Dr. Chia On Oxymatrine, Autoimmunity, ME/CFS and FM

September 5, 2009

Posted by Cort Johnson

Dr. Chia posted a lengthy response to some of the questions asked regarding the last Oxymatrine post. (I added the headers)

Dr. John Chia:

Interferon and Oxymatrine: 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.

Fibromyalgia and ME/CFS:  Altered Immune Responses – 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viral proteins seen in the stomach biopsy are much more abundant in CFS patients than that in fibromyalgia patients (unpublished data).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.

FM and ME/CFS:  Dosing – 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.

Autoimmunity and Oxymatrine: (Dr. Chia suggested that  patients with autoimmune tendencies should not take Oxymatrine. ) 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 patients 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.

Enteroviruses trigger Autoimmune Responses As Well: 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 induced 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?

Lack of Effective Enteroviral Drug: 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.

Dig Deeper! Dr. Chia Produces Immunomodulator

Dig Deeper! Enteroviral  Foundation Opens - Dr. Chia is a board member of the Enterovirus Foundation


{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

drew September 7, 2009 at 3:20 am

This is fascinating, and we patients can take courage in the statement that ” [A] few years from now, we hope to have drugs to arrest the viruses that are making our immune response angry”). Dr Chia is one of the bright lights of hope helping us get past this nightmare.

What I’m totally perplexed by is the difference between what Dr Chia says and what we hear from another, equally bright light of hope, Dr Kenny DeMeirleir.

Dr Chia states that “the main reason that CFS patients are symptomatic are due to continuing viruses living within the cells, enteroviruses in most of the cases I see.”

Dr DeMeirleir writes that “ME is a disorder which is caused by increased endogenous H2S production… Because of the effects of H2S in the body a chain of events will develop which have more and more negative effects on the aerobic metabolism and depression of the immune system leading to more and more infections and reactivation of endogenous viruses.”

Can these two theories be reconciled, or must one be right and one wrong?

If anyone can shed some light on this I’d be very grateful.



Hege September 8, 2009 at 11:29 am


My name is Hege Renate and I am a ME sufferer from Norway.
I love your blog and are following it with RSS.
My blog is http://www.TiredofME.com and there you will find articles in both english and norwegian.

I would very much like you to follow my blog.

Hope to see you!


Tony September 8, 2009 at 6:53 pm

I think both are compatible theories. If we test positive to H2S then it seems we are also likely (according to De Meirleir) to be susceptible to infections and viruses.
If we can halt the production of H2S that continues this immune response then the immune system will hopefully be able to get back into balance.

Dr Chia’s attacking the viruses directly with oxymatrine and as I understand it his patients need to continue on a maintenance dose. Maybe getting rid of the viruses gets some well enough to live well. I hear his success rate is about 50%? There are some patients of his on Cort’s forum who’ve discussed this success rate. Y0u might like to check it out.
So I’m thinking they’re both ‘right’, just different approaches.


Mio September 11, 2009 at 1:02 am

Just want to add to Drew´s comment on De Meirleir and the H2S. I´m a patient of his and think there´s no real conflict between the two researchers way of thinking. Since the theory about H2S overproduction is that it´s due to bacterial infections, imbalances in the gut. In the individual case it can be as a result of long time undetected foodallergies, and/or metalexposure (mercury,nickel..),untreated bacterial and viral infections. This in turn leds to a “leaky gut syndrome” with first un upregulated and finally exhausted immunesystem. Dr D Peterson mentioned in a speach that the average CFS patient in their studies had between 35-50 !viruses at the same time, whilest controls had 3-5. Many of them can be retroviruses as Chia has detected. Hope this can contribute to the discussion!
Excuse my english writing!


drew September 11, 2009 at 3:34 pm

Hi Tony and Mio–

Thank you for your thoughts — very helpful!

So, if the theories are both correct, the viruses result from the immune system being unable to keep them in check, because of the H2S overproduction having thrown it out of whack. Many of the symptoms, however, are due to the viruses, but the viruses themselves are not the cause of the ME/CFS.

Makes sense to me! :)



Mio September 12, 2009 at 11:35 am

Hi again Drew!
That´s about it , but still to remember about the H2S, it´s a very toxic substance! As toxic as cyanid apparently. So many of the neurological symphtoms in ME/CFS appears because of this substance gets into the blood, causing damage on all organs aswell as the brain and autonomic nerve system. So it´s a real peasoup! and perhaps/probably there is more to this than what we know now – some kind of vague genetic predisposition seems to be one thing most researchers agreed on at the London conference, and the importance to study different subgroups! I´m so greatful to these few clinicians and researchers working so hard to find an answer :-)


drew September 12, 2009 at 4:33 pm

Hi Mio–

I am so grateful to these researchers/clinicians as well. I’ve asked some of them what is a realistic timeframe for an effective treatment, and the answer is usually in the neighborhood of 5 years. Seems like a long time, but when you’ve battled this thing for 25 years, what’s another 5?



Myra Schutz September 20, 2010 at 11:47 am

Help!! My, Immunologist, Dr. Nancy Klimas, wants me to start taking oxymatrine. I have searched for hours and many web sites and no one knows where or how I can order it. Please help me to locate it. Thank you,Myra


Cort October 8, 2010 at 6:54 pm

Its called Equilibriant and you can order it through Dr. Chia. Check out oxymatrine on the Phoenix Rising website.


Hip December 11, 2013 at 10:48 pm

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


priya April 12, 2014 at 10:10 am

i’m confused as to how much of an AI response is considered contra-indicated by dr chia for oxymatrine use. i’m sure most of us test positive for ‘lesser’ things like anti-thyroid Abs or anti-intrinsic factor Abs while still being clear of ANAs + w/out exhibiting overt AI illnesses like lupus, RA, MS or even having any musculo-skeletal ME pain…

does anyone know where dr chia would draw the line? thanks!


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: