Updated: May 9
Staying healthy with Traditional Chinese Medicine
As a clinic we share a lot of information across about Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and its many benefits in supporting your system when you are unwell.
Today let’s talk about keeping your system healthy!
A little bit of history...
Did you know when we look back to 16th century China the TCM doctor of the time would be paid only if the household remained healthy? If the patient / client lived a healthy and ill free life the doctor of the household would be paid the normal monthly retainer. Should the patient become ill then the doctor would continue to care for the patient however payment would cease until health resumed! This focused the care on prevention of disease and maintenance of good health rather than symptom fixing.
“To cure disease is like waiting until one is thirsty before digging a well” Li Shizhen
How we can use this principle today...
So, take this opportunity to stop and reflect on what you are doing for yourself to maintain good health. Keeping in mind that our health is impacted by more than just the food we consume and the energy we expend. Observe your environment, your sleep, your work and lifestyle.
Here are some tips from a TCM perspective for how you can maintain good health:
Food and Alcohol -
Rather than a strict diet plan TCM suggests we eat seasonally, catering to our individual needs and balancing energies and flavors. The balance of flavours is of high importance as the organs depend on the various flavours for optimal function. As such if you have excess or deficiency in a flavour the corresponding organ system will be impacted. It is also advised that eating light and easily digestible foods at regular intervals will ensure the spleen and stomach functions efficiently.
As with any form of excess over consumption of Alcohol will certainly negatively impact on health. Excessive alcohol consumption induces dampness and heat accumulation. This can impact of a multitude of health conditions and often abstaining from alcohol is a recommendation for many of my patients particularly those with inflammatory conditions. When considering prevention of ill health and good healthy practices it is important to note that long term consumption of alcohol damages the mind, impairs the stomach, exhausts the blood and Jing and leads to a myriad of other health problems.
We know that sleep is the time for the body to rest, restore and recharge. A healthy sleep routine is important to maintain good yin yang balance. This balance is best achieved when you are going to bed in the evening which is the yin predominate time and waking up during daylight hours which is the yang predominate time. Yin reaches its peak and begins to transform between 11pm and 1am so it is ideal to be experiencing good sleep during this phase. Yang reaches its peak in the afternoon and begins to transform to yin making afternoon nap for 30 mins to support this a healthy habit. Being aware of the change of seasons and adjusting our sleep patterns accordingly is also best for optimal sleep hygiene. In spring and summer when the earth is rich with new growth rising early with the day retiring late, taking advantage of the extended daylight hours is best. Autumn and Winter, we find yin to be dominant and as the days cool and shorten so should our wakeful hours. You can find more detailed information about the importance of sleep in our blog posts 'Supporting your circadian rhythm' and 'Sleep Hygiene'
Work and Rest -
I have written in the past about the importance of movement to health. Physical activity promotes the flow of qi and blood and strengthens the body’s ability to resist disharmony and ill health. This movement must be in balance with each individual needs and listening to your body’s responses to various physical activities will assist you to learn what your body prefers as far as yin or yang activities are concerned. An excess of exercise can impact liver and kidneys. From a work health point of view too much concentration and a heavy workload mentally can impact on the shen (spirit) and damage the liver and spleen. Symptoms of this may include absent mindedness, disturbed sleep or insomnia, gut issues and heart palpitations. In balance with movement and work proper rest is required to relieve the weariness of the body. It is imperative to restore physical and mental strength.
It seems obvious perhaps that the amount and style of clothing we wear should vary in accordance with the temperatures? Clothing, when worn for its original purpose, is designed to protect us from the elements and as such external pathogens that can cause ill health. Interestingly the TCM recommendation is to keep the body as warm in spring as we do in winter however in Autumn, we should allow the body to slowly adjust to the cold and seasonal changes of the impending Winter. This is considered particularly important for children, training the body to better tolerate the cold and enhancing their circulation of blood and qi. It is important to be mindful that within this advice exception should be made for that the elderly or weak of system. These people should always wear more than enough to remain warm, protecting them from external cold, wind, damp invasions.
Living Surroundings -
What does your living space look and feel like? Does it promote health? Do you feel comfortable, creative, energetic and vital when you are in your home? Establishing a home space that has good “feng shui” can make a substantial difference to your experience of health and vitality. Our
surroundings should be peaceful with fresh air, ventilation, natural light and moderate temperature. What steps can you make to create a favourable home environment to promote optimal health?
If you want to have some support to create healthy habits or if you are wondering if Chinese Medicine can help bring you back into balance please get in touch. You can contact us via our online contact form or on (03)59061494