We here at acenutrients have always been intrigued on what does traditional Chinese medicine mean when referenced to the effects on the organsof a human body.
If you have ever heard of diagnoses from a traditional Chinese medicine perspective, you will know it is very different from one you might hear from your conventional medical doctor. For starters, you might notice that the majority of health concerns in this system are based around your organs.
An example of this might be liver qi (pronounced ‘chee’) stagnation or heart yin deficiency. One important fact to know when you are learning about the different patterns that may be going on in your body is that a diagnosis concerning a certain organ system does not necessarily correlate with poor health of that physical organ.
So in the common examples listed above, liver qi stagnation does not necessarily mean that there is any thing wrong with your physical liver. This strange concept is due to the fact that theories of dysfunction that are thought to manifest in certain symptom pictures are attributed to an effect of the energetic function of the organ, rather than the physical.
For example, liver qi stagnation manifests in frustration, irritability, sighing, PMS, painful periods and indigestion. The liver is responsible for maintaining the smooth flow of qi throughout the body, and stagnation of qi is thought to produce pain and mood changes. So while on a blood test your liver enzymes would likely appear normal or unrelated to these symptoms, addressing liver health from a Chinese medicine perspective can help relieve some of these symptoms.
The other diagnosis I mentioned, heart yin deficiency, is making reference to the balance of yin and yang in each organ. If you are a child of the 90s, you may remember a black and white swirly symbol that everyone wore as jewelry or you might even have a tattoo to remind you of this phase. This symbol is a representation of yin and yang.
Yin is the black section and is more nurturing, anchoring, dark, calming, cool, female and nourishing. Yang is the white section, and is more hot, floating, energetic, expanding, bright, and male. The two are always in balance and have important functions in each organ system.
An example of this function in heart yin deficiency involves restful sleep. According to traditional Chinese medicine, the mind comes down out of the head at night and rests in the heart. This allows the mind to be calm and still, and for the body to rest. It is anchored there by heart yin, but if the heart yin is deficient then the mind will escape and become active in the head at night, causing insomnia due to excessive thoughts.
Above and beyond a specific balance of yin and yang, the organ systems are also responsible for a variety of emotions that we may experience on a daily basis. The heart is correlated with joy and sadness, lungs with grief, kidneys with fear, liver with anger and the spleen with worry. Excessive or predominant manifestation of these emotions may be connected with a corresponding energetic dysfunction.
These systems are also vulnerable to dysfunction after a variety of emotional events that will be discussed in upcoming articles. Imbalances in systems are generally addressed in my practice using acupuncture, dietary changes, and supportive supplements when necessary!
It is important to purchase traditional Chinese medications from a trusted source or reputable company with proper standardization and safety testing to avoid contaminated products. Potential interactions with medications must also be assessed!
Read on to learn more about how 5 element theory and your energetic systems could be affecting your health from a traditional Chinese medicine standpoint!