Should we be looking to the Orient to utilise more of their alternative health systems?

chinese herbs table manuscript 900 - Should we be looking to the Orient to utilise more of their alternative health systems?

We’ve already taken it upon ourselves in the Western world to adopt a selection of the Traditional Chinese Medicine therapies and exercises but should we be taking things further by utilising those left that we’re still yet to grasp with both hands?

Adoption into Western culture

It wasn’t until the 1970s that Eastern practices which were said to aid both mental and physical health started to gain popularity in Western culture and were brought under scrutiny to research their effects. The advantages of practicing meditation, yoga, acupuncture and Tai Chi became more mainstream to a point where they are now synonymous with relaxation and positive mental health. Other counterparts from the same holistic system of cupping and coining, herbal medicines and moxibustion to name a selection of the others have yet to be embraced with the same enthusiasm.

A complete holistic health care system

Traditional Chinese Medicine is outlined as a completely natural holistic health care system that has been in use for over two thousand years.

It is said to consider all aspects of a patient’s lifestyle as opposed to treating a specific ailment or symptom and is believed to do this by stimulating the body’s own natural healing to encourage better health and minimise disease.

This is achieved via the body’s network of meridians where its ‘vital energy’ or Qi connects and stimulates the major organs, so that working on specific paths will help in curing the problems relating to each of them. We have readily accepted the use of acupuncture, which works on those very same meridians and is said to regulate the Qi (or chi) and has been shown to greatly reduce chronic pain from a variety of health problems.

The sum of their parts

Designed to work alongside each other as a complete package are we therefore missing a trick by only employing the techniques we’ve so far managed to accept as useful? The complete system after all is supposed to analyse the patient’s lifestyle and environment, manage their stresses and emotional well being, while also improving their physical existence by way of nutritional diet and regular exercise. So why have we accepted some sections and not others if they’re supposed to work as a complete plan?

Elements more and less accepted

Acupuncture

A method of regulating Qi by inserting fine needles into the skin along the body’s meridian pathways. This method is now acknowledged to combat pain, stress and also improve hormonal balance. It is used to treat such pain as migraine and headache, digestion issues of nausea and vomiting, emotional disorders of anxiety and depression, and also in degenerative diseases and rehabilitation such as arthritis and in personal injury.

Cupping

Recently making more of an impact into popular culture due to its promotion by celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Justin Bieber and Victoria Beckham, each of these has been seen sporting the small round welts where blood has been pulled up through the skin from the placement of air-tight cups, designed to remove harmful toxins by promoting an increased blood flow to energy points on the body. With similar suggested benefits to acupuncture as pain management, improved immunity, and better digestion should we be seeing more of this method being performed alongside its acupuncture associate?

Aromatherapy

These oils aren’t used solely in stress management of psychological issues. Through inhalation or passing through the skin via massage these essential oils not only provide a pleasant smell but can also provide respiratory disinfection and work as a decongestant. The molecules from the oils are passed through the lungs to other parts of the body. On reaching the brain they are active in our limbic system that controls emotion, heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, memory and stress. This may have a simple and subtle effect on our body but one we have accepted as a positive action nonetheless.

Chinese herbal medicines

As one of the major parts in Traditional Chinese Medicine the herbal medicines are overlooked in Western culture. Perhaps because of the way a herbalist decides which of the vast array of herbs will make up your own personal assortment to best aid your well-being and heal your specific malady? It may come across as a bit of a dark art, one we still look upon it as something not to be taken too seriously, yet is it too far removed from our own health practitioners picking other mixtures of ingredients from a pharmacy or supermarket shelf we’ve been taught to trust will have the desired outcome?

Combining each of its parts for the greatest benefits

Nutrition

The system is best utilised when combined as a full health package. We should be feeding our nutrition needs by incorporating this system’s diet outlined to regulate detoxification, improve energy levels and prevent deficiencies. We should understand the importance of diet already; sadly it’s a part of our culture we so often get incredibly wrong, with obesity becoming a national problem, especially amongst our children. Perhaps this is an area where we should be listening harder?

Exercise

Yoga and meditation are more universally accepted than the Chinese counterpart of Tai Chi (or Qi Gong) although each work within similar methods of concentration, flexibility and strength through posture and movement. We understand the benefits of general exercise but the manner in which Chinese exercise works and how it develops strength and flexibility through fluid motion means that it doesn’t strain or stress the body giving it a much healthier and low risk way to achieve results.

Massage

Soft tissue massage will stimulate blood flow and increase healthy circulation. Both acupuncture and acupressure will add to the balance and restructuring of your meridians or energy lines. Each of these physical manipulations is set to bring about better natural resistance to illness and disease.

Herbal medicine and moxibustion

The historical use of these natural ingredients whether induced by mouth, airways or through the skin, have been a huge part of the Chinese holistic system for thousands of years. These additional methods that once again are encouraged to add to and improve the body’s existing healing systems have been accepted and utilised by Eastern culture could have an impact on our own approaches if we readily accept them as part of the whole instead of just one small part.

The benefits

It is suggested that by accepting the full system and living by the ways promoted in Chinese culture we can stand to reduce chronic pain, alleviate headaches, balance hormonal problems, improve fertility, enhance the health of each of our major organs, promote and protect our cognitive health, lower our levels of physical and mental stress, and increase our muscle strength, flexibility and balance.

It all sounds incredibly beneficial and with the peace of mind knowing that all the ingredients to the system are natural and organic, when we’re looking for a rounded and wholesome way to achieve a better state of good health, this is surely a system we could do well to consider.

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