How Traditional Chinese Medicine Can Improve Health
As the popular saying goes, prevention is better than cure – and it’s a philosophy that figures prominently in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). The same is true of the principle of self-care – or “Yang Sheng”.
“Unlike Western medicine, which focuses on solving health problems, Chinese medicine focuses on prevention along with healing,” says Katie Brindle, author of Yang Sheng: The Art Of Chinese Self-Healing .
“For example, in Chinese medicine, a poor night’s sleep or thinning hair means the start of a deeper health problem. The principle of Chinese medicine is that if you eliminate small health problems as they arise, you will prevent the bigger ones from happening.
Brindle trained to be a Chinese medicine practitioner after helping her recover from injuries sustained in a car accident.
She says self-care is an important part of this approach to wellness, which involves discovering energy imbalances long before they turn into physical symptoms. “The theory is that you are preventing the imbalance from gaining a foothold in the body and turning into something more serious. Think of it as the way we treat our dental care – we brush our teeth every day to prevent plaque from building up and becoming a problem. “
Energy, flow and balance
Brindle says there are three fundamental principles of the holistic mind-body approach of Chinese medicine. These are: ensuring the free flow of qi (energy) and blood circulation (good circulation is considered a foundation of health); purge and nourish (if the toxicity persists in the body, it causes qi to stagnate, which can eventually lead to physical symptoms and illnesses, so you are working to flush out what you don’t need and nourish the body for it. strengthen), and strengthen the five key organs (Chinese medicine says that poor health will always be linked to one of the five key organs – the liver, heart, spleen, lungs and kidneys – so they must all be balanced).
Brindle thinks Chinese medicine is “good for everything,” but says it works especially well for gynecological and fertility issues, and skin problems. “Depending on the person and the problem, sometimes it’s an instant fix and sometimes it’s a smooth process that unfolds over time,” she says.
And while she is a strong advocate for this approach to supporting your health and well-being, she isn’t suggesting that anyone stop seeing their GP. It is always important to have any symptoms or health problems examined by your GP.
“You should always see a Western GP for everything,” Brindle points out. “In an ideal world, Western and Eastern medicine would work in symbiosis, because they work very well together. “
Here are some of the ways Brindle says Chinese medicine can help support health and wellness …
1. Stress relief through breathing
Brindle says the parasympathetic nervous system, which can help restore calm when you’re stressed, can be indirectly stimulated with the right breathing technique, calming the mind and heartbeat, deeply oxygenating the blood, and overriding emotional negativity.
“Breathing is the antidote to stress,” Brindle says. “Doing slowly and mindfully, deep breathing will also affect the nervous system to relieve stress and anxiety, by triggering the release of neurohormones that inhibit stress-producing hormones and cause relaxation.”
2. Boost your energy by tapping
The ancient Chinese therapy of “Pai Sha,” or tapping with bamboo, can “work wonders” for general well-being, Brindle says. Because proper circulation of qi and blood is a fundamental part of health in Chinese medicine, she explains, when the flow is disturbed or stagnates – due to a sedentary lifestyle, stress, emotional disturbances or injuries – this can lead to various symptoms, including body aches. and aches and pains, atrophy and weakness, lack of energy, skin problems, poor sleep, slow metabolism, lack of coordination and digestive problems.
“Patting the skin daily allows free flow of this very important circulation,” explains Brindle. “In as little as a minute a day, a whole body tap can clear areas of stagnation, promote lymphatic drainage, release tension, and promote smooth circulation of blood and qi throughout the body.”
3. Reduce inflammation and improve sleep through self-massage
The ancient self-massage technique of ‘Gua Sha’ uses a tool with rounded edges to press on the skin. It’s said to be beneficial for inflammation, muscle tension, sleep problems, coughs, and fever, according to Brindle, who says the technique improves microcirculation, helps release beneficial antioxidants and enzymes, and stimulates the circulation of qi and lymphatic drainage.
“Gently encouraging the movement of lymph fluid, which cannot drain on its own, is great for reducing puffiness and congestion and helping the body remove excess waste,” says Brindle. “You can do it anywhere and anytime, through your clothes or directly on the skin, using oil as a lubricant.”
4. Improve overall health with gentle Qigong movements
Qigong – which means “practice of the life force” – involves slow, gentle, and thoughtful movements, combined with breathing and mental engagement.
Qigong fans often believe that it can provide a multitude of general health and wellness benefits. The theory is that Qigong works the muscles and nourishes the organs, but most importantly, it does not tire them – therefore it stimulates oxygen uptake and circulation while the body is relaxed.
“By building your life force on the inside, you’ll see results on the outside,” Brindle explains. “If you are tired, low on energy, in poor shape or just simply out of shape, Qigong is for you. As you do the exercises, you balance the whole body. Just because it’s gentle, don’t underestimate its potency and effectiveness.
Always consult your doctor
While complementary therapies and TCM may be something you want to explore, remember that it’s always best to have your GP checked for any symptoms or health concerns.