Traditional Chinese Medicine & HIV/AIDS

The understanding of HIV/AIDS is still relatively new in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). In general, TCM practitioners understand HIV/AIDS to be a pathogen that progresses into ever-deeper energetic levels of the body. In the process of this progression, it causes disruptions in the Zang Fu Organs and Fundamental Substances. This process is diverse and the extent to which the pathogen affects different Organs and Substances varies according to the individual, his or her constitution, and predisposition for specific Patterns of Disharmony in the Zang Fu and Fundamental Substances. Likewise, the various opportunistic infections and disorders that result from HIV infection create their own Patterns of Disharmony.

Traditional Chinese Medicine Categories of HIV/AIDS

Although HIV/AIDS causes multiple Patterns of Disharmony in infected patients, several patterns are commonly found and may become a basic part of an overall treatment strategy. These common patterns, along with their signs and symptoms, are as follows:

  • Spleen Qi Deficiency: Fatigue, loss of appetite, reduced immunity, and weight loss; a weak pulse and the tongue is flabby and pale with a thin white coat.
  • Kidney Yang Deficiency: Aversion to cold, pale complexion, fatigue, weak lower back and knees, loose stools, tendency to urinate frequently with large amounts of urine, and a low sex drive. The pulse is deep and weak and the tongue is pale with a thin white coat.
  • Kidney Yin Deficiency: Sensations of heat in the palms, soles, and chest; irritability; aversion to heat or sensations of heat in the afternoon or evening; difficulty sleeping; night sweats; dizziness; possible palpitations; a hyperactive sex drive; and weakness in the lower back and knees. The pulse is thin and rapid and the tongue is red with a scanty coat.
  • Toxic Heat: Aversion to heat, signs of inflammation or redness, difficulty sleeping, anxiety, thirst, and desire for cold liquids. The tongue is red, even crimson and the pulse rapid.
  • Blood Stasis: Sharp, stabbing pain; numbness; or discomfort in the extremities. Masses or neoplasms may be present. The tongue is bluish or purple with distended sublingual veins and the pulse is choppy.
  • Phlegm: Soft masses, a subjective sensation of heaviness or sluggishness in the body, and expectoration of a copious amount of phlegm. The tongue has a greasy coating and the pulse is slippery/wiry.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 01 Jan 2001

Last Modified: 22 Sep 2015