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Traditional Chinese Medicine series #2

Posted Jan 24 2010 12:00am

Diagnosis

Qi, Moisture, and Blood circulate within channels that link together all parts of the organism. Health exists when adequate Qi, Moisture, andBlood flow smoothly. Symptoms  as joint pain, headache, anxiety, fatigue, menstrual cramps, high blood pressure, asthma, indigestion, and  cold occur when the circulation is disrupted. All illness is understood as a consequence of either a depletion or a congestion of Qi, Moisture, and Blood. Depletion leads to weakness, lethargy, frequent illness, poor digestion, and inadequate blood flow. Congestion results in aches, tension, tenderness, pain, a distended abdomen, irritability, and swelling.

Three steps to Diagnosis: Look, Touch and Ask

1) Look: different face colors indicate different health status

Pale: Qi deficiency. Usually caused by exhaustion of body energy for a prolong period.

Yellow: Blood deficiency. Anemia is common among people with yellow skin face.

Blue/green: cold inside the body, Qi congestion.

Rose: heat inside the body. Here heat doesn’t refer to the body temperature.

2) Touch: feel the body temperature and pulse

Someone with cold feet and hands means blood circulation isn’t working perfectly. This is a common problem among women. We all tend to be a little deficient in Blood. But if you have not only cold feet, but also lower legs, then the problem is more serious.

Pulse each wrist (sometimes feet too). I don’t know much about this, only experienced doctors can “read” the information through pulses.

3) Doctors will ask you the following things: how you eat, how you sleep and frequency and form of your stool.

One characteristic of TCM is that if you go to see the doctor because you have chest pain, he might not treat your chest pain directly, but treat your body as a whole. This is because according to TCM our body is a mini universe, pains/discomforts are symptoms indicating that our body is out of balance. Through diagnosis doctors will identify source of the unbalance, treat the unbalance and the original pain will disappear once the body goes back to balance.

Treatments

The goal of treatment is to adjust and harmonize Yin and Yang-wet and dry, cold and heat. This is achieved by regulating the QiMoisture, and Blood in the Organ Networks: weak organs are tonified, congested channels are opened, excess is dispersed, tightness is softened, agitation is calmed, heat is cooled, cold is warmed, dryness is moistened, and dampness is drained.

Treatment may incorporate acupuncture, herbal remedies, diet, exercise, and massage. Duration of treatment depends on the nature of the complaint, its severity, and how long it has been present.

Acupuncture

It is a method of accessing the body’s Qi by stimulating points on the body. With acupuncture, the body’s balance can be restored with the insertion of hair thin needles at specific points on channels or “meridians”. These meridians run beneath the skin like flowing rivers to communicate with the body’s major organs. Specific points along particular meridians activate the body’s energy to facilitate healing from the root cause as well as the symptoms. When the person’s meridian energy is restored to balance and harmony, the symptoms of the illness begin to disappear (without treatment of the symptoms).

Herbal remedies.

Western drugs often control symptoms, but do not alter the disease process ( antibiotics eliminate bacteria but do not improve a person’s resistance to infection; diuretics fid excess fluid without improving kidney function). Chinese herbs treat the underlying condition as defined by traditional diagnosis, and rarely cause unwanted side-effects. Just as soil becomes depleted through overuse, so the Qi, Moisture, Blood are eroded by overwork, emotional tension, mental strain, too much or too little exercise, and inadequate diet or rest, impairing the capacity of the Organ Networks to do thier jobs. Since fatigue results from a lack of Qi, herbs that nourish the Qi have an energizing effect. Since blurry vision, restless sleep, and irritability result from depleted BloodBlood-enriching herbs improve vision, sleep, and equanimity. Since dry skin and dehydration arise from insufficient Moisture, herbs that replenish it soften the skin and relieve an otherwise unquenchable thirst.

Chinese herbs are usually combined in formulas to enhance thier properties and actions. Formulas are available in a variety of forms: crude herbs to be boiled into tea, liquid bottled extracts, ground herbs packaged in pills, and powders. Herbs, more like foods than drugs, can suppliment our diet and fortify our constitution as well as prevent or remedy ailments. Sometimes long-term use of herbs is desireable whereas extended use of pharmaceuticals would not be healthy.

Gua Sha

A gentle scraping of the skin surface using the rounded edge of a porcelain spoon or Gua Sha tool to promote the normal circulation of Qi and blood. It often results in the appearance of small red petechiae called “Sha” which typically fade within 2 to 3 days. It is used whenever a patient has pain whether associated with an acute or chronic disorder. More info here.

Moxibustion (Moxa)

Moxa, or mugwort herb, is rolled into a stick or placed at the top end of the needles, then burned to warm the acupuncture points. This stimulates circulation which aids in the smooth flow of Qi and blood. In conjunction with acupuncture can be very effective for many diseases and conditions including back pain, muscle stiffness, headaches, migraines, tendonitis, arthritis, digestive disorders, anxiety, and female health problems such as menstrual cramps, irregular periods, and infertility. More info here.

Massage

It affects the physical body with the network of energy Qi. It is aimed to activate and regulate the network of energy and enhance relaxation that raises the flexibility, eases spasms and straightens the joints. It is assumed that the dearth of free flow of Qi and blood gives rise to pain. The massage causes movement and is a good solution for pain relief. The different techniques are compression, swing, friction, vibration, percussion, pinching and grasping and joint manipulation.

The underlying principle of Chinese Massage Therapy is called jing luo or channels and collaterals. The body has a network of pathways that transport qi and blood so that the external pathogens are avoided and the internal organs are linked with the exterior. If the jing luo is blocked, this causes pain and gives rise to many health problems. So, the massage techniques are intended to affect the jing luo by:

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