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An Overview of Traditional Chinese Medicine_Final

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>> Hi. Today, we're going to discuss some basic concepts and principles of traditional Chinese medicine and their application to gut health. In this course, we seek to provide you with a variety of theories and modalities to broaden your thinking and perspective of gut health. This involves exploring the various approaches, both conventional and alternative, that your clients may be interested in exploring in addition to health coaching. The ability to inform and educate your clients about additional resources for their health is invaluable. Traditional Chinese medicine, which is sometimes abbreviated as TCM or referred to as East Asian medicine, is a practice that's firmly rooted in physiology and the study of living beings. Western medicine studies both living subjects and cadavers, while TCM practitioners only study their living patients. They believe that the body is a dynamic system of currents or energy that's constantly moving. Chinese medicine is one of the oldest practiced forms of medicine, but it only started gaining traction in the Western world in the 1970s. Here, we're most familiar with acupuncture, the practice of inserting needles into specific points on the skin to stimulate energy flow along meridians to treat various conditions. But TCM is much more than this. It includes a full range of treatments including movement, qi gong, tai chi, dietary recommendations, herbs, and massage. Traditional Chinese medicine uses a different paradigm than Western medicine. This doesn't mean that one is right and one is wrong. It's not necessary to subscribe to one over the other rather these modalities can complement each other. We're moving into a new era where various modalities can collaborate to support one another. Think of it like bio-individuality. Your clients can pick and choose the elements that make the most sense to them. Many concepts are perhaps described in more detail by Western medicine, but both will often address the same issues in their own ways. For example, TCM doesn't have the concept of a nervous system, but it does include adaptogens, which are herbs that help the cope with stress. Think of them as different lenses through which to view the same human body. TCM has its own language and paradigm for describing imbalances in the body. Let's start with the concepts of jing, shen, and qi. Jing is similar to the Western concept of genetics. It's the energy or essence we're born with, and it determines what qualities we inherit. It's thought of as the material bases for the physical body, and it's stored in the kidneys. Too much stress, substance abuse, and poor diet can diminish one's jing. Sort of like the aging process. Some parallels can be drawn to the Western concept of the adrenals. Shen is the spirit or psyche. Processing one's emotions is an essential component of health in TCM. Health and vitality are largely dependent on a healthy state of mind. Shen is stored in the heart and the blood vessels, and the health of shen is said to be seen in the eyes, which are considered the windows to the soul. A healthy shen is dependent on qi. Qi is what gives the body energy and fuels the blood. It's carried in and is inseparable from the blood. Qi is gained from food and breath. Food and nutrients are absorbed in the bloodstream, where they mix with the blood to form qi and propel life. Qi is created by the Spleen, that is the Spleen in Chinese medicine. This is different than the organ we know as the spleen in the West. More on that later, but for now, just know that in TCM, the Spleen is involved in digestion. Qi is said to be formed from the combination of yin and yang. We'll explore this later on too, but for now, just keep in mind that Chinese medicine explains the essence of life in terms of jing, shen, and qi. This is similar to the Western idea of mind, body, and spirit. Meridians are another important concept of Chinese medicine. These are paths in the body that qi flows through. You can think of meridians like a distribution network for energy, fluids, and blood. Meridians should not be mistaken with blood vessels, however. They're a system of energy, not an actual anatomical structure. This complex system of pathways is believed to connect and deliver vital energy to all points of the body. Meridians connect acupuncture points in the body creating networks. Each meridian and its points are correlated with specific organs. In TCM, when sickness occurs, it can be due do a blockage or an area where qi isn't flowing. Blockages can be addressed through meridians and acupuncture points. Now that you have an idea of these basic concepts, let's go over five of the basic principles of Chinese medicine. To regain health, the underlying disharmony must be discovered and addressed. Suppression of symptoms isn't enough. The goal in TCM is to strengthen the body, mind, and spirit, and to build resiliency. The best approach to health is to treat disease before it occurs. Optimal health isn't a static state of being. Our bodies are always trying to find balance. Every moment your health is determined by the choices you make. Movement is essential for the body. And our bodies are influenced by nature and will thrive best when life is lived in accordance with nature and its rhythms. Let's stop and think for a moment and compare these principles to the concepts you learned in the Health Coach Training Program and in this course. Do you see any parallels? In which ways do you see connections? And how many of these principles do you subscribe to yourself? Grab a piece of paper and a pen, pause the video, and write down your thoughts. Which of these five principles of Chinese medicine resonate with you and where have you seen them before? We'd love to see what you came up with, so be sure to share your thoughts later on in the Facebook group. Now that we've talked about the basic concepts and principles, let's explore how all of this relates to gut health. Let me preface this by saying that the organs in Chinese medicine don't necessarily correspond to what we think of in modern medicine. For example, the Spleen in Chinese medicine corresponds to what we think of as the pancreas. In text, we differentiate the Chinese organs by capitalizing the first letter. In TCM, the Spleen and Stomach are the organs that are responsible for digestion, nutrient assimilation, and metabolism. The Stomach receives food and liquids and breaks them down, then it sends the result upward to the Spleen. The Spleen separates out the nutrients, and then sends the qi or energy up toward the lungs. Anything useful is made into qi and blood for the body to use. The small intestine receives any waste sending it down the pipe to exit the body. According to this theory, the Spleen essentially regulates digestion while also controlling fluid metabolism. When the Spleen is functioning, one is said to have good appetite, good sense of taste, and strong digestion. If Spleen-qi or energy is low, digestion is weak. Low energy in the Spleen is viewed as dampness which leads to heaviness, fatigue, and poor digestion. This is said to be caused by a poor or irregular diet or consumption of too much cold food. Spleen-qi can also be affected by Liver issues. The Spleen rules logic and reasoning. Stress, mental strain, or too much mental work can take a toll on the Spleen and create various forms of Spleen deficiency. The Spleen likes a dry environment. And these issues can often lead to what's perceived of as dampness in the Spleen, which puts out one's digestive fire. A major sign of Spleen-qi deficiency is a lack of warmth in the body. According to TCM, Spleen imbalance can manifest as poor appetite, frequent colds and flus, nausea, loose stools, inability to fully digest food, diabetes, hypoglycemia, sugar cravings, fatigue, distention, IBS symptoms, acid reflux or indigestion, and fluid retention. Clearly, the Spleen is considered to be very important for overall health in Chinese medicine. Abdominal pain, rumbling, diarrhea, or constipation may be linked to imbalances in either the small or large intestine. Another sign of imbalance in the gut in Chinese medicine is, excuse me, excessive belching, which indicates dysregulation of the proper flow of qi. A practitioner of TCM will look for signs of imbalance in the body by way of symptoms, emotions, and anything else they can glean from the whole person. When evaluating the function of the Spleen, a TCM practitioner will also look at the tongue and pulse as part of the assessment process. Remember how earlier I mentioned that yin and yang create qi, yin and yang are opposite, but complementary energies. Both yin and yang are necessary for life and problems arise when they fall out of balance. In TCM, organs are classified as either yin or yang. Every yin organ is paired with its yang counterpart. For example, the yin Spleen is paired with the yang Stomach. In the body, yin consists of the blood and fluids and the organs that transform these fluids. Yin lubricates the body and is a cooling, relaxing force. Yin organs are the Spleen, Kidneys, Liver, and Heart. Yang organs are like the holding tanks, the Stomach, Small and Large Intestines, and the Gall Bladder are considered yang organs. Yang drives or propels bodily functions. Can you see why the Intestines in the Stomach are yang organs? They propel waste forward. Yang energy protects the exterior, which means it protects against pathogens. Foods are also classified as yin or yang according to their qualities. Therefore, what you eat can either put the body in or out of balance. Yin foods are cool, moist, and expanding. Examples of yin foods include soy products, chocolate, green tea, coffee, honey, leafy greens, fruit, seeds, and cold drinks. Yang foods have a warm and dry quality to them. They include meat, poultry, eggs, spices, root vegetables, cheese, and alcohol. Raw and lightly-prepared foods have yin qualities. The longer you cook foods, the more yang they become. For example, stir frying is more yin, while baking is more yang. In times of stress, we often crave foods with yin qualities, like sugar and coffee, to seek balance. Take a note of when you crave certain foods, ask yourself what might be going on. When the body has too much yang, eating yin foods can help balance it out and vice versa. TCM practitioners believe that a balanced meal is two parts yin and three parts yang. Yin fire is an imbalance that can result from a combination of poor diet, overconsumption, and suppressed emotions. Yin fire occurs when the Stomach and the Spleen are depleted, creating a yin deficiency that results in too much heat in the Heart. In this case, some yin foods such as coffee and alcohol can actually worsen the indeficiency. The goal here is to build yin and reduce excess heat by removing whatever is taxing the body from toxins to stress. Moving forward, another concept to consider from Chinese medicine as it relates to the gut is stagnation, which refers to stuck or non-moving qi. In TCM, this is the root of many diseases, as it's believed to prevent the flow of lymph, blood, and detoxification by the Liver. Stagnation can be caused by overeating and insufficient chewing. Think about how you feel after eating a large heavy meal, this is what stagnation feels like. Stagnation can be at the root of dampness, but this is due to a blockage of energy rather than a lack of nutrients. This is a yin problem, meaning the yin organs usually suffer first. When yang energy is transforming and then transporting food, stagnation can occur. TCM is a mind-body approach, so this conversation wouldn't be complete without talking about how our mental state affects the gut according to this perspective. Recall that shen is the emotional state and that processing emotions is an essential part of health. Apropos of nothing, modern medicine has more recently begun to study how stress and negative emotions can impact the gut. It can be really interesting to explore the parallels between these two perspectives. But getting back to TCM, the following mental states can cause imbalance or depletion of warmth in the Spleen, worry, over-thinking, and over-nurturing of others. Think of caregivers and people who spend a large amount of time taking care of the needs of others. And in Chinese medicine, anger is always considered a sign of imbalance. It's interesting to consider that this modality doesn't view anger as having any proper place within a healthy person. Liver-qi issues are seen as a result of anger and a common diagnosis by TCM practitioners. In Chinese medicine, the Liver is responsible for processing anger. Anger is thought to make a person bitter. TCM practitioners may treat anger with digestive bitters which are often cooling and move the energy back down. Signs of low Liver function include waking up tired, floaters in the eyes, and cold extremities. The Gall Bladder is linked to courage, brazenness, and the ability to make decisions. TCM proposes that when a person is hesitant to make decisions or is too timid, they may have an issue with their Gall Bladder. In Chinese medicine, many practices like acupuncture are aimed at calming the shen so that the organs in the body can function properly. Chinese medicine also believes that the microcosm is a reflection of the macrocosm. That means that your environment affects your body. For example, a damp condition in the body could be created by an external environment like being in a damp, wet climate. The environment can also be viewed as a teacher. This relationship is explained in the Chinese element theory. In TCM, five elements exist, wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. Every meridian is ruled by an element. The meridian of the Spleen is ruled by the earth element. In the days of ancient Chinese medicine, the Heart was viewed as the central element. Modern Chinese element theory now puts central importance on the earth element since all herbal medications must be processed through the digestive system. This brings us back to the fact that digestion is a cornerstone of traditional Chinese medicine and health. As Zhang Jie Bin, a respected TCM physician who lived during the Ming dynasty, once wrote, "The doctor who wants to nourish life has to tonify the Stomach and Spleen." We've only skimmed the surface in this lecture on Chinese medicine, but we've hopefully piqued your interest enough to do some further research, and now you have the basic understanding of TCM's main teaching. So let's recap, traditional Chinese medicine is full of concepts that sound quite different from Western medicine, but these two healing modalities actually have a lot of crossover in their treatments. As an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, having a basic understanding of what TCM is and how these practitioners may be able to support your clients will expand your capacity to be a bridge to wellness options for your clients. In TCM, the three life essences are jing, shen, and qi. Qi is our life force which is carried in the blood. It's made from yin and yang components which we take into the body through nourishment. The body is connected through meridians which encompass the acupuncture points and correspond with the various organs. Sickness occurs through imbalances that can be traced back to energy flow along specific meridians and points. TCM places a large emphasis on gut health which it conceptualizes primarily through the health of what's considered to be the Spleen. While the terminology between Eastern and Western medicine when it comes to gut health is very different. The basic principles of gut health are strikingly similar. So were you familiar with Chinese medicine before this lecture or is this a new subject for you to explore? What resonates with you? And what concepts of TCM do you find to be challenging or at odds with your perspective of health? Let's get a great discussion going over in the Facebook group. Thank you for watching, and I'll see you soon.

Video Details

Duration: 16 minutes and 54 seconds
Language: English
License: Dotsub - Standard License
Genre: None
Views: 5
Posted by: ninaz on Mar 29, 2018

An Overview of Traditional Chinese Medicine_Final

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