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How Traditional Chinese Medicine Can Help You

March 23, 2010 by  

How Traditional Chinese Medicine Can Help You

I am often asked by patients, friends and acquaintances whether or not I think traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) can help them with their problem. My answer is always a resounding yes. Help comes in many forms and many levels, and TCM offers health rewards in abundance. Here is how TCM can help you and why you should look into it.

To begin, traditional Chinese medicine offers, as its foundation, the promise of homeostasis. That is the understanding that the body wishes to exist in balance, that only imbalance causes pain, illness and disease, and that uncovering and balancing the imbalance is the only way to truly “cure” one’s self of anything.

Did you every wonder why ibuprofen worked for your pain yesterday but today it seems to do nothing? Have you ever wondered why sometimes you get headaches at the front of your head, while at other times it’s on top or on the sides of the head? Why last month your pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) had you buckled over with cramps yet this month there is little cramping but lots of headache pain?

That is because the imbalances in your body are different at different times, and pain and illness are born out of those imbalances. Thus, taking the same medicine for a frontal headache as one at the base of the skull is nonsensical. Treating PMS this month the same as you did last month, even though the symptoms are different, just doesn’t add up. And when you do find relief it’s only temporary and the problem comes back another day.

TCM can help you with this. Actually, knowledge of TCM theories or an examination at the hands of a qualified practitioner can help you. This branch of medicine helps by identifying the specific imbalances in your body that are allowing the health symptoms to exist. Once the imbalances are identified they are viewed and understood as a pattern. And these patterns have different signs and symptoms attached to them. What’s more, the methods used to balance the pattern of imbalance are different. And it is these specific pattern-identifiable methods that will eradicate the health concern.

You might think it is difficult, in the throws of innumerable signs and symptoms that have persisted over many years or decades, to be able to identify a pattern. I often hear the following: “I have no pattern. I watch my health and there is no pattern of why or when the symptom arises, like when it rains or I don’t get enough sleep.”

That’s not the type of pattern I am speaking of here.

For TCM, pattern means a grouping of signs and symptoms that are matched with the patient’s specific pulse and tongue geography, skin tone and complexion, etc. It’s like opening the cupboard and finding crackers, soup cans, tuna and cereal, and opening the refrigerator and finding salami, milk, mayonnaise, bread, celery, mustard and butter.

The untrained eye would say there are a lot of unrelated things. The trained eye would see a complete recipe (pattern) for a tuna salad sandwich and soup and crackers amongst the clutter. TCM practitioners are trained to identify patterns of imbalance from the clutter of signs and symptoms.

Once the pattern is identified the practitioner can be certain of the underlying cause of the health symptoms, be they hemorrhoids, osteoporosis, insomnia or PMS. Once a pattern is discerned the signs and symptoms are intellectually set aside and focus is placed on what is needed to balance the imbalance, to return the body to homeostasis. That is, to make the body healthy.

Methods of healing are then prescribed such as medicated diet therapy (knowing which foods to eat and which to avoid to help the situation); Qigong energy work (self-regulating exercises and clinically administered treatments) to balance energy in the body; herbal therapy in the form of teas and pills to balance organs, blood and fluids, resolve masses and remove obstructions from the body; stretching and strengthening exercises to correct somatic imbalances that cause pain; mind/body exercises to quiet the mind, center the spirit, induce the relaxation response, reduce stress and so on.

The main things TCM can help you with are identifying what environment within your body is allowing ill health to remain there, and what you can do specifically and synergistically to return the body to homeostasis and live at optimal health.

Yes, the theories and concepts of traditional Chinese medicine are foreign and seem odd to Westerners. Yes, it takes an open mind to listen to a practitioner of these healing systems tell you about your health in terms you may not understand.

However, if you allow yourself to listen and then do research based on what you are told, you may find that the seemingly strange-sounding syndromes espoused in TCM are actually simple paradigms of health that can be shifted and resolved toward better health.

—Dr. Mark Wiley

Jeffrey R. Matthews

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  • http://PresonalLibertyDigest Gloria Lawhorn

    Please reprint the article about maple syrup and baking soda.

  • Lucy Monjaras

    I’m interested to know more about How Traditional Medicine Can Help you. How do you know which Herbs to take for different Ailments?

    Kind Regards,

    Lucy Monjaras

    • Dr. Mark Wiley

      Hi Lucy, there are many ways it can help. The best way is to find a local practitioner and have an examination with a report of findings to lead you on your own.. or receive treatment. Also you could search online using your ailment and TCM as key words. There are also several good books in the stores on Chinese herbs that you can reference.

      Or, if you like, you can mention it here and I will try to offer suggestions for you.

  • ronald dame

    I would like to know, does tcm help with back and neck pain associated with herniated dics and stEnosis in my neck and lower back? IN MY NECK THE DICS SPACES AT C5-6 AND C6-7 ARE FUSED AND THERE IS A DISC BULGE AT C3-4. ALSO IN MY LOWER BACK AT L1 THRU L5 AND L5-S1 I HAVE BULGING,DICS PROTRUSIONS, CENTRAL SPINAL CANAL STENOSIS AND LEFT AND RIGHT NEURAL FORAMEN ENCROACHMENT AND NARROWING BILATERLLY,NOT TO MENTION THE DEGENERATIVE CHANGES ASSOCIATED WITH ARTHRITIS BECAUSE OF THE INJURY. I HAD AN ACCIDENT WHILE SERVING IN THE MILITARY IN 1971 WHERE I WENT THRU THE WIND SHIELD OF MY CAR AT OVER 100 MPH HEAD FIRST OF WHICH I BELIEVE STARTED ALL OF MY NECK AND BACK PROBLEMS OVER THE FOLLOWING YEARS. I ALSO
    DISLOCATED MY RIGHT FEMUR AND SPENT 5 MONTHS IN THE ARMY HOSP AND THEN REHAB. I HAVE HEARD OF SO MANY HORROR STORIES AFTER BACK SURGERY AND WITH LITTLE TO NO RELIEF AFTERWORDS AND SOMETIMES EVEN WORSE OFF.I KNOW THIS IS A LITTLE WORDY BUT I WANTED TO GIVE YOU MY HISTORY AS WELL AS MY DIAGNOSIS UP TO THIS POINT. I LIVE WITH THE PAIN USING A LOT OF ICE,HOT SOAKS IN THE TUB AND ALEIVE FOR PAIN WHEN I CAN’T STAND IT.I DON’T WANT TO SLEEP MY LIFE AWAY WITH HARD NARCOTICS SO I BARE THE PAIN THE BEST I CAN!! I AM ON SS(NOT DISABILITY) I JUST TURNED 62 THIS MONTH SO I AM LIMITED ON WHAT I CAN SPEND OUT OF MY POCKET AND MY WIFE HAS CANCER AND IS ON SSD.MY WIFE JUST STARTED HER THIRD BOUT
    WITH CANCER(BREAST). I AM SURE THIS IS NOT CHEAP AND THE INSURANCE COMPANIES DON’T RECOGNIZE THIS PRACTICE AS FAR AS I KNOW, SO I WANT TO MAKE SURE I AM GETTING MY MONEY’S WORTH AND NOT DRAGGED DOWN THE ROAD AND BLEEDING ME DRY WITH LITTLE OR NO CURE OR RELIEF. THANKS RON

  • http://members.cox.net/agingless4u Suma G Nathan

    Since I am a practitioner, I also recommend Chinese Medicine Herbals, including Ayurvedic & Ranforest Herbals, as well as Nutritionals. I had Cervical Cancer with 1 Lymph Node issue that had
    been festering for 17 years, unbeknown to me, too busy with clients, private counseling, Seminars & radio show. Because of my regime of all
    the above, it never went any further. I kicked Cervical Cancer in 3 &
    1/2 months. There is alot one can do with ANTI-AGING
    Therapies, which means not coming down with Degenerative Diseases, takes a little time, but well worth it!
    Suma G Nathan, Certified Registered Holistic Nutritionist/Certifed Chinese Herbologist

  • http://AOL Ina Mae McBride

    I would like to know your comment’s about Magnolia Extract.

    • Dr. Mark Wiley

      Ina May, Magnolia acts as a diaphoretic (which means it induces sweating). This is good for sinus and chest congestion where phlegm and fluids are congested and need to be resolved. As such, it is also an anti-inflammatory with some analgesic properties. It is widely used for chronic and acute sinus congestion and headaches… where the mucus us clear or white (not color).

  • Mona

    A woman at a health food store recommended a Chinese herb combination that would help my headaches. I took them for a few months and still had headaches but I quit having heartburn. I could eat spaghetti or anything and lay down and not have heartburn. I quit taking them because they were expensive. The heartburn came back real soon.

    • Dr. Mark Wiley

      Mona, that is very interesting, indeed. I have some theories on that. However, I would first like to know what the name of the formula is, and what is in it. Also, as a rule, it is best not to take herbal formulas given by stock persons are register ringers in a store, but rather at the advice of someone who knows the variations between formulas and how they can help you. There are so many causes for headaches, that no one formula can be the answer for them all.

  • Louise Cooke

    I have a friend with Sjogren’s syndrome and am curious if TCM would be helpful for her. She is willing to try anything since her choices now are limited to eye drops and some type of prescription to increase saliva, but she say is doesn’t work very well.

  • Dr. Mark Wiley

    Hi Louise,
    Sjogren’s syndrome is one of the areas addressed by Traditional Chinese Medicine. Within the “patterns” of TCM, it is thought to be caused by any of these five things: 1) dryness and heat, 2) yin deficiency and heat, 3) Lung yin deficiency, 4) Stomach yin deficiency, 5) Liver yin deficiency.

    The basic idea is to cool the interior and hydrate. The issue becomes which area to address: lungs, stomach, liver… ? That is best determined with an evaluation at the hands of a trained practitioner. If your friend is willing to make a few calls to find one locally who has had experience with this syndrome, it is a good idea.

    Best of luck!!

  • Bob Wire

    I use a Dr. Zang, graduated from Shang Hi University in 1955. I use him when I can’t get “fixed” anywhere else. Don’t know what I’ll do when he retires.

    Some healing is immediate and some takes time.

    he looks at my tongue and makes an ugly face and makes a comment I can’t understand. ~ he knows “something”! But I don’t know what!

    magic! LOL! I don’t need to know everything ~ just know someone that does, it’s my best hope.

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