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Acupuncture Today
June, 2001, Vol. 02, Issue 06
Share | >> Allergies / Asthma

Causes of Allergy and Chemical Sensitivity: Lingering Pathogenic Factors

By Heidi Hawkins, MAc, LAc

Allergies are caused by a complex combination of influences. The detrimental effects of lingering pathogenic factors (LPFs) on everyone's health cannot be overestimated. In order to understand allergies, LPFs must be considered one of the most powerful influences.

It could even be said that allergies are merely a symptom of LPFs.

What Are LPFs?

A lingering pathogenic factor can be any sort of pathogen that has moved beyond the acute stage into a chronic condition. Because it is low-level and ongoing, the body that lives with it adapts to it as best it can. A person can forget what it was like not to have the LPF. LPFs thus are commonly not diagnosed.

A lingering pathogen can be any factor that causes stagnation or blockage in a person's body or qi. Commonly, a person catches a pathogen that causes an acute infection. For a number of reasons, the person fails to expel the pathogen, and the infection becomes chronic, even lifelong. LPFs are stagnant and phlegmy by definition, and can be hot or cold. Immunizations, antibiotics, and unexpressed, stagnant emotions are common causes of LPFs. LPFs can be inherited as well. Generally speaking, the longer LPFs are in the system, the deeper and more stubborn they become. An LPF at the kidney level can be most serious. This is true of all inherited LPFs.

Parasites are a common LPF. They are invasive by nature, and can be very damaging to tissue. When the natural barriers that protect the body (both energetic and physical) break down, the result is a correlating increase in toxins absorbed into the body. Barriers compromised in allergic persons include the large intestine; blood-brain barrier; wind gate/wei qi; pericardium; and skin, to name a few.

A common example of this is the blood-brain barrier. The blood-brain barrier is a protective mechanism to prevent entry of toxins to the brain. Commonly, some medications are kept out by the blood-brain barrier. In chemically sensitive persons, this protective mechanism becomes damaged. Toxicity causes the damage. The result is more toxicity in the brain and brain damage. This is obviously a vicious cycle.

The Results of LPFs

LPFs are the cause of the "10,000 diseases." Lingering pathogens can cause allergies; autoimmune disorders; arthritis; cancer; chronic fatigue syndrome; dental caries; fibromyalgia; multiple sclerosis; prostate enlargement; susceptibility to parasites and infections; and general emotional disorders, especially depression, mania, emotional extremes, emotional dullness, foggy mindedness, unprovoked or extreme violence, excessive rage, and severe memory loss. LPFs are deadly.

LPFs clog up the system with stubborn phlegm, causing stagnation of qi, blood and other body fluids. When a body is stagnant, it does not expel. Phlegm and fluids become increasingly stagnant; the body builds up toxins; and the cycle perpetuates itself. The liver is usually impacted dramatically, because of its tendency for stagnation. The common result is intractable liver qi and phlegm stagnation. The stagnant, overwhelmed liver attacks the spleen; the spleen is weakened and fails to metabolize the fluids; and the whole san jiao is congested. Phlegm causes more phlegm.

The san jiao is compromised and eventually becomes sluggish and congested from the stagnation of fluids. The result is even more phlegm, but usually of the "ethereal" variety, which is almost impossible to diagnose but can make clearing phlegm seem to be endless and impossible. Clear some phlegm. Underneath that, you'll find more phlegm. These are the people who don't respond to standard treatment and protocol.

The lung system is often where phlegm and stagnation become most visible, manifesting outwardly. Unfortunately, this is often the last sign of lingering pathogens. It is often preceded by an impact on the liver, spleen and large intestine, and backs up to the point of showing up in the respiratory system.

Chronic illnesses such as diabetes, HIV/AIDS and chronic hepatitis are some serious manifestations of one or more LPFs. Allergies may seem insignificant compared to these problems, but they are a factor in any illness. The allergies involved are usually undiagnosed. Consider diabetes and sugar allergy. The connection should be obvious, but where does the sugar allergy come from? A lingering parasite in the pancreas is almost certain, in all cases of diabetes. Most parasites thrive on sugar. Sugar in its natural form is not our enemy; overprocessed and contaminated food are the problem. Toxic environments within create a need for parasites and pathogens as a compensation mechanism. The body adapts to toxins, and LPFs are one such adaptation. Nothing is by accident.


LPFs are tricky to detect. They easily elude diagnosis by both Eastern and Western practitioners. They move so slowly and are so common that we scarcely notice them. We notice their results, but often only after the pathogen has been present for many years (or even a lifetime). If we don't address the root of the problem, true healing does not occur. LPFs are the root of nearly every problem.

A common method of finding an obvious LPF is to palpate the various lymph nodes in the body - a swollen or hard lymph node is a sign of infection - either acute or chronic. If there is an acute infection present, it should have obvious symptoms. Other symptoms can help us detect LPFs. Certain allergies can indicate the presence and location of specific LPFs, as well as their general nature. Among some of the tendencies:

Dust allergy: hot, dead LPF in colon
Mold allergy: cold/damp LPF in liver
Fungus allergy: warm, damp LPF in spleen
Hayfever: any LPF in liver
Cat allergy: hot LPF in pons or medulla - differentiate according to emotions of liver, kidney, or both. The pons is ruled by the liver; the medulla, by the kidneys.

If a dead LPF is present, it is most likely in the colon. This pathogen may end up in the kidney, which is very serious, and often results in palpable kidney disease, such as polycystic kidney disease or gradual kidney failure. A sure sign of LPFs at the kidney level is black rings under the eyes that do not change with the menstrual cycle. If the rings change with the cycle, then the dead LPF haunts the liver. The most obvious LPFs in men often show up as any sort of prostate difficulty.


Treatment of LPFs is extremely difficult, especially because it often requires the patient to get sick again (or more acutely) to expel the pathogen. This requires faith in the practitioner and in the medicine, as well as a willingness to get sick and expel the pathogen, and not to drive it back in with toxic medications. Pathogens cleared more gently require a great deal of time. It's a trade-off. Julian Scott said that it takes one year of acupuncture to clear a lingering pathogen from a child. This is a lot to ask of anyone, especially someone who has several LPFs, which is quite common. Generally, one can expect adults to respond more slowly than children.

There are methods to expel LPFs rapidly and painlessly, but they are on the most esoteric edge of traditional Chinese medicine. Few have the training to perform these methods, and many clients would find them too "weird" to attempt. I personally find the esoteric and subtle aspects of TCM the most fascinating of all.

Click here for previous articles by Heidi Hawkins, MAc, LAc.


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