Yin and Yang in Traditional Chinese Medicine

The Yin-Yang symbol is a result of the Chinese Philosophy in regards to how the universe functions. The black and white shapes within the circle represent the interaction of two energies called “Yin” and “Yang”; they are not completely black or white nor can they exist without each other. The curve of the symbol reminds us of the constant change of balance between yin and yang, which represent all the opposite principles one finds in the universe.

The Huang Emperor said, ”The principle of Yin and Yang is the foundation of the entire universe. It underlies everything in creation.” Yin, the darker element, is passive, dark, feminine, moist, death, small, and corresponds to the night; yang, the brighter element, is active, light, masculine, dry, birth, large and corresponds to the day.

The cyclical nature of Yin and Yang mean several things to a student of Chinese medicine and philosophy: All phenomena change into their opposites in an eternal cycle of reversal. Since one principle produces the other, all phenomena have within them the seeds of their opposite state. For example, sickness has the seeds of health and health contains the seeds of sickness. Even though an opposite may not appear to be present, nothing is completely devoid of its opposite state.

Traditional Chinese Medicine applies the philosophies of Yin Yang to treat disease. When the body is in balance between Yin and Yang, health is predominant; when Yin and Yang are imbalanced, disease occurs. According to Chinese medicine texts, diseases caused by yang pathogens usually present themselves with heat symptoms while diseases caused by yin pathogens usually present themselves with cold symptoms.

Efforts to diagnose Yin or Yang pathogens result in intake forms with questions such as, “Do you prefer hot or cold drinks?” or “What is your optimal time of day?” Once a Chinese medicine doctor has determined the nature of an imbalance, he or she aims to restore balance through a variety of approaches such as acupuncture, herbs, and recommended changes in diet or lifestyle. As balance is restored in the body, so is health.

Holistic Pain Relief Methods: Never Outdated

These days, a growing number of people who suffer from chronic pain are seeking out a holistic approach to managing their discomfort. There are a lot of holistic pain relief methods without relying on non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, narcotics, tranquilizers, or anti-depressants.

Holistic health focuses on the principle that human potentials unfold to be actualized as total beings functioning at their best. It operates on the human desire for vitality, enthusiasm and fulfilling and satisfying life. Holistic health addresses not only the physical aspect but also aims to establish balance within the self at all levels, the body, mind, and spirit, as well as achieve harmony with the environment. Holistic health is an approach that affects one’s lifestyle, relationships, and social interaction. Holistic health also encompasses the management and elimination of stress.

Some studies, including a small well-conducted trial, have reported relief from pelvic pain after acupuncture or acupressure, a technique that applies small pins or pressure to specific points on the body. It is believed to work by exciting nerve receptors in those locations that interact with pain blockers in the brain. Some women report relief with reflexology, an acupressure technique that uses manual pressure on the body’s vital points located in the ears, hands, and feet.

These Chinese holistic pain relief methods are based in the belief that health is determined by the level of chi (vital life energy) that is inside the body. This energy is thought to move through pathways called meridians, which connect to specific organs in the body. People use different terms when describing systems and methods used in the scope of holistic medicine. The most popular among the terminologies are alternative medicine, complementary medicine, and natural healing, all of which use procedures that are non-invasive.

Another important part of traditional Chinese medicine is herbal medicine. Herbs have been used for centuries for their holistic pain relief qualities. Chinese herbal medicine or CHM has been used for many centuries in China. It has been used in public schools to treat unexplained cramps as a menstrual pain relief.

A study conducted by Cochrane researchers found evidence that CHM may provide a possible treatment for pain relief. Experts believe the pain relief the herbs provide may stem from their influence on hormones and micro-circulation hemorrheology, but they have not found conclusive evidence of their exact pain-relieving mechanism.

Yoga and meditative techniques that promote relaxation may also be helpful for pain relief. Meditation is also another popular choice for a lot of people for a holistic pain relief method. It has also been practiced for thousands of years. It is a conscious attempt to calm the mind so that it is not cluttered with thoughts and anxieties that might be contributing to an unnecessary belief in the existence of pain.

There are hundreds of different meditation techniques, but mostly they all into three categories: concentrative, mindful and transcendental meditation. Aromatherapy, at its best works to heal the body and mind, healing it from various illnesses, as well as working as a stress reliever to prevent illness.

Aromatherapy has been used over the years by Egyptians, Indians, Europeans, Germans, France, etc. The oils have proven to assist in relaxing the body and mind, and were used as a medicinal remedy. Applying essential oils is thought to change an individual’s brain chemistry so that pleasurable neuro-transmitters called endorphins are released to relieve pain. Geranium, jasmine, juniper, lavender, peppermint, rose, rosemary and thyme are oils commonly used for this purpose.

For many people, particularly those in the western world, holistic pain relief solutions such as acupuncture, and herbal medicines are novel concepts. However, the rest of the world is probably wondering what the fuss is about, because these traditional approaches to holistic pain relief have been around for thousands of years and are still widely accepted until today.

What Is Traditional Chinese Medicine?

Traditional Chinese medicine is gaining popularity in the U.S., as more and more people are learning the benefits of acupuncture, acupressure, deep massage, Qigong, and the herbal medicines. Westerners are the new kids on the block when it comes to receiving these treatments, as over a quarter of the population of the world practices TCM, also known as Oriental medicine.

The National Institute of Health and the World Health Organization believe TCM to be a viable alternative to Western medicine, and now many health insurance companies will cover acupuncture as a treatment for various ailments. Very exciting for those of us who find acupuncture to be a great help in lessening pain and improving circulation.

Acupuncture originated in China around 3,000 years ago and is the most common form of medical procedure in the rest of the world, because the same treatment not only relieves immediate pain, it is a preventative procedure because it realigns the Qi ( pronounced “Chee.”) The Qi is the body’s vital energy, all things rise from Qi and it flows and connects a person to the earth and sky.

It is also the source of the body’s natural healing, all disorders can be traced to a Qi imbalance, and the acupuncture points on the body release the bound Qi and allow it to flow naturally-the body can then begin to heal itself. Diagnosis in acupuncture involves the practitioner asking a long list of questions, some usually considered by Americans to be of a private nature.

The questions consist of everything from listing sleeping patterns to a typical day meals to how many times the patient has a bowel movement in a 24 hour period. These are necessary questions, as the more information the acupuncturist has, the better to tell where the Qi is blocked.

The patient typically will then lie down on a massage table (in the East acupuncture is usually done in the sitting position) and the practitioner will insert very thin needles into some of the 2,000 plus points in the body which connect to 14 pathways, or medians. The insertion of the needles does not hurt, and contrary to what you may have heard, he/she does not twist or bore them into the skin. They are inserted just underneath the surface and the patent is left in a soothing, dimmed room for about an hour. There are different sizes and lengths of needles, each for a specific ailments and point. The needles are made of super thin stainless steel and are pliable; they are discarded after each use.

Another form of TCM is herbal remedies; these are often used in conjunction with acupuncture. Because all things are interconnected, pains and conditions in the body have a lot to do with one’s emotions and thinking process. That is why people who experience chronic pain are also frequently depressed.

TCM practitioners will often give the patient herbs to help relax or calm them along with the acupuncture sessions. This is called tonic herbalism, and some popular herbs used are probably already in your kitchen. Green tea and ginseng are two of the most well known herbs used in TCM, but here are some others-considered ”warm” foods which will help maintain good health and restore balance to a depleted Qi: Rice and noodles, broccoli, egg whites, fish and chicken.

It is no coincidence that these are some of the main ingredients in all Eastern cooking. In order to get a holistic view of TCM, we have covered acupuncture (prevention and treatment), herbal remedies and diet, it is only right that we should touch on exercise.

Qigong (Pronounced Chee Kung.) Qi, of course, still means energy, and gong means work or practice. The art and practice of Qigong involves practicing posture, breathing, meditation, and slow regulated movement of the limbs. Qigong is a great exercise, and you can find that we offer classes here.