Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), as any health system, aims to preserve and restore the health of individuals. But as energy medicine, it searches energy balance in order to restore health.
To regain this state of energy balance, it looks at how and when this disharmony occurs, analyzing all the constraints that have caused this discrepancy and find the best actions for its restoration, taking into account not only the alterations produced in the same individual, but also policies that influence the environment around him/her.
In fact, the definition of health proposed by WHO, is the most suited to the TCM, "state of complete physical, mental and individual welfare and not merely the absence of disease."
The TCM, in achieving these objectives, has different therapeutic techniques at their disposal, which can be differentiated into five main areas:
- Acupuncture: this is the insertion of fine needles at certain points, high-energy, acupuncture points, which promotes energy circulation and thus the energy balance will be achieved with the restoration of health, and ultimately fight the disease.
- Moxibustion: is based on the application of heat in these same acupuncture points. This improves heat transfer with therapeutic functions of the needles. Often used in combination with acupuncture.
- Tuina: the use of manipulative techniques and the realization of certain massage, influencing the course of the meridians and acupuncture points on the same.
- Phytotherapy: Medicinal plant use in clinical therapy, but not limited to materials of plant origin, but also animal and mineral.
- Qi Gong: performing certain exercises, effective in the control and development of energy and their movement.
Regardless of the treatment technique that is used, all provide the same therapeutic principle, restore energy balance. There can be useful combinations between these treatment techniques.
In understanding the pathologies according to TCM, is crucial to their fundamental theories, the Theory of the Five Movements, or the Five Elements, not only in the physiological aspect, but also in the pathological and therapeutic aspects.
In the theory of Five Elements, each of which corresponds to the basic elements of the universe: fire, earth, metal, water and wood. While each represents a certain human organ and also correspond to a particular flavor. With all this, we can explain not only the phenomena that occur in nature, but also all the physiological and pathological movements that occur in living things.
These laws are true and constitute a very important aspect in the diagnosis, but should never be considered only as possibilities.
Law of five movements
To explain the physiological relationships that occur with the flavors:
- Spicy: Metal element corresponds to lung. Are characterized by the stimulation of energy flow and blood, while also responsible for increased sweating, opening pores and stimulate the output of liquid sweat. As you can see, spicy generates Kidney and how it controls the bladder. With spicy flavor the sphincter opens and thus the elimination of liquids.
- Salty: Corresponds to the element Water and the Kidney. It is characterized by water retention and provides electrolytes, so the liver can better perform its metabolic functions.
- Acid: It is the Wood element and the liver organ. All substances that are acidic protons contribute and are necessary for the proper functioning of the heart, which has a self-stimulate muscle by proton pump. So that sour taste improves heart function.
- Bitter: matches the element Fire with the organ Heart, and is characterized by stimulating the secretion of gastric juices, stimulating the digestive process, which is why digestive foods are bitter.
- Sweet: corresponds to the element Earth, and the Spleen organ. The sweet taste hydrates and soothes the throat, thereby improving pulmonary ventilation. So sweet taste improves lung function.
This led to clinical practice, it turns out that only taking into account the flavors, features of the different organs of the human being can be improved and thus regulating their physiological functions.
Now this same can also be interpreted with the pathological aspects of human beings, which, with the disproportionate use of any of its elements, or their tastes, alter pathologically organ.
- Spicy: taking into account the elements, Metal exploits Wood decreasing their activities. The pungency controls the activities of the Liver. In fact, when an individual has liver disease does not support spicy foods.
- Acid: Wood exploits Earth. A binge ends up affecting stomach acid, causing ulcers. Similarly, individuals suffering from weakness in the gastric mucosa do not allow the use of acidic foods.
- Sweet: The Earth explodes Water. The candy is known as the thief of calcium, thereby over-sweet affect kidney functions, given that this body is what ensures the smooth functioning of the bones. "All that is good for the spleen is bad for your spine."
- Salt: Water exploits Fire. The salty taste brings electrolytes, retains water and thus increases the concentration of blood sodium and water retention, so that the heart has to work harder in making move fluids and blood, increases blood pressure.
- Bitter: Fire exploits Metal. The bitter taste is characteristically dry, purge the heat and moisture to dry, so that those individuals consuming bitter present an aspect of dry, wrinkled and aged skin, as the good condition of the skin is directly dependent on Lung functioning.
And this can be considered from the therapeutic side, as a way to use different flavors of food to achieve therapeutic actions, hence in Traditional Chinese Medicine, many medicinal plants are used in food, with the intent of boosting flavors and therefore the relations between them and their bodies. Searching the therapeutic activity of the flavors and enhance or decrease the functions of corresponding organs.
Dr. Carlos Llopis
College of Traditional Chinese Medicine