Mary Kay Ryan and Arthur D Shattuck Pacific View Press, Berkeley California 1994 Paperback, 364 pages, £23.95
(Reviewed by John Tindall, EJOM Vol. 2 No. 4)
I think this book is well constructed and marks another step forward in the literature on HIV and AIDS. It is holistic in its view of traditional Chinese medicine in this field of health care. The authors make it clear that the information given is based on their experience and is not the only possible presentation.
Previous books such as AIDS and Chinese Medicine by Qingcai Zhang and Hong Yen Hsu, Vol. I and II, Alternative Treatments for HIV Infections by Magnolia Goh and Tang Zhaliang, HIV and its Treatment by TCM by Huang Bing Shan and Bag of Pearls by Subhuti Dharmananda do not cover as wide a range of associated topics, i.e. Western medical implications, and do not include the social and emotional aspects or the effect of HIV/AIDS on minority groups.
The book's competitors present more in the way of TCM theory and research data which, in this respect, is less covered in Treating AIDS with Chinese Medicine. However, the authors give a good overview of the common trends of thought, i.e. Xu Lao and Lao Zhai, Wen Bing school etc. The data given both from a TCM and Western medical tradition are accurate and up to date, at the time the book was written.
The discussion of the root of entry of infection, and subsequent prognosis of HIV in TCM terms, provides a clear concept of the process in reality and is both well illustrated and made clear with diagrams and tables. The authors have some bias in that their view is that AIDS begins deep at the kidney yin and blood level and then works its way through various organs.
This is certainly true in a large number of cases but not all, and other authors may wish to differ in their understanding of the situation.
The section describing herbal medicines gives a detailed analysis and use of the recent patent formulae such as Compound A, Enhance, Resist etc., which is a common approach many treatment centres have taken, especially in conducting research to standardise the protocol and being able to provide a service to a large number of clients with minimal resources.
I think a more in-depth description of the individual herbs could have been presented; however, this was remedied to some degree by the inclusion of a wide range of actual formulae for specific conditions, In fact, in analysing the contents of each formula suggested I could see that a practitioner would gain a much better grasp of how to approach HIV/AIDS. This reflects the sound understanding the authors have of their theoretical and clinical work in HIV/AIDS.
I felt the inclusion of a ‘special needs population’ i.e. women, haemophiliacs and IV drug users to be valuable. Haemophiliacs, for instance, require more detailed thought to be given in terms of the herbs and acupuncture utilised. I certainly support the authors’ view that this group of clients can benefit tremendously, as has been my own experience.
Personally, I would like to have seen a section specialising in children and particular approaches which they have found of value. Children do respond well but it can be difficult to get them to take acupuncture and herbs; in cases where the kidney and/or liver are damaged great care needs to be taken in the dosage of medicines. This is true of the Hep C client too.
The authors give many formulae for treating dermatology problems that present in HIV/AIDS, and it would have been useful if they had presented some of the external applications which they have found clinically effective. The section on the other alternative health models did not include essential oils, which practitioners have found especially useful in fungal conditions.
The case history section of the book is too short, given the detail provided on the pathological process and treatments suggested. It would have been good to read a more detailed case history and review of the treatment given and the stages of progression, including changes which they made and their rationale for doing so. The nutritional section of the book is concise and practical and many clients could benefit from reading this.
I think this book manages to fulfil its aims and provides an excellent read both for those who have been working in this field for sometime as well as newcomers to this area of health care. Given the length of the book the authors have managed to include a vast amount of useful information and I believe it is good value for money. I am sure it will inspire a wide range of health care practitioners to utilise this system of medicine to tackle the challenging issues in HIV/AIDS, either as an adjunct to Western medicine or as an alternative in certain cases.
John Tindall John Tindall has been actively using traditional Chinese medicine and Western natural medicine in treating HIV/AIDS since 1988. He is the founder of the Gateway Clinic at the South Western Hospital in London, which provides health care for 50-60 clients daily, 50 % of which are HIV+.