The Five Elements And Its Role In Chinese Nutritional Therapy

We’ve heard them all. “Avoid drinking more than two cups of coffee per day.” “Eat garlic because it is good for you,” “Eat 5-8 servings a day of …”, or “drink milk to maintain healthy bones.” Too many rules, guidelines, and phrases! What’s enough? What is too much? What’s right? It’s enough to cause anxiety and confusion.

TCM or Traditional Chinese Medicine studies food and its effects on your health in an entirely different way, without the involvement of numerical guidelines. TCM nutritional therapy concerns itself with the qualities/attributes of food and how food can be used as medicine in order to treat and prevent illness, and to maintain health.

Everything in TCM is viewed from the perspective of yin and yang with the goal of attaining total balance between these two concepts. To maintain and achieve that balance, food is used as medicine by simply removing or adding certain kinds of food from one’s diet. The internal organs and the body are also related with the five elements, five colors and five seasons: white (metal), water (blue/black), wood (green), fire (red), and earth (yellow). Food also follows the five elements theory and is grouped into five main categories, nature, and taste or flavor.

The metal element is associated with the season of autumn and the hot and pungent flavor. The skin, large intestine, and lungs are “Metal” organs. Consuming pungent foods such as ginger, onions, garlic, and peppers will typically cause a person to sweat. Include pungent foods into your diet if you want to boost speed digestion and appetite.

The water element is associated with winter and the salty taste. This element is associated with the bladder and kidney organs. Overconsumption of watery and salt foods such as pickles, watermelon, olives, soy sauce, mung and kidney beans, mushrooms, or miso will result in hunger, thirst, anxiety, and water retention. We trend to eat a lot of water element foods in winter.

The wood element dominates during spring. This element is associated with the gallbladder and liver and has a detoxifying effect on the body especially if one eats foods such as green lentils, green veggies, citrus fruits, apples, wheat, rye, and oats. For instance, when one takes a cup of warm water with lemon juice after a rich heavy meal, it can help process fats in the body.

The fire element is related to summer time. It’s associated with the small intestine and heart and with the bitter taste. Bitter flavored foods have a laxative and cooling quality and are usually stimulating. Overconsumption of fire/bitter things and foods such as cigarettes, green tea, corn, plain chocolate, black tea and black coffee can dehydrate the body, have a negative impact on the nervous systems and eventually weaken the digestive systems and heart.

In the late summer, the earth element dominates. It is related to the spleen and stomach and with the sweet flavor/taste. This element has a nourishing quality. In Chinese nutritional therapy, the mouth is deemed to be the door to the abdomen, during times of stress, we usually tend to consume sweet tasting foods to reduce that stress. Sweet foods such as cheese, sweet fruit, breads, pasta, and refined sugar all have phlegm-producing, lethargic, and sedating qualities. Overconsumption of these foods can result in bloating and interfere with digestion.

After reading this article, try to evaluate your eating habits. For instance, do you crave salty or sweet sweets foods or do you use too much spice? Do you need coffee to wake up? What flavor or taste do you prefer more than others? This will give a clue of where you’re out of balance.

Here are some tips you should consider:

• Balance all five tastes and colors on your meal

• Chew your food well

• Sit down when eating your meal

• Be sure to consume foods appropriate for the current season.

Thrive Wellness Center is an acupuncture clinic in Boca Raton, FL providing Chinese medicine treatments for many health conditions.

The Holistic Approach Of Oriental Medicine Towards Women’s Health

For thousands of years, Oriental medicine has understood women’s health, and the issues associated with it. Today, this comprehensive approach to well-being and health is remarkably effective in the treatment of women’s health problems including all forms of menstrual-related problems like depression, mood swings, headaches, and cramping, and all types of reproductive and post-reproductive problems such as post-partum depression, childbirth-related problems among many others.

One-of-a-kind Bodies

The basic approach of Oriental medicine towards maintenance of health and prevention of disease is to consider the uniqueness of each person, and according to this approach, there is no such thing as a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to a health problem. There are, however, Chinese herbal remedies that are designed to treat the specific needs of young women, and herbal formulas that are designed to specifically target issues affecting women in their post-reproductive years.

One-of-a-kind Problems

Women have their own unique reproductive systems that are susceptible to specific types of health problems. For instance, as a group, women are more prone to kidney-related illnesses and conditions than men: Oriental medicine is ferociously effectively in addressing these problems through a combination of Chinese nutritional therapy, Chi Kung or Qi gong, acupressure, acupuncture, and Chinese medical herbs. All these are natural effective therapies that come with zero side effects.

The Power of Oriental Medicine

An example of Oriental medicine’s uncompromising effectiveness in helping improve women’s health can be seen in the case of a 33 year old woman whose menstrual period prematurely ceased. Using its own unique diagnostic techniques, Oriental medicine can determine exactly why her menstruation stopped and then avail of its own unique therapeutic strategies in order to restore her menstrual cycle.

A Better Quality of Life

Oriental medicine can help women maintain and regain their health by tackling their own unique health problems in a safe, effective and natural way.

Dr. Vickery is a licensed acupuncturist in Tarzana, CA., and the founder and clinical director of Vickery Health and Wellness.

The Special Healing Abilities Of Tui Na Therapy

The popularity of Tui Na massage has been steadily rising in the West. While it has been around in Europe for three decades, it is only now these past ten years that its use has started to spread rapidly.

During the 1990’s many Europeans went to China to learn acupuncture at the important hospitals in Chengdu, Shanghai, and Beijing. This was the first time they were exposed to Tuina.

The newness of their experiences gave some of the top European practitioners the chance to witness patients enter into the Tuina department in poor health and leaving within the same week or in the same day all well and healthy. For most western Shiatsu practitioners in the West at that time, this would have taken them months to resolve. As tui na produced immediate results and was growing rapidly in popularity, the Tui Na department was the most fun to be in.

Tui Na has the ability to normalize all the systems of the body, but especially the endocrine system. It promotes the flow of Qi and blood and brings the body and mind together as one; when these two start to separate, disease then start to arise.

Just a few people in the West really understand what Tui Na is and in order to understand this system one needs to practice or receive it. Herbalists, acupuncturists, shiatsu therapists, and physiotherapists diagnose and treat disease but they will never understand what tui na is unless they integrate it into their physical therapy system.

For most Tui Na practitioners the physical interaction/hands-on approach towards the patient is more satisfying than using herbal medicine or sticking needles into the skin of people. If you also happen to have a solid background in the martial arts, this will give you certain advantages when you use Tui Na.

Some practitioners believe that there is a natural continuity or flow, or from one discipline to the other when performing tuina. It requires patience, relaxation, internal force, timing, good posture, and focus among other things.

Generally speaking, Tui Na possesses these following special qualities:

o Relieving anxiety
o Treating muscle spasm and promoting muscle relaxation
o Encouraging mental relaxation
o Preventing and treating injury
o Increasing Blood and Qi flow
o Increasing lymphatic drainage
o Improving removal of cellular waste
o Raising awareness of the body
o Enhancing flexibility and posture

All these can be achieved by using a blend of both Eastern and Western tools of diagnosis. This requires knowledge of Traditional Chinese medicine, pathology, physiology, anatomy, and body mechanics ultimately leading to a delivery of manipulations and techniques that are distinctly Tui Na.

In China, Tui Na is perhaps the most difficult of all the disciplines to master as a practitioner although when one masters it the results can be incredible.

Tui na is a rewarding and marvelous experience, regardless of whether you are giving or receiving the therapy.

It progresses into an ever more satisfying vocation for the practitioner. While any practitioner can become competent in the methods within a short period of time, realizing one’s own potential is in the field of passion, dedication, and time spent in good effort.

Most people who have gotten a general Tui Na therapy have become hooked. Actually many of them make it a point to have the treatment every day less to boost their health reasons, more because it makes them feel really good.

For people getting treatment for a specific condition, they will be surprised at how fast the treatment Tui Na spurs recovery.

In some instances, certain aspects of the therapy may be uncomfortable, but in traumatizing the body in a controlled manner, the natural healing ability of the body is set in motion.

Ni Nan Gilbert is a licensed acupuncturist in Bellmore, NY with certification in Chinese Herbology and over 16 years experience in traditional Chinese medicine.

The Advantages Of Combining Various Oriental Bodywork Therapies Into Your Lifestyle

Although we can never be certain where the word “massage” came from, what we know for sure is that massage therapy provides incredible benefits for those who experience it. Some believe that “massage” came from the ancient Greek word “massin”, which means to knead, while others believe that it came from “mashesh,” a Hebrew word which means to press. Some of the most ancient documented touch therapies can be traced back as far back as 2500 years ago. All of these ancient bodywork treatments had oriental influences that current therapists are utilizing to come up with their own versions, including lymphatic drainage, deep tissue, sports massage, and acupressure.

Many people in the Western world and other countries outside of Asia enjoy the benefits of traditional Chinese therapy. A few of the most popular of these Asian therapies include Thai massage, acupressure, and shiatsu. In theory, the practice of oriental medicine is focused on a holistic treatment to balance the spirit, mind, and body as a whole and to prevent the development of disease. Traditional Chinese Medicine has been practiced for longer than three thousand years. It is an energetically-based form of treatment utilizing the 5 elements of earth, metal, wood, fire, and water to combat health problems. It mostly follows a Taoist philosophy in which everything is connected with each other and we have the power to influence them.

Although a lot different from Western methods, several of the healing treatments we use today have their origins in these ancient healing modalities. Modern physiotherapy was founded by an Anma student who inculcated them into the techniques of traditional Chinese medicine. Practiced for thousands of years old, the healing art of Anma is a Chinese form of massage designed to balance the body. Two thousand years ago, it was widely used in the time of Emperor Huang. It is now called Tuina, which uses the push/pull technique to balance and align the body. Anma is actually made up of two words: “an” means “to press” and “mo” means “to rub.” On the other hand, Tuina is comprised of two words: “tui” means “to push” and “na” means “to grasp”, ergo, the push/pull technique. All current osteopathic and chiropractic studies were shaped by a Japanese body correction treatment known as Seitai that was practiced during the Meiji era (18th century).

Amatsu, a 5000 year old Japanese body work therapy designed to improve movement and align the posture is one other Japanese version of anma that has applications still appropriate today. In Korea, there is Jin Shin Do, Su Jok, and Jin Shin Jyutsu, all ancient therapies that can help harmonize the body through gentle touch. Most of these modalities combine the same philosophies, eliminating the three causes of illness: stagnation, excess, and deficiency and focusing on meridians or energy channels.

These days, lots of oriental therapies have been integrated into the modern world. The Stanford Cancer Center has now integrated Thai massage (Nuad Bo’rarn) and Shiatsu into their cancer treatment program. Using touch and being touched as a healing therapy brings about an inherent calming reaction. These alternative healing modalities has been utilized by the Stanford Cancer Center to boost the emotional and physical well being of their patients, with a high degree of effectiveness. Obviously, they are only used with the approval of a doctor, and are not intended to be replacements to conventional cancer therapy. If necessary, talk about with your doctor other options, as most medical professionals now have a favorable view of combining massage therapy with Western conventional cancer therapy.

A lot of experienced massage therapists have applied the positive aspects of various therapies in order to come up with their own style and connection with their clients. It doesn’t matter if they’re client is a one-time patient or a regular patron of massage therapy. The responsibility of the therapist is to keep on educating himself or herself, so that the therapist can pass on that knowledge on to their clients and better help them to achieve whatever objectives they are pursuing with us.

Lots of therapists are attracted to the theory and mystery of eastern massage and lifestyle practices. Some have spent some time in Southeast Asia just to learn traditional Thai massage, from very experienced teachers and healers of this ancient healing technique. Some of them have studied, tested and experimented with various protocols and theories of Thai massage. Most of these therapies have been combined in order to create a Yogic massage system known as Ki Shen Heiken, which generally means “energy of balance and spirit “. Ki Shen Heiken consists of Swedish style massage, deep compression, rocking, acupressure, stretching, pulling, and pushing therapies. A few practitioners have developed a protocol that uses balancing rope or bars tied over the massage table. The therapist uses this to do manipulations whilst balancing on and above the body.

There are several other treatments that use an Asian bar system. Integrating rocking compression and Thai stretching techniques as well as holistic relaxation of several different therapies have proved quite successful for most of my clients. They received greater and additional benefits than they had originally expected from an alternative treatment. I have also added thermal therapy along with traditional Thai Herbal ball compressions, to augment healing and relaxation. Some therapists will have their have clients try new therapies and widen both the clients’ massage knowledge and spa experience, creating a long-term and more sophisticated client. This type of therapy will bring about physical benefits that include open wind channels, increased flexibility, release of emotional and physical tension, and body alignment. The objective of opening wind channels is to dispel the infiltration of wind in the meridians that can lead to colds, sinus problems, headaches, and imbalance in the body.

Amy-SuiQun Lui, L.Ac. is a Board Certified and Licensed Acupuncturist in Cleveland, OH.