“Without circulation the body starves.”
Chinese medicine treats disease by altering the body’s internal energies. Traditional Chinese medicine is based on principles which have been evolving for the last 6000 years. Its theoretical base is the adjustment of chi, or the flow of life energy. Chi flows through the body via the system of ‘main and collateral channels’ of the body.
Certain herbs contain natural energetic substances whose essence gently corrects underlying deficiencies. While many of these botanical substances have been isolated and analyzed scientifically, it is their synergy which produces their potent effects.
History of Traditional Chinese Medicine
Shen Nung, the leader of an ancient Chinese clan and father of agriculture, took it upon himself to test, one by one, hundreds of different plants to discover their nutritional and medicinal properties. Thus began the development of herbal medicine.
Over the millennia, Chinese have tested plants for their properties of inducing cold, heat, warmth, and coolness. They have studied the medicinal effects of plants on parts of the body, and tested them to determine their effectiveness, toxicity, lethal dose, etc. Having long studied natural phenomena, the addition of herbal knowledge strengthened Chinese wisdom and increased the applications of natural principles in Chinese medicine.
The same principles described above are applied to assess the person’s living environment, life rhythms, the food preferences, personal relationships, language, and gestures, as a tool to understand his illness, and suggest improvements in various areas. Attainment of equilibrium in the body’s flow of energy is the ultimate guiding principle of Chinese medical treatment.
Categorizing Traditional Chinese Medicine
Chinese Medicine is All About Chi
Chinese medicine is about Chi – the flow of energy. Our bodies are nourished by, cleansed by and dependent on this flow. Think of Chi as a general term for all your body’s energies – electrical, chemical, magnetic, and radiant.
This Chi (energy) must flow smoothly and abundantly in order for health and vitality. Chi works together with blood to provide life energy and nourish the body. When Chi and blood are flowing well, we are healthy. When blood or Chi are weak or stuck, we become ill. Chi is yang. Blood is yin.
Yin and Yang
The Chinese have a unique system of categorizing and treating illnesses which is very different than Western medicine. Healing is based on balancing the two life energies, yin and yang. Yin, the material of which all living things are made, is considered to be female and possess the receding aspects of nature. Yang, the life functions of living things, is considered to be masculine and possess the active, advancing aspects of nature. Yin and yang coexist in all people.
External Causes of Disease
Things that happen outside the body can affect its health. Changes in weather and seasons influence the body’s well-being. Chinese consider six external disease-causing factors in their assessment and treatment of patients. These are:
- Wind (feng)
- Cold (han)
- External heat (shu)
- Internal heat (huo)
- Dryness (tsao)
- Moisture (shih)
Internal Causes of Disease
Emotions, both positive and negative, can also affect health if experienced in excess. The Chinese believe that the six external factors interact with the seven internal emotions to cause disease. The internal causes are:
Latent Phenomena (Tsang Hsiang) – The Five Centers of the Body
The Chinese describe the functions of living beings in terms of five centers in the body. This paradigm is referred to as the latent phenomena (tsang hsiang).
- Heart (Hsin)
Refers to the ‘command center’ of the body, manifest as consciousness and intelligence
- Lungs (Fei)
Regulates various intrinsic functions of the body and maintains communication and control of the organism
- Liver (Kan)
The mechanism for emotional response to life and the action of organs
- Spleen (Pi)
Regulates the distribution of nutrition throughout the body and the metabolism bringing vitality to the physical body
- Kidneys (Shen)Refers to the system for regulating the storage of nutrition and the use of energyThese theoretical models, Chi, Yin and Yang, internal and external causes of disease, and latent phenomena are combined and used to analyze a person’s constitution and illness. An assessment of physical and psychological factors helps the practitioner understand where the balance has been lost. Based on this analysis, the practitioner recommends a method to correct the imbalance in a holistic way.Traditional Chinese medicine treats the whole person, not just the illness nor just a particular part or system of the body. In Chinese medical thinking, illness is the outward manifestation of an imbalance that exists in the entire person.
By way of a thorough health assessment at Family Herbal Clinic, your practitioner of Chinese medicine will analyze your body’s individual disharmonies and develop an intricate prescription to restore your delicate internal equilibrium. We will create a harmonizing formula designed precisely for you. Please contact the clinic to book your appointment.