change hygiene and diet habits, to do breathing exercises, Qi Gong and meditation.




CONCLUSIONS:

The use of indirect moxibustion in the five points before mentioned stimulates the blood and energy strengthening the body and so producing the elevation of the red series and the nourishing of the white series.

This treatment nourishes the “healthy nature” of each body, maximises the resources that every body has and reinforces the vital capacities of the patient and activates the health mechanisms as well.

Broadly speaking, moxibustion can quickly elevate the yanqi and thus cause a state of welfare in the patient as from the very first session. Anyway, no biochemical modifications are shown at first; yet, the treatment contributes to the patient's life quality improvement, without any side or traumatic effects. Moreover, patients can continue part of the treatment out of the office, as it is easy to implement.

Furthermore, being moxibustion a soft treatment, it can be applied to both adults and children as well.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY:

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Dra. Cecilia Y. Cáceres
www.acupunturachina.com®