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Heather Hanks
Written by Heather Hanks

Reviewed by Physician Brandon Yew and Dr Andre Budihardjo on November 29, 2022

Tips To Help You Recover From Guillain Barre Syndrome Fast

There is no cure for Guillain barre syndrome, which can cause muscle pain and weakness. However, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can help manage symptoms so you can recover quicker.

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As an autoimmune disease, Guillain barre syndrome does not have a cure. It can also be very hard to treat.

The condition is characterized by pain, muscle weakness, balance and coordination problems, and a numb or prickly sensation in the limbs.

Despite being rare, it can lead to paralysis and life-threatening complications, such as breathing problems and blood clots. It can affect people of all ages, but men more so than women.

In this article, we’ll discuss what causes a Guillain barre syndrome infection and tips for keeping yourself healthy if you have been diagnosed.

What Is Guillain Barre Syndrome?

Image of a woman holding her wrist in pain
GBS can cause pain, swelling, and inflammation in the hands and feet.

Guillain barre syndrome (GBS) occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy nerves in the hands and feet. The condition can happen a few days or weeks after a respiratory or gastrointestinal infection

Some infections that make a person vulnerable to GBS include:  

  • HIV 
  • Influenza virus
  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Epstein-Barr virus
  • Hepatitis A, B, C, and E
  • Dengue fever
  • Glandular fever
  • Zika virus
  • COVID-19 virus
  • Surgery
  • Trauma
  • Food poisoning due to the consumption of foods or beverages that contain the Campylobacter jejuni bacteria (often found in undercooked poultry)

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the occurrence of a GBS infection relates to pathogenic factors.

Phlegm, blood clots, Cold, Wind, Fire, Dampness, and Qi Stagnation are common causes of Guillain-Barré syndrome. Blood, qi (vital life force), yin (passive energy), and yang (active energy) Deficiencies can also increase a person’s risk of a GBS infection. These involve the major visceral organs, which are the Heart, Liver, Spleen, Lungs, and Kidneys.”

Senior TCM Physician Brandon Yew.

Treatment Options For Guillain Barre Syndrome

The condition is incurable and impairs physical functioning. However, the silver lining is that clinical care can help patients recover over time. These will run over several weeks or months and may require hospital admission. TCM, meanwhile, can speed up recovery from a GBS infection.

Intravenous immunoglobulin therapy (IVIG) 

People with a GBS infection are given IVIG in a few large doses. It has a high concentration and diverse collection of antibodies and is prepared from blood donated by thousands of people.

IVIG is also used to treat various other autoimmune and infectious diseases. It has the same effect on medical conditions that stem from an unknown cause. These are called idiopathic diseases or conditions.

Plasma exchange (Plasmapheresis) 

The treatment helps remove excess antibodies, abnormal proteins, or harmful substances from the blood. Hence, plasma exchange is a viable option to treat or manage autoimmune, blood, or nervous system disorders.

It uses a machine to pull plasma – the liquid portion of blood – from blood cells. The latter is then mixed with a substitute and returned to the body.

Herbal decoctions 

Two Asian ginseng roots on a black modern plate placed on top of a bamboo mat
Ginseng can help reduce pain, swelling, and inflammation.

TCM recognizes that the pathological subtypes of GBS have specific effects on different body constitutions. Thus, Physician Yew recommends using herbal formulas to correct imbalances within the visceral organs or meridians, fibrous tissues (sinews), spinal muscles, and joints.

Examples of these are

  • Fu Ling Wan
  • Si Ni San  
  • Si Ni Tang  
  • Xuan Bi Tang  
  • Yi Yi Ren Tang  

You can also take American Wild Ginseng Capsules to reduce inflammation and pain, Cordyceps for energy and to fight fatigue, and bird’s nest to promote immunity and assist with recovery.

Acupuncture and acupressure  

In clinical therapy, acupuncture helps suppress nervous system inflammation. It also promotes healing and recovery of nerve functions.

TCM also uses the treatment to lower a person’s risk of disease. It does this by unblocking meridian channels, restoring organ function, and enhancing blood and qi circulation.

Acupressure is a massage technique used alongside acupuncture to achieve similar benefits.

The acupressure points that are associated with an improvement of GBS symptoms include: 

  • Jing Ming (BL1), Bai Hui (DU20), and Yang Bai (GB14) for alertness, cognition, mood, vision, and facial movement
  • Tian Tu (RN22), Di Cang (ST4), Jia Che (ST6), and Xia Guan (ST7) for speech, chewing, and swallowing
  • He Gu (LI4), Shou San Li (LI10), Qu Chi (LI11), Bi Nao (LI14), Lao Gong (PC8), and Wai Guan (SJ5) for pain, numbness and weakness in the upper body

Early intervention can help the symptoms of a GBS infection resolve naturally. If a person wishes to use herbal remedies or acupuncture treatment, it’s advisable to seek consultation with a TCM practitioner beforehand.

References

  1. National Health Service. Overview – Guillain-Barré syndrome
  2. World Health Organization. 2016. Guillain-Barré syndrome
  3. National Health Service. Causes – Guillain-Barré syndrome
  4. Medscape. 2018. Uses of Intravenous Immunoglobulin
  5. National Cancer Institute. Plasma exchange

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