Unraveling The Mystery Of Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM, may seem exotic and foreign but it is really a simple and approachable system of wellness care that can benefit anyone.  

TCM is a 2,500 year old, comprehensive, energy based system of health care.  It includes diet, herbs, massage, acupuncture, bodywork and environmental balance to maintain and build health. TCM recognizes the subtle connections between spirit, emotions, mind and body and views the organs as energy centers that are all interconnected.

At its core TCM is about supporting energy, finding balance and the individuality of the person.  

In Chinese Herbal Medicine there are 14 basic therapies employed to balance energy in the body. Many of these Chinese herbal combinations utilize the same plants we use in the West. They may act as diuretics, alteratives, laxatives, tonics, expectorants, etc. The difference is found in their combinations and their applications.    

The 14 basic Chinese herbal combinations are designed to restore healthy chi (energy), to balance Yin and Yang energies and to balance the constitutional elements which may become excessive or deficient. The Chinese constitutional elements are Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. The appropriate TCM herbal therapy takes into account the individual’s primary constitution, the health of their chi, their balance of yin and yang and any excess or deficiency in the elements.

The simplest way to understand this is by example:  

Consider an individual with what we would consider a “fiery” or perhaps “Type A” personality - They are always on the go, outspoken, enthusiastic, and full of energy. They may have a primarily Fire constitution. When they get out of balance they may either become nervous, dizzy, manic, irritable, anxious or loud (excess Fire) or they may become fatigued, confused, restless, overwhelmed, or burned out (deficient Fire).  

Alternatively, a person with a primarily Earth constitution tends to be exceptionally compassionate and empathetic, tends to sympathize easily and has a tendency to nurture others while neglecting their own needs. When the Earth energy gets out of balance an individual may feel nausea, chronic worry, fearful of the future or a sour stomach (excess Earth) or they may feel weak, have a poor appetite, poor muscle tone, or cling to the past (deficient Earth).

Most people have a constitution that is a combination of the elements, sometimes with one distinct tendency that stands out above the rest. The Chinese herbal combinations are designed to restore balance to the individual based on the whole picture of the person, thus it is truly a Holistic approach to health and wellness.

Rachel Anzalone

Rachel Anzalone is a Master Herbalist and Certified Natural Health Professional at Holistic Lakewood, 15217 Madison Avenue, Lakewood, OH 44107 www.HolisticLakewood.com

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Volume 8, Issue 3, Posted 9:45 PM, 02.07.2012