Oriental Medicine

Oriental Medicine is a comprehensive medical system that has been used to diagnose, treat, and prevent illnesses for over 3000 years. It includes not only acupuncture, but also Chinese herbs, bodywork (Tuina), heat therapy, moxibustion, cupping, dietary therapy, and exercise.

Oriental Medicine strengthens one physically, psychologically and emotionally to help prevent disease, control pain, soothe and alleviate chronic conditions, and enhance the quality and longevity of life. Doctors of Oriental Medicine treat the root cause of an illness in addition to treating its associated symptoms.

The goal is to maintain or restore harmony and balance in all parts of the human being and also between the whole human being and the
surrounding environment.

Wholeness = acupuncture/tuina + herbs + diet + exercise

Oriental medicine is a system of preserving health and curing disease that treats the mind/body/spirit as a whole. Its goal is to maintain or restore harmony and balance in all parts of the human being and also between the human being and the surrounding environment.

Each of Oriental medicine’s healing arts -- from dietary therapy and exercise/meditation to acupuncture and herbs -- is designed to be integrated into daily life. Together, they offer the opportunity to live in harmony and to maintain wholeness.

This dynamic balance is known as Yin/Yang and is the ongoing process of health or of dis-ease if there is an imbalance. Each symptom of Yin/Yang disharmony tells the Doctor of Oriental Medicine what is going on in the inner workings of the patient’s body. Once a disharmony is identified, the Oriental medicine practitioner addresses the entire mind/body/spirit to rebalance Yin/Yang thus restoring harmony to the whole person.

Some Terms:

YIN - Literally translated as "the shady side of the mountain", Yin is one of the two fundamental polar forces that organize the universe. Yin manifests as substance, darkness, and coldness. It includes the material substance of the body, which includes tissue, blood, fluid, and internal secretions. The lack of Yin energy manifests as Heat and Dryness.

The Yin Organs (Spleen, Lungs, Heart, Kidneys, and Liver) store the Vital Substances (Qi, Blood, Fluids, Jing, Shen. Jin-Ye).

YANG - Literally translated as "the sunny side of the mountain", Yang is one of the two fundamental polar forces that organize the universe. Yang manifests as form, light, warmth, and activity. It includes the functional activity of the body, and the generation of metabolic heat. The lack of Yang energy manifests in Cold and Dampness.

The Yang Organs transform matter, govern the digestion of food and discharge waste. The Yang Organs are the Gall Bladder (receives and releases bile), the Small Intestines (receives and absorbs food product), the Stomach (receives, ripens, and transforms food and fluids), the Large Intestines (absorbs water and excretes solid waste), and the Bladder (receives and releases liquid waste).

QI- the basic energy or life/vital force that pulses through everything in the universe. Within each person, it warms the body, retains the body’s fluids and organs, fuels the transformation of food into nutrients, blood, and other substances, protects the body from disease and empowers movement (including physical movement, the circulatory system, thinking, and growth).

We are all born with QI. We can preserve, create or deplete it by the air we breathe, the food we eat, the fluids we drink, and the way in which we live.

SHEN - or spirit. Shen is consciousness, thoughts, emotions, and senses that make us uniquely human.

JING - is often translated as Essence, the fluid that nurtures growth and development. We inherit our prenatal Jing from our parents. Prenatal Jing defines our constitution and what our strengths and weaknesses regarding health issues may be. Postnatal Jing is received from food and fluids and the surplus can be used to keep us from consuming our Prenatal Jing.

The best way to positively affect one's Essence is by striving for balance in life’s activities: Balance between work and rest, high quality balanced diet, and balance in sexual activity. Any irregularity in these fields will diminish Essence. A direct way to positively influence Essence is through breathing exercises, Tai Ji Quan and Qi Gong.

XUE - commonly translated as blood but is much more. It moves along the channels in the body were QI flows. It nourishes the Organ Systems that produce and regulate QI.

JIN-YE - the Chinese word for all fluids other than Xue/Blood, including sweat, urine, mucus, saliva, bile and gastric acid.

Roots Of Disharmony - Causes of Disease in Oriental Medicine

Oriental medicine focuses on several categories of influences that produce disharmony. The Six Pernicious Influences and The Seven Emotions are the two main classifications.

External Causes of Disease: Six Pernicious Influences

These are external climate forces that can invade the body and create disharmony in the mind/body/spirit. For example, if you are exposed to Excess Heat or Cold or Wind for a long time, or if you are exposed to these influences when you body is already weak, you may develop an illness. Keeping the patient strong and healthy can prevent these external influences from overpowering the body’s natural protection against disease.

Wind animates the body, stirring it from repose into motion just as wind moves the leaves of a tree. When Wind enters the body, it is usually joined to another influence such as Cold. If the body is infiltrated by Wind, the first symptoms usually appear on the skin, in the lungs, or on the face. Tics, twitches, fear of drafts, headaches, stuffed-up nose, and stiff neck are symptoms.

When hypothermia hits a skier or a mountain climber, muscle control fades, motion becomes slow and awkward, fatigue sets in and the body shuts down. Cold saps the body’s energy and makes movements cumbersome. The tongue becomes pale; the pulse is slow. You may develop a dislike of cold and feel like sleeping in a curled-up position. External cold can penetrate the body of those who live or work in cold conditions or cannot dress properly. It causes QI stagnation and results in contraction of muscles and joints, more chills than fever, and body aches. If there is pain, it is eased by warmth.

Heat feels like you have been playing tennis for two hours in the blazing sun. You are weary and at the same time, strangely cranked up. You can’t stop talking about the game, but your words stick in your mouth. You don’t feel like yourself until you cool down and quench your thirst. Heat disorders cause overactive Yang functions or insufficient Yin functions. They are generally associated with bodily heat, a red face, hyperactivity, fever, thirst for cold liquids, and a rapid pulse. Symptoms include carbuncles and boils, dry mouth and thirst.

Think about what happens to your backyard when it rains for two days. It becomes soggy and water collects in stagnant pools. That is how Dampness affects the body. Damp pain is heavy and blocks the flow of life energy. Exposure to damp weather, wearing wet clothes, a humid environment can cause External Dampness to invade. When External Dampness invades, it enters the Channels and causes stiff joints and heavy limbs. Depending on the Organ involved, it can cause upset stomach, nausea, lack of appetite, a swollen abdomen, diarrhea, mucus, coughing, and erratic behavior.

Dryness is a frequent partner with Heat; just think about the cracked bottom of a dried-up riverbed. Heat creates redness and warmth, and Dryness creates evaporation and dehydration. External Dryness invading the body may create respiratory problems such as asthmatic breathing and a dry cough, acute pains and fever, dry skin or dry mouth. Attacks are usually limited to the respiratory tract or the skin.

This feels like the humid, oppressive weather that creates the dog days of August. It attacks the body after exposure to extreme heat and causes a sudden high fever and total lethargy. It is always an external influence and often arises along with dampness. may combine with external pathogenic factors such as Wind or Damp.

Internal Causes of Disease: The Seven Emotions

While Western medicine also recognizes the interaction between body and emotions, it does so in a completely different way than Oriental medicine. Western medicine tends to consider the influence of the emotions on the organs as having a secondary or excitatory role rather than being a primary causative factor of disease. In Oriental medicine, emotions are as real a source of disharmony in the mind/body/spirit as the External Pernicious Influences. To the Oriental practitioner a disease is never dismissed as being all in your head. There is no separation between the body and the emotions, between the body and the spirit, or between the body and the forces that shape the quality of daily life. Oriental medicine sees the emotions as an integral and inseparable part of the energetic of the internal organs, and a potential primary cause of disease.

The emotions are: Joy, Anger, Sadness and Grief, Worry/Pensiveness, Fear and Fright.

An Excess or Deficiency of any emotion is indicative of disharmony in the mind and spirit, and it alerts the Oriental medicine practitioner to disharmonies in Organ Systems as well.

The Heart stores the Shen and unharmonious emotions can cause sleeplessness, muddled thinking, inappropriate crying or laughing and hysteria. Excess or Deficient joy especially impacts the Heart. In general, joy is beneficial. Being at peace and filled with happiness calms the QI. Pleasure/moderate joy and excitement are other forms. What can damage is overexcitement or an abnormal degree of mental stimulation, both forms of excessive joy. It is not, however, an important or common cause of Heart disharmonies.

The Liver is responsible for the movement of energy, Blood and emotions. It is associated with anger. If the Liver energy is stuck, the emotions become suppressed which in turn, represses the LIver energy. Anger includes several related emotions: resentment, irritability, frustration, rage, indignation, animosity and bitterness. Sulking and depression are also forms of anger, frustration lies between anger and depression.

Sadness and grief, which are associated but distinct states, take their toll on the Lungs. When the Lungs are overcome by sadness and grief, they are weakened, and this leads to tiredness, breathlessness, depression or crying.

Pensiveness means over thinking, excessive mental work and studying. This is very common in our society, both in university students and people in intellectual professions, and the problem is compounded if people eat quickly at work or discuss work while eating. Obsessive thinking fraught with concern, brooding and mental worry are also problems. All these forms of pensiveness and worry affect the Spleen, bringing an accumulation of Dampness.

Fear, which is a sustained, inner emotion and Fright, which is a reactive, more external emotion, interfere with the smooth functioning of the Kidneys.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the emotions are not "good" or "bad", they simply are part of being human and alive. There are good reasons to feel fear at times, to be angry, to worry, to feel joy, to feel grief and sadness. These feelings are indicators of our personal and collective relationship with the world and ourselves. In optimal health, our emotions flow freely, are acknowledged, and responded to appropriately, and then we move on. Disharmony and illness only arise when one becomes stuck in an emotion or tries to ignore or suppress them.

Other Causes of Disease

Weak Constitution - every person is born with a certain constitution, which is dependent on the parents’ health in general, and their health at time of conception. It can also depend on the mother’s health during pregnancy.

Over-exertion - this is a common cause of disease in Western societies. A proper balance between work, exercise and rest is essential to health. Whenever we work or exercise, we are using up QI; whenever we rest, QI is restored.

Poor Diet - A great many discoveries have been made in recent years to completely revolutionize our ideas on diet. People are more aware of eating organic foods that are close to nature verses foods that contain pesticides, chemicals in the form of preservatives, flavorings, colorings, etc. or foods that have drugs such as hormones or antibiotics.

Other dietary issues are malnutrition, over-eating, excess consumption of ‘cold-energy’ foods (salads, ice cream, iced drinks, fruit), sweet foods and sugar, or ‘hot energy’ and spicy foods (alcohol, lamb, beef, certain spices).

Trauma - this refers to physical traumas whether old or new.

Other Oriental Medicine

Bodywork - Tuina, which translates to “push pull,” is a massage technique that moves Qi and Blood in various parts of the body to relieve pain and tension, facilitate healing, and prevent further injury. Some conditions that are helped by Tuina include shoulder problems, joint pain, back, hip, and ankle disorders. Tuina is appropriate for acute or chronic pain.

Heat Therapy - The TDP lamp is a new type of therapeutic and health device and its functions are to promote metabolism, regulate physiological deficiency, diminish inflammation, and ease pain. The TDP lamp is different from conventional heat lamps, infrared lamps and microwave therapeutic devices. It features a round plate coated with a mineral clay formation consisting of 33 earth elements essential to the human body. When activated, this mineral plate emits a special band of far-infrared waves ranging from 2 to 25 microns in wavelength, that coincide with the wavelengths and intensity of the electromagnetic radiation emanating from the human body. As a result, the TDP far-infrared waves are readily absorbed.
Effects of far-infrared waves on the human body include the rejuvenation of cells, promotion of blood circulation, lymphatic system improvement, and cellular toxicity reduction.

Moxibustion - The burning of the herb moxa over channel points and certain areas of the body. It is used to warm, tonify, and stimulate. It also induces the smooth flow of the Qi and blood, prevents diseases and preserves health. Doing moxa regularly on specific acupuncture points can promote strength and longevity.

Cupping - A method of stimulating acupuncture points and areas of the body by applying suction with a glass cup in which a partial vacuum has been created through heat or suction. Cupping brings blood and energy to the surface to relieve stagnation and pain.

Diet and Exercise - Are included in Lifestyle changes. To achieve and maintain health, certain changes in diet and exercise may need to be made. These changes can facilitate faster healing, maintain benefits and prevent possible disharmonies.