Image courtesy Letheule
on Wikimedia Commons
For people with Lyme disease who want to see more clearly
by Greg Lee
Ever had a difficult time seeing the road when driving in the rain?
You want to avoid crashing into something, so you try all sorts of things to be able to see more clearly. You flip on the windshield wipers. If that doesn’t work, then you turn on the defroster to clear moisture off the inside of the windshield. Or if you wear glasses, then you try wiping them off.
How is driving in the rain similar to blurry vision caused by Lyme disease?
Just like a blurry windshield, a Lyme infection can obscure your vision
There can be several different causes of Lyme induced blurry vision. Clients have reported having blurred vision due to a Lyme infection in their eyes. This condition has been effectively cleared up with antibiotics in most cases.
Other clients report occasional bouts of blurry vision, which may be due to toxins affecting the visual pathways in the brain. Through using detoxification methods such as herbs, acupuncture, cupping, and dietary changes, these clients see an improvement in their vision through detoxifying their brain. However, there are a group of people who have vision problems that persist, despite several rounds of antibiotics or effective detoxification methods. These clients are often suffering from an energy imbalance in their “Liver” as described by Chinese medicine.
The different energies of the Liver in Chinese medicine and how they affect vision
In Chinese medicine, the term “Liver” is used to describe the actual organ in your body and its associated “energies.” The capitalized version of “Liver” in this article refers to the Chinese definition. The energies of the Liver are further defined using keywords like “Liver-qi,” “Liver-blood,” and “Liver-yin.” Liver-qi is responsible for the smooth flow of energy in the body and the emotions. “Liver blood” describes how the Liver is responsible for maintaining a smooth flow of blood in the body and its ability to nourish whatever blood comes into contact with, especially the eyes. One quality of “Liver yin” is the ability to moisten the eyes.
“Liver-qi communicates with the eyes and if the Liver functions harmoniously, the eyes can differentiate the five essential colors….If the Liver receives blood, we can see. The Liver channel [acupuncture pathway of the Liver] branches out to the eyes. Both Liver-qi and Liver-blood flood the eyes to maintain proper eyesight. A person’s eyesight may therefore also serve as an indicator for Liver function.”
– Translated from the Yellow Emperor’s Inner Cannon 2nd Century BCE1.How does Lyme disease affect these Liver energies, which can produce vision problems?
Persistent blurry vision can be due to a depletion of Liver-blood and Liver-yin
The Liver can get overwhelmed and blocked by the toxins produced by a chronic Lyme infection. These toxins have a hot quality and deplete the moistening energy of Liver-yin. Long-term antibiotics can also block up the Liver’s ability to maintain a smooth flow of energy to the eyes. Over a long period, these conditions can lead to a deficiency of “Liver-blood” and “Liver-yin2” which can produce blurry vision. When these two energies of the Liver are replenished, you see an improvement in visual clarity. Here are two methods for replenishing the energies of the Liver, which help people with Lyme disease to improve their vision.
Two ways to replenish the depleted Liver-blood and Liver-yin to improve vision
Here are two methods for effectively restoring the Liver-blood and Liver-yin energies of the Liver: 1) Acupuncture with moxabustion and 2) Chinese herbal medicine.
Method #1: Acupuncture and moxabustion
There are acupuncture points along the inner surface of the lower legs and also on the mid-back on either side of the spine that are needled to help replenish Liver-blood and Liver-yin.
Moxabustion is a process of placing a cone of ground up herb called moxa on these same acupuncture points and lighting it with an incense stick. Once the cone gets warm, it is removed before it gets too hot. This process helps to deeply nourish and replenish these energies that get depleted by a chronic Lyme infection. Many patients also report other symptoms like pain resolving quickly through treatments of acupuncture and moxabustion.
Method #2: Chinese Herbs
There are many herbs that increase visual clarity through replenishing Liver-blood and/or Liver-yin. Here are three different herbs which nourish Liver-blood and/or Liver-yin. Selecting the best herbs depends upon the other presenting symptoms that occur along with blurry vision.
Herb #1: Shu Di Huang (Radix Rehmanniae Preparata)
The properties of this herb are: nourishes Liver-blood, moistens Liver-yin, and arrests coughing and wheezing. This herb is used to treat a wide variety of symptoms like blurry vision, dizziness, palpitations, insomnia, fatigue, weakness, sore back, weak knees, tinnitus, night sweats, premature gray hair, and forgetfulness. This herb is to be used with caution in patients with digestive problems, coldness in the stomach, or sharp stabbing pain in the abdomen3. There are no known drug interactions at the time of publication.
Herb #2: Shi Jue Ming (Concha Haliotidis)
This herb works to clear vision by nourishing Liver-yin and reducing heat in the Liver. It also has properties of pacifying the Liver, clearing the eyes, clears heat in the stomach, stops pain, and stops bleeding. This herb is used for symptoms of hypertension, dizziness, tinnitus, headaches, migraines, bitter taste in the mouth, irritability, insomnia, fever, palpitations, forgetfulness, sore knees, weak back, constipation, and heat spells in the body.
It is also used to treat other eye disorders like red, swollen painful eyes, photophobia, glaucoma, cataracts, dry eyes, and diminished visual acuity. Shi Jue Ming is also used for stomach problems like acid reflux, heartburn, bleeding ulcers, and stomach pain. This herb is cautioned for patients that have loose stools and a poor appetite4. There are no known drug interactions at the time of publication.
Herb #3: Gou Qi Zi (Fructus Lycii)
This herb is very nourishing and a chief herb for treating visual disorders caused by a lack of Liver-yin. It is used especially for weakened patients that need strengthening over a long period of time. It is used for a variety of symptoms like: dizziness, blurry vision, infertility, soreness and weakness of the low back and knees, gray hair, night sweats, impotence, insomnia, or feeling like your bones are being steamed.
Gou Qi Zi is used to treat lung problems like dry cough with difficult to expectorate phlegm, coughing up blood, and afternoon fevers. This herb is cautioned for use in patients with diarrhea. It is also cautioned with pregnant patients because it can cause a contraction of the uterus5. There are no known drug interactions at the time of publication. A Lyme literate Chinese herbalist can help you to determine which herbs are best for addressing your visual problems and other symptoms. Patients report gradual improvements with treatment.
One patient reported a gradual increase in visual clarity
A 40 year old patient, who reported having Lyme disease symptoms for twenty-two years, was unable to drive or work due to blurry vision. She had been taking the anti-malaria drug Plaqenil for over thirteen years which can have visual disturbances as a side-effect.
After four weeks of receiving weekly acupuncture and taking Shi Jue Ming (Concha Haliotidis) and Gou Qi Zi (Fructus Lycii) along with other anti-Lyme herbs, she was able to see clearly enough drive over an hour to her medical appointments. At seven weeks, she was able to return to work at a job which required her to read detailed medical charts of patients. Using the right treatments and herbs can make a big difference in resolving persistent blurry vision.
The right treatment combination can help clarify your vision
Just like getting your windshield cleared off in a rainstorm, the proper combination of acupuncture, moxabustion, and herbs help you to regain your visual clarity from the debilitating effects of a chronic Lyme infection. These herbs can also address a wide variety of related Lyme disease symptoms, so work with a Lyme Literate Chinese Herbalist to determine the proper, safe, and effective herbal combination for your condition.
1. Dharmananda, S. The Liver: Views from the Past. http://www.itmonline.org/5organs/liver.htm
2. Flaws, B., and P. Sionneau. 2005. The Treatment of Modern Western Medical Diseases with Chinese Medicine. 2nd Edition. Boulder, Colorado, Blue Poppy Press. p. 351.
3. Chen, John K., and Tina T. Chen. 2004. Chinese Medical Herbology and Pharmacology. City of Industry CA: Art of Medicine Press, Inc., p. 924 – 927
4. Chen, John K., and Tina T. Chen. 2004. Chinese Medical Herbology and Pharmacology. City of Industry CA: Art of Medicine Press, Inc., p. 796 – 797
5. Chen, John K., and Tina T. Chen. 2004. Chinese Medical Herbology and Pharmacology. City of Industry CA: Art of Medicine Press, Inc., p. 956 – 957.
Next Step: Want to learn more about healing Lyme disease? Click here to find out about our evening lecture at 6pm on Monday October 4th, “Getting Rid of Lyme Disease” in Frederick, Maryland.