Chinese Medicine Basics

Hi Everybody,

Here are a few new ones for you…

CHINESE MEDICINE BASICS- In China, over a 3-5 thousand year period of trial and error, a basic understanding of how the body worked when it was healthy, how it worked when it was sick, and how to restore health to a body that was sick was created. Because the ancient Chinese did not have our level of modern scientific methods, and because they did not like the idea of cutting the body open to study it, they created a unique system of cataloging what was wrong with the body and how to fix it.

Instead of separating the body into systems like we do today (nervous system, circulatory system, urinary system, etc) and treating those systems as though they work independently of the rest of the body, the ancient Chinese categorized the body by functional units, noting specifically that every part of the body was connected to every other part of the body, and that anything you do in one part affects the rest.

Along the way, they noted that certain tell tell signs indicated which functional unit was not working properly. In addition, again by trial and error, they found that certain foods, certain exercises, certain herbs and certain acupuncture points tended to have an ability to correct specific functional abnormalities.

THE ENERGIES- The functional units that the Chinese discovered were Yin Energy, Yang Energy, Qi Energy, Blood, Jing and Fluids. These are used for describing and treating internal diseases and disorders of the body.

Yin Energy is the cooling energy in the body. Yang Energy is the heating energy in the body. Qi Energy is the overall energy of the body. Blood is just like our idea of blood, but also includes the nutritional content of the blood. Jing is your genetics, what you inherited from your parents. And fluids are just that – fluids.

When one of these energies is off, if affects the entire body. Correcting an abnormal energy therefore also affected the entire body. For example, a deficiency of Yin affects the entire body – it is unable to cool off and all aspects of the body speed up and dry the body out. Examples of Yin deficiency include Menopause, Diabetes and Hyperthyroidism. Note that in Western Medicine these are three different diseases, but in Chinese Medicine they can all have the same root cause, and can be treated the same way.

CAUSES OF DISEASE- To the Chinese, there were internal causes of disease (imbalances of the above energies) and external causes of disease. External causes of disease include any kind of extreme environmental condition. For example, if it has been warm for months and all of a sudden it gets cold, your body’s defenses are lowered and you are more prone to invasion by bacteria and viruses. Not only that, but the specific environmental change often determined which invaders you were more susceptible to and what type of illness you came down with. For example, there are Cold Colds, Hot Colds, Damp Colds, Dry Colds and Windy Colds, basically.

If it had been warm and dry and all of a sudden you were exposed to cold and wet weather, you would often end up with a Cold, Damp cold. Your symptoms would be cold symptoms, like chills, feeling cold, not able to get warm, and a runny nose. If the weather was too hot and dry for you, you came down with a Hot & Dry cold – fever, can’t cool off, dry cough, concentrated burning urine, and so on. In other words, in modern terms, which bacteria and viruses can invade and what they do to your body depends on the specific stressor that allowed those particular invaders in. Different stressors lowered different aspects of the immune system allowing invaders to attack in different ways, each way with a different set of signs and symptoms.

Exactly which herbs and which acupuncture points would be useful in each case depends completely on the signs your body is giving off as to what kind of illness you have – hot, cold, dry, damp, windy, or any combination. For this reason, 10 people can go to a Chinese Doctor with the same Western Diagnosis and come out with 10 different treatments. At the same time, 10 different people can go to a Chinese doctor with different Western Diagnosis and all get the same treatment. The treatments are based not on the name of the disease, but the way each individual’s body is responding to the disorder.

Hope this helps,

Dr Matt and Dr Robin (email) (newsletter archives)

This week’s bit of Useless Information: Oldtimers knew that blackberries need a cold snap to set buds on the blackberry canes, so there will be a cold snap when the blackberries bloom, called Blackberry Winter. It comes with a return of a continental polar air mass after the maritime tropical air masses have begun to dominate the weather. In some areas, a late cold snap occurs with the blooming of the locust trees, usually before the dogwoods or the redbuds bloom. So you have Locust Winter, and Redbud Winter happening after the first flush of warm spring days and before Dogwood Winter and Blackberry Winter.

This email is courtesy of Matthew Barnes, D.C. and Robin Barnes, D.C.  Neither this nor any of our emails are intended to be medical advice and should not be taken as such.  They are opinion and are for informational purposes only.  None of the nutrients discussed here are meant to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease.

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