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Two parents and their child e-wrote to say that some years ago the child, then a young teenager, had had autoimmune encephalitis. He could have died or been permanently damaged, but an alert neurologist (the only one out of five doctors consulted who nailed it) ordered an electroencephalogram. The results there pointed to a treatment of infused antibodies that can quell autoimmune attacks. The results were profound, positive and happened within hours.  End of story – and everyone lived happily ever after.

Uhh, not quite.

A major relapse a year and a half after the initial recovery. Four more major relapses after that, two of which required months-long hospital stays. No indication yet of which antibodies are causing the chaos.

Was there anything Tai Chi Chuan, the tai chi tools or Qigong could do?

First of all, encephalitis is a generic term: there are many kinds and there are only a few instances of genes directly causing encephalitis. However, there’s a fair amount of speculation that some combination of an external trigger and a problem with the various construction or destruction pathways for antibodies could be at the base of a lot of conditions. Among the causes of some types of encephalitis are measles, mumps, herpes simplex viruses, Epstein-Barr virus, and arboviruses. The last includes yellow fever, dengue, West Nile encephalitis, Japanese encephalitis, tick-borne encephalitis, Rift Valley fever, Zika and Chikingunya. That’s a real collection of sweeties. There are at least another 20 types of arboviral encephalitis – most of which either do not attack humans (yet) or are very rare. The first eight are more than enough.

Hmm. No clear cause, nothing stands out in the DNA and we are racing the clock against episode seven.

Stay tuned.