by Samglo Industries
(makers of "Nu-Liver" Chinese herbal formula)
For a moment, forget everything you've ever learned about western science and medicine. Open your mind to a totally different way of thinking, a method that is over 5,000 years old. It's known as Chinese Medicine, a system still used today to treat over one billion (1,000,000,000) people. It is the original "holistic" approach to disease, unlike anything you have ever experienced before. In China, doctors don't just treat illness; they are paid to keep people healthy. What a novel approach! You see, traditional Chinese Medicine believes that everyone is born with the ability to self-heal. To the Chinese, good health is so much more than merely the absence of disease.
So sit back, relax, and let's take a short journey into the basic philosophy of Chinese Medicine, to discover how such an ancient system of healing has withstood the test of time, and, in some cases, is far superior to "modern western medicine."
Long before there were stethoscopes, x-ray machines, and MRI's, there was the universe, a vast and complex system that fascinates man even today. The Chinese view the universe as a harmonious collection of complementary energies. There is no moon without the sun, no day without the night, and no body without the mind. Everything is composed of these two opposite energies that the Chinese call "Yin and Yang." Harmony of the two opposing energies of Yin and Yang brings about good health and good fortune. Disharmony, according to the Chinese, leads to disease, disaster and bad luck.
As there were no books and manuscripts 5,000 years ago, the ancient Chinese used symbols to describe the two energies of Yin and Yang. Yang was designated as hot, bright and moving, and visualized using the symbol of "fire." Yin was just the opposite: cold, dim and quiet, represented by "water." People's characteristics were classified as Yin or Yang, yin people being quiet, reserved and happy to enjoy a peaceful life. Yang persons, on the other hand, were outgoing and extrovert, forceful and dynamic. They had lots of energy and would find it difficult to relax.
This is not to say that Yang persons cannot be quiet and relaxed at some times, while Yin people can, perhaps, show forceful characteristics while at work. Yin and Yang are not static concepts; they are constantly changing. For example, the night (yin) eventually gives way to the day (yang), and the day eventually turns back into night. While people can be both Yin and Yang, it is the sum total of all the Yin and Yang energy in an individual that the Chinese believe needs to be in constant balance for true harmony to take place.
This is the primary and most important concept of Chinese Medicine, and it is the basis of how the Chinese approach healing. For instance, we mentioned that Yin represents cold, while Yang depicts hot. The Chinese believe that an excess or deficiency of either Yin or Yang within each person is the cause of disease. People with too much Yin energy (coldness and dampness) need warming and drying herbs, and the Chinese will use these herbs to strengthen Yang energy. On the other hand, too much Yang (heat) in people may cause symptoms such as fever, inflammation and thirst. These people with too much Yang energy need to be cooled and calmed by using herbs that nourish the Yin. As with people as a whole, the organ systems also contain elements of Yin and Yang energy, so that the liver, for example, could be inflamed ( a deficiency of Yin, or an over-abundance of Yang).
Now that we understand the major concept of Yin and Yang, let's take it one step further. Just as modern western science divides the body into organs, and the organs into cells, the ancient Chinese viewed the body as composed of the following elements: Qi, Blood, Essence and Spirit. Qi (pronounced Chee), is the vital energy that enables us to think, feel and move. Every living thing has energy, or Qi; some have more of it than others. The strength of a person's Qi determines his or her vitality.
Qi, or energy, moves the Blood that nourishes the organs. Without Blood, we would not be alive and there would be no Qi. So there is a direct relationship between Qi and Blood, again, the concept of "balance" in the universe, which the Chinese have had for over twenty-three centuries.
The other two concepts are: Essence (jing) and Spirit (shen). Essence, or jing, is related to the kidneys and the reproductive system. Spirit, or shen, is closely aligned with the changes in the mind, anxiety and the heart. Think of it this way. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, a person who is predisposed to anger and mental torment is more inclined to have a heart attack.
WHY IS THIS CHINESE PHILOSOPHY SO IMPORTANT TO US?
The concepts of Yin, Yang, Blood and Qi are important since they allow Chinese doctors to explain the cause of disease in practical terms by means of examining what is happening to the body. It then enables herbalists to formulate certain herbs specifically designed as tonics. These tonics can be used to balance signs of bodily deficiencies or excesses. Using this reasoning, a Yang (heat) deficient person would be one who is sensitive to the cold, has poor circulation, lacks motivation and has a low sex drive. An over-simplification? Perhaps. But, remember, all living beings have aspects of both Yin and Yang, and it is possible for a person to have a combination of characteristics found in each concept. The Chinese practitioner has been trained to determine the predominant characteristics and patterns that emerge in an individual. Once the major characteristics are corrected, other hidden traits may come to the surface so they may be subsequently treated.
Qi has previously been described as the "flow of vital energy throughout the body." To allow Qi to flow smoothly, Chinese medicine has outlined a series of energy pathways that follow various points on the body's surface. There are 14 major points, also known as meridians, or channels, which connect all structures and all parts of the body including the internal organs, bones, muscles, and skin. These meridians are responsible for conducting the flow of Qi and Blood throughout the body. Understanding these energy pathways is crucial to providing the Chinese Medical Practitioner with the framework needed to pinpoint the cause of the health problem and to diagnose the internal disease. Acupuncture, which has recently gained popularity in the west, uses thin, sterile, stainless steel needles that are placed into strategic points on the skin's surface. It is believed that disease can interrupt the normal flow of energy pathways, and the needles stimulate and alleviate the stagnant flow, thus correcting the internal disease. As long as there is balance and proper Qi flow through the meridians, the Chinese believe the body can avoid disease.
WHICH ELEMENT ARE YOU?
In an attempt to describe natural forces at work around them, the ancient Chinese developed 5 elements that can be applied to everything. Using these elements allows the Chinese a number of ways of defining people and disease. The five elements are: Earth, Metal, Water, Wood and Fire, and each element is further associated with a particular color, taste, smell, body organ and season. As each element is briefly described, see if you can determine which one more closely resembles you.
EARTH persons like the color yellow, summer and damp weather conditions. Earth is the center around which the other elements revolve, and the spleen and stomach are organs in the center of the body. Earth persons are generous, worriers, can be obsessive, have pale, sallow complexions, digestive and bowel problems. They tend to bruise easily.
METAL persons have a fondness for the color white, the fall season and dryness. Since metal is related to the lungs and large intestines, dominant metal persons are prone to lung ailments, colds, asthma,and constipation. Metal is also a cold substance that can lead to insensitivity, selfishness and sadness.
WATER persons like the color black and the winter season. Water is the element of the kidneys and bladder. Dominant water individuals are prone to bladder and back problems, they like the cold weather, and have an affinity for salty taste.
WOOD persons admire the color green and the spring season. Wood is the element of anger and the organs of the liver and gallbladder. Since the liver stores the blood, it is responsible for evenness of temper. Dominant wood persons are prone to high blood pressure, tension in the neck, headaches, and moodiness.
FIRE is the element of heat, the color red, and the summer months. The emotion is joy, and the associated organs are the heart and small intestine. People dominant in this element tend to be happy and born leaders. They are hyperactive, prone to anxiety and are poor sleepers. Since the heart is linked to the soul, a person lacking spiritual dimension may be at risk from heart disease.
UNIQUE WAYS TO EXAMINE THE BODY
In western medicine, doctors record blood pressure and body temperature as ways to confirm or establish their diagnosis of disease. Traditional Chinese medicine has its own system of listening, observing and palpation. Instead of taking blood pressure, the Chinese examine the tongue; instead of taking the temperature, the Chinese palpate the pulses.
EXAMINATION OF THE TONGUE
Tongue diagnosis dates back to the Shang Dynasty that began c1600 BC. To the Chinese, the tongue provides an amazing amount of information about existing illness and past and future health. Because it is considered the only internal organ that can be seen from the outside, for the Chinese practitioner, it is like seeing an X-ray of the patient. The tongue is examined for color, size, shape, cracks, and coating. Here is an exercise to do right now. Go to a mirror and gently, but not forcibly, stick out your tongue. Record what you see. What is its color? Is there a thin or thick coating on your tongue? Are there cracks through the center or sides of the tongue?
Here is a guide to help you determine the results of your tongue examination. Obviously, every tongue is different, but the Chinese have discovered pathology consistent with certain recurring tongue patterns. A healthy tongue is usually pink and moist with a clear or thin white coating through which the tongue can be seen. A red tongue signifies heat and the location of the redness outlines the area of the body where the heat is located. The coating can reveal dampness or phlegm in the body, since the relative moistness or dryness of the tongue is a good indicator of Yin or Yang dominance. Certain areas of the tongue correspond to internal organs of the body. People known to have liver problems, for example, are found, many times, to have teeth marks associated with the outer margins of their tongues (representing the area of the liver). A vertical crack down the center of the tongue shows up as a problem with the stomach. If the crack extends to the tip of the tongue, especially if there is a forking, or split at the end, there will usually be emotional problems related to the heart.
Since everything is interconnected, the Chinese practitioner has discovered that the quality, depth and speed of the pulse can shed further light on the health of the individual. In Classical Chinese, there are found to be 6 different pulses at each wrist. Each of these pulses represents a different organ. For example, a Chinese practitioner would be able to palpate the heart, liver and kidney (yin) on the left wrist, while palpating the spleen, kidney (yang) and lung on the right wrist. Before you dismiss this technique as being nonsense, please remember that Chinese Medicine is a totally different way of viewing the body, and is much older medicine than the western view. In fact, the oldest known book to focus specifically on pulse diagnosis is entitled "The Pulse Classic," by Dr. Wang Shu-He, which dates back to the first century A.D.
Examination of the pulse is an art that takes even skilled practitioners a lifetime to master. However, there are some pulse qualities that are really quite easy to learn, such as pulse speed, depth of pulses and fullness. Here are some guidelines to follow if you would like to try feeling your own pulse (just for fun, of course). Try palpating your pulse and record your findings. In general, a healthy pulse is easily felt at the inside of the wrist where the hand and arm meet. It is a smooth pulse with a steady rhythm. The pulse does vary according to age and fitness, and usually slows down as one gets older. A muscular man has a more forceful pulse than a thin woman. The pulse is not considered fully developed in children under the age of seven years old.
A superficial pulse is felt while gently palpating the area, while a deep pulse is located by pressing down until the pulse almost disappears. On average ..
A slow pulse indicates a cold condition, whereas a fast pulse signifies heat.
A superficial pulse indicates acute conditions, whereas a deep pulse characterizes an internal chronic condition.
A full pulse characterizes an excess, while a thin pulse is seen as a deficiency.
Some people display combinations of pulse characteristics. For instance, a slow and thin pulse could signify a cold deficiency, whereas a fast, full and deep pulse might represent an excess of internal heat.
When analyzing medical conditions, it is important to keep the following in mind: The traditional Chinese practitioner does not attempt to make a definitive diagnosis on just one indication alone. Rather, the diagnosis consists of a combination of listening, observing, interrogation, and palpation until predominant characteristics emerge to form a pattern. Only then will the Chinese Medicine doctor attempt herbal preparations as remedial measures.
CHINESE HERBAL MEDICINE---A HEALING ART
The oldest medical book to mention herbs was known as "Huang Di Nei Jing", which consisted of 28 substances and 12 prescriptions. The book was a compendium of medical theory and practice recalling the life of the Yellow Emperor who lived around circa 4700BC. The actual first recorded medical curriculum using herbs was at the Imperial University during the Chin dynasty (265AD-420 AD). Published in 659AD, the "Newly Revised Materia Medica" contained the first illustrated text of herbs that consisted of 844 entries. The list of herbs has grown exponentially since then, and, today, there are over 5800 entries documented in the "Encyclopedia of Traditional Chinese Medicinal Substances."
Chinese medicine and the use of Chinese herbs have proved safe and effective when administered correctly. It is a powerful tool in the maintenance of good health and the remedy of disease. Through generations of systematic research on the use and characteristics of herbs, the actions of individual herbs are now well understood by the Chinese. This has allowed them to develop a unique system of combining the herbs into special formulas. Formulas create a synergistic effect, a method by which combining the individual herbs increases their actions. Formulas are now available in a variety of forms such as teas, extracts, pills and powders.
Although medicinal plants have both Yin and Yang aspects to them, herbs are generally classified as to their predominant quality. Some herbs are Yang, that is, they have a heating quality and tend to raise the metabolism. Sweet herbs are warming and have a Yang effect, while herbs that cool and relieve inflammation generally have bitter, salty or sour tastes. Since several diseases can have both a Yin and Yang imbalance, herbalists will generally use several herbs to rebalance both Yin and Yang according to the areas of the body involved.
In "NU-LIVER", our Chinese herbal formulation for Hepatitis C, our certified herbalist has prepared a proprietary blend of 15 balanced Chinese herbs that support both Yin and Yang effects, while at the same time acting to defeat the viral damage caused by the disease.