In Traditional Chinese Medicine, painful, unwanted symptoms in the human body are like the branches of a sick tree, toxic soil from accumulated garbage, or overgrown choking weeds.
If this was an outdoor vegetable or flower garden, what would a dedicated gardener do?
1. Remove overgrown weeds, sick branches, garbage and toxic soil;
2. Nourish the soil with healthy, alkaline fertilizer and plant new, healthy seedlings;
3. Then lovingly tend this garden with great care until the seasons or other factors bring change, and the garden requires different care yet again.
A similar 3-step healing process is also applied in Traditional Chinese Medicine. The rate through each step will vary based on the person’s commitment to his/her treatment plan.
Ease pain and symptoms, FAST. This is like weeding an overgrown, polluted garden. To grow a healthy garden, choking weeds, toxins and sick plants need to be cut back.
All the treatment methods in TCM can be used for step 1. For example, cupping strongly stimulates blood flow and activates the body to metabolize and eliminate toxins. Wet cupping further assists the body through the physical extraction of dead, toxic blood. Cupping is like removing accumulated garbage, and tilling the soil.
STEP 2: TREAT THE ROOT
Treat the root cause of dis-ease. This may be from excess or deficiency, or both (see case examples below). Either way, treating the root cause of illness is like carefully removing residual weeds and toxins, then cleaning and enriching the soil to grow healthy seeds.
TCM treatment methods can be used to deal with both excess and deficiency conditions. For example, herbal medicine can treat the cause of gout (excess) and in other cases treat the cause of menopausal syndrome (deficiency). When used to nourish root deficiencies, taking Chinese herbs is like giving fresh, rich fertilizer to soil and growing new, healthy seedlings.
STEP 3: MAINTAIN BALANCE
Listen to your body to maintain harmony. Balance is not always a static state. As changes in age, seasons, emotions, and all other types of stimuli occur, pain and unwanted symptoms may appear again.
Your adaptability to these constantly changing stimuli is a key factor to continuous vibrant health. By listening and following your body’s guidance, you are able to more easily prune and weed out these re-appearing symptoms before they become a debilitating or complicated illness. Being mindfully aware to: eat the best foods for your constitution; get appropriate levels of exercise and activities; release resistance; and to keep positive thoughts are a few ways to help maintain harmony.
Find out Dr. Ling’s application of these 3 steps to vibrant health through her 3-Step Treatment Process.
A person has a sudden asthma attack with symptoms of wheezing, difficulty breathing and coughing up sticky, yellowish mucus. These symptoms are considered the branch excess symptoms. But in TCM, the root illness is deficiency in lung, spleen and kidney energy.
However, an asthma attack is not the time to nourish and strengthen the body’s deficiencies. The excess symptoms in this case take priority and would need to be sufficiently cleared and brought under control first, otherwise any nourishing here would be like giving rich fertilizer to an already overgrown choking weed.
Then, when asthma is in remission and branch excess symptoms are no longer a threat, this is the appropriate time to nourish and strengthen lung, spleen and kidney energy. Thus, by applying the correct treatment principle at the correct time, the body can recover faster and build strength over time such that a person can have little or no asthma eventually at all.
But watch out – root problems are not always deficiencies. In a robust individual who develops right side pain due to gallstones for instance, the root and the branch are both excess, and should be treated simultaneously from the beginning of treatment.