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5Aug/09Off

Internal Causes of illness: Perverse Emotions

Other than the cause-and-effect relationship between perverse climatic conditions and disease we talked about in the last article, another important Chinese medicine concept is that emotions (namely, anger, fear, grief, joy and anxiety) also influence health. Chinese medicine holds that when certain emotions are experienced in excess, they'll affect particular organs. Specifically, anger is associated with the liver, fear with the kidneys, grief with the lungs, joy with the heart, and anxiety with the spleen. While the explicit connection between emotions and the vital organs is not always obvious, examples such as the effect of grief  and weeping on the lungs or how anxiety can affect the spleen or stomach (by causing digestive problems in general or a nervous or upset stomach in particular) are more apparent.

Not just emotions an important sources of diagnosis, Chinese medicine assigns even greater importance to them by stating that the combined effects of external climatic elements and internal emotional factors are major precipitating factors in all forms of disease. So excessive emotion for a long period of time can cause cancer - that's why we got the line, "Don't worry. Be happy." Worries, fears, sadness can really kill somebody.

In fact, the close investigation afforded by traditional Chinese medicine to psychological and climatological factors is rivaled only by the attention given to what are considered the two primary substances in human physiology: the blood and the Chi (Qi)

(sources:  Chinese Herbal Medicine made easy by Thomas Richard Joiner.)

3Aug/09Off

Yin and Yang: Health is all about balance

In the last article, I mentioned Yin (陰, pronounced as "yin" in Mandarin, "yum" in Cantonese) and Yang(陽, pronounced as "yang" in Mandarin, "yeung" in Cantonese). Yin is solid while Yang is hollow. "Yin Yang" united as one, is the base of Chinese medicine, like the relationship between light and darkness,  left and right, hot and cold, female and male, all are relative concepts. If you know about the Tai Chi symbol, you probably know about Yin and Yang because it's called Yin-Yang symbol as well:

Yin (solid): Water, Substance (blood), Cold, Wet (dampness), Pale, Thin

yin_yang

Yang(Hollow): Fire, Energy (Qi/Chi), Hot, Dry (dryness), Red, Thick

As you can see from this symbol, Yin and Yang are opposite yet complementary to each other.

Everything that exists in universe or nature, including health, can only be achieved when there are equal amounts of these two primal elements. Simply put, if the two primal elements are out of balance, illness occurs. The two most common imbalances causing illness in the human body are, as with weather -- heat/cold and wet/dry. Excess heat in the body is associated with redness and inflammation; skin infections, ulcers, and acne are examples. Cold in the body may manifest as poor digestion, poor circulation, diarrhea. Internal dampness causes diseases such as rheumatism and can give rise to wet, oozing skin conditions such as athlete's foot and eczema. Dryness, on the other hand, may manifest as dry skin, constipation, coughing.

Note that two primary substances I mentioned in the last article, Blood and Qi (or Chi), are also represented by Yin and Yang in relationship.

(sources: Streetwise Guide: Chinese Herbal Medicine by Wong Kang Ying and Martha Dahle, Chinese Herbal Medicine made easy by Thomas Richard Joiner.)

2Aug/09Off

Qi (Chi) and blood flow

Traditional Chinese medical theory is completely different from western. You'll need to be quite imaginative to understand. It sees the body as composed of 12 major channels (or called meridian) through which the vital energy Qi or Chi (氣, pronounced as "chi" in mandarin, and "hey" in Cantonese)  flows and by vessels through which blood flows.

Qi and blood function differently but are related. There's a saying that "Qi leads, blood flows". This vital energy is believed to be the leader that drives the blood flow, while the blood flow helps "feed" the Qi by being its material basis. Nourishing blood and Qi is very important. Every organ in the body depends upon blood for nourishment. Using herbs to enrich the blood improves overall bodily performance by improving the functioning of all of the organs, which achieves maximum organ efficiency, better health and longevity. Likewise, by nourishing the Chi, energy levels are increased, providing greater vitality, strength, and endurance.

The channels - the meridians of acupuncture (經,pronounced as "jing" in Mandarin, and "ging" in Cantonese), and the collaterals (絡, pronounced as "law" or "luo", and "lok" in Cantonese)through which the Qi flows connect the internal organs with superficial organs and tissues, and with each other. Thus the body is an organic whole. 10 out of 12 major channels correspond to major internal organs and are considered to function in pairs. The solid, yin viscera are: heart, liver, spleen, lung and kidney. The hollow, yang bowels are: small intestine, gall bladder, stomach, large intestine, and urinary bladder. The remaining pair refer to the Pericardium (tissue surrounding the heart) and the Triple Burners, i.e. the three portions of the body cavity: above the waist; at the diaphragm and umbilicus; and below the umbilicus.

Complicated, right? These are just basics. Just imagine Chinese medicines have been developed for over 5000 years, even before modern medicine, political system, industry or technology even exist. So superstitious factors would be quite reasonable. Ancient Chinese experimenter's tried to develop medicine for immortality. Of course they failed, but instead they discover herbal formulas to strengthen their body while reducing many of the healthy problems associated with aging. In average, Chinese lives longer than many cultures, probably because of the use of herbal formulas discovered all these years. Also because of this long history of test and trial and better organized materials in modern days, TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) already became a science that you can learn with theories.

(sources: Streetwise Guide: Chinese Herbal Medicine by Wong Kang Ying and Martha Dahle, Chinese Herbal Medicine made easy by Thomas Richard Joiner.)

1Aug/09Off

Chinese Qi Gong – Healing with the flow of vital energy

Qi, (pronounced as "chi" in Mandarin, "hey" in Cantonese) is a vital energy in Chinese medical theory. and "Qi Gong" is the way of how to use this energy to heal your body, or even other people's body. I've had my neck pain (Cervical spondylosis) as well as hurting my lower back about the same time around the end of last year. While my shoulder and my neck had been painful and my right arm was numb since Christmas, I was trying to avoid seeing any doctor cuz I thought that was just some ergonomic problem  causing by my pose I sitting in front of my computer. The real cause of go see a doctor was after twisted and hurt my lower back about a month later - I couldn't even walk. (I still have my walking stick next to my bed  just to remind me to treasure my health) After I got my MRI report of both my neck and my back, my chiropractor urged me to see my family doctor to discuss my neck problem - because it turned out my neck's mess is much worse than my hurting lower back. Fortunately, the cervical sergeant  referred by my doctor said it's still ok not to go for surgery yet. He suggested that I can use painkillers until I really can't bear the pain, but the pain won't go away unless I decided to go for a surgery.

Cervical surgery wasn't something that I'd prefer although the pain was still very annoying. So I did a lot of research and asked around if there's any other ways to heal my neck. Since I'm a Chinese myself, of course I would like to see if there's a better approach than surgery. I found two approaches, one is through Tao Yin (導引in Chinese) method, it's like physical therapy, with certain exercises through pull or push. The other one is Qi Gong (氣功 in Chinese), you get cure through this "Qi" energy healing by a healer. Physically you don't even have to do anything. It sounds ridiculous, but that was suggested by my in-laws. My in-law had serious lower back pain long time ago. He had tried 10 different doctors and still couldn't get any better. The last hope fell on Qi Gong. It turned out he got healed and the pain was 90% gone after about 10 treatments.

I wasn't really believing Qi Gong that much because lying there doing nothing and then got healed didn't sound really realistic to me. But since my in-law was cured there and highly recommended, I visited a master of Qi Gong - Master Zhao, and gave it a try, suspiciously. The look of Master Zhao is a little different from other old man. I know he's about 70 years old, but he's really got some nice skin. I brought my MRI films and report on my first visit. However, before I even start talking about my problem, Master Zhao just told me to lay on a bed, with a patient on another bed in the same room. I didn't tell him where I was hurting because he just told me to keep silent.

First amazing thing happened: he looked at me for a few seconds and then told me my neck and my lower back got hurt without even looking at my MRI report! He pointed at his own neck and lower back and located the pain. I was so surprised. He pointed at his nose and told me that I have allergies - I didn't even have any symptoms showing because that wasn't the right season yet. He told me my stomach is cold and there was something wrong. This time I thought he's wrong - I didn't have anything wrong with my stomach. However, I suddenly remembered that I just had an icy cold soda right before I came in! Alright....may be he's right then. My in-law and some research I read about him said he got "X-ray" eyes and I didn't understand what that meant. Now I know....I think he even got "Infra-red  eyes" indeed.  Then he told me to wait and he started to talk to another patient. I was kind of sneaky that I tried to listen to what he said to another patient - I know it's not an appropriate thing to do, but I really want to know if he's going to say something generic to hit whatever symptoms - because I was still a little  suspicious that he may be a fraud. It turned out that patient who were there got nothing that were similar to me. And she nodded about 80% to what he said.

Master Zhao came back to me and started to place his hands above me sweeping around without any touching. He asked me how I feel. I told him I didn't feel anything. He was a little upset and just threw two words to me, "Think feet." Then he just ignored me and walked to another patient instead. I was like...what? Am I supposed to lie to YOU? Am I supposed to feel anything? Come on, I'm a patient here! I was a little upset of his attitude...but since I was so painful with my neck and back, I just got to bear with it. Master Zhao did the same thing to another patient and he then even walked out to another room for other patients.  I was like...huh? That's it? You just ignored us if we don't believe you?  Suddenly I remember he said, "Think feet." I was like...what the heck does that mean...alright whatever, I'll just "think" about my "feet".  I don't know what that really meant but I just started focusing on my feet. Trust me. Thinking about your feet wasn't anything interesting, even for just a few minutes.

Suddenly I started to feel something weird with my lower back...some kind of "bubble popping" feeling inside where the pain was. I don't know how to describe exactly, but something flowing around that area stimulating my muscle or something. Nothing happened to my neck yet. Master Zhao came back and swept again and didn't say anything. After about 10 minutes, I started to feel cold. I was like, what happened to the air conditioning? Then I started to find out the coldness wasn't from the outside. That was from inside my body! I feel the bed, the wall with my hand and arm, and those were even warmer than my body. I was getting colder and colder and I was freezing even my teeth were shaking. I told Master Zhao about it and he smiled (I felt like he was actually laughing at me). He said I got too much "garbage" Qi in my body. These bad Qi were releasing from my body. "Continue to think feet, "he said. He lightly pressed his hand on neck -man his hand was cold too. Trust me, freezing cold from inside your body is some experience that you can never forget.

At about the end of session, he told me to sit up and he put his cold hand on the top of my head. I started to feel warmness from the air surrounding me -although my description here is terrible, but yeah that's really how I felt. I was a little tired because of the shaking. Master Zhao did the same thing to another patient. I asked her before if she felt cold when Master Zhao was out of the room. Surprisingly, she said didn't feel any coldness. I don't know how he treated her differently. But it seems it really wasn't the air condition that made me cold. I checked my bed when Master Zhao was with that patient - it's just a very normal bed - no tricks or anything....ok, I really experienced Qi Gong. But I know what you guys really concern would be if my pain has gone. Yes and no...the neck was still the same, but the lower back felt relieved.

Master Zhao's wife is a friendly and beautiful lady. She told me to come often for a few more times. I made another appointment and left. I did more research about Master Zhao and dug deeper on his website, after I had this weird Qi Gong experience. (Sorry, I really can't say it feels wonderful.) After I read more about this famous Qi Gong Master from China. I know he cured a lot of people including some Chinese government leaders . He served in a special government Qi Gong healing department. He can even cure cancer or more troublesome disease. And if he thinks it's too late, he wouldn't do it because he wouldn't give people fake hope.

Anyway, my neck and lower back were still hurting after my first visit. But at least I can barely walk without that walking stick. In my second visit, I didn't feel as cold as before, only my feet and my legs felt cold. Master Zhao said my bad Qi were released last time. He did about the same thing to me and yeah, "think feet." After about 3 visits, as you may know, my lower back pain is gone after a few weeks. My neck pain got improved a lot. My numbness was gone. That little neck pain left was still annoying and I visited a few more times for that. At my last visit, he told me I should be ok - although the pain was still there. But after I stopped going for about two months, the neck and shoulder pain are almost totally  gone. I'm so glad that I can type in front of a computer again without too much trouble. Of course, he told me to do more exercises and stretching, like what a normal doctor told me.  I'm so thankful that I got healed by Qi Gong - the stress of going to surgery really had me worried. I still haven't got my another MRI yet, so I don't know if "physically" my neck is already healed. But at least the pain is gone.

If you want to know how to contact him, this is his website: masterzhao.com .

I wish I can learn Qi Gong to heal myself and even others. But too bad it seems like my talent didn't work for that. Even my mom had learned Qi Gong - when they started, they move their body "involuntarily" like doing exercises automatically. But that never happened to me. Well...maybe I can't focus at all.

Anyway, we'll talk about something else next time.