Chinese Medicine for Autoimmune Disorders: Arthritis, Diabetes, Lupus, and more

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When balance is restored in the body, the destructive mechanisms that trigger autoimmune disorders will stop; then a lot of negative signs and symptoms of AD will begin improve

The incidence of autoimmune disorders is on the rise in North America. According to Western medical theory, autoimmune disorders (AD) are caused by the body’s own immune system when it becomes unable to differentiate healthy from unhealthy cells. This results in the immune system attacking its own healthy tissues.

Microorganisms such as transplanted tissue donated by another person, bacteria, blood, and cancer cells can all contribute to this disease, as can chemical toxins such as medications and food preservatives.

Autoimmune disorders can destroy any type of body tissue. This tissue destruction can then cause abnormal growth or function of the organ. Blood components, including red blood cells, blood vessels, or skin are commonly affected. Another way that autoimmune responses can occur is from reactive antigens. For example, rheumatic fever may result from cross-reactive antigens affecting heart tissue.

Western Medicine Approach

Different types of autoimmune disorders include Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Addison’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Grave’s disease, Sjogren syndrome, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Vasculitis, Rett syndrome, and Diabetes Mellitus Type I and II.

Signs and symptoms of autoimmune disorders include low-grade fever, weight loss, fatigue, dizziness, and general malaise. Diagnosis: Blood tests may reveal an elevated white blood cell count, along with high levels of special proteins called ‘complement proteins’ (which indicate an amplified immune response), as well as specific immunoglobulins or antigens.

Western medicine treatment: In order to control the overactive immune response which is typical of autoimmune disorders, Western medicine tends to use corticosteroids and immunosuppressants such as Cyclophosphamide and Azathioprine. These drugs can have powerful side effects for some patients; death has been known to result from regular consumption of such medications.

Traditional Chinese Medicine Approach

In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) theory there is no equivalent name for the Western medical term ‘autoimmune disorder.’ Instead, a person is generally diagnosed with one of four main disorders, depending on their signs and symptoms:

1) Liver heat or liver fire: This typically expresses itself in a person’s behaviour as deep frustration and anger. Physically, the tongue colour is red, the pulse is wiry and/or rapid, and the liver may have moved to an unusual position.

2) Kidney yin deficiency: This typically expresses itself in symptoms such as night sweats, afternoon fever, chronic fatigue, ringing in the ears, and/or pain in the lower back and knees. Usually the tongue colour is red, and the pulse is wiry and rapid but fine.

3) Blood stagnation: Patients with blood stagnation will usually exhibit a dull or dark complexion on the face. As well, the tongue colour can be dull or dark. Because of the different types of human bodies or different degree of the diseases, blood stagnation can show itself in different ways. The pulse is usually wiry, especially on the whole pulse points that include the right hand lung, spleen, kidney yang (Vital gate); whereas the left arm contains the heart, liver, kidney yin points. As time goes by, many chronic physical diseases will also start to impact the mind and may express themselves as mental disorders and unusual behaviours.

4) Combination of (1+2) or (1+2+3).

My Own Theory

I personally believe that autoimmune disorders are mainly caused by the “destructive mechanism within the human body that triggers the antibodies to attack our own cells.” In regards to why it does that, I have the following theory:

  1. Persistent negative emotions of depression and frustration can lead to physical disorders. (This is a traditional TCM theory from the ancient scholar of TCM, confirmed by my own clinical observations and research.)
  2. Genetic predisposition
  3. Chemical irritation (such as pollution, drugs)
  4. Weak immune system (mainly a weak lung Qi and Stomach Qi deficiency)

Addressing Autoimmune Disorders

ACROSS THE CULTURES – In today’s civilization, the more progressive, modern, and industrialized we are the more autoimmune disorders that occur; some researchers believe that 90% of modern diseases arise from autoimmune disorders. I personally believe that reducing the rate of autoimmune disorders will require that we work together to improve our earth – the (three P problems) pollution, population, poverty – and regain our traditional family values and high moral concepts.

As well, we need to teach our citizens to incorporate a daily practice of meditation, qigong, yoga, or other exercises into their lifestyle in order to reduce stress and increase fitness.

Also important is a good diet, which requires that we produce more organic food, and understand the ways of nature. Then the future world of human beings should be better.

TREATMENT PROTOCOLS – After many years of clinical experience and studies, I have come to recognize the deep wisdom of Classical Chinese medical theory. So I use a holistic treatment approach, which includes different herbal formulas and special acupuncture techniques. I select the special acupuncture points that correspond to the patient’s condition, and then use my years of experience to determine the precise manipulation of the needles. (Different acupuncture doctors have different styles of manipulating the needles, just like musicians can create different effects by playing a different instrument.)
Also employed are special Tuina massage methods and herbal wraps which work well in treating most of the autoimmune disorders with good results. (The three conditions, which do not need massage and herbal wraps are Diabetes Mellitus, Rett syndrome, and advanced stages of Multiple Sclerosis.)

My approach to treatment utilizes the balance theory. In TCM, we believe that if the universe has two kinds of forces – namely the yin and yang – they should be in balance. Once the balance is lost, then the destructive forces can invade the human body.


When balance is restored, the destructive mechanisms that trigger autoimmune disorders will stop. A lot of negative signs and symptoms of AD will then improve; for example the red spots on the face of a Lupus patient will clear up. Furthermore, pain or walking disabilities, and chronic fatigue symptoms, will also improve after a few treatments. In some cases, even after one treatment the Multiple Sclerosis patients can feel the improvement.

The keys to help yourself to prevent the progress of an autoimmune disorder include the following:

1) Avoid negative emotions: Try not to give your attention to depressed, angry, and sad thoughts.
2) Go to bed early and avoid too much mental stress.
3) Do walking exercises daily (each time walk over 45 minutes).
4) Eat well (I recommend real organic foods for all of my patients as part of their treatment protocol).
5) Be happy with what you have. Don’t covet the possessions of your neighbours.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]


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Tom Fung is a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner and Acupuncturist in Markham, Ont. He received a diploma of modern Chinese medicine and Acupuncture in 1975. He established the Tom Fung Holistic Acupuncture Clinic in Toronto in 1979. He graduated as doctor of internal Chinese medicine, and received an Acupuncture certificate in Xiamen China University in 1985. Office: 179 Main St. N., Markham, ON. For information or appointment, email:, call: (905) 554-8849, or visit:

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