I have recently been seeing patients with suffering from symptoms apparently unrelated to colds or the flu, such as irregular menses. Sometimes, treating such conditions with acupuncture or herbs will trigger sneezing, a runny nose, or other signs of cold or flu. In traditional Chinese medicine, this is called “internal evil coming out to the exterior.”
These patients had colds or the flu before, but the wind, cold and other pathogens have not been completely expelled. Therefore, acupuncture or herbs energize the immune system, which tries again to expel the pathogens.
Please do not ignore minor cold or flu symptoms. An old saying of Chinese medicine says, “Hundreds of ailments may begin from exposure to wind.” The wind has the power to carry other pathogens that invade your body, such as cold. Many bodily imbalances and disharmonies originate from such failure to recover from a cold or flu. This is known as “unrecovered cold and flu.”
Besides gynecologic problems, I also have been treating other problems, such as sleeping disorders, join pain, etc., often the result of treating cold- and flu-originated pneumonia and other infections using antibiotics. Antibiotic damage the yang functional energy.
Some people after antibiotic treatment may feel that some of their body functions have not recovered properly and may even experience some symptoms.
If that is the case, soft therapies such as lifestyle and diet adjustments, nutritional therapy or exercise usually won’t be able effectively to change organ functions. In my previous article, I have already mentioned that for those patients who have more serious energy blockages, organ functional energy deficiencies and yin/yang imbalances, nutritional supplements may not be absorbed properly. Then a purely nutritional approach will not be helpful.
In this kind of situation, acupuncture and especially herbs used in the context of classical Chinese medicine are able to unlock and initiate organ function again. After the normal body functions have been restored, other therapies will become effective again. As to what herbs are used for this purpose, those are selected for the patient’s individual needs based on the acupuncture meridians and organ functions that require treatment.
If you suspect that some of your physical problems may be caused by so-called “unrecovered cold or flu,” talk with a classically-trained, experienced practitioner of Chinese medicine to help adjust your body function and return to normal.
Written by Sophia Tang
Recently, I saw a patient who had come to see me about three years ago for help with severe sinusitis, cough and asthma. Since that time , she was recovered well. Now, some of problems were reoccurring these days, so she came to see me again . I gave her acupuncture treatment and some herbal medicine . I expected her to recover well soon this time.
Her history three years ago was on and off sinus infection, cough and asthma for a year. Asthma made it hard for her to breathe. The doctor had given her antibiotics, cough medicine, and an inhaler for the asthma. She was not able to sleep because of the severity of the symptoms. A CT scan revealed that the sinus cavities were filled with mucus. The medical doctor recommended a surgery to alleviate the sinus congestion, but she felt that the surgery won’t really resolve her problems. She searched on internet and chose to come to see me.
Here was her case three year ago.
She felt hungry, but had no appetite because of the loss of the sense of smell and taste caused by the sinus congestion. She craved sweets, especially chocolate. Thirst and urination and bowel movements were normal. There were no pains or aches. Perspiration was normal. She sometimes felt a bit feverish, and some hot flashes due to menopause. Her hands and feet had a sensation of warmth (although her feet felt cold to the touch). She had her last period three years ago.
This patient had been on antibiotics and other medication on and off for quite some time. This had weakened her internal organs. She felt warm, but this sensation of warmth was not a sign of energetic fullness. This was due to chronic infection, “congested heat” and “deficiency heat,” as those are known in Chinese medicine. She was pale and had weak muscle tone. In the view of Chinese medicine, her spleen was weak and her blood was obviously deficient. Long-term use of an inhaler for asthma depletes the lungs and makes them cold. That is why she had nasal congestion and post-nasal drip. The asthma also indicates depletion of the kidneys, since those are responsible for proper breathing according to Chinese medicine. The kidney deficiency was easy to diagnose.
I gave her two herbal formulas combined, dang gui si ni tang and ling gan jiang wei xin xia ren tang. Besides those two formulas, I also added herbs to tonify the kidneys, clear infection and deficiency heat, and open the nasal passages. The two main formulas originate from Chinese classics, Shang Han Lun (傷寒論) and Jin Gui Yao Lue (金匱要略).
During treatment, the patient reported sneezing and blowing out a lot of green and yellowish mucus. The mucus had such color because it had remained in the sinuses for so long. After two acupuncture treatments and some herbal medication, most of the discomfort and symptoms of disharmony had disappeared. I then gave her some herbal powder to maintain and consolidate the result.
After four months, she came back with a sinus infection again. That time the symptoms were very minor. She told me that she had gone to see her medical doctor to have CT scan and had found out that the mucus in sinus cavities had been cleared up. She was happy with the result. I gave her acupuncture treatment and some herbal powder . I have not seen her until this recent visit.
Chinese medicine is effective and inexpensive. It can prevent further complications and prevent future problems. Please note that this herbal treatment is customized to benefit the individual mentioned. It is not recommended for general use or self-medication.
Written By Sophia Tang
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) refers to a wide range of symptoms occurring about a week before the onset of menses. Symptoms include mood swings, depression, irritability, anxiety, headache, insomnia, craving for sweets, fatigue, abdominal distention, breast tenderness and swelling, back soreness and pain, edema, feeling of cold, etc.Generally speaking, a woman with a perfectly balanced and harmonized body would not feel much difference in physical or emotion before menstruation. If you experience certain symptoms before menstruation, it means that your body has some imbalance. These imbalances, from the perspective of Chinese medicine, are generally related to blocked meridians, qi and blood stagnation, and weakness of internal organs. The most relevant organs are the liver, spleen, kidney, and heart.
Let’s briefly talk about the those four organs’ physiological functions according to traditional Chinese medicine, and their relationships with PMS.
The liver has a dispersive capacity, which means it is able to regulate the flow of qi. This function promotes blood circulation, fluid metabolism, digestion, emotional balance, and a woman’s menstrual cycle. In other words, if your liver’s dispersive function is normal, your energy should flow smoothly without obstruction. This helps blood circulation, fluid metabolism, and digestion. The emotional state will be happy and the menstrual cycle regular. Therefore, before menstruation, the symptoms of mood swings, depression, irritability, anxiety, breast tenderness and swelling, and water retention are related to dysfunction of the liver. The liver also has the function of storing the blood and regulating the volume of the blood. Some women have trouble falling asleep before menstruation. This usually indicates a deficiency of the liver blood or heart blood.
The spleen governs transportation and transformation, and controls the blood flowing within the vessels. Transformation and transportation refer to promoting digestion and absorption, the transport of nutrients, and water metabolism. The spleen also governs the lower abdomen, so that bloating and water retention are also related to deficiency of the spleen. Some women also crave for sweets before menstruation. Since the spleen is associated with the sweet taste, this craving for sweets often indicates imbalance and deficiency of the spleen. Also, some women bleed for well over five days. The flow seems unstoppable. We call this symptoms metrostaxis, which means a slight but continuous uterine hemorrhage. This is related to a dysfunction of the liver, which stores the blood, and the spleen, which controls the blood flowing within the vessels. I have recently treated one woman with this symptom. I used one base formula called “Jiaoai Soup” from the classical Chinese medicine book of Jin Gui Yao Lue, and added some herbs based on her own current physical condition and constitution. The problem was resolved in a quite short period of time
The kidneys are viewed as the origin of life. They control the growth and development of the body. They are also responsible for reproduction, water metabolism, the reception of energy through breathing, and they producing marrow, which is traditionally said to make up the brain and manufacturing blood. The kidneys’ yang energy also warms up the surrounding organs. The kidneys are located in lumbar region. Therefore, before menstruation, symptoms of fatigue, anxiety, soreness and pain in the lower back, water retention and feeling cold are mostly related to deficiency of the kidneys and blockage of the meridians.
Finally, we need to talk about the function of the heart. The heart governs the blood and is in charge of mental activities. A lot of women with PMS have constitutionally cold hands and feet. In other words, these women have a deficiency of kidney and heart yang. Therefore, before menstruation, symptoms of feeling cold and having trouble falling asleep are mostly related to a weakness of heart yang energy and a deficiency of heart blood.
Early on in my practice, I have used acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine to help to tune up a lot of female patients’ physical constitution. Clinically, treating their problems begins by doing a diagnosis based on their signs and symptoms. With a correct diagnosis, effective treatment is very likely. If a patient does not have a serious disharmony of heat versus cold or yin versus yang requiring immediate attention, I will usually ask her to come twice a month for acupuncture treatments, and take four to six packs of raw herbs before, during and after menstruation cycle . If they follow the treatment course and my dietary guidelines, improvement will be seen within the first month of treatment. After three to four months of regular treatments and tune ups, most of the PMS symptoms will disappear. Their physical constitution will be greatly improved. This kind of tune up also promotes health in general, builds a good foundation of body self-healing capability and prevents a lot of future illnesses.
Written By Sophia Tang
Chinese medicine physician tune the body from a macroscopic,holistic point of view. We use such techniques as acupuncture, herbal medicine, massage, bloodletting, and cupping to organize the body’s internal environment. In the big network of our body, we use those modalities to help the energy in the meridians to flow smoothly and without blockage. In this way, the energy and nutrients can be spread among all the internal organs without obstruction. The toxins can be more easily metabolized and expelled out of our body. If there is any organ functional deficiency or disorder, we use herbal medicine to strengthen the organ’s function. Most organ functional deficiencies are explained in terms of “cold” and “dampness” within the affected organ. If you could visualize your pancreas as bloated, cold and humid, that would convey the idea that it is not doing its job very well. In this situation, a Chinese physician will use herbal medicine to reduce the cold and dampness to help that organ. When the pancreas is no longer cold and damp, its functional energy will be recovered and it function well again. Its physiological function will return to normal.
As for the liver, a typical functional disorder is called “qi stagnation.” In the five-element Chinese medical tradition, the liver belongs to the element wood. Wood likes to be sparse. In other words, it is said that the liver is like wood and likes to be trimmed, so that it can be growing better. The Chinese physician uses acupuncture to resolve the problem of “qi stagnation.” If the disorder is severe, herbal medicine will be necessary. This will disperse the liver qi stagnation, liver fire, inflammation and blood stasis; herbs will also help spread the liver qi energy. Through those kinds of methods, we can unblock the energy flow of meridians, so the toxins can be easily moved out of our body and clean up our internal environment.
Often naturopaths and nutritionists will recommend fruit and/or vegetable juices to detoxify the body. This method needs to be adjusted to the individual patient’s constitution. If not, some people may find themselves weakened in the long term. In my practice I have seen many patients whose organ functions were actually weakened after following such diets. But acupuncture and herbal medicine can also help recover.
Nutrition is important and necessary, even fundamental. Knowing the nature and character of the foods we eat helps us balance our diet. On the other hand, it is possible to fall into extremes, such as consuming no fats. Fats are as important as any other nutrient. Essential fatty acids are indispensable for health, and those can only come from certain fats and oils, such as fish oil, flax oil, and many other entirely beneficial vegetable oils. Modern research has shown that “trans fats” and hydrogenated vegetable oils are linked to modern chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Knowing which oils are beneficial and which aren’t is therefore essential for deciding what oils to cook with, what oils to use as supplements, and so on.
In my practice, usually I will ask patients about what they eat and what kind of oils they use for cooking. I will give them dietary suggestions according to their physical constitution and current health issues. By doing so, in the course of treatments, it will help get better results. This will also help build a good foundation of health.
Nowadays, it is becoming popular among people to take supplements. If those supplements have good qualities, and people are taking those moderately based on their individual condition and functional nutritional needs, that will be helpful for those who have only or mostly nutritional deficiencies. But for those patients who have more serious energy blockages, organ functional energy deficiencies and yin/yang imbalances, nutritional supplements may not be absorbed properly. Then a purely nutritional approach will not be helpful.
To tune up our body and help it heal, we first have to organize our entire internal environment. The energy of meridians has to flow smoothly and all organs have to be functioning at their optimal level. Then our food can be absorbed properly and toxins can easily be metabolized and excreted out of our body.
Some self discipline about doing exercise like yoga and qi gong, having a good diet, spiritual practice, meditation and choosing our life style wisely, will go a long way toward our healing.
Written by Sophia Tang
In recent days I have treated a few children for conditions mostly
related to the misuse of modern drugs. I wanted to share my concerns with parents, so that they may have natural options and so that their children may end up with fewer health problems. I hope that this in turn will help children reach their fullest potential.
One nine-year-old girl with eczema who came to my office was particularly outstanding. She had almost no appetite. She felt bloated after eating. She could not sleep at night because of severe itching from skin and food allergies, and would only fall asleep in the morning. She felt thirsty and sweaty, as well as chills inside and heat on the surface of her body. She was treated with antibiotics for an ear infection before coming to see me. Her mother used an inhaler to help relieve her asthma and cough she had been suffering from at one time. During an interview with her mother present, it turned out that the girl’s condition was due partly to the drugs’ side effects and partly to poor dietary habits: she was consuming a lot of fruit and drank very cold drinks. In modern thinking, we associate fruits with goodness and healthiness, but according to the view of traditional Chinese medicine, an overabundance of fruit and raw foods leads to an imbalance named “cold and dampness.” Just to give an idea of how “cold” her body was, I recall how she was shivering while lying on my treatment table, even under a blanket and with the heat lamp over her!
I gave the traditional Chinese diagnosis of “severe yang deficiency of the spleen, heart and kidneys, and accumulation of toxins in the liver.” The term yang represents the patient’s metabolic function. The organs named above do not correspond to the modern understanding of organic function, but represent abstract diagnostic entities that help refine the diagnosis and guide the treatment. An herbal treatment was therefore prescribed to help recover the yang energy in those organs and clear the toxins from the liver. Acupuncture was also used, and after only a couple of treatments, she recovered.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, the balance of yin and yang is the most important condition for health. Modern drugs have a mostly yin quality. An excess of yin will damage the yang. Some drugs, such as antibiotics, damage the yang energy of the heart. The heart is associated with the fire element in the five-element system of Chinese medicine. Less heart yang means less warmth and liveliness in the body, as if the weather were rainy, cold and damp, a greater tendency to fatigue and a lowered immunity. Only the presence of yang, like sunshine, would let those cold and humid conditions evaporate, enlivening the body again.
For many children, problems aren’t as serious, but of similar nature. Antibiotics and inhalers weaken their yang energy. As a result, they need a long time to recover from colds and flus, have a hard time falling asleep, and do not have much appetite. Often these children will present with cold hands and feet, which is another indication for weak yang energy. This is contrary to children’s general constitution, who, according to traditional Chinese texts, normally have abundant yang energy. When children have weak yang and reduced digestive capacity, they tend not to grow as tall, have thin frames, puffy muscles, poor memory and a tendency to tire easily.
I once treated a teenager who suffered from scoliosis of the lumbar vertebrae. The curvature was caused by muscular atrophy on one side; thus the muscles on the other side pulled the spine disproportionately, causing a deformation. The treatment principle consisted in a special acupuncture technique that employs long and thick needles. This teenager did not seem to be otherwise suffering from any serious condition besides lacking energy and a bit of acne. When I interviewed his father, I learned that my patient had been on antibiotics off and on for about three years because of an ear infection when he was about five years old.
I reasoned that prolonged treatment with antibiotics depleted his spleen energy and blocked certain energy channels . Again, in Chinese medicine the spleen represents the digestive system, food metabolism and muscular development, rather than the modern biomedical notion of spleen function. Fortunately, after a couple of acupuncture sessions, his muscles started to grow slowly on the atrophied side. With acupuncture treatments and daily exercise, we can hope that his muscles will become more even and vertebral alignment can be ameliorated.
From these experiences, I wish to tell parents that children can be helped to grow healthy and strong, so as to develop a robust physical constitution into their adult years. In this way, traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture can be of help. Instead of using modern drugs to cover up the manifestation of illness, thereby eventually weakening the immune system, Chinese medicine goes to the root of the problem. With appropriate diagnosis and treatment, children can be healthy and strong. This medical system has been in use for thousands of years and has and extensive track record of safety, effectiveness and a near complete absence of side effects.
Writen by Sophia Tang
Chinese medicine sees our body as a reflection of this universe and sees the material world as consisting of the five elements of wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. In our human body, each organ is attributed to one of the five elements. Each of the five elements has a supporting and controlling relationship with each other. Chinese medicine also treats our human body as a network system. This network system is constructed of 12 major meridians or channels that connect directly to 365 major acupuncture points. Everything in our body is connected with those meridian channels including the organs such as liver, heart, spleen, lung, kidney, gall bladder, intestines, etc. Different types of energy such as Qi, blood, essence(Jin) and body fluids flow through our meridian channel and nourish the whole body system including all our organs. If the flowing of each meridian channel is vibrated at its optimal frequency without any disturbance and blockage, every organ has a harmonious supporting and controlling relationship with each other, and there is no deficient or excess energy within our body, we are supposed to be healthy.
Because Chinese medicine physiology is based on a type of theory that is totally different from Western medicine, it stands to reason that the health indexes based on Chinese medicine are also totally difference from western medicine.
I will give you an example. If a person is always feeling the chills with cold hands and feet all the time, the diagnosis from Chinese medicine would be heart yang deficiency. Heart has the fire attribute in the five elements system. It is like sunshine in our human body to warm our body. Yang energy represents functional energy. Without enough functional Yang energy, the heart can not carry its normal function to pump out blood with enough pressure, speed and temperature. The result of this is poor circulation in our body. The body extremities would be cold because the heart is lacking of functional energy and it can’t do the job that it is supposed to do. It is easier for the body to accumulate garbage and become susceptible to tumor growths for people with this type of physical constitution.
If this person go to see a western doctor due to chronic fatigue syndrome and frequent urination, with all perfect figures from the lab test and examination from the doctor, the doctor would tell that person that “your physical health is fine. However if this person go to see an authentic Chinese medicine physician, he or she would definitely know what is going on with this person’s health and can even foresee what physical conditions may be manifested in the future. The healer will then tune up this person with acupuncture, herbal medicine or some other healing modalities. This will prevent these physical symptoms from manifesting into a disease. There is one old saying in Chinese medicine that the top physicians will treat some things and symptoms which have not manifested into a disease yet.
There are examinations used by Chinese medical healer to check if a person is healthy. These examinations include visual inspection of tongue, eyes and other part of the body, smelling, questioning and pulse taking. Traditional Chinese medicine healers do not rely on a disease name and laboratory test to tell you if you are healthy or not. If you would like to know if you are healthy or not check out the following indexes. If you meet these criteria without any uncomfortable symptoms in your body then you are physically healthy from the view of the Chinese medicine system. If not, you should see a traditional Chinese medicine healer to get an examination and to tune up your body, so your body will be back to the balance and meet these criteria of these health indexes according to Chinese medicine physiology. Any unhealthy symptoms won’t be manifested into diseases in the future.
Health indexes in Traditional Classical Chinese medicine system
1. Normal appetite. Food tastes good. You get normal hungry feeling. Do not overeat.
2. Have a bowl movement everyday at the same time
3. Urinate 5-7 times during a day , 0-1 time during the night without pain or difficulty
4. Have no problem to falling asleep and can sleep all night through
5. Do not have any abnormal sweat or abnormal thirsty during the day or night. Can sweat during exercise
6. Wake up with penile erection with the male and with sensitive breast nipple with the female
7. Pain free
8. Have warm hands and feet and cool face
9. Have the energy level you desire.
10. Woman has 28 days of menstrual cycle without uncomfortable feeling and cramping
Let me give your some examples about why meeting those criteria are important about your health
A person who is always feeling hunger and craving food. This is an indication that there is too much heat in the digestion system, so the digestion system is working too fast. This heat will impact any nearby organ such as pancreases, once the pancreases are not functioning normally it is possible that diabetes may be manifested in the future.
A person always wakes up during 1-3 o’clock in the morning. There is an indication here that tells us that there is an unbalance in the liver channel. This unbalance could be something excessive growing in the liver or an energy deficiency or a blockage in the liver channel. If you go to see a western doctor to tell you why you are waking up during this time, they may not be able to tell you there is anything wrong if the examination and the lab testing are fine. If this kind of symptom is lasting for over 2 years and you back to see western doctor again, you might be surprised to find out that the lab testing could tell you something is wrong with the liver, which could be something like growing tumors. If you go to see a well-trained Traditional Chinese medicine healer in the beginning of this situation, they would definitely know what the diagnosis is. They will then tune up the body to get back to balance, so this unbalance won’t be manifested into a serious health issue in the future.
All questions asked from a Traditional Chinese medicine healer are the starting point for doing a good diagnosis. All symptoms showing in your body are signs to tell the healer what is going on with your body. So be sure to tell your Chinese medicine physician all symptoms you are having no matter how strange it might sound.
Wise people know the prevention is the best medicine for their over all health. The Traditional Classical Chinese medicine system is the most complete medical system since the ancient times. It is the only system that also includes prevention as part of overall treatment.
Written by Sophia Tang
When a woman goes to see a Chinese medicine
practitioner, a must asked question is about the menstrual situation. The menstrual situation tells Chinese medicine practitioners about the general health and condition of the women. Most Chinese medicine practitioners know the importance of the normal menstrual situation for a woman’s health, but not all of them know exactly “why” unless the practitioners have a deep understanding about how body mechanism works from the perspective of Traditional Classical Chinese medicine.
Traditional Classical Chinese medicine believes that the nutrients in the breast milk are the direct source of the “period”. This can be proved by two observations. One is that a mother does not have a period when doing baby breastfeeding due to the milk given to the baby. The other is that most women experience the fullness and bloating of their breasts before their periods come. They feel released from the situation after the ending of their periods. From this point of view, the flow of milk nutrients through meridians to the ovary and uterus is crucial to avoid diseases. If the milk nutrients are not totally going down to the ovary and uterus and get deposited in the breast, combining with qi and blood stagnation, the breast lumps or cancer can be developed. If the breast milk reverts, the milk nutrients will be accumulated in other organs. This may cause other health problems or cancers in the future. Some of the cancers include lupus, liver cancer, leukemia, lymphoma, and lung cancer.
From the above explanation, you can see why having a normal monthly “period” is important for a woman’s health. Through menstruation, the milk nutrients can be eliminated and won’t be deposited in the body to cause future health problems. Women who no longer have menstruation need to have good daily bowel movements in order to eliminate milk nutrients from the body.
Regarding to a woman’s menstruation, the heart is playing an important role. Good heart yang energy will keep the good circulation in the breast and sending the milk nutrients down to the ovary and uterus. This will prevent breast milk nutrient from depositing, so no lumps or cancers can be formed with excessive milk nutrients.
A lot of women have “internal cold” that remains untreated. This will also lead to a lot of future health problems including breast cancer. Some symptoms of internal cold include having cold hands or feet and always feeling chilled. This internal cold is developed by physical constitution with the weakness of heart yang energy or other factors including never fully recovering from the common cold or flu and the diet with eating too much cold foods and drinking cold beverages. It should be obvious to know why people with “internal cold” are more susceptible to tumor growths. Because of the “internal cold” , there is no good circulation in the body. It is easier for any toxin to stay in our body and for the blood to get clogged. With all uneliminated toxins, excessive nutrients, and blood clots , tumors can be more easily formed.
Besides any physical condition that can lead women to have breast disorder problems, the emotional health will also play an important role about women’s breast health. There are a couple of meridians connected to the breast including kidney, stomach, spleen, liver and pericardium channels. According to the five elements theory, Emotions such as joy, anger, anxiety, melancholy, sorrow, fear and fright, are related to different internal organs. Any excessive emotion will have an impact on the proper functions of related organs. In other words, any of those excessive emotions may disturb the harmonious vibration of energy channels. This will lead to energy blockage or even cause the malfunction of organs. Those subtle emotional energies could store in our body, which may not only cause problems in the physical but most of time also in the spiritual level.
Traditional Classical Chinese medicine offer very natural and effective way to deal with breast disorder including breast lumps or cancers. The treatment principles are unlocking the energy blockage with related meridian channels using acupuncture and strengthening the heart, eliminating excessive milk nutrient, attacking and melting out the lumps or cancers with herbal medicines. Besides the treatment for the physical level, people are encouraged to go for anything to bring their emotional and spiritual uplifting to enhance the healing process.
Reference: Classical Chinese medicine treating breast disorder from Dr. Hai Sha Ni
Written By Sophia Tang