Chinese Medicine’s Biggest Secret

January 15, 2013 Trisha Han Oriental Herbal MedicineWellness & Prevention

Chinese Medicine, beyond treating individual cases of illness, was also used in ancient times to hinder the spread of infectious diseases.  Not many people know this. So I call it the biggest secret. Let’s take malaria, for example.  We know today that malaria is caused by a species of bacteria in the genus Plasmodium, which act as parasites within the red blood cells of our body. In Ancient China, malaria was a common illness, often transmitted by rodents or mosquitoes.  Of course, there were no microscopes, so doctors could not identify the pathogen that caused this disease.  But they knew that malaria came from an external cause, and that alone was enough to cure the illness.  Why?  Because ancient Chinese Medicine doctors focused not on the disease source, but rather on the human body and its reactions to the disease.

Chinese Medicine is based largely on the belief that the human body possesses a great ability to self-repair and to rid itself of disease.  If the body fails to heal itself, then there must be imbalance and malfunctioning within the body system–as long as we can fix the body’s functioning, then it will naturally cleanse itself of any disease.  As an analogy: a good war general would not send his troops in poor condition directly into the enemy line; instead, he would make sure his troops were well-fed, well-armed, and well-trained, and victory would be theirs.  This is how Chinese Medicine deals with illness.  To put it simply, Chinese Medicine doesn’t target the disease; it targets the human body, which has a natural ability to dispel disease.

A malaria expert in China, Dr. Wang, uses distinctive methods to treat present-day cases of malaria.  Instead of using one common treatment for all malaria cases, he writes formulas unique to the patients of each case, depending on their particular symptoms.  If a patient has weak Yin energy, he would replenish that patient’s Yin; if a patient develops hematoma (the leakage of blood from vessels into surrounding tissues) or blood congestions easily, he would prescribe medicine to clear blood congestion, and so on.

One of Dr. Wang’s patients was a man whose symptoms of malaria would act up during the nighttime.  He felt constantly dehydrated and dry-mouthed.  Dr. Wang prescribed a surprisingly simple herbal formula for him: mulberry leaves, peony bark, and Chinese foxglove root, among others.  The herbs in this formula are responsible for reducing heat and replenishing Yin in the body–it is interesting to note that none of the herbs can treat malaria directly.  However, the patient took the medicine once and his malaria symptoms disappeared altogether.  This is because the herbs balanced his body, which originally lacked Yin and had excess Yang, and strengthened his immune system.

It is essential to consider what symptoms a disease causes in a particular individual–although generally the symptoms of one illness are the same in everyone, there are slight variations from person to person.  These variations can say a lot about that particular individual’s body condition.  For example, some people may have excess heat or excess cold in their bodies–the goal of Chinese Medicine is to balance the heat and dampness, or the Yin and Yang.  This is the main difference between Eastern and Western medicine: while Western medicine targets pathogens and the disease itself, Eastern medicine focuses on preparing the body for its own defensive measures against disease.  As long as the Yin-Yang balance is correct, the body can naturally fend off disease, because the body has amazing healing properties in itself.

 

 



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