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Traditional Chinese Perspective

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Balance and harmony are the basis for well being and health. How we achieve this harmony, from a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective, is by knowing our individual bodies and our experience of health..

Balance and harmony are the basis for well being and health.

How we achieve this harmony, from a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective, is by knowing our individual bodies and our experience of health.

The Chinese concept of qi is often misunderstood as energy that flows through the body like electricity flows through a wire. In fact, qi is the total vital force of everything.

Qi has various properties; for example, the solid and material substance of the body is yin, while the constant motion and intangible movement of life is yang.

Within the body it has different properties. For example, our circulating qi creates and directs blood, while blood nourishes and supports mental activity.

Environmental forces have an impact on our physical (and emotional) well-being. Excesses of six forces (dampness, wind, summer heat, dryness, cold and fire) are said to overwhelm the body, causing a response that creates an imbalance. For instance, when we are hot, we seek shade and cool food and beverages. However, when "heat" invades the body and metabolic changes occur, we need to alter the body’s reaction.

Dampness arises internally when your body is exhausted. This causes phlegm, loose stools, exhaustion and emotional heaviness and defeat. The traditional Chinese medical concept of wind creates unwanted movement in the body, like dizziness, convulsions, wandering pain and/or itchy skin. Specific herbs are said to eliminate these excesses.

The Eight Principles form one of the cornerstones upon which TCM is built. These fundamental principles create a flexible diagnostic system. These principles are interior/exterior, cold and heat, emptiness and fullness and yin/yang.

External disease states are flu, bacterial infections and other viral conditions. If the body’s resistance is low (emptiness), the infection penetrates deeply into the body. As the infection becomes stronger, "fullness" arises.

Where the West Goes Wrong

To underscore the differences between traditional Chinese medicine and Western medicine, we should look at the differences in treatment between the two systems.

Gastrointestinal (stomach, digestive and intestinal) problems represent the largest block of complaints from North Americans. Yet Western medicine offers only three methods of treatment, other than surgery. These are anti-ulcer drugs, over-the-counter remedies to neutralize stomach acid and drugs that produce more mucus.

These products work by either blocking the production of stomach acid or by producing more mucus in the gastrointestinal tract to create a barrier. This only masks the irritation and pain of hydrochloric acid on the stomach lining. In contrast, Chinese medicine offers dozens of herbal formulas to enhance the digestive system’s normal function. Instead of blocking symptoms, it concentrates on the root cause so that the symptoms will not reappear. In fact, there are dozens and dozens of separate and distinct formulas that affect various aspects of digestive functions.

In Chinese medicine, there are no single standard remedies, just as there is no single standard "person."

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