This is a guest post from Godfree Roberts. All thoughts expressed below are his and do not reflect the views of Break Dengue. Break Dengue does not make any medical recommendations. If you suspect you may be suffering from dengue, please contact a medical professional.
I live in Thailand and we had a dengue epidemic three years ago. As healthier, younger friends of mine were being carted off to hospital every day, I worried whether I’d be able to survive a serious bout of dengue. I started researching the disease and what I could do to prevent it, or, if I did get it, how I could minimize my suffering. Later, as I saw that some of my friends took months (even years) to recover from their brush with dengue, I wondered what I would do to help me bounce back.
My obsession turned into a book on dengue and, in the course of doing my research for it, I stumbled on some useful information about dengue, painkillers, and their effects on liver functions.
Dengue and your liver
The extent to which our livers are affected by DENV (the medical term for the dengue virus) ranges from mild lesions to fulminant hepatitis (yikes!). During an attack, there is often liver pain or liver damage symptoms like jaundice. Even worse, death by liver (hepatic) failure is common in dengue-related fatalities.
In other words, your liver takes a real beating by dengue that leaves it literally scarred.
Dengue also causes us to feel acute pain. It really, really hurts. So you reach for a painkiller. But your body is using the pain to get your attention, and it will exact a cost for suppressing your pain symptoms. It is your liver that pays that cost (as it does for most toxins, like alcohol). Your liver treats all painkillers as poisons – even paracetamol and NSAIDs. So a typical case of dengue involves a double whammy: the virus slams your liver at exactly the same time as your painkillers hit it.
Healthy livers are miraculous organs and do heal themselves over time while continuing their detox duties. But recovery from liver damage can be slow and leave you weak for months. It appears to be a classic catch-22: both taking and not taking painkillers against dengue are not good options.
And herein lies my tale. I happened to mention my concerns about dengue to Dr. Boonrat, my Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) physician. Her father and husband are TCM practitioners as well, and together, they operate a clinic in the heart of Chiang Mai, Thailand, where patients from around the world receive treatment.
When we hear someone speak of TCM, we usually think of acupuncture – perhaps because it’s a little scary and exotic. But acupuncture is only a small part, as 90% of TCM is devoted to diagnostics and herbal medicine. Most acupuncturists are not even trained in Chinese herbal medicine, which takes much longer to master, and many herbal doctors are not trained in acupuncture.
Dr. Boonrat is a noted diagnostician and is as happy chatting about platelet counts as about moxibustion – in other words, she embraces both Western and Chinese medicine. Since Dengue is endemic in Thailand, she has treated hundreds of people who have suffered from it over her 30 years in practice.She explained to me that TCM, which is non-interventionist by nature, does not treat symptoms. Rather, it is a supportive regime that strengthens your organs and vital systems, bringing them into balance, usually employing dietary supplements like herbs. Harmoniously maintaining our energy depends on seasonal diets and age-appropriate exercise. This is the lifestyle most Chinese choose – and they’ve been refining it for 3000 years.
She explained to me that TCM, which is non-interventionist by nature, does not treat symptoms. Rather, it is a supportive regime that strengthens your organs and vital systems, bringing them into balance, usually employing dietary supplements like herbs. Harmoniously maintaining our energy depends on seasonal diets and age-appropriate exercise. This is the lifestyle most Chinese choose – and they’ve been refining it for 3000 years.
A clinical trial, conducted by the US National Institutes of Health, is underway and is looking at TCM intervention in dengue cases. There is a wealth of information out there, and tapping into that should give us the best of both worlds – both Western and Chinese medicine.
Where to get your TCM
The easiest way to find a TCM practitioner trained in herbal medicine is to go to your nearest Chinese herb shop: they usually have an herbalist in the back. The herbalist will tailor your prescription to your individual symptoms. Your TCM doctor will give you a series of prescriptions for each stage of your recovery. Remember to watch the pharmacist making up your prescription. It’s a fascinating process and the smells are amazing.Don’t be put off by the informality of the scene. That’s how the Chinese like to
Don’t be put off by the informality of the scene. That’s how the Chinese like to operate because it keeps costs down (as you’ll see when you pay your bill).
If you use TCM, you don’t have to suffer Dengue after-effects for months or years. Tell your TCM doctor that you’ve had ???? or ??? and if you have difficulty communicating, show your doctor this page. Then you’ll get the benefits of 800 years’ experience – and no nasty side effects!