Multiple Sclerosis and Medical QiGong
Multiple Sclerosis (M.S.), also known as disseminated sclerosis is a chronic relapsing/remitting disease of the central nervous system that affects 2.5 million people worldwide, with women affected one-and a half times as often as men. Symptomatology includes weakness, numbness, balance problems, impaired vision, bladder dysfunction and psychological distress and changes.
Western diagnosis is usually made after several sclerosed or scarred locations throughout the brain and spinal cord, which are located by MRI (magnetic resonance imaging or MRS (magnetic resonance spectroscopy). The western prognosis is bleak as the body’s immune system begins to attack the protective insulating cover of the nerves and causes destruction to the axon (nerve body) itself. This autoimmune disease, where the white blood cells attack normal body tissue, is also categorized in lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, and other diseases of inflammation.
Ever since I spoke at The National QiGong Conference about my protocols for Multiple Sclerosis, I have been flooded with calls from patients and practitioners alike. In every case where the patient is compliant, the Multiple Sclerosis has been placed into remission permanently - defined as either no further demyelination or no loss of muscle control or reverting to a state of normal movement prior to being diagnosed. In a recent case, three large lesions on the Sea of Marrow (spinal column) completely disappeared with confirmation from an MRI. I was hesitant to publish such findings until I had built up enough conclusive cases (over 100), but I believe more good can come of disseminating this information rather than keeping “a lid on it” until this happens.
As an educator, I believe that communication and understanding are critical to the success of any process. As a healer who has had to heal himself of cancer and a congenital autoimmune disorder, I understand what is required and what is asked of a person physically, emotionally and spiritually (the three Dan Tiens) in healing. In my clinic and in my classes, I try to communicate the process of healing – a method that is not always defined by a schematic drawing, college curriculum, or a flowcharted progression; but moves in cycles like the Tao. My intention, therefore, in this article is not to provide a step by step procedure to “cure” M.S.; but rather to share insights and information that has lead to the reversal of classic symptoms of M.S. in vivo. The sharing of available insights and information overrides my concern that this will be looked upon as a panacea for M.S. treatment.
As my teacher Jeffrey Yuen stated, “There are no incurable diseases, only incurable people.”
One of the pleasures of being a teacher is to follow students progress through life changing realizations that forever transform the nature of how they look upon themselves. In Chinese you might refer to this as Ling Tao or the way of the soul. As a Medical QiGong instructor, I have the privilege of seeing many students gain insight into their true potential as human beings and become aligned with the Tao. As I can attest, frequently health related challenges and trials become the catalyst for such change.
Inflammation as the Root
Inflammation, in my professional opinion, is the root cause of many chronic diseases and ailments. Labels such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, allergies, COPD, asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, acid reflux, rheumatoid arthritis, Reflex System dystrophy (RSD or RND) and some forms of cancer are but a few ailments attributed to the inflammatory processes, albeit though different mediators. Inflammation is not an infection per se, but is a part of a reflexive reaction of protection whereby the communication process intrinsic to the body/brain becomes systemically caught in an incessant cycle of aggravation.
In recent findings at Emory School of Medicine, the mast cells normally studied in the respiratory tract and in the skin (asthma and allergies sufferers) may be releasing agents (histamine) into the central nervous system damaging the myelin sheath. In my lifelong study of asthma, I have realized that histamine and other inflammation markers were one of the keys in determining how to re-balance the body, so I continued to look for the root cause of these imbalances.
From a western perspective, the spleen is an immunologic filter of the blood. It is made up of B cells, T cells, macrophages, dendritic cells, natural killer cells and red blood cells. Aside from capturing foreign materials (allergens or antigens) from the blood that passes through the spleen, migratory macrophages and dendritic cells bring antigens to the spleen via the bloodstream.
In the Nan Jing, Difficulty 42, it states “The Spleen governs the blood.”
In Chapter, 8 of the Ling Shu it states. “If there is Spleen Qi deficiency, then there will be a lack of agility in the four limbs.” Such is what typically manifests as M.S. progresses until a person cannot walk or move their arms often succumbing to a wheelchair.
Aetiology of M.S.
Common predominating assessments that I have observed in M.S. patients are excessive Liver Yang and Kidney Yin Deficiency, mostly combined with a Spleen Qi deficiency. Additionally, I see overwork/stress, excessive animal fat consumption and alcohol creating a Damp condition as well. Occasionally I have noticed excessive sadness and grieving; usually as yearning for something to be as it was in the past (real or imagined) consume and injure the Lungs.
This injury to the Lungs causes a further depletion of Wei Qi fields. The Wei Qi fields in Medical QiGong are 3 distinct regions each attached to a Dan Tien (Upper, Middle and Lower) that are further controlled by the Lungs. As the Lungs become injured, the Wei Qi or defensive Qi lessens, allowing external pathogenic factors to invade (especially to the sinews) causing additional difficulty.
During acute flare-ups, allopathic treatments include corticosteroids that are used in high to diminishing dosages to reduce exacerbation. Corticosteroids ultimately deplete the Wei Qi field further inhibiting the Lungs ability to disseminate Qi inside and out, above and below.
Excess Liver Yang
Intrinsic to Chinese medicine is the concept of Heat in a Yang state. The expansiveness due to dilation of blood vessels and increased blood flow (hyperaemia), oedema and the stretching and distortion of tissues all can be categorized by the definition excessive Yang or sometimes Yin deficiency. Think of this Heat as being a toxic burden to the fluids of the body, especially the blood and more specifically the white blood cells.
Lesions in the Sea of Marrow
An interesting observation has occurred in several cases that cause me to postulate the potential root cause of M.S. exacerbation - excessive anger/frustration turned inward. Excessive amounts or consistent states of Heat producing emotions, such as anger/frustration or even jealousy, can cause the rising of Yang Qi toward the head or brain. The excessive Heat generated by suppressed anger, or frustration appears to “bake” the Sea of Marrow (spinal cord/brain) and produce fissure like aberrations called lesions as well as degrade the myelin sheath. These lesions have a tendency to coagulate in the area of the head called the occipital pass.
This consistent underlying state of aggravation also taxes Kidney Yin, eventually causing the drying of JinYe or fluids, especially the Ye. Remember, the Ye functions as a lubricant that fortifies Jing-essence and Sui (marrow). This causes the Spleen to work overtime trying desperately to separate fluids and send this crippled post-natal- Qi to the Lungs.
The San Jiao has now become crippled by the extra Heat in the body and the wounding from many personal negative experiences moves onto affect the Pericardium, the Hearts protector, which is paired with the San Jiao. These personal negative experiences can be the lack of answers and integration among departments of medicine when fighting a disease as crippling as M.S. or the consumption of life energy (Qi) that such a disease takes to just “get through the day.” This pathology is well documented in the Thirty-sixth Chapter of the Ling Shu.
The combination of drying of fluids, the Heat in the blood and the depletion of Qi causes an enormous assault on the Shen. The effect on the Shen will be another article in a future issue.
To be clear, I do not believe that every case of M.S. is caused by a consistent state of anger, resentment, frustration or a longing for something to be. However, there is some trigger/catalyst/event (which can be emotional states) that begins a transformation that switches on a specific pathogenic process - whether that is a mutation of cells or an interruption in vital communication between systems. I believe this switch to be the cause of many cancers and autoimmune disorders and unique to each individual based on post-natal occurrences.
Hun and Dreams
Another pattern that I have observed is the lack of dreaming in many patients with M.S. Many people report not remembering their dreams, but most know that they in fact had them. What I am referencing to here is the total lack of dreaming with repeatedly waking and “being in a bad mood.” This could be caused partly by the Heat generated by the Liver via the anger/frustrations that causes the Hun to flee. I have also observed that when the patient begins to dream again after Medical QiGong treatments, the process is beginning to reinstate a comfortable place for the Hun to reside and the patient is on their way to healing.
The Hun will also allow communication between the conscious and the subconscious which are sometimes referred to as “Heaven Within.” This is a natural way for the conscious to become aware of problems of a deeper nature and most importantly its solution. Remember the Taoist phrase, “As above, so below” when thinking of this relationship between heaven and earth. When the Hun (Yang/Heaven) remain, the intrinsic communication process of managing the disease process becomes less convoluted, tempered through instinct, “gut feelings’ and the important messages imprinted by the Hun to us via the Divine. These messages have to be interpreted by the Shen or Heart and the Yi or Spleen. If there is a blockage here, the Medical QiGong practitioner can help to re-establish connection and communication.
In the practice of Taoist medicine, the dreams and their meanings are quite different from a Freudian approach to dreams. In Taoism, we look at integration among the various systems (i.e. the physical, the emotional and the spiritual) of which the Hun can communicate regarding all three. Remember in Taoist medicine, the blood contains a holographic template of our entire existence of all our experiences and thoughts. This extensive library of information is recorded and kept by the Hun and at the time of death is returned back to heaven.
The understanding of the communication process does take education, awareness and experience, but it ultimately is a very powerful tool. The messages and internal signals from the subconscious and the Divine reveal a method of progression that then can be utilized by the healer to facilitate an appropriate healing response. Obviously, this varies from patient to patient depending on what pre and post—natal conditions and experience the patient brings to us.
The diet and pH
Food selection for M.S. patients including various supplements could be an article unto itself; however, several guidelines should be met. Most importantly, begin to think of food as energy, rather than proteins, carbohydrates and fats and begin to envisage the matching and mixing of foods different energies (Yin and Yang).
First, the pH of the body, or another way of saying post-natal Qi, is critical to the recovery process and re-myelination of the sheath. The pH needs to remain a constant 7.34 (the same pH as blood), otherwise, the body will prioritize the stabilizing pH levels prior to doing any additional healing. The body keeps a certain amount of energy reserves available for healing, but if the body has to stabilize its own internal milieu, then that is where the energy will be utilized.
Second, the elimination of prostaglandin 2 producing foods needs to be eliminated or reduced. Prostaglandin 2 is an inflammation marker that encourages lymphocytes to increase in activity as well as the inflammation process to increase dramatically hence activating an autoimmune response. The Swank diet, which speaks of the reduction of alcohol, high fat foods and meat is sound advice and has been used with great success. The Swank diet is similar in nature to how we would treat a Damp conditions in Chinese medicine.
Damp conditions are best resolved with eliminating raw, cold and sweet foods especially dairy, yeast (as in too many wheat bread products) beer, sugars and sweeteners and saturated fats - especially hydrogenated fats found in most preprocessed crackers, chips (crisps) and cookies. Be sure to include more aduki beans, green tea, daikon, pears, apple peels, grapes, seaweed, sardines and clams. These foods allow Damp and Heat to be dispersed.
Third, increasing prostaglandins 1 and 3 becomes necessary to calm the immune system. The most common way to do this is to increase the number of cooling vegetables consumed and well as Gamma Linoleic Acid (GLA) most commonly found in evening primrose oil, borage oil and black current seed oil. I have personally found that borage oil works best as it has a higher GLA content.
Lastly, the adding of a supplement called Resveratrol, derived from red-wine, balances Yin and Yang in the Sui. The supplement prevents the bone destroying cells called osteoclasts (Yin) from forming and then balance the bone-building cells (osteoblasts (yang) to proliferate and stabilize the Sui. Additionally, this supplement has shown promise in reducing plaque associated with Alzheimer disease – or a sea of marrow issue in Taoist Chinese Medicine.
Herbals as Food
The use of herbal medicine can also be considered food and follows very well with the philosophy of naturopathy and Taoist Chinese Medicine. The original formula I used to treat pattern of Kidney deficiency with excessive Heat is called Pingfu Tang with slight modifications based on the assessment of Wei Qi fields.
The basic formula ingredients consist as follows:
Huang Qi (Radix Astragali Membranacei)
Gou Qi Zi (Fructus Lycii)
Zhi Mu (Rhizoma Anemarrhenae Asphodeloidis)
Chai Hu (Radix Bupleuri)
Dang Shen (Radix Codonopsitis Pilosulae)
Huang Qin (Radix Scutellariae Baicalensis)
Nu Zhen Zi (Fructus Ligustri Lucidi)
Dang Gui (Radix Angelicae Sinensis)
Bai Shao (Radix Paeoniae Lactiflorae)
Bai Zhu (Rhizoma Atractylodis Dahuricae)
Mai Men Dong (Tuber Ophiopogonis Japonici)
Ban Xia (Rhizoma Pinelliae Ternatae)
Fu Ling (Sclerotium Poriae Cocos)
Gan Cao (Radix Glycyrrhizae Uralensis)
Sheng Di Huang (Radix Rehmanniae Glutinosae)
Da Zao (Fructus Zizyphi Jujubae)
The Medical QiGong practitioner uses Wei Qi fields to assess patients much like the acupuncturist uses pulse and tongue. Once correct assessment is made, the practitioner can adjust the ratios of herbals in the formula as well as add to the formula depending on other conditions being displayed.
Assessment of Wei Qi fields becomes a critical part of interpreting what is the root condition of the patient. The Wei Qi fields of M.S. patients are usually deficient in their density and thickness. The texture is quite a different feel from other autoimmune diseases as it is porous around the outside edges of the trauma while the point of trauma, or the “eye” is usually congealed and hot. Often times when scanning these areas, the patient will begin to stir out from his comfortable state. Taking note of where these areas are in regards to channel divergences and Ashi points as they all help the practitioner solve the individual mystery.
Medical QiGong Prescriptions
The importance of stabilizing post-natal Qi becomes critical in allowing a healing environment to flourish. Medical QiGong in its elaborate simplicity becomes a cornerstone of being pro-active in the disease process. The following Qi prescriptions are basic for a beginner to become accustomed to the intangible world of energy. As you read through these QiGong exercises, keep in mind that the Qi level is where all possibilities occur!
Ascend the Yin descend the Yang
This exercise is relatively simple to perform and should be performed three times per day. Foundationally speaking, the three Yin channels run up the inside medial side of the leg and the three Yang meridians run outside or laterally down the outside of the leg, The hands, specifically using Laogong (PC 8) as a vacuum cleaner of sorts begins to dredge the Qi blockages on the inside of the medial Yin channels and release them through the “hollow” organs of the Yang on the lateral aspect of the leg. This is done by breath expression: inhaling on the Yin and exhaling on the Yang. Using the intention or Yi of the mind is critically important as is the breath. The mind must “feel and see” the blockages being removed and then feel the smooth and easy flow of Qi flowing through the channels in an unobstructed stream of energy. The mind must command the Qi with an implicit set of instructions and depth of understanding of what is happening in order to be effective. Fear and doubt have no place in the mind for true healing to occur.
Tone therapy for breaking up stagnation in the three Dan Tiens
The three Dan Tiens become a critical focal point for therapy in M.S. patients. Keeping the three in balance is important for everyone, but the tendency for M.S. patients to have a congested Middle Dan Tien is more prevalent. The communication process between the three Dan Tiens becomes critical for remission and progress to be made. For a complete description of the three Dan Tiens and how they relate to western anatomy, pH function as well as each other, see the book Air Passages.
The Three Sounds and their locations
Ohm Upper Dan Tien Yin Tang (M-HN-3)
Ha Middle Dan Tien Jiuwei (RN 15)
Reeem Lower Dan Tien Mingmen (DU 4)
The hands become an important focus point in leading the Qi to specific points on the body (see figure 1.1 thru 1.3). The Large Intestine becomes the area where we want the stagnation lead to for eventual elimination, so we use the index finger as a pointer per se, to give the body instruction on where to drain the Damp Heat.
On the inhalation, pull up the Huiyin point to Shenque and place the tongue on the Heart position (a tongue position that is fire cycle conducive to QiGong meditations associated with microcosmic orbit). As you inhale, gather Qi from the environment and allow a large ball of Qi to form in front of you, slowly absorbing the Qi ball into your tissues as you continue to inhale. During the pause between the breath, feel the Qi swirling in the tissues counter clockwise, much like swirling water inside a glass to rinse it. On the exhale, open the Huiyin point and drop the tongue to the Earth position to allow for purgation. Lead the Qi into the former points for each Dan Tien as you audibly emit the tone for each proper area. As you do this, the combined focused Qi and the vibrational tone will begin to purge stagnation/inflammation/Heat from the three Dan Tiens and lead it out through the Huiyin point to be disbursed into the Earth. Remember, imagination leads the Yi as the Yi leads the Qi.
Incorporating Medical QiGong and food therapy are the ultimate way of controlling inflammation-based diseases like Multiple Sclerosis. Through pro-active means and support, the M.S. patient can begin the journey of healing from within, the place where the true journey lies in all of us.
Dr. Ted J. Cibik, ND, DMQ, HFI is Executive Director of Inner Strength, Inc. A board certified Naturopathic Doctor and one of only a few doctors of Medical QiGong (DMQ) in the United States. He has trained in martial arts (internal and external) and meditation for over 40 years. Look for his book 'Air Passages a Survival Guide to Asthma and Allergies'. Please visit him at www.inner-strength.com or www.inner-strength.org for classes.