Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a healing system of Eastern medicine developed in China more than 2,000 years ago, incorporating therapies that are in some cases millennia old. One of its guiding principles is to “dispel evil and support the good.” In addition to treating illness, TCM focuses on strengthening the body’s defenses and enhancing its capacity for healing and to maintain health.
Traditional Chinese Medicine encompasses how the human body interacts with all aspects of life and the environment, including the seasons, weather, time of day, our diet and emotional states. It sees the key to health as the harmonious and balanced functioning of body, mind and spirit, and holds that the balance of health depends on the unobstructed flow of qi (pronounced chee) or “life energy” through the body, along pathways known as meridians. Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners see disease as the result of disruptions in the circulation of qi.
Ascribing the healing abilities of TCM to modifying the flow of qi is problematic for many Western scientists and physicians, because qi itself – if it exists – cannot be directly measured, or even detected, through any known means. This has led some in the West to ascribe TCM’s successes to a biochemical mechanism, such as stimulating endorphin production via acupuncture needles to reduce pain.
Several studies have shown that insertion of the needles does indeed stimulate endorphin release in the tissues. At least one study suggests it may work via influencing adenosine and adenosine receptors (adenosine is a molecule is considered by biologists to be life’s “energy currency”). Similar mechanisms may be at work for other TCM techniques such as acupressure, moxibustion and cupping.
In traditional Chinese Medicine, (TCM) The Five Elements Phases correspond to the five elements of nature: Fire, Wood, Earth, Water, and Metal. According to TCM, the organs are interconnected with the fours seasons of the year, tastes, temperatures, and colors, which are all essential to our well-being and health. The Kidney, for example, is very sensitive to damp and cold, Heart conditions many manifest as a “red” complexion and sour is the taste considered good for the health of the Liver. Our interconnectedness is one of the key aspects of the Five Element’s Theory. When we consider TCM as the basis of our health, we are tapping into thousands of years of accumulated knowledge and wisdom which gives us a motivation to proactively care for and maintain our personal health and well-being.
This TCM organ is associated with the spring season and the wood element. Spring is a time of new starts and activities. As an organ system the Liver is a very important body system in TCM as it is deemed to be the body’s energy factory, capable of handling more than 500 regulatory functions that allows the body to adapt and be flexible. In TCM theory, besides neutralizing toxins in the body, the Liver also balances out excess anger. It also controls microcirculation and is where Blood is stored. A healthy Liver means healthy eyes and healthy nails.
In TCM, the heart relates to the fire of summer, and is the season or time of abundance. The heart, according to Chinese philosophy, is where Shen is housed. Shen comprises the psychological, mental, and spiritual aspects of our body. If you have a healthy heart, you also enjoy a joyful countenance and a clear complexion.
The harvest of late summer and the earth all corresponds to the spleen. In TCM, this organ is mainly responsible for digestion. Qi is created from the food we eat. The spleen mixes the Qi with blood and sends it to the heart and lungs. A strong energy, healthy appetite, good muscle tone and good digestion are signs of a healthy Spleen. A weak Spleen will result in fatigue, diarrhea, abdominal distension, phlegm-related conditions, poor digestion, diarrhea, obesity, and edema. The lips and the Spleen are associated with each other. Signs that Spleen energy is out of harmony is if you keep on having dry and pale lips and a dull taste.
The autumn season and the metal element are related to the lungs. Taoist philosophy highly regards this organ system which is evident in Qi Gong, an exercise that promotes vitality and repulses disease through breathing exercises.
From the Air, the Lungs extract the Essence. It then combines it with the Essence from food delivered by the Spleen. These two Essences combine to create vital energy or Qi which is distributed downward into the chest and stomach and outward toward the muscles, extremities, and skin. Traditional Chinese medicine refers to the skin as the “third lung” and a deficient lung Qi is deemed to be the cause of most skin conditions. The body’s first line of defense is the Wei Qi, which is alerted by the Lungs. The Wei Qi gives the body the opportunity to adapt to its environment and repulses infiltrators. The delivery of moisture to all parts of the body is also the responsibility of the Lungs. Strong Lungs guarantee a well functioning metabolism. The Kidneys which is associated with winter and water, is where the seed of continuous regeneration is kept. This seed or essence is called the Jing. In TCM, Jing is the primary essence that we inherited from our parents.
One of the most important organs of the body, the Kidneys is where bone marrow is produced and is responsible for healthy brain function, and strong teeth and bones. The Kidneys control the fluid balance of the body, filtering out waste water from the body. The Lungs send the Qi to the Kidneys. The Lungs also have the function of holding Qi down, which brings about healthy breathing.
The fingernails show very openly characteristics that correspond to the different organs and bodily health. The fingernails regenerates every 6-8 months and shows the onset of illness markers slowly.
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Questions and Answers About Chinese Herbs For Health and More
Chinese herbalism has been continuously refined over thousands of years, to the point it is now more sophisticated in its clinical applications than the pharmacy of western biomedicine. Indications, contra-indications and potential side effects of Chinese herbal medicine are better known than the same aspects of Western pharmaceuticals. So far more people die in America each year from adverse drug reactions than are killed in traffic accidents. Herbal formulas may be taken as tea, concentrated fluid extracts, syrup, tablets, powder, or in combination with food.
Information for Patients Herbal medicine is the main treatment method within Traditional Chinese Medicine(TCM). TCM is perhaps the world’s oldest, continually practiced professional medicine. Its written history stretches back over 2,500 years and its practice is probably much older than that. Although Acupunctue was the first Chinese method of treatment to gain wide acceptance in the West, Chinese herbal medicine is quickly establishing itself as one of the most popular and effective alternative therapies in the West.