Monday, May 02, 2011

Sophora for Health

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have been sick with chronic fatigue syndrome since 2006. I wasn't diagnosed correctly until last year, and there aren't a lot of options for treatment. In my previous post on CFS, I mentioned some of the research I had found, including John Chia's theory that multiple pathogens, including viruses, bacteria, and molds, are behind CFS cases. Chia treats CFS cases according to which pathogen he finds in the patient (using blood tests or, for some of his enterovirus cases, biopsies of stomach tissue, since the infection can be hard to spot in the blood). The preferred treatments are antibiotics and antiviral drugs, but in the case of enteroviruses, there aren't yet any effective antiviral drugs which can be prescribed. Chia first tried using interferon to treat his enterovirus cases, with some success, but the costs and side effects of the drug proved prohibitive. Ideally, antiviral drugs effective against enteroviruses will soon be developed (in a phone consultation, Chia told me that a drug currently being developed to treat polio may also be effective against the kinds of enteroviruses he has found in some of his CFS patients). Until then, Chia has been prescribing an over-the-counter herbal supplement called sophora to his patients with enteroviral infections. Sophora is used in China to treat cancer and hepatitis. The root of the sophora plant contains oxymatrine, which appears to modulate the activity of Th1 and Th2 cells (which are important components of the immune system). Chia claims that 52% of his patients treated with sophora have seen an improvement in symptoms. In some cases, this has included a complete remission of symptoms, while in other cases, the imrprovements have been more modest.

I have been taking the Equilibrant brand of sophora since September of last year. (Equilibrant is a product developed by Chia in order to create a pharmaceutical-grade version of sophora, since, as with many herbal supplements, the actual dosage of oxymatrine in other sophora supplements can vary from tablet to tablet.) I decided to blog about this in case any of you have chronic fatigue syndrome, or know someone with chronic fatigue syndrome, since it can be very difficult to obtain effective treatment. In my case, I am still suffering from severe fatigue, but after taking Equilibrant for the last 8 months, several of my other symtpoms have improved dramatically: the myalgia in my muscles has decreased a lot, the digestive problems are much less severe, the circulation problems are much improved, and I get much less frequent flus and colds (previously, I would get sick with opportunistic infections literally every week or so). It seems to take a long time for the sophora to do its work, probably because it doesn't attack the virus directly, but instead merely improves the activity of the immune system; given a large enough viral load, it can take months to notice substantial improvements in symtpoms. Chia told me as much in a phone consultation, but I would have expected either that my CFS symptoms would have stopped improving by now, or that the sophora would have not had any positive effect. Instead, my symptoms still seem to be gradually improving, and this 8 months after the start of treatment.

I didn't want to blog about sophora until I knew for sure whether it was working. Even though I'm not fully recovered, the improvement has been remarkable, and I would recommend the use of sophora to others suffering from CFS, provided that they have reason to believe they are infected with an enterovirus or other pathogen that can't yet be treated through conventional means.
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