Archive for the ‘Chinese Medicine’ Category

Getting Your Drink On, From The Perspective Of Chonese Medicine

In Chinese medicine, every food and beverage has certain qualities that can either help or harm the body and digestion.

The key is balance. If you are a Yang (Hot) person, cooling foods will cool you off, such as cucumbers and watermelon. If you are of the Yin (Cold) types, you will probably crave hot foods such as cooked meats, spicy foods, and coffee-these warm the cold in your system.

You know how the first few sips of alcohol leave you feeling warm and tingling and just…well, good inside? This is why: alcohol is an extremely “hot” substance. It also moves the blood and qi of the body, which will initially make you feel pretty good. If the blood and qi are stagnant, you may experience pain, tightness, or crankiness. Get all that blood and qi flowing, and the pain will disperse, that sense of crankiness will dissipate, and you will get all loosened up. And isn’t this exactly what it feels like with that first glass of wine? Any pains you might have start to fade, you get warm from the Heat of the drink, and you start to feel happy and more limber.

After a while, the effects of all this extra heat you are putting into your body really start to kick in. This heat can rise to your heart, and when there is heart heat, things can get crazy. This is when you get the incessant mindless babbling of that annoying guy at the bar. That heart heat can also give you a sense of exhilaration and joy, followed by a rapid crash into depression or anxiety. If the liver is affected by this heat, you get your typical angry drunk, who wants to fight everyone standing.

All of this racing blood and qi and heat in the body can’t last forever, so eventually the qi becomes exhausted, and so do you. The fatigue you experience after a night of imbibing is the qi becoming deficient. Time for bed!

The morning will bring more symptoms of heat and deficiency. After having that heart fire blazing all night, the qi of the heart will be deficient, so you might have symptoms of tiredness, a pale face, the sweats, or palpitations. The excess heat still in your system might lead to a raging headache or irritability if it goes to your liver; if it heads toward your gallbladder or stomach, you can look forward to nausea, vomiting, or heartburn. And of course, that extra heat in your body might also end up in your intestines, leading to hot and burning diarrhea.

So what is the lesson for today? Moderation. A little alcohol can actually be good for you (in some cases); the point is to stop drinking while you still feel good.

Traditional Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine (also called TCM) is the term given to a wide variety of treatments from various locations across Asia. While considered an alternative therapy in Western countries, it’s a long-standing and widely accepted medical practice in many Asian countries. But what exactly is TCM?

The Simplest Definition

Traditional Chinese Medicine is all about balance. It’s also a holistic approach, treating the mind, body and spirit as intertwined. Any one part of a complete organism that gets out of balance – in both the physical and meta-physical sense – and illness will occur.

It gets it’s roots in the yinyang theory (which has been absorbed by Taoism). Yinyang theory is again all about balance. It states that all phenomena in the universe can be divided into two opposite yet complementary parts. Some familiar examples might be female/male, cold/hot, moon/sun, light/dark and so forth. In the strictest sense, neither is good or bad, but instead both are parts of the whole. Traditional Chinese Medicine is meant to maintain balance and maintain health in the process.

Qi and Meridians

Qi (pronounced and often written as chi) refers to the vital force of the body. It’s often mis-understood to mean “spirit” or “soul” when it fact, it’s more like an energetic blood that flows through the body. It flows through the body along the meridian lines, as well as through other channels.

The details of qi alone can be a lifetime study, and it’s far beyond the scope of this article. All you really need to know is this: qi is an energy that flows through the body and it’s very important to Chinese medicine.

So What Kinds of Treatments Can I Expect from Chinese Medicine?

As a holistic therapy, Traditional Chinese Medicine includes a surprising array of treatments. Here are just a few:

Herbal medicine– This includes the use of herbs, roots, mushrooms and other natural products for their medicinal value. Some exotic animal parts and minerals may also be used, some of which are very controversial. There are herbal medicines to treat virtually illness and condition known to medical science, and even some that aren’t.

Acupuncture– This is the practice of inserting needles – very thin ones – into certain points along the body. Traditional acupuncture follows the meridian lines mentioned earlier, but modern practitioners are adding their own spin to their methods. Acupuncture is commonly used for chronic pain, psychological disorders, or other nervous-system disorders. It’s more devout supporters will recommend it for just about anything else, too.

Cupping– Cupping is an unusual form of massage/detoxification. This requires special glass cups which have the air inside heated by a flame or smoke. While still warm inside, they are placed on the back where they then suck up the skin into the cup. Some of the more modern clinic also use cups with pumps installed. Meant to cleanse the body of toxins, it’s not recommended if you plan to go to the beach: it leaves great big red circles all down your back!

Gua sha– Another unusual treatment, gua sha is the process of rubbing the skin with smooth bits of jade, stone, bone or tusk. It’s not a gentle treatment, often resulting in painful bruising or red marks on the skin. It’s believed therapeutic use is quite broad, however, as it is be used for everything from hot weather to cholera. Not a treatment for those with a low pain threshold!

Physical and Breathing exercises – Traditional Chinese Medicine also encourages its practitioners/patients to engage in healthy exercise. For the flow and balance of qi, however, only the right exercises will do. Taichi, qigong, yoga, meditation and martial arts are all considered excellent exercises within Traditional Chinese Medicine, as is meditation and various breathing exercises.

Is Traditional Chinese Medicine Safe?

Traditional Chinese Medicine is… medicine. That means that if used correctly, it can have great therapeutic value. But like any medicine used incorrectly, it can be dangerous. Always consult health care professionals before starting any new treatment.

Traditional Chinese Medicine has the additional hazard of being less regulated. Scams and con artists abound, so it’s as important to check credentials as carefully as any other healthcare professional you see. Also, this lack of regulation means that many Chinese medical practices are largely untested by the scientific community. This means that the therapies can range from beneficial, to useless, or even to harmful. Again, care and common sense should be your guide.

Is Traditional Chinese Medicine for Me?

Put simply: maybe. Between drug recalls, doctor errors, and skyrocketing medical costs, many people are turning to alternative therapies. They can benefit a patient in many ways. For some people, however, it may not be the best choice. For those with serious conditions such as cancer or acute conditions like appendicitis, Western medicine still has a better track record. However, it doesn’t mean these treatments can’t be supplemented with Traditional Chinese Medicine for even greater effect. Ultimately, the choice is up to you and your healthcare plan.

Dampness in The World of Chinese Medicine

Dampness is insidious. It works its way in, silent and sneaky. Before you know it, you’re filled with it, and you can barely get out of your own way!

In Chinese medicine, damp is a term we use for when the fluids of the body aren’t being processed correctly, leading to a buildup that can settle in and make itself at home in pretty much any area of the body. This, in turn, can lead to an a wide array of mental and physical issues.

If dampness invades the entire physical body, it causes weight gain, sluggishness, and a lack of motivation. Think of how you feel on a foggy, rainy day. Now imagine that fogginess and sogginess being inside of you. You would feel heavy, bloated, and slow. You would be more comfortable just sitting around, rather than engaging in movement. Your thoughts might be a bit confused, rather than clear and concise. This is what happens when there is an infestation of damp.

If the dampness attacks specific areas, it leads to heaviness and dullness in whatever part of the body it festers in. If it settles into the head, it can manifest into a sense of heaviness and slow thinking, or into a dull headache that feels as if a band is squeezing the head. This type of headache generally tends to either be stimulated or worsened by damp weather. Dampness in the head can also cause sinus pain, or a stuffy nose. From an emotional standpoint, dampness can muddle the thinking, making it hard to think clearly. In the extreme, it can lead to mental impairment. If damp attacks the digestive system, it can cause vomiting of fluids, diarrhea, or abdominal pain. With internal issues, damp usually transforms into damp-heat. Damp-heat of the intestines causes bloody, painful diarrhea. Damp-heat in the lower burner of the body can bring on sores, painful and burning urination, or a host of other issues. If it is hot and oozy, think damp-heat!

Pain caused by dampness is heavy, usually severe, and stays fixed in one place. Arthritis falls into this category: the pain is concentrated in one place, the afflicted area is stiff and hard to move, and damp weather usually makes it feel worse.

The true evil of dampness is that it is a self-propelling cycle. It weighs you down and resists change. That person who feels sluggish and weighed down could dissipate some of their dampness by moving, but the sluggishness makes the person want to sit still. That lack of movement creates more dampness…and so it continues. Fortunately, acupuncture and herbs are wonderful options for getting rid of this dampness.