The Yin and Yang of Healing
No matter where we look in Nature we find that life is full of opposing forces seeking to find balance. And not just in the physical world, as our emotional and spiritual worlds play out with these dynamics as well. The ancient Chinese called this system of balance yin and yang, which they formed by observing patterns and balance in nature. When we look at the world of medicine and healing we can see the concept of yin and yang at work. The Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) approach to healing is very different from our Western model of healing. TCM is a system of healthcare based on balancing the flow of energy through the body. This system recognizes that healing is dependent on transformation of the cellular function by balancing the flow of energy through the body.
Because of this, Traditional Chinese Medicine does not diagnose or treat diseases by name. This is a wonderful approach to healing which I have wholeheartedly embraced. Western medicine, on the other hand, embraced the approach of viewing the body as a machine, which needs to be “fixed” using medicine, surgery or other means. With the discovery of the antibiotic Penicillin in 1928 the concept of “find the enemy in the body, and attack it” was launched in Medicine. Penicillin was termed the “magic bullet”; and with it, the birth of big pharmaceutical companies controlling health care began. This approach to healing caused people to become very fearful when they learned that they had a specific disease. And because this concept also ignores the fact that our body is self-healing, it robs a person of the power to heal themselves.
As the Chinese observed the balance of yin and yang in nature, such as day and night, winter and summer, earth and sky, this led to observing the balances within our bodies as well:
With health, we have vitality and endurance; but with illness we have a depletion of energy.
Healthy joints have movement and flexibility while unhealthy joints become stiff and brittle.
When energy flows freely through the body we feel good, when energy becomes stuck or stagnant we experience pain or inflammation.
So, awareness of the yin and yang energy concepts, allows us to perceive the state of balance or imbalance in the body. Symptoms in the body develop because of these imbalances. For instance, if the stomach is “too cold” digestion will be weak and the “digestive fire will dwindle”; symptoms of gas, bloating or constipation may then manifest. So rather than treating the symptom with medicine or surgery to remove it, thereby eliminating the symptom, TCM seeks to discover why the body moved out of balance in the first place.
The yin side of health represents symptoms that manifest in coldness, dampness, inwardly and more chronic. While yang symptoms tend to be of sudden onset and are hotter and display outwardly. For example, a hot - yang condition would be something that exhibits heat, redness, swelling or pain. To correct this type of imbalance we could use herbs that have the opposite cooling effect such as the mucilaginous herbs like aloe vera, marshmallow and slippery elm (think of aloe vera for sunburn). Or you may use herbs which contain anti-inflammatory properties, as they have a yin or cooling effect, such as yucca or licorice root.
On the other hand, a cold - yin condition would be subtler because the condition has gone on for a long time, the organ or system has become sluggish and the symptoms move inward. An example of this would be a fatty liver, or a virus in the liver. In these cases, you are looking for herbs that help to nourish and rebuild the weakened organ or system, such as the herb milk thistle and the formula Chinese Blood Stimulator. You would also consider using yang herbs cold condition) which in the case of liver weakness, might be herbs to help improve digestion like ginger, fennel, horseradish, papaya, or other digestive stimulants.
The Nature’s Sunshine company has developed a wonderful line of Chinese Herbal formulas which are based on this system of yin/yang balance. They have yin formulas like Chinese Spleen Activator which supports weakened digestion; and Chinese Blood Stimulator which supports weakened liver function. They also have yang formulas which help the body move out excess energy such as Chinese Stress Relief (move excess nervous tension or excessive mind activity) or Chinese Liver Balance to support cleansing and detoxification in the liver (remove congestion and stuck energy). Other formulas include:
Anti-Gas - Clear excess congestion from the digestion system due to poor food choices
Nervous Fatigue – Support a “burned out” nervous system, re-kindle the fire within you.
Breathe Activator – Cleanse the respiratory system of mucus and irritants
Lung Support – Support a weakened respiratory and immune system
KB-C formula and Cordyceps – support a weak kidney and adrenal system. Kidneys house our vital energy in Traditional Chinese medicine. They also balance the function in the structural system.
Kidney Activator – Clears excess congestion and irritants form the urinary system
Trigger Immune – Build a weakened immune system and restore vital energy to the body
HY-C – is a wonderful yin building formula which helps the cells of the body to better take up water and moisture. In Chinese medicine, the concept of yin applies to holding and expanding energy. So, a lack of yin in the cells can lead to an inability to hold water in the cells, resulting in dryness in the eyes, nose, colon or skin for example. Remember, yin conditions develop over time and may be chronic.
IF-C - is a yang formula which moves out excess heat in the body. This can also result in dryness so one should evaluate which imbalance is present. Yang conditions are usually sudden onset, like a sprained ankle. They are often brought about because of injury, or a microbe triggering an immune response; the body then responds with a fever to flush the microbe out.
Chinese Mood Elevator – Builds the Shen (heart based emotional energy) and supports weak circulation and digestion, including liver function.
VS-C – This Chinese formula is harder to explain; most people consider this an anti-viral formula which has an effect against the herpes and shingles virus. This explanation of the formula comes from a Western medicine standpoint. As we are not taking this approach to healing, let me explain the formula in another way. I see this formula as being designed to help the body correct a condition which Chinese medicine calls Wind invading Liver. In Chinese medicine, the liver and gallbladder belong to a system, which they call the Wood Element. The symbol for the Wood Element is a tree. A healthy liver then, like a healthy tree can adapt and move when the wind blows. But if the health of the liver is weakened due to poor food choices, chemicals or emotions, the liver is not able to handle the “winds” which come against it. To make this as concise as possible, if the liver is weak and stress is high, it is easy for the “wind” to cause damage. Catching a cold is an example of wind invading the body. A typical indication of wind in the body is when your symptoms move from place to place. One day your ankle hurts, then next day the shoulder. The herbs in Chinese VS-C help to clear tension out of the liver, and flush heat and inflammation from the body (clearing the effect of wind). Some of the herbs have natural anti-viral properties which also helps the body protect against the invaders. This formula works better when taken ahead of time; to strengthen the liver when immune system weakness is suspected.
The body is self-healing.
We must learn to recognize when and where we are out of balance, be it our diet, exercise routines, emotions, sleep habits or work habits.
The body creates symptoms to alert us to these imbalances. When minor symptoms are ignored, they can turn into illness or disease.
Using the concepts of yin and yang we can choose foods, supplements or lifestyle changes to help balance the body. Ex/ someone with weak (cold) digestion, should eat warm foods like soup and use spicy herbs like ginger.
We have been taught and programmed with dysfunctional belief systems about our bodies and healing. We must learn to recognize these false beliefs and replace them with new beliefs on the power of the body to heal and repair. By doing this we dispel fear (which can damage our health and turn on disease causing DNA. We also empower ourselves thereby activating disease healing DNA in our body.
“Truly being healthy - energetic fitness – is not about how you look, it’s about how you feel. It’s about making your body, mind and Spirit work as a team. “– Bruce Frantzis, author of Chi Revolution.
May you recognize and activate the healing power within you. May you seek wisdom and knowledge - ask questions, and allow the path to healing to unfold before you. ~ Valerie
Disclaimer: Supplement recommendations are not designed to treat a disease condition. Discussions are for educational purposes only. Supplements should be used to nourish and strengthen the natural function of the various body organs and systems so that they will have a greater capacity to heal themselves. It is not intended to replace your doctor's recommendations. Any questions or concerns that you have regarding existing medical conditions, or the use of medications with supplements, should be discussed with your nutritionally oriented medical doctor.
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