Dr. Chia Produces Herbal Immunodulator – Oxymatrine

August 27, 2009

Posted by Cort Johnson

Dr. Chia, an infectious disease specialist focusing on chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), has finished the production of a pure form of Oxymatrine, an alkaloid derived from the Sophora plant in China. Oxymatrine is used to treat many diseases including hepatitis and cancer there. Oxymatrine has been an important part of Dr. Chia’s protocol for several years and it played an integral role in returning his son, Andrew Chia, to health.

The concern over the purity of products coming from China prompted Dr. Chia to produce a more stable and effective preparation of Oxymatrine called Equilibrant. He took the opportunity to add other immune factors to the mix. He stated that

Equilibrant, containing oxymatrine and a number of immune modulators. This herbal preparation, a dietary supplement, is made from the highest quality extracts under FDA certified Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) in the United States. It is also laboratory tested in FDA registered analytical laboratories.

A Main Focus of Treatment – For many years Dr. Chia used interferons and Oxymatrine to treat his patients but he has dropped interferon use for all but one subset of patient. When I asked him about the efficacy of Oxymatrine a as a stand-alone treatment he stated:

I have treated 70 patients with the combination of alpha and gamma interferon, and the efficacy is about 47% overall. I reserve the interferon treatment for patients with severe fibromyalgia without debilitating fatigue. The cost is prohibitive ($5000/month) and the side effect does not allow patient to continue the treatment for more than 1-3 months. Few patients had remission of symptoms for as long as 2-3 years. The chance of improvement is minimal, If the myalgia is not dramatically better by 2-4 weeks on interferon treatment.

Since the herbal preparation is much cheaper, has better efficacy and less side-effects, I have not used interferon treatment for over a year. I learned to titrate the dose of the herbal preparation for patients with different symptomatology.

Dosing – Chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) – The dose of Equilibrant should be increased slowly. I routinely start with one tablet with a glass of water before or with meal everyday for one to two weeks. If there is no increase of pre-existing symptoms, such as fatigue, myalgia, headache, the dose could be increased to one tablet 2 times a day for one to two weeks, then slowly work up to 2 to 3 tablets 2 times a day. No further escalation of dose should be done if there is significant increase in symptoms. Further titration can be done later as needed, depending on the patient’s response and tolerance.

Fibromyalgia – Patients with significant fibromyalgia rarely need more than 1 tablet once or twice a day, but few can take up to 4-6 tablets/day. Pain can decrease as soon as 2 weeks, often afer an initial increase of myalgia. If the increase in pain persists for few weeks without improvement while taking one or two tablets/day, the patient will not likely respond and certainly should not take higher doses.

Patients on heavy doses of narcotic pain medication are not good candiates for this herbal product since a further increase of myalgia may not be tolerated. Everyone has “bad” pain but the patients not needing much pain medications are better candidates for this herbal supplement. Again, the dose needs to be titrated.
Side effects, though usually temporary are not uncommon. They can be ameliorated by slowly increasing the dose.

Side Effects Increase in symptoms, such as headache, myalgia, arthralgia, stomach complaints or bladder discomfort, can be seen in over 50% of the patients, lasting from a few days to few weeks, but could be relatively mild if the dose is increased slowly.

You’ll generally know if the preparation works in from one to three months. Longer courses may be necessary if the patient is tolerating the drug well. Expect to be taking the drug for a year (at least) if it works.

Prognosis – On the average, the patient should have some signs of improvement by 4-6 weeks, but few may take more than 3 month, especially if the dose is escalated over 4- 6 weeks period. Since the symptoms are often cyclical, a longer course may be needed to fully evaluate the benefit of the herb, as long as the patients are tolerating it well. With significant responses, patients should not perform vigorous exercise in the first few months to avoid major relapse of symptoms. Most of the patients will need to take the herbs for more than one year, if there is significant response.

Patients with symptom flares can be on it long-term without side effects. Maintenance doses are possible.

Patients with periodic exacerbations of symptoms while taking the herbs will not likely tolerate reduction of the dose after one year. If there is no response, equilibrant should be taper off in about two weeks instead of abrupt discontinuation. We have at least 30 patients taking the herbs beyond 2/12 years and are still doing well without any side-effects. Andrew is doing well on a maintainence dose of equillibrant, and will be starting pharmacy school in two days.

Fifty percent of patients have experienced improvement – some dramatic. Relatively long-term use of the herbs is required to prevent relapse in many patients.

Results. We have given the herb to more than 350 patients over the last 2 1/2 years, and the overall improvement is about 52%. Some patients who lied down most the time went back to work in a few months (great responders), others would have at least enough improvement to do more in a day (parital responders). Relapses are common if patient stopped the herb in 3-6 months after significant improvement (2 out of 3 people). Few patients went in complete remission after taking the herbs for only 3 months, but none of these patients were females.

Patients with autoimmune manifestations or seizures should not take these herbs.

Warning: This type of immune modulators should not be used in patients with autoimmune tendency or known seizure disorders.

It is best that a physician supervises the patient on any herbal product and blood tests can be done in 2-3 months after starting the herbal product.

Price: Each Equilibrant box contains 90 tablets. The price is $ 49.95 USD per box. It is professionally packaged in blister cards, which protect the stability of each tablet. You can find the product here for more information.

Check out a two-part interview with Dr. Chia

28 comments

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Christine August 27, 2009 at 11:16 pm

Thanks for this report, Cort. I’ve tried an Oxymatrine supplement before but couldn’t tolerate it – don’t know if that was because of the product or that my liver is terrible and I can’t take most things. Perhaps Chia’s product would be more tolerable, or at least I’d be more confident it might help.

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Mary-louise Dunigan August 28, 2009 at 9:58 am

I am a fibromyalgia patient. My pain level has significantly improved with Lyrica; however, my activitiy tolerance is stil significantly limited. More than 2-3 hours of physical activity per day, results in ligthheadedness, folloewed by N/V and a pain flareup. What if any benefit might I acheive with this product? MLD

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cort August 28, 2009 at 11:21 am

Hi Mary, speaking as a laymen I think you should give this a try! Fibromyalgia patients to do be able to tell pretty quickly if it will work and if it works it looks like it works pretty well. I asked Dr. Chia whether oxymatrine works as well without interferon ( a drug he has used quite a bit) and this is what he said:

A Main Focus of Treatment – For many years Dr. Chia used interferons and Oxymatrine to treat his patients but he has dropped interferon use for all but one subset of patient. When I asked him about the efficacy of Oxymatrine a as a stand-alone treatment he stated:

I have treated 70 patients with the combination of alpha and gamma interferon, and the efficacy is about 47% overall. I reserve the interferon treatment for patients with severe fibromyalgia without debilitating fatigue. The cost is prohibitive ($5000/month) and the side effect does not allow patient to continue the treatment for more than 1-3 months. Few patients had remission of symptoms for as long as 2-3 years. The chance of improvement is minimal, If the myalgia is not dramatically better by 2-4 weeks on interferon treatment.

Since the herbal preparation is much cheaper, has better efficacy and less side-effects, I have not used interferon treatment for over a year. I learned to titrate the dose of the herbal preparation for patients with different symptomatology.

Here’s what he said about fibromyalgia: Patients with significant fibromyalgia rarely need more than 1 tablet once or twice a day, but few can take up to 4-6 tablets/day. Pain can decrease as soon as 2 weeks, often afer an initial increase of myalgia. If the increase in pain persists for few weeks without improvement while taking one or two tablets/day, the patient will not likely respond and certainly should not take higher doses.

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Laura August 28, 2009 at 10:40 am

No international shipping yet :( I’m in the UK.

I would so love to try this. Wish there was a way of knowing whether it was suitable for me to take or not though. I was investigated for Lupus in the past. But I’m desperate for something that will help.

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chris August 28, 2009 at 10:44 am

What does autoimmune tendency or manifestations mean? Someone with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis shouldn’t use this product? Lupus, diabetes?

Chris

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Warbler512 August 28, 2009 at 2:21 pm

If you have a Th1 to Th2 immune response shift, you’re headed in an inflammatory and autoimmune direction. Antibodies to serotonin are common in FM. Acute phase cardiolipids, suggested as an autoimmune marker in general, are sky-high CFS/ME patients compared to other diseases. The “autoimmune manifestations” comment needs better clarification, but seems to underscore why subtyping with cytokine panels and other tests is critical as well as the replacement of these syndrome definitions.

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Carolyn Richards August 28, 2009 at 3:08 pm

I would suggest one be very careful as some doctors feel CFS is an autoimmune disease. Some of Klimas’s immune tests indicate a subset of autoimmune, the testing for the Ciguatera Epitope evidently confirms autoimmune. Mycoplasmas can cause an autoimmune response.

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cort August 31, 2009 at 11:14 am

With regards the problems ordering -this is what Equilibrant has replied.

The web site is new and has problems that we are trying to fix.

For people with no physicians in their area, they may use the “no physician” code# 7f1271488a. For international customers, they can email and place order at sophorahealth@gmail.com.

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Dan September 1, 2009 at 9:57 am

Very interesting that his new product contains Astragalus, proven in clinical studies to help balance immune dysfunction. I took that years ago…in fact had a remission for 9-10 months…but completely forgot about it until now.

Oh the joys of brain fog.

I’ve never understood the concept of ‘autoimmune’ diseases. Like Carolyn says, “mycoplasmas can cause an autoimmune response”. So doesn’t that mean that the body isn’t attacking itself, it’s actually trying to get to the mycoplasma???

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Don September 1, 2009 at 12:51 pm

I am interested in trying this. Where is the ingredient list? I can’t find it on the website.

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Dan September 3, 2009 at 8:15 am

Hi Don,

It’s on this page:

http://www.equilibranthealth.com/product.php

Then click on “Supplement Facts” and a window will pop up with the ingredient label.

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John Chia M.D. September 5, 2009 at 9:39 am

Hi Cort:

Finally, I have a chance to respond to the questions and comments.

First of all, oxymatrine or equilibrant is used alone without interferon in almost all of the patients. I only used interferon-alpha 2a to help reducing the muscles pain often worsened by the use of oxymatrine. Interferon was used in patients who had major relapses immediately following discontinuation of this immune modulator and marked increase of myalgia with restart of 1/2 tablet of the herbal product. The use of interferon helped the patient to get back to full doses of oxymatrine within a 2-3 week period. The use of interferon does not increase the overall response to the herbal product.

What I have learned from the use of the immune modulator is dose titration. The needs for patients are usually different depending on the symptoms.

The tolerance issue depends on one’s immune response, the tissue viral load and the organs involved. As we have shown with the cytokine gene expression studies, patient with severe fibromyalia actually did not have quite as bad Th2/Th1 imbalance, as comparing to patients with debilitating fatigue without as much myalgia. Conversely, the viral proteins seen in the stomach biopsy are much more abundant in CFS patients than that in fibromyalgia patients (unpublished data). CFS and fibromyalgia are probably the two ends of the same spectrum: one end has much more viruses but little immune response, the other end has few viruses in the tissues but very severe and yet ineffective inflammatory response. I have often seen patients progress from severe CFS to fibromyalgia over several years.

This may be the reason that fibromyalgia patients do not need much more immune stimulation. I use the herbs at very low-doses in these patients hoping the complex immune response can rebalance itself. In my experience, higher doses would only produce more inflammatory symptoms (myalgia etc.) and not better than lower doses.

Autoimmune tendency means a strong family history of autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, autoimmune thyroiditis (especially Grave’s disease), multiple sclerosis, and if the patients have joint pain with positive rheumatoid factor and persistently positive ANA. With the use of other potent Chinese herbs and oxymatrine over the last several years, we have seen two patients develop rheumatoid arthritis (presented at the Reno meeting and London IiME, London meeting). I believe that the main reason that CFS patient are symptomatic are due to continuing inflammatory response toward viruses living within the cells, enteroviruses in most of the cases I see. The attack is dominated by Th2, which needs to be shifted toward Th1, as is with the use of the herbs. However, an excessive shift toward Th1 in a patient who has autoimmune tendencies could potentially start off an unregulated Th1 response (autoimmune response) that will require immunosuppressant to rebalance the immune response. This is why the herbal product should not be used in patients with autoimmune tendency.

We have clearly documented certain enterovirus infections triggering autoimmune responses in some patients that require steroids and other immunosuppressive drugs to control the overreactive and damaging response. Some simple markers for this type of response are high erythrocyte sedimentation rate, c-reactive protein and sometimes high white blood count. Immunosuppressive therapies are detrimental in CFS patients, as I have learned many years ago. Virus-induced immune response can be partly autoimmune in nature, as being argued for type 1 diabetes and chronic viral myocarditis. Steroids and other immunosuppressive drugs are of no benefits, and in fact harmful in these diseases.

Acute rheumatic fever is clearly an autoimmune disease induce by Group A streptococcal throat infections. When the immune response occurs against certain protein sequences of the bacteria (M protein) that are similar to human proteins in the brain, joints and heart, then the patient would develop chorea, carditis and arthritis. The mainstay of treatment is anti-inflammatory drugs for the inflammation, but one has to give antibiotic to kill off streptococcus in the throat. If the inciting pathogen is killed, then the autoimmune response would usually subside within a few months with anti-inflammatory treatment.

Can you imaging how we would feel if there are viruses surviving in our muscles, brains, hearts and gastrointestinal tracts triggering ongoing immune responses?

What has been difficult to sort out the dominant role of enterovirus or the immune response is a lack of an effective antiviral drug. If intracellular enteroviruses are attracting and directing (believe it or not) the immune response, then suppression of virus activity will allow cessation of immune response. We clearly have seen this concept proven correct in HIV/AIDS patients. Few years from now, we hope to have drugs to arrest the viruses that are making our immune response angry. Before that happens, the debate on virus or immune response will continue without end.

Interestingly, the use of antibiotics for Mycoplasma has no clear benefit in most patients with CFS/fibromyalgia and GWS. This may mean that Mycoplasma is not important in these diseases. The benefit seen in some patients may be due to the way the antibiotics (doxycycline, zithromax) modulate the immune system rather than the antimicrobial effect, as we have seen in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

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Matt in Auck September 9, 2009 at 8:25 pm

Accoridng to my reading the symptoms of CFS can get worse taking this supplement – so why take it?
Presumably this is a temporary effect that wears off, to be replaced by symptom improvements?
Also I see that Shiitake is one of the ingredients. I took this in 1996 for my CFS and felt worse. I thought this herb boosted interluekins, TNFa etc. all of which are thought to be rasied in CFS
Perhaps Dr Chia might be able to clarify

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Laura September 10, 2009 at 10:47 am

I would also like to know more about the other herbs.

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Erik Johnson September 10, 2009 at 8:51 pm

“High erythrocyte sedimentation rate”?

But it is completely normal to have an elevated ESR to various infections.
One of the abnormalities in our Incline Village cohort was an unusually low ESR.
Not just somewhat low… but a “ZERO” erythrocyte sedimentation rate.

Dr Peterson told me that physicians are taught that the lower the better, “But a zero ESR is ridiculous. This is an abnormality”.

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Richard September 21, 2009 at 11:30 pm

Some very interesting comments here, but I’d like to especially respond to the ones who have Liver problems….brain fog…etc… [ The doc’s said that I had about 6 mos. to live, with Hep.C, cronic liver failure, cirrosis of liver, and ascides with navel hernia.. It was all I could do to get out of bed to make it to the bathroom and back to bed….until thanks to the wonderful “Google Searches”…started getting my herbs in the mail…
Well… that “6-months” has long gone by now, and though it’s been a battle for sure, my liver functions are continualy improving every month. Viral Loads, RNA, are down to almost nil and energy levels still strong.. So with a little helpful note concerning “Professional Treatment”…. best to stick with Natural path or Alternative Medicanes, as in “Herbs”….Herbs….Herbs…
I found a good source for “Essiac Tea”…organic blend, from Starwest Bontanicals, so 3 cups [8oz.] per day worked great to drop RNA approx.50% per month…
Oxymatrine 20% is quit common and available, thou in a tablet form is quite bitter, so I used a coffee grinder to make those into powder and got a capsule maker kit, with 00 sized capsules, to put the oxymatrine powder in…”Bitters be-gone! :-]
Here’s a list of my daily herb list that I’ve been taking with continued improvements.
Essiac Tea… I use two quarts filtered water instead of one gallon as per instructions.
Oxymatrine: Now I’m using a much purer dosage of it, from Alchemist Labs. in Calif.
R [+] Lipoic Acid
Meriva-SR Curcumin Phytosome.
Was using Siliphos [Milk Thistle], but changed back to “Milk Thistle Plus” from Loyd’s Hep.C site.
Wheatgrass… Some claim that blue alge is best, but wheatgrass has 104 minerials and vitamins and works great for me…
Calcium Orotate..
Acetyl Glutathione 100 MG. capsules… a bit expensive, but worth twice the $75. price in what it does for ya!!!!
Vitamin C… I take 10 tablets of 1000 mg. per day..
Lithium Orotate….Use to take this…it’s in the garbage now…Beware!! This stuff is very unhealthy for your kidneys!!! It’s used for Bipolar Disorder, Depression PMS/PMDD, Migraines… advertised as no side effects….but the stuff was put together by Dr. Nieper over 30 years ago, and used to establish effects of rats for case studies, however, later studies found that such side effects in humans caused muscle weakness, apathy, loss of appetite, and is harder on the kidneys than lithium carbonate!
Dandelion roots…both as a cold tea and pills..
Vitamin B-12 and B-6
Red Reishi mushroom powder, either made into pills or mixed with herbal blends, such as the Red Root Combination from Alchemist Lab. in Calif. [Tastes like red zinger tea out of canada..quite tastey!! :-]
For those bruses that pop up soooo easily due to liver disfuntions, I found that using a Formula with “bupleurum” in it, works great to make the bruses disappear almost overnight!! Also, bupleurum formulas are great for people who suffer from old injuries and joint pain… I’ve used “Smooth Liver” and now still using a formula by Plum Flower Brands, called ” Xiao Chai Hu San”…. this comes in a jug in powder form, which I make into capsules..
I’ve got several other herb extracts etc. on my shelf which I’ve tried, and some I still take now and then… but the above list are my primary ones…, and I’d just like to add, that just because a modern day specialist tells you that you’re up the creek without a paddle… does NOT mean that is the final verdict for your life…. IT’s really up to YOU… You have to take charge of your own well being..set your mind to being Whole again… and stay on that plan of action..as God so designed our bodies to maintain and repair it’s own dysfunctions… start with a complete diet overhaul.. Sodium..or salt…hardens the liver..and systems as a whole.. Fresh steamed red beets are a great liver tonic!! Iron…suppliments isn’t good for the liver… and by all means… if you have Hep.C… DON”T take Flu shoots, nor HepB vacine. [for metals-it actually puts metal into your system and it’ll drive you viral loads up thru the roof and it’ll take you up to 2 yrs. to get them under control again…. Neither should you take the Hep.A shoot, same results, and isn’t needed, only if you’re going to be visiting a country that has an outbreak of Hep.A…
Hope some of you here will find this helpful…. Health and Wellness to All…

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Lucy September 29, 2009 at 7:52 am

I’m guessing there may be no firm answers to the following – but any thoughts greatly appreciated!

I’m 36, and desperately trying to get well enough from ME to have a baby whilst there’s still time.

I note that Oxymatrine can’t be taken whilst pregnant – and that I’d therefore need to take a break if I were to try to conceive.

Is there a ‘minimum’ length of time I should aim to be on it to try to kick my system back into action before coming off it? (Reading between the lines of Chia’s commentary, I’m thinking that might be 1 year???)

Also – once I stop taking it – does it get out of the system fairly quickly? – Or would I need to plan in a few months ‘off’ before even starting to try for a baby?

Finally – provided oxymatrine was effective on me 1st time around, if I were to relapse during pregnancy or nursing, can I be reasonably confident that it will probably work again if I go back onto it post weaning?

Thanks,

Lucy

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chris October 2, 2009 at 7:22 am

In regards to the caution express by Dr Chia about using Oxymatrine with patients with autoimmune tendencies, I imagine that Dr. Chia would express the same caution with using Isoprinosine, Transfer Factors, and Nexavir?

Chris

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Darren July 27, 2011 at 2:54 pm

I have just started “equilibrant” on Dr. Chia’s recommendation that I take only 1 tablet a day and possibly work my way up to 2 a day for CFS/GWS. I am glad to have met a doctor that understands my health problems and finally diagnosed me as having CFS. He is continually informing me of new findings and he is passionate about his practice. I will keep you all informed about my progress.

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Cort July 27, 2011 at 7:40 pm

That’s great to hear Darren. Good luck and please keep us informed. :)

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Amaia Badiola February 10, 2012 at 5:31 pm

i’d like to see more feedback about this herbal compund….from people who has tried it…….

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Suzy June 11, 2013 at 10:45 pm

I am a Hispanic female in my 30′s. I have been diagnosed with Cocksackie B., CFS, & Lupus. With the Cocksackie B is horrible! If I walk a lot, lift anything heavy or exercises I become paralyzed with pain! From just laying in bed to constant muscle pain. I have a 1 & 4 year old. Bla bla bla… IT RUINS MY LIFE! I have seen Dr. Chia. He prescribed the “equilibrant” & 30mg of Cymbalta (usually prescribed for depression. .. but has been proven to help muscle pain.) Well , one month of this combination and it is a miracle! I only have about 10% of the pain. I feel incredible! It has been 8 months and I am still doing well. I have skipped 2 doses before & my illness flared up. It took two week agin for my body to accept the meds & work again. I said I am Hispanic because in his study usually Hispanics only need one a day… of the equilibant. Opposed to whites who need a lot more a day. As they do also have other side effects to the Cocksakie B. They have more fatigue. I have more muscle pain. Hope this helps someone. I also hope this doesn’t stop working for me :(

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Ray August 28, 2013 at 11:53 pm

Hi Suzy, thanks for the info. my wife has been diagnosed with fibromyalgia and suffers from tingling/muscle pain. 3 weeks ago we have visited Dr. Chia & he has given her Equilibrant. She has reached to 1 pill a day, however now she has headache, stomach pain and sweats a lot, did you have those symptoms at the beginning when you increased your dosage?

Thanks for the help.

Ray

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Elizabeth R September 20, 2013 at 2:25 pm

I have been under Dr. Chia’s care for over 3 years. He is very patient, and very informative. He listens to all your symptoms, takes extensive notes, and then educates you and makes recommendations. I have an entero virus (specifically echovirus #6) which results in fatigue, headaches, muscle soreness, abdominal tenderness, night sweats, and some depression. I am happy to say that all my symptoms WITHOUT medicine are relatively mild with the exception of the fatigue (light activity for 3 hours max, then I MUST lay down).

I first took the oxymatrine from China. I didn’t see much improvement in any of my symptoms (6 months). Then we switch to Equilibrant with still little improvement (6 months). Now I have been taking Equilibrant (2 tablets/2x per day) with Inosine (500 mg/2x per day) for 3 months. My energy level has improved by about 60%! I am deliriously happy! No more laying down for an hour every 3 hours. Also the other symptoms have abated unless my system is stressed (e.g. during my period, or a heavy workout). I am happy with the combo of Equilibrant and Inosine.

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Roberta December 10, 2013 at 10:32 pm

I just took the Equilibrant for a month and my CFS symptoms increased dramatically i.e. energy depletion, little capacity to sleep, fibromyalgia (which I rarely have) and little recovery capacity. I DO have autoimmune conditions, so wonder if this is why I feel so crappy (I was pretty good before the drug). Is there anything that I can do to pull out of this? I have gone off the Equilibrant and would like to regain my pre-Equilibrant state. Any thoughts and ideas would be appreciated. I am depressed and discouraged.
Roberta

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Hip December 12, 2013 at 11:09 am

Dr John Chia talks about his research on oxymatrine as a treatment for enterovirus-associated ME/CFS in this video: http://youtu.be/feVSErmdBw0?t=31m25s

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Betty May 4, 2014 at 10:31 am

I have been taking Equilibrant 1/2 bill a day for 2 weeks, I don’t know if the side effects are, sore mouth ,heart burn, singles but that’s what I have. I looked on the web site can’t find any thing to indicate that this is causeing my problems. I’m thinking of going off the pill for a couple for a few weeks and see what happens. What do you think?

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