Social Behaviour and Your Health
By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP
Chinese medicine is not just a physical medicine. Although it does treat the physical body, the body is only one small part of a much larger picture. It is a holistic medicine, taking into account all parts of a person, including
the environment in which that person lives. Everything that person experiences has an effect on their health, and so all must be examined
when diagnosing and treating disease.
Because Chinese medicine takes so much information into account when diagnosing and treating a patient, it makes
the task of the TCM practitioner more difficult, and requires more skill. It also makes the medical system extremely effective and is why
it has survived for almost 5000 years.
The way we spend our leisure time isn't something most people associate with poor health, but many of the ways that Westerners pass the time when they are relaxing, are actually detrimental to our health on many levels. I personally believe that at least some of the reasons why we choose to engage in activities like drinking, smoking and doing
drugs are a way to escape the stresses that living in the modern world places upon us. So let's look at how some of these things affect
health in the context of Chinese medicine.
The act of smoking introduces a lot of heat into the body and creates dryness, especially in the lungs. The short term effects are the consumption of lung yin, but over the long term this yin deficiency can spread to the rest of the body and cause all manner of other disharmonies. Another factor with smoking is the effect on the body's qi. The heat from smoking actually acts to move any stagnant qi that may be in the lungs, which explains why many people find that the act of smoking relaxes them. The movement of stagnant qi is short lived though, as the reason for the qi stagnation to occur in the first place has not been addressed.
So although there might be a temporary short term benefit, if the cause of the qi stagnation is not addressed, the qi stagnation will
return and if left untreated, can lead to more serious disharmonies.
Alcohol introduces both heat and dampness into the body. Although alcohol has been used medicinally for many years and can be beneficial in cold climates to help to warm the body, it is important, just as with everything in life, that we exercise moderation so that the energies of the body do not swing
too far out of balance. Alcohol has a similar effect on qi as does cigarettes, acting to move any stagnant qi, but the stagnation soon
returns if the cause is not determined and dealt with.
Drugs are a hugs a complex subject, and acupuncture and Chinese herbs have been used for many years with great success to help people with addictions. Different drugs have different negative effects on our bodies, its organ systems, relative yin and yang and the body's qi. In my experience I have found that the psychological component is as important as the physical one in dealing with the addiction and so is the desire of the patient to recover. Addiction is a complex issue, but Chinese medicine, thankfully,
has many modalities to help people to recover from addictions from things to food to cigarettes to heroin, as long as there is a genuine
desire to recover and the person is getting the support they need for a long and often difficult process.
Our sexual lives have a definite effect on our health, and in Chinese medicine too much sex, or not enough sex can actually contribute to disease. Having a healthy sex life is part of being a happy, healthy human being, but in Chinese medicine, they have perhaps a different outlook on it than you may have heard before. You can read the article above for more detail, but essentially the Chinese view on sex and disease is not based on morals or social norms, but on its impact on the energies of the body. The kidneys, for example, are the source of the body's yin and yang energy and also a very important energy called Jing. Too much sex is said to deplete kidney Jing, especially in men who lose precious Jing when they ejaculate. The situation is not so serious for women who do not lose Jing during sex. A woman's eggs or ovum are seen to be the direct manifestation of Jing so they are not losing them the way a man does when he ejaculates. This is why, regardless of gender, it is important to practice moderation with sex and all things to maintain health. There are other ways that women can lose Jing like
having too many children too close together. The effects of depletion of Jing for both men and women are symptoms like premature aging,
prematurely greying hair, developmental and growth problems in children, cavities, sore knees, weak and sore lower back, blurred vision,
frequent urination and extreme fatigue.
Don't worry, a healthy amount of sex is good for your health, it is only when we do not practice moderation (which is so common in our culture) that problems can arise. There is a
handy chart in the above article if you are curious about how much sex is recommended for different ages, just remember these are only
The other thing is that there are many Taoist practices that teach how to preserve the body's energies, including kidney Jing. One of
the masters is Mantak Chia and his wife Maneewan Chia who have written several books on the subject.
If you are curious, check them out. ;)
The great thing about Chinese medicine is that it is not just a medical system, it really teaches a way of life. It is not a pill you
take, an herb you drink, or a few needles. It really teaches how to live in balance with yourself, and the world around you. I love that
everything is relevant, because it all has an effect. It is such a beautiful system that I fall more in love with every day. I hope that
learning a little bit more about it, you will fall in love with it too.
About the Author:
Emma is the founder and publisher of Chinese Medicine Living, a
website devoted to sharing traditional Chinese wisdom, and helping others to apply it to living a
healthy lifestyle in the modern world.
Since becoming a licensed acupuncture physician in 2006, she has worked in a number of multidisciplinary clinics developing her skills and technique while working
with other health professionals, including medical doctors.
Emma has lived and worked in Canada, the U.S., Panama, and China, where she had the opportunity to immerse herself in Chinese culture. This
helped her to gain a deeper understanding of the medicine she practices. She also studied martial arts for 11 years, and uses Qi Gong and
Tai Chi techniques in her practice to help her patients rebalance, thus aiding in their healing.
Today she specializes in gynaecology, paediatrics, gerontology and treating emotional issues and mood disorders through her own practice,
Blue Buddha Acupuncture Sarasota.
She is a contributor to Acupuncture.com,
Chinese Medicine Digital Magazine and