More than 4,000 years of tradition endorse the principles of traditional Chinese medicine. Phytotherapy, diet, acupuncture and body techniques such as massage called tui-na or exercises of qi gong and tai chi are your tools. All of them converge in the same objective: balance the vital energy to live in harmony with oneself.
Two Theories about Chines Medicine
Traditional Chinese medicine bases its knowledge on two theories: that of yin and yang (opposing but complementary forces, whose balance in the person is essential for their well-being) and that of the five elements of nature (earth, metal, water, wood and fire) from which a network of relationships with flavors, emotions, body parts and seasons is created through continuous cycles of generation and destruction.
The yin and the yang. Yin includes, among other concepts, cold, humidity, darkness, passivity, contraction, descending direction, substance, interior, feminine, earth and water. Yang embraces opposites, that is, heat, dryness, light, action, expansion, ascending direction, energy, exterior, masculine, sky and fire. The solid organs (lungs, heart, liver, kidney and spleen) are considered yin, while the gaps (intestine, gall bladder, stomach and bladder) are yang. The interaction between yin and yang gives rise to qi, a vital energy that flows through the meridians or channels of the whole body. The qi, along with the blood, provides us with the components we need to feel good. All people have aspects of yin and yang, but when the dynamics between both are altered in the organism and either of the two forces becomes predominant, disease or emotional problems ensue. Infections, accidents, pollution, an incorrect diet, dislikes and even climatic changes are factors that can produce alterations in the yin-yang balance.
The five elements
The qualities of each one of them can be attributed to everything that exists in the universe, including the different parts of our body. The five main organs are associated with the five elements: heart (fire), lungs (metal), spleen (earth), liver (wood) and kidneys (water). Just as one element supports or inhibits the function of another (water extinguishes fire and fire melts metal), so one organ affects another: the kidneys (water) affect the heart (fire) and the heart controls the lungs (metal).
Medicinal plants, along with acupuncture, are a fundamental pillar of traditional Chinese medicine. The first documented formulas date from the third century BC. Knowledge about Chinese herbs has been passed down from generation to generation and has been experimented for hundreds of years. Chinese herbal medicine classifies each plant according to its energy, taste, direction and specific effects on one of the five basic organs. There are four energies (cold, heat, warmth and freshness), five flavors (acid, bitter, sweet, spicy and salty), two directions (ascending and descending) and four effects (disperse, consolidate, purge and tone). The acid taste has an astringent action that concentrates the qi; the bitter exerts a eliminating effect that moves the qi downwards; the sweet is nourishing and harmonizing, it slows down the qi; the spicy stimulates, accelerates and elevates the qi; and the salty softens and dissolves the frozen qi. Depending on these parameters, formulas can be developed that act selectively on certain parts of the body and penetrate one or the other meridian depending on the symptoms that you wish to combat. Thus, for example, an ascending action herb would be used to treat a disorder called “subsidence”, such as diarrhea.
Work on the meridians
Traditional Chinese medicine establishes the existence of 12 main meridians that bear the name of the organ whose energy conveys (heart, lung, liver, kidney …). Each one of them joins different acupuncture points along its path. Although acupuncture can be applied as a single therapy, Chinese medicine often uses it in combination with other therapeutic techniques such as herbal medicine, diet, massage or gymnastics. The introduction of fine needles directly on various points of the meridians can stimulate or slow down the energy flow. Its effects are fast and effective. The Chinese massage called tui-na also works, like acupuncture, on the energy channels of the organism, but it does it in another way: it mobilizes with precise manipulations (pressure, acupressure, friction, rotation, unblocking joints) the so-called qi and xue, that is to say, the corporal energy and the blood, whose stagnation gives rise to numerous ailments.
Part of traditional Chinese medicine is an ancient movement system based on breathing and meditation techniques, designed to develop and improve the circulation of vital energy. Some of these exercises have come to us under the name of qi gong or tai chi. The goal of qi gong is to release the inner source of energy and open the body to the qi that circulates outside by adopting certain postures and a certain mental attitude. Tai chi pursues the same purpose but resorts to interwoven movements in a natural way rather than to static postures. Its habitual practice helps to harmonize the inner qi. As a result, all organs and systems are vitalized and self-healing mechanisms are stimulated.