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5 Elements

“Let’s talk about the source of your health: internal organs,” Emily started,

“There are, in TCM, five Elements or ‘phases,’ of the Universe. Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. Each of these occurs with a season, an organ system, and other things. The Five Elements are how Qi flows from one part of the universe or your body to another. At different times of the day they are active. Each on has a yin organ – Liver, Heart, Spleen/Pancreas, Lung, and Kidneys, respectively, and a yang organ -Gallbladder, Small Intestine, Stomach, Colon, and Bladder.”
“That’s … a lot to remember,” Arty stammered.
“Don’t worry, over time you’ll learn more. What’s important is that you know that they have a relationship with each other. Nowadays, biomedicine has proven this through the concepts of hormones, enzymes, and the actual processes of digestion and cardio-respiration.
“Why do I bring this up? Well, point of fact is that internal health is more important than external appearances. Your organs and glands, bones and nervous system are far more important than than muscles, cartilage, and skin in daily health. Of course, these external are good indicators of internal health in some cases, or disease in most cases. And they are important to us both cosmetically, and for quality of life. But the simple fact is that your organs are the most important.””What about the brain?”
“Yeah, and the Uterus and Ovaries?” added Sclerosa.
“I’m glad you asked about those, in TCM they have the concept of ‘extraordinary organs’ and they belong to various parts. The brain and uterus are mostly a part of the San Jiao, which is not one of the original five elements, but is considered a Fire element. However, they tend to have more in common with water because the endocrine system at large is Water Element controlled. Don’t worry about that…

“Now, the most important thing is that you know that some things can greatly upset the nervous systems of these organs and send them into ‘aggravated’ states.”

“How would we know if our organs are ‘aggravated’?” Sclerosa asked. Arty looked perplexed.
“I know it is a new concept, but there is a lot of research going on right now into the second and third ‘brains’ of the body. So, mostly we would either perform a test or rely on the diagnostic systems of the tongue and ear. Sometimes you can have strangely tender points on the hands and feet, and that may be an indicator. You need training, so you should just come to me,” Emily smiled cheerfully.
[gap height=”30″]

The Brass Tax

“Ah. So… what’s my organ health look like?” Arty asked.    [teaserbox title=”WICO(R) Scores” ]Not Surprisingly, the WICO test shows a lot of how TCM is accurate in its depiction of internal health. The test was independently developed over 9 years and not by Oriental Medicine practitioners. Yet more than three-quarters of the test are exactly the indicators we use to determine the health as is written in this article, which I wrote in November.
~Shifu C [/teaserbox]

“Well. As per most Americans, your Earth element is weak. In your case, the pancreas is simply taxed out. You also have some stagnant Wood in the form of Hepato-spleno-megaly. When I pressed your abdomen I could sense swelling of the liver and spleen. This proves the Wood controlling Earth relationship. Over time the amount of enzymes your liver had to produce and the toxicity it could not contain from meds and alcohol intake led to a slow and methodical attack on the earth element. Also, your GERD and angina indicates the Wood element is so stagnated it is generating Fire: quite literally, and this is rising up and burning your chest. As this fire cooks your blood and fluids, they become stuck and you get angina. Your blood stagnation is not just simple clotting, it is a process of the Five Elements working together or in your case, not flowing correctly.

“To be honest, it gets more difficult… the Wood is so stagnant it is rebelling against the Metal and so giving you colon issues and liver spots on your skin and chronic bronchitis. AND finally it is taxing its mother-organ, the Water or Kidneys. Mostly in the form of the adrenals, but you are even having reproductive organ issues in the form of impotence and low back pain.”

Arty sat there, flabbergasted. “You mean … all those things are related?”
“For us, they are. And all of them stem from problems of the Middle Jiao, where the Wood and Earth are the main elements. It mostly has to do with sedentary lifestyle and eating habits.”
“And what about me?” Sclerosa asked.

The Female Anatomy

“Sclerosa, although many of your issues belong to the Lower Jiao, as was said before, they all probably began with your Middle Jiao. However, you aren’t the same Wood/Earth type as Arty. Instead You have more of a Fire, Water, and Earth dynamic, which has resulted in an unhappy Earth element.
“But unlike Arty, who got to his deficiencies through stagnation, you got to your stagnation through deficiencies. I took a look at your pulse and tongue and I can instantly tell you ‘eat like a bird’ and probably have tried a number of fad diets, isn’t that true?”
“Well I… I was on Slimfast and then smoothies, several times throughout the years. I lost a lot of weight I just could never keep it off.”
“Right. Now, here’s the problem… your body spent a lot of energy storing all that fat, then you lost it repeatedly, now it is tired, and at the same time you cut your calories too much so your Qi is tired. Your fibro, chronic fatigue, arthiritic hands, and tense shoulders that are tender to the touch are all the result of these negative habits damaging the Earth element. It is the Earth element that controls fat and muscle.
“Fast forward a bit, now that you have weakened states, it is no wonder that you are having troubles in your cycle, even starting menopause a few years too early. They may have left your ovaries inside you after the hysterectomy, but the ovaries are tired and so is your thyroid and adrenal glands. Your hypothyroidism is a sign of general Deficiency Syndrome, and your loss of muscle mass is the proof.”
“So my diet is to blame?”
“Well… yes, but a lot of it is also the fault of the Media. They have given you such bad information over the years. It’s not that uncommon for people to not understand their relationship to food in the least these days. Studies show children are having difficulty recognizing basic foods and vegetables. So it would not be unreasonable in such a society for you to be misled by friends, TV, online ‘doctors’ and dieticians who suggest that eating nothing but cold, raw, and low calorie foods is good for your health. But point of fact, it simply isn’t. Your cells are surrounded by a layer of cholesterol to protect them, and you need carbohydrates to run your nervous system, so how could it be healthy to eliminate those from your diet for years or even decades? Add onto this the growing sedentary lifestyle in America, and you have a recipe for autoimmune conditions, cancer, diabetes, and blood clotting issues. Which is exactly what we are seeing these days.”

Reversing the Process

“OK, so what do we do about this?” Arty asked.
“Well, the first thing you need to realize is that you got down this road through a series of miscalculated turns. You have to ‘retrace’ your steps. This involves removing stagnation, knots, and blocks along the way using cupping, guasha, and tuina/acupressure. Then we have to deal with the emotional causes and disharmonies behind your health slippage, and that means acupuncture. Finally we have to rectify the Qi, restore balance between male and female energies of the body, and supplement what has been lost.”
“Doesn’t fat get converted back… like can’t we reclaim all that?” Sclerosa asked.
“Yes and no. Yes it is energy converted, but frankly not only does it take energy to convert it, but a lot of these fat cells are toxic and full of things like meds, hormones, they might even be dysplastic (pre-cancerous) and so your body will actually lose Qi when you lose weight. The benefit though is that you spend less Qi over the next few years on maintaining those cells.”
“So what are we talking about here, let’s get down to the brass tacks, what do I gotta do to lose this weight?” Arty asked.
“Well, our weight loss system involves acupuncture multiple times a week, keeping a food journal, and exercise. Not everyone can do cardio, and in both of your cases I recommend starting slow and going up over time in intensity. For both of you I think Tai Chi is the best solution, although for Sclerosa, yoga is also a good solution. Swimming or water aerobics is a decent alternative, but the simple fact is both of you have weak Qi, I am worried about your exposure to cold water, so I would have to request you only swim in heated pools and dry off very thoroughly afterwards.”
“The herbs…” Arty’s brow furrowed, “I wonder if they will interfere with my meds and what will they do, how much are they, etc…?”

Drug-Herb Interactions

“In most cases, no, the herbs do not interfere with your meds. Luckily before you started Warfarin/Cumedin we can do the herbs and then you can always add Warfarin. But once you start Warfarin you really should not do that because it has such a narrow TI and can be easily affected by new meds and such. These herbs are Chinese herbs, not just Red Yeast Rice. They work together on many many of your issues, for only around $30 a month in most cases, so very affordable. They take longer to make an impact than most meds do, but they are also much safer.”

“What kind of side effects can we expect?”
“Well, herbs typically don’t have any strong ones, most are in the Qi. But sometimes people have gas, indigestion, constipation or loose stools, and sometimes/rarely they can get a headache. You just call me if anything happens that is too discomforting.”
“Do they taste icky?” Sclerosa asked – she has a sweet tooth, if you recall.
“Well in powder form they are sometimes bitter, but we can also get them in pills and tinctures.””Well she had her gallbladder out, does that matter?”
“No, these aren’t lipids. It’s too bad, before she had that done we might have been able to use acupuncture and herbs to get rid of the stones naturally. Also herbs are great for a variety of internal conditions, not just digestive. Could be cardiovascular, respiratory, nephrotic (kidney), reproductive, circulatory, neuromuscular, or pain, or head issues.””Sounds like more people need to know more about herbs…””Yes, they are fantastic gifts from nature. There seems to be a smear campaign in progress from the pharmaceutical industry through so called “Evidence Based Medicine” and media outlets. But the simple fact is that herbalism is the oldest codified medicine in the world, and the number of human trials is incalculable. We have written records of the common side effects and in many cases, only 1 record of anything ever occurring negative may comprise a hundred years of use. Compare this with meds, where millions die every year from misprescribed herbs or anasthesia.””So they are safe and cheap?””And prophylactic (that means preventative). Which is perhaps the best reason to use them. You may not see the benefit as suddenly, but who wants to wait to get sick?”

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