AIDS & Hidden Pestilential Evils
by Bob Flaws
Back in the mid-1980s when the AIDS epidemic was just taking off, I wrote a book for a family member with AIDS titled Nine Ounces. This book (long out of print) consisted of nine or so chapters describing various ways that Chinese medicine could help keep that person asymptomatic for as long as possible, such as through diet, exercise, deep relaxation, regular prophylactic acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, etc. However, also in that book, I stated the case for the AIDS virus being a form of hidden warm evil (fu wen xie). I chose this description in order to account for the indeterminate latency period of the disease. Basically, I described the AIDS pathogen as a form of pestilential heat evils which directly entered the blood aspect according to warm disease school (wen bing xue) theory. Then I explained how such hidden heat evils could go on to cause all of the clinical manifestations of AIDS and its corresponding Chinese medical patterns. As far as I know, I was the first person in China or out to publish a description of AIDS from the point of view of hidden warm disease theory.
For a number of years I treated many AIDS patients based on the ideas in Nine Ounces. Unfortunately, most of my patients couldn’t or wouldn’t really follow the dietary and lifestyle guidelines described in that book, and, therefore, despite regular acupuncture and herbal supplementation, many of them did progress from simply being HIV positive to suffering from AIDS, with a number of my patients eventually dying. This was pretty depressing for all involved, and, with the advent of better Western drug management, i.e., the anti-retroviral “cocktails,” I moved away from treating patients with HIV altogether. At the time, it seemed that Western medicine really was the best solution to this problem, with Chinese medicine being a nice but perhaps unnecessary, expensive add-on.
In any case, in issue #1, 2009 of Xin Zhong Yi (New Chinese Medicine), the second article (on pages 3-4) is, at least for me, a vindication of my early published thoughts on the disease causes and mechanisms of AIDS. The title of this recently published article is, “An Exploration of the Disease Causes & Disease Mechanisms of AIDS From the Point of View of Hidden Pestilence Theory,” and it was authored by Ai Jun and Tai Ming of the Guangxi College of Chinese Medicine in Nanning. In this article, these authors equate the AIDS pathogen with a hidden epidemic or pestilential warm evil which remains hidden for a long time and immediately enters or arises from the interior of the body. Thus they say that AIDS Chinese medical disease cause is pestilence (li), its infectious or transmissible nature is strong, and its disease condition (or virulence) is brutal or tyrannical. Then, these hidden warm evils in the interior of the body set in motion a combination of the disease mechanisms of depression, stasis, and various types of vacuity.
This is basically what I was saying in the mid-80s. I then went on to use Li Dong-yuan’s theory of yin fire to explain how depression (yu) led to stasis and all the vacuities associated with AIDS. While Ai and Tai do not invoke the names of Li Dong-yuan and Zhu Dan-xi, it is nice to see this point of view being considered correct enough to be the second lead essay in the first issue of the year of such a prestigious Chinese medical journal.
Copyright Blue Poppy Ent. Inc., 2009. All rights reserved.