Treatments such as intravenous immunoglobulin therapy or intralipid infusions are sometimes suggested for women with autoimmune conditions whose immune systems react negatively to an implanting embryo. An embryo, composed of “self” and “non-self” can confuse a weakened or stressed immune system, whose primary job it is to kill off the foreign (non-self) invador. When the immune system is confused, it often reverts from its highest directive, to differentiate, to its lowest default, which is to kill.
The woman’s body can react negatively against the pregnancy itself, to components of the cell wall, and develop antibodies, which protect her from accepting in what her body perceives as threatening. She may have elevated antiphosphlipid antibodies, antithyroid antibodies, anticardiolipin antibodies, antinuclear antibodies, anti-lupus anticoagulant, or elevated (and activated) natural killer cells. The blood is often thickened so it can clot off the blood supply to the offending threat, and starve it.
The infusions of protein and blood products listed above are intended to bind the antibodies and deactivate them. While it can temporarily clear the blood of the activated immune system components, it is not curative.
Chinese medicine seeks to diagnose and treat the cause of the autoimmune reactivity, not its manifestation. When you look for the underlying cause, you are working at the level of energy; not strictly at the level of identifiable form, where it is more important to specifically identify and suppress the elevated marker of immunity. So, whether it is ATA, ACA, APA, ANA, PTT or elevated NK cells, we look at the energy that gives rise to the expression. Almost always there is a weakening of the Spleen system of energies, which governs internal recognition, and a strong sense of self. The weak spleen energies will allow for some excess factor to be present, energetically expressed as dampness, stasis, stagnation, or heat.
When we can fortify the weakened spleen energies and reduce the presence of the excess factor, the conditions for the autoimmune reaction go away on their own. In my experience, it is much more potent to work energetically than to chase around the manifestation. Yet, the two approaches can be quite effective together; you don’t have to choose natural healing over those which are more invasive or vice versa.
I have worked with many women who had autoimmune infertility, who were concurrently being treated by Western medicine. When we can address the reason for the weakened spleen energies (diet, anxiety, over-thinking, poor sense of self), we can nourish them, and bring the body into a state where it doesn’t perceive components of self as a threat. We reduce the excess factors through herbs and acupuncture, and the internal fight abates. In the meantime, IL or IVIG treatments can bind up the circulating antibodies while the body is in a state of healing. We have treated the cause and the manifestation