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ntegrative Medicine

Chinese philosophy proposes a way of life based on living in accordance with the laws of nature. This profound connection with nature is reflected in the language used to describe illness. For example, a patient may be diagnosed with a "wind invasion" or "excess heat." Acupuncture (or acupressure) points may be chosen to "disperse wind," "remove summer damp," or "disperse rising fire."

In traditional Chinese medicine, every aspect of health is described in terms of a balance between yin and yang. For example, yin illnesses are caused by excessive expansion (overweight as a result of eating too much sugar, for example), while yang illnesses are caused by excessive contraction (sunstroke or fever). An imbalance of yin and yang factors can be demonstrated by showing how red blood cells respond to different substances. When red blood cells are placed in water (yin), they absorb the water, expand, and finally burst. When red blood cells are placed in a concentrated saline (salt) solution (yang), they contract, shrink, and shrivel. In a solution of normal saline (0.9 percent salt), the yin and yang are perfectly balanced and the cells remain virtually unchanged. An example of how the ancient yin-yang theory can be used to describe concepts in conventional medicine can be found in the treatment of breast and prostate cancer: Female hormones (yin) help control prostate cancer (yang); male hormones (yang) help control breast cancer (yin). The interplay of the yin and yang-as one increases, the other decreases-describes the process of the universe and everything in it. In more familiar Western terms, as modern physical science teaches, "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction."

The Five Elements and Their Correspondences
in Nature and the Human Body
In traditional Chinese Philosophy, all matter is considered to be composed of five elements (wood, fire, earth, metal, and water). The elements in turn have correspondences in various aspects of the natural world, including the human body. According to this philosophy, health is achieved when yin and yang, and the energies of the five elements, are all in proper balance. The elements and some of their corresponding characteristics and parts of the body are illustrated in the chart below.
Wood Fire Earth Metal Water
Direction East South Middle West North
Taste Sour Bitter Sweet Pungent Salty
Color Green Red Yellow White Black
Growth Cycle Germination Growth Ripening Harvest Storing
Environmental Factor Wind Heat Dampness Dryness Cold
Season Spring Summer Late Summer Autumn Winter
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About The Author
JANET ZAND, O.M.D., L.Ac. is a nationally respected author, lecturer, practitioner and herbal products formulator whose work has helped thousands of people achieve better health....more
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Disclaimer: The information provided on HealthWorld Online is for educational purposes only and IS NOT intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek professional medical advice from your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.