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My Personal Journey of Healing

Julia Chang, MSc

8. Allergies, Asthma, and Arthritis

Allergies

I have suffered from allergies throughout my life.  Starting at a very young age, hives and allergies to dust were constant problems. I had sinus problems in my mid-twenties and hay fever both in the fall and spring.  My hay-fever was so bad at times that I could not breathe without decongestant nasal sprays such as Otrivin™. I tried allergy shots for many years.  They helped but I still had problems breathing during the hay fever season.  When my liver became healthy at age 47, all of my allergy problems went away. As we all know, allergies are an auto-immune disorder: the immune system becomes over-active and reacts to harmless substances as if they are hostile pathogens.  However, this may actually be a result of a weak immune system.  Just as a weak heart pumps faster to compensate, a weak immune system can become over-active.  Since the liver and spleen are so important to the immune system, it appears logical that if you strengthen the liver and spleen, you may reduce your allergies.

Asthma

I never personally had asthma, although I did have severe hay-fever, and my eldest son had childhood asthma.  The holistic Chinese medicinal approach would be to treat problems such as asthma and hay-fever by strengthening the liver, lungs, and spleen.  When this is done, the problems should be reduced.  This worked for me in my own experience dealing with hay-fever, in which my hay-fever disappeared after I cleansed my liver and gallbladder, watched my diet, and did daily morning exercise.

In another example, a man from Africa used inhalers for 25 years due to his asthma, but after cleansing his liver and gallbladder a few times and taking 8 to 9 bottles of Chrysanthemum tinctures to strengthen his organs (over an extended period of time of course), he no longer needed the inhaler.  The next year he went back to Africa, and he was concerned about a relapse since his asthma started when he was there, so he took one bottle of Chrysanthemum and one bottle of Chinese Bitters with him.  As it turned out, he did not need them because there was no relapse.  Another customer told me that he was on asthma medication for 5 years, but after 6 bottles of Chrysanthemum, he was able to discontinue the medication.

A holistic approach to health would never be complete without paying attention to diet, and so while it is important to cleanse the liver and gallbladder and strengthen the organs, one must also be careful to avoid harmful foods.  See the description of foods which weaken the liver and spleen, in Section 3 of this article under the heading “Control of Diet”.

Arthritis

I suffered from joint pain from a very young age.  At age 14, I was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis.  I took some Chinese herbs which only gave me temporary pain relief.  At age 29, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and was told by my doctor that nothing could be done except taking aspirin for my pain.

I tried aspirin, but could not continue because of an allergic reaction to the drug.  My lips swelled up to double their size. Realizing that the painkillers were only hurting my liver, I made the difficult decision to stop taking them and live with my pain. Looking back, I consider myself lucky in a way that I had this allergic reaction.  If there was no reaction, I might have continued taking painkillers for years and done permanent damage to my liver.

Painkillers are extremely damaging to the liver.  In fact, the medical journal Hepatology published a study by the Acute Liver Failure Study Group in December 2005, identifying the painkiller Acetaminophen as the #1 cause of acute liver failure in the United States.

According to Chinese medicine, chronic pain is basically the result of “blood stasis”.  In other words, arthritis is caused by poor blood circulation in the joint.  If blood circulation (or the flow of “chi” according to Chinese medicine) is good, then there should be no chronic pain.

In my early 40s, my arthritis pain became so bad that I had difficulty climbing stairs.  I tried acupuncture, which did seem to stimulate blood flow and reduce the pain, but the problem always came back a few days later. What I needed was a way to improve my blood circulation over the long term.

There are two ways to improve blood circulation in a lasting manner: cleansing the blood and physical exercise.  Clean blood from a clean and efficient liver flows more easily, and can carry more oxygen and nutrients to nourish your body's cells.  Toxin-loaded blood from a congested liver is thick and sluggish, and does not flow well.  It tends to cause problems through stagnation.  Physical exercise stimulates blood circulation, and if you do your exercises in the morning, it helps “activate” the liver, ie- get the blood flowing through it.

After more than 30 years of suffering from arthritic pain, at age 47 I finally managed to eliminate the pain when I did a complete program of liver and gallbladder cleansing in addition to daily morning exercise and control of diet.  In the Gallbladder Flushing section of this article, I list some of the foods I tried to avoid because they weakened my liver and spleen, under the heading “Control of Diet”.

During my years of living with arthritis, I learned through experience to avoid citrus juices, which would always cause my arthritis pain to worsen the next day.  However, after having been free of arthritis pain for more than 10 years, I thought I might be able to take some lemon juice to cleanse my kidneys.  My arthritis pain returned, but not the next day.  It came back six days later, whereupon I stopped the lemon juice and took Chinese Bitters, and the pain disappeared one day later.

The liver, spleen, lungs, kidneys and lymph nodes are all important in the body's immune system.  When these organs are weak, they may be overworked and become overactive and as a result antibodies may be over-produced which cause the body to react to many harmless substances unnecessarily (allergy) or attack the body's own organs (e.g. lupus), nerves (e.g. multiple sclerosis) or joints (e.g. rheumatoid arthritis).

It seems to me that once these organs are healthy there is no need for them to overwork.  Allergies and arthritis may disappear. My own case is an example.  When I had badly congested liver, my spleen and lungs were also weak.  My allergy problems were severe enough to disrupt my daily activities at times.  After these organs were restored to health, I had no more allergy problems.  I also know of two older people (both over the age of 60) who managed to relieve their life-long allergy problems after approximately one year's working at strengthening their internal organs with a combination of Chinese herbs such as astragalus, self heal, fu-ling and dandelion.  These herbs can be found in our Meta Plus herbal tincture.

In Chinese medicine, allergies and arthritis are both classified as “Yin” diseases.  People with allergies or arthritis should avoid “Yin” foods such as oranges, tomatoes, lemon, grapefruit, banana, cold drinks or cold foods.  They all tend to weaken the spleen.  Oranges are also known to be mucus-producing and usually aggravate sinus problems.  My personal experience did support this belief repeatedly.  When I was suffering from arthritis, citrus fruits always made my pain worse.  Yin indicates coldness and inactivity.  It retards the movement and makes the blood flow stagnant which causes pain.  Stagnation of blood flow in the limbs and meridians is usually the origin of pain and aches in the body.  When the blood moves better due to acupuncture, massage, or some other method, the aches and pains should subside or disappear. Unfortunately, if the sluggish blood flow is caused by weak organs, the pain may come back sooner or later.  Permanent pain relief may be accomplished with regular daily exercise and after the organs have become healthy.

Emotional factors may affect allergic or arthritic conditions. Nervousness, fatigue, exhaustion, frustrations, disappointment, anxieties or fear may aggravate allergies or arthritis because these emotions weaken the internal organs and immune system.  They also constrict the blood vessels, resulting in poor blood circulation.  During my years of arthritis suffering, I believe that my problems were related to my stress levels.


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