“After decades of practice — blending Chinese and Western medicine — I still love the magic that happens when the body begins to experience balance from within. So often it is the undefinable, mysterious aspects of our lives that are the most meaningful.”—From Healing When It Seems Impossible
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is an ancient and effective healing approach based on the movement of energy in the body. TCM asserts that our bodies are made up of life-force energy, called Qi (pronounced chee). Qi moves through the body in natural pathways or channels, called meridians, which work like an energy distribution system. There are twelve meridians in the body and each meridian is associated with a different organ.
According to Chinese medicine philosophy, there is a natural and innate balance of Qi between two opposing forces in the universe – known as Yin and Yang (link to Yin and Yang in FAQs). All energy has a Yin component and a Yang component and everything is connected. Just as night needs day, Yin and Yang rely upon each other to exist. Their relationship is dynamic, interrelated, and constantly seeking balance.
The idea is that when your energy is balanced and flowing, you are healthy – not just physically, but also emotionally and spiritually. Since everything is connected, everything plays a part in your overall health, including your emotions, environment, thoughts, spirituality, work, and relationships. When your energy is out of balance, or the flow of energy is stuck, blocked or disrupted, problems arise like pain and illness. Pain is almost always stuck energy.
In the west, when we become sick, we often feel that something bad is happening, as if the illness is an enemy that is trying to harm us. Chinese medicine has a completely different perspective. Rather than seeing illness as something “bad” and trying to “fix it,” Chinese medicine sees it as an indicator of an imbalance. Your body knows how to be well. Your cells know what wellness is – sometimes they just need to be reminded.
The work of the practitioner is to find where the imbalance originates, and to use different healing modalities to help remind the body how to return to balance. Illness is never the sole focus, because illness is not really a separate “thing” – it is part of the bigger picture of your whole health.
Diagnosis – A Map to Heal
Physical issues are diagnosed and treated by examining the patterns of energy or disharmony in the body. In addition to taking an in-depth personal history, there are two methods of diagnosis that are specifically unique to Chinese medicine: measuring the pulse, and discerning the appearance of the tongue. Together, these methods allow me to assess which imbalance is playing a part in your physical symptoms.
According to Chinese medicine, each organ has additional physical functions beyond what it does in Western medicine, as well as emotional and spiritual functions. It teaches that our emotions, intellect, willpower, and spirit are housed throughout the organs of the body, and not just in the brain or the heart. Healing is holistic because the emotions and the spirit are part of the functioning of the physical body. Each organ is also associated with a certain season, element, time of day, flavor – and much more.
For example, the spleen produces blood, which is the primary function according to Western medicine. According to Chinese medicine, it is also responsible for a person’s ability to take in food, transform that food into energy, and transport the energy throughout the body. From the TCM perspective, the spleen regulates the strength of muscles, the ability to concentrate, and the emotions of worry and anxiety. Its season is late summer, its time of day is 9am-11am, and its flavor is sweet. If you crave sweets, you may have an imbalance in your spleen.
By understanding which organ is out of balance, we can respond to the body’s messages and address what is needed to heal. In this way, symptoms become a map toward healing.
Chinese medicine uses acupuncture, herbs, and other modalities to help move energy and re-establish the inherent equilibrium in the body. Correcting the energy flow is how you heal problems, because when the energy in your body is flowing, your organs are healthy and your body’s innate healing ability can function at its optimal level.
Some of the Chinese medicine tools used to balance energy are:
- Acupuncture – the insertion of hair-thin, painless needles into certain points on the body in order to change the direction and flow of energy movement. When the flow of energy in the body is balanced, cells restore themselves to their natural state, and the body can heal itself naturally.
- Herbs – combinations of traditional Chinese herbs can help balance your energy. Herbs are not specifically used to alleviate symptoms (as a medication might), but as your energy becomes more balanced, your symptoms naturally go away.
- Nutrition – certain foods are beneficial for certain organs. I may prescribe special dietary changes to help balance your body better
- Tui Na – a form of massage that helps move energy
- Cupping – suction cups are applied to certain acupuncture points when energy is very stuck. It can cause big purple marks on your skin
- Moxa – involves heating needles or skin using an herb called Artemesia or Moxa to move energy and circulate blood flow
Evidence for Acupuncture
Thousands of years of empirical experience show that acupuncture is effective in the treatment of many conditions. According to the World Health Organization, modern scientific research studies have revealed the following actions of acupuncture:
- inducing analgesia
- protecting the body against infections
- regulating various physiological functions
Acupuncture is ideally suited for addressing pain because pain is almost always a lack of energy flow, or stuck energy, and acupuncture helps energy move again. Recent studies show that when acupuncture is used for pain, endorphins are released, which allows the body to feel better.
The World Health Organization also found that the proportion of chronic pain relieved by acupuncture is generally in the range 55–85%. This compares favourably with that of potent drugs (morphine helps in 70% of cases) and far outweighs the placebo effect (30–35%).
According to my own experience and scientific data from many sources, medical acupuncture is highly effective when applied to:
- Pain: Back pain, neck pain, joint or limb pain
- Headaches: tension headaches, allergies, migraines
- Digestive problems: irritable bowel, ulcers, constipation, ulcerative colitis
- Female Problems: PMS, cramps, infertility, fibroids, and menopausal difficulties
- Hormonal imbalances
- Urinary problems
- Respiratory disorders: flu, bronchitis, colds, sore throats, EBV, sinus infections
- Rheumatoid conditions
- Paralysis from stroke
- Depression, anxiety, and mental disorders
- Post Traumatic Stress Disease PTSD. I have developed a 7 treatment acupuncture series which can help clear PTSD from your cellular memory.
- Medical Acupuncture may also help you to overcome many other health conflicts.
5 Vital Organs
There are five organs which play a particularly important role in Chinese medicine.These vital organs are the heart, the liver, the kidneys, the lungs, and the spleen. They are Yin organs, which means they produce, transform, regulate and store the body’s fluids, blood, and Qi. Each Yin organ is paired with a Yang organ, and together, they work to create balance in the body.
Since these organs are so important, I’ve included a graph and a detailed list of the functions of the 5 vital organs below. This essential information can bring into focus what might be needed to balance difficult, undiagnosed or pernicious conditions.
- The core of all life force energy, the kidneys determine the basic constitution, strength, and vitality of all other organs.
- The kidneys also house your willpower. They control the energy of important life transitions such as birth, puberty, menopause, and death.
- The kidneys produce the matrix of the bones, bone marrow, spinal cord, and physical brain and they control the lower back, knees, and overall energy level.
- They control the flow of water in the body.
- The kidneys regulate your hearing and your ears.
- Fear is the emotion associated with kidney function.
- Salt is the flavor
- Water is the element
- Winter is the season associated with the kidneys
- The Urinary Bladder is the Yang organ associated with the Kidneys
- Assists the stomach with digestion by transporting and transforming food essences and absorbs the nourishment from food
- Controls the blood by making sure it stays in the vessels
- Controls the strength of the muscles and the movement of the limbs
- The spleen rules our ability to focus and concentrate
- Spleen meridian ends in the mouth/lips
- Worry is the emotion
- Sweet is the flavor. People crave sweets when the spleen is out of balance.
- Earth is the element
- Late Summer is the season
- The Stomach is the Yang Organ associated with the Spleen
- The Liver is like a military commander in the body – responsible for overall planning of the body’s functions and ensuring a smooth flow of energy throughout the whole body.
- When Liver energy is not moving properly, it can affect the symptoms of other organs.
- Influences our ability to see the big picture and have a sense of direction in life
- The Liver is our source of courage and resoluteness
- Stores the blood, regulates the menstrual flow, and controls the sinews
- PMS, cramps, and migraines are connected to liver imbalances
- Regulates emotions, digestion, and secretion of bile
- Anger is the emotion
- Sour is the flavor
- Wood is the element
- Spring is the season
- The Gall Bladder is the Yang organ associated with the Liver
- The emperor of the internal organs, the Heart encompasses the emotional, spiritual, and mental aspects of all other organs
- It houses the spiritual aspect of the mind, called the “Shen”
- Responsible for good sleep, mental activity, consciousness, and thinking
- The heart meridian ends at the tongue and rules the sense of taste
- Joy is the emotion
- Bitter is the flavor
- Fire is the element
- Summer is the season
- The small intestines is the Yang organ associated with the Heart
- Govern Qi (our “life force” or “life energy”) and respiration
- Intermediary between the inside and the outside world because they inhale air
- Main protector of the immune system
- If lung function is healthy, skin and hair will have luster
- The lung meridian ends at the nose, and rules the sense of smell
- Grief is the emotion
- Spicy is the flavor
- Metal is the element
- Fall is the season
- The Large Intestines are the Yang organ associated with the Lungs
The ultimate medical practitioner
Dr. Sokitch has been my saving grace time after time. She is the ultimate medical practitioner as she has expertise in both Western and Eastern therapeutics and diagnostics. Because she is able to view your condition through both lenses she is able to prescribe the most appropriate treatment. II feel truly cared for and listened too as she has guided me toward not only eliminating my symptoms, but promoting overall health and wellbeing.