This time of year, so much emphasis is placed on “getting healthy” that people go wild for cleansing, detoxing, dieting, starting new fitness plans, and more. While there is nothing inherently wrong with wanting to make healthy changes, there are so many concepts and philosophies on health it can be quite overwhelming. You can get lost in dietary philosophies such as paleo, raw vegan, macrobiotic, blood typing, ect. It is also very easy to get so caught up in one of these philosophies that you lose sight of what it truly means to be healthy.
Frequently overlooked in theoretical concepts of differing holistic lifestyles are not only the visible physical health of an individual, but also the emotional and behavioral tendencies of that person. In this article I hope to very briefly illustrate how Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) addresses not only the physical aspects of a person but also the spiritual and emotional manifestations of their lifestyle, and how these can be signals of health or a pathological state.
Many health and wellness trends and dietary philosophies are not sustainable long term. They may sound really attractive in the short term, especially when everyone is doing it, but usually do not last as they often ignore important signs that exemplify that what they are doing is not working. Here are 4 indications of REAL health devoid of extremist health practices and non-sustainable ideas:
1. You have strong, thick and full hair, solid nails, and clear skin.
This is most associated with quality blood, and digestive functions. The lungs and large intestine are most correlated with the health of the skin and body hair, and are quite telling of the internal state of an individual. Contrary to popular belief, if you have acne or skin blemishes, although it is an indicator of excess toxicity somewhere in your body, it also means you actually possess a strong constitution because your body has enough qi and blood to create pimples. With more deficient individuals, although they may have the same internal toxicities they may be unaware of it due to lack of external signals. A few dietary changes such as first a period of detoxification and less building foods, followed by obtaining high quality dosing of probiotics, fermented cod-liver/skate liver oil, and colostrum can rebuild the damaged intestinal tract, which often are the major cause of acne or skin issues, and/or gut bowel/absorption issues. Sometimes malnutrition is a product of malabsorption due to poor digestion rather than lack of quality food. More on building quality hair and nails later in this article!
2. You have a reasonable sex drive for your age.
As we age, Jing is depleted. Jing is associated with the water element in Chinese medicine and is most correlated with the kidney. It is not only who we are as people from a pre-heaven (karmic/prenatal) and post heaven perspective, but it is our deepest life energy. Jing is responsible for developmental growth, reproduction and all yang related, biochemical responses in the body such as thermo-regulation and management of digestive faculties.
It comes from combination of the quality of genetics inherited from your parents and your lifestyle practices of nutrition, stress management, and quality of life. As a man you can literally leak and deplete your Jing through excessive sexual habits involving ejaculation. When our body is not being nourished nutritionally for long periods of time, instead of using Qi as a primary form of energy, it begins to excessively pull from the Jing, depleting the density of our bones, quality of our spirit, and of course sex drive. One way to protect our Jing which naturally lessens as we age (as indicated by grey hair) is to practice reasonable sexual habits, get regular and quality sleep, meditate, and to in general not lead excessive lifestyle habits. Cordyceps, He Shou Wu, and Reishi are three powerful herbs which can help nourish Jing.
3.You are more concerned with your personal mission of being of service than converting people to your belief system.
In Chinese medicine, talking excessively, or at an excessively loud volume, indicates an imbalance within one’s physiology. Loudness and the energetic intentions of trying to get others to be or believe in a certain ideal, lifestyle, diet, or phenomenon, is attributable to heat of some sort (yang energy) arising to the surface. This can be a product of internal excess such as liver qi becoming stagnant and generating heat, or a product of internal deficiency, as the yin roots the yang in Chinese medicine. When the yin is deficient from excess activity and not enough nourishing nutrition, the yang will begin to rise creating heat and stagnation in the chest (known as “harassing the heart” in TCM). The heart is associated with not only clarity of mind but also speech. Excessive talking and loudness in TCM relates to the pathological diagnosis of heart fire, meaning heat stuck in the heart channel. Because the mind and heart are one in TCM, we can better understand how one who acts in such a way, is not necessarily aware of the pathological mechanisms behind their behavior. This enables us as individuals to be compassionate rather than judgmental.
4. You manage your emotional and mental health without resorting to self destructive tendencies
The liver energy moves up and out like a tree (wood element). The liver also relates to growth in the sense of personal growth, ability to change. People who feel stuck in life or a situation usually have liver qi stagnation. The liver gives capacity to plan and is referred to as the general of the organs. It is internally/externally linked to the gall bladder which empowers one with the ability to make decisions. The liver is correlated with the spirit of the Hun or “ethereal soul”. The Hun is related to ability to be resolute, to plan and have creative drive and assertiveness. When the Liver is out of balance, in excess for example, this manifests as anger and controlling tendencies. On the contrary, when it is stagnant and deficient of blood it gives rise to depression and feelings of apathy, and discontent with the world. The lack of quality blood leads to lack of building of quality Qi which is necessary for the circulation of blood and Qi.
Interestingly enough, certain things move liver qi stagnation. One drink of alcohol will move liver Qi as well as one cup of caffeine. More than one will cause temporary alleviation of the symptoms of stress, anxiety and tension stagnant liver Qi causes but will in the long run generate more liver Qi stagnation, resulting in cyclical, additive behaviors. 10 minuets of moderate exercise will move liver Qi stagnation, as well as breathing practices such as yoga, Qi gong and meditation. Red grass-fed meats, organ meats, quality fish oils, and herbs like He Shou Wu build liver blood preventing the depressive and apathetic symptoms stated above, as well as nourish the hair and nails. Look to these as temporary options to improve negative and stressful mental states before succumbing to the self-destructive and intoxicating tendencies our western culture perpetuates.
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It is our hope that you will find this article useful in creating vibrant health in your life in the new year and throughout 2017!
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