Lurking Latent Pathogens
Each of us is exposed to a host of pathogens each day, may they be viral, bacterial, or chemical in nature. In a state of good health, we are able to respond quickly and correctly through our immune response or other avenues of elimination when these pathogens enter our bodies.
Our body is designed to help keep these pathogens and toxins from reaching the interior of our body so that damage to organs is prevented; toxins are ushered into fat tissue, fever erupts to expel viral infections, or our bodies expel bacteria quickly and efficiently through our large intestine all in an effort to keep us well.
But what happens if our bodies are too weak to appropriately rid the pathogen in a timely manner? Or what if we are exposed to a large amount of chemicals that our body cannot naturally detox through the liver, kidneys, and skin? Or if the pathogen is so virulent that it penetrates our healthy body leaving us too weak to expel it? What happens when pathogens go deeper and become lodged in our tissue?
These become latent or lurking pathogens and produce symptoms that don’t go away, or more commonly, come and go over many years. They can include chronic disorders such as Epstein Barr and Lyme disease, but many are unnamed or unrecognized. This leaves patients with chronic pain, lassitude, or any number of symptoms that are not easily explained.
Another common cause of latent pathogens is incorrect treatment protocols of viral infections. According to Chinese medicine, a cold or flu is treated by releasing the pathogen to the exterior; part of this process includes opening the pours by using diaphoretic herbs that produce sweating. If an exterior pathogen is not treated properly, it can become lodged in the interior of the body. This unresolved virus can lodge itself in the muscle tissue, or, more seriously, in the organs of the body. Interestingly, antibiotics are very “cold” in nature and cold causes contraction. When antibiotics are used in the presence of an exterior pathogen the pathogen cannot move to the exterior.
Qi Deficiency and Lurking Pathogens
Patients suffering with latent pathogens often experience bouts of severe lethargy. Their energy can become so depleted that they cannot hold down a job or care for their families on a consistent basis. It is likely that a Qi deficiency played a part in the body’s inability to eliminate the pathogen in the first place. According to TCM, if you do not have adequate Qi, you will not have adequate Wei Qi (comparable to immune system resistance).
Unfortunately, it is tricky using Qi tonic herbs which can strengthen latent pathogen and worsen the condition. In Chinese medicine, there is a saying that loosely translates to “Don’t feed the thief when he is in your house”; this explains why those with Chronic Fatigue have trouble taking Qi tonic formulas without feeling a worsening of their symptoms. On the other hand, if the body does not have adequate Qi, the body will not have enough strength to expel the pathogen.
This is where herbs become vital in clearing the body completely of the pathogen. With viral pathogens, pushing the virus out of the body before trying to regain strength is essential for completely eliminating the deep boring infection. Treating the root of the problem, rather than masking symptoms, allows for long standing relief and the gift of wellness.
Before attempting to tonify Qi, spend several weeks utilizing a bath daily that contains diaphoretic herbs, such as our Lurking Pathogen Therapeutic Bath. You can also add in Free and Easy Wanderer formula if Liver Qi Stagnation is present and/or Central River formula for lymphatic congestion to better drain toxins from tissue. Diaphoretic herb teas throughout the day would be helpful and could include catnip, elder flower, linden flower, and yarrow leaf and flower.
Liver Imbalances and Lurking Pathogens
The liver is dynamic in its ability to move Qi in all directions in the body. When liver function becomes constrained, there is a tendency for the liver to become “heated”. Not only does the liver function become impaired, but the liver overacts on other systems. It can affect Heart function and cause insomnia, as well as Spleen function and Large Intestine functions causing digestive difficulties. With Liver Qi constraints, there is typically an emotional imbalance causing frustration, easy anger, and even depression. Even those with latent pathogens can typically tolerate the Liver soothing herbs in our Free and Easy Wanderer formula.
Dampness and Lurking Pathogens
Imagine a sticky substance like phlegm adhering to every cell in your body. Most of us think of phlegm as something that is restricted to the respiratory system, however, given the right conditions, phlegm can become present throughout the body. In the case of fibromyalgia, a pathogen is often lodged in the muscle tissue causing stagnation and pain. This is one of the factors that make FMS so difficult to treat since internal Dampness is stubborn and takes time to clear. Western medicine does not generally recognize or have a strategy for clearing Dampness from the tissues. After working with the diaphoretic baths, consider Restore the Middle Way formula to drain Dampness and tonify Qi.
Liver Damp Fire
If Liver Qi stagnation is not addressed in a timely manner, then the Liver can continue to heat up. If there is Internal Dampness present, the two can combine to create Damp-Heat with symptoms such as red weeping rashes, inflamed joints that worsen with wet weather, or explosive BM’s. Consider Restore the Middle Way formula (if there is not a latent viral infection) and Peaceful Warrior formula.
Trying to rid the body of toxins lodged in organs and muscle tissue is much more complicated than a simple detox after Spring Break in college. You will need to work on the back-alleyway of detoxification, first being the lymphatic system. You can get lymph fluid moving with herbs such as our Central River formula. If there are any indications of internal Dampness, you must clear it with herbs that are drying because Damp accumulations will block the toxins from flowing out of the tissue. Consider Restore the Middle Way formula (if Dampness is present and there is not a latent viral infection), Free and Easy Wanderer formula, Lymph Cream, and Central River formula.
Unfortunately, patterns of disease do not get much more complicated than addressing latent pathogens according to TCM, and you may not completely clear the pathogen on the first pass. You will know the pathogen is still lingering when you attempt to consume Qi tonics and the symptoms re-appear. It is often easier to begin with the Wei Qi formula than the Restore the Middle Way formula, but both will be critical in restoring full wellness.