Blog Posts - "Words of Sages"
True Preventative Medicine
"To administer medicines to diseases which have already developed and to suppress revolts which have already developed is comparable to the behavior of those persons who begin to dig a a well after they have become thirsty.”
- Huang Di Nei Jing, Su Wen (Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine, Basic Questions – the “bible” of Chinese medicine)
Some of the most profound words I’ve ever heard, regarding medical care, and very applicable today. I’m sure we’re pushin’ the high 90's in the percentage of people who wait until they’re “sick” before seeking proper medical care.
That’s, in large part, due to the dominant medical paradigm. Western biomedicine excels at treating acute, emergency care and severe illness. It is at its best when things are really bad. It, in fact, can only even “see” disease, diagnostically, when the disease is already developed (think of all the times you have felt bad, all the friends you’ve known that have felt bad, yet been told by their MDs “there’s nothing wrong” – There is something wrong, clearly; it just doesn’t appear on the biomedical radar until it’s advanced to a certain stage). It’s simply the nature of the medicine (which also reflects general societal trends).
To be honest, practicing a form of medicine so dramatically different from the dominant system is often a pain in the butt. It’s difficult to explain anything to anyone. Here, though, is one time I am extremely proud of my style of medical care. It is sooooo wise. It truly is based on the wisdom of sages (literally, actually).
By its very nature, Chinese medicine is built for preventative care. It is emphasized, classically, that acupuncture and herbal medicine are last resorts, only employed when things get out of hand. (To be fair, “acupuncture”, in this usage, includes surgery – We were the first surgeons of the world, though it also refers to acupuncture as it is in use today).
Because our medicine is designed for it, we are capable of “seeing” issues when they are very small and relatively subtle, thus allowing us to intervene before you’re forced to go to your MD, because *now* it’s gotten so bad they can actually see it to do something about it.
But I don’t even want to go there. Where I want to go is here – When you don’t feel anything is wrong is the time to come in! Please!
For two basic reasons:
1) If we’re honest with ourselves, we won’t consciously acknowledge, recognize something is wrong until it gets to the point of being a “symptom”. I’m betting 80% of the people I know have issues they are currently suffering from that I could effectively treat, and improve the quality of their life, even though they’d tell you they feel fine.
For some odd reason reason, we’ve become accustomed to feeling far less better than we have the right to feel. No joke, I have had patients report to me, upon my inquiring, that their bowel movements are always loose and watery “but that’s just me, the way I am”.
I can’t tell you how many times I hear that, and it kills me – “It’s just the way I am”. “Oh sure, yeah, I get dizzy and lightheaded if I don’t eat something every hour, but that’s just the way I am.”
Or “Yeah, I don’t really get tired until midnight or one, but that’s just because I’m a night owl.” We accept mild illness as normal…
Or, another favorite, “I always get tired after meals.”
Then there’s the whole food allergy thing. I don’t argue that there are people that are allergic to certain types of foods, milk, wheat, etc., and that they should avoid those foods, but I’d advise them to do something about it. Treat it. If you were bleeding so profusely you had to change the bandage every hour, would you simply adjust to the new lifestyle of having to change a bandage every hour?
But I’m verging on diverging on several different topics, here…
Get treatment, now. Everybody.
Even where you don’t even have the above “sub-symptoms”, come in. Why?
2) All physical illnesses have their root, their seed in non-physical issues. Before they pop up on the MDs radar, and even before they pop up on yours, there is the seed of that issue. This is why I practice this medicine – This is why I love it. I can treat this stuff! I, in fact, thrive on treating things at this stage. Granted, it’s tough…
The beauty and power of Chinese medicine is such that, from any random conversation, I can discern where and how I can help someone. This is probably not even, technically, “medical care”. The deviations of health that cause systems to fail and cause suffering can be detected before they get so deviated as to cause those “symptoms”. This medicine has been evolving for thousands of years – We have figured this stuff out!!!
The easiest example is in mood and emotion. Emotions are like weather; they come and go and are perfectly natural. Not everyone loves the snow, and perhaps no one really likes storms, but they do and will happen, and, 99% of the time, no one suffers seriously from them.
The same is true of different moods. An occasional, mildly depressed mood is common. A little anxiety just comes with being human. They are natural responses to life. However, if you notice a certain mood becoming more dominant, or more forceful, or, and here’s an important one, appearing when it doesn’t really seem appropriate, that is a sign of an internal system just being a little out of whack.
None of these are classified as symptoms. If you go to your doctor, complaining of them, she is likely to get a little upset with you for coming in for something so trivial. But they are little warnings something is off. These slight deviations may likely get worse (partly because they go completely un-recognized as indicating anything is wrong, so they get no attention, so they get worse…)
Emotions are only one example. We also have constitutional types. We all have certain tendencies towards certain types of illness. There are the biomedically-defined genetic predispositions, but again, there is the more subtle, basic constitutional type with certain core “issues”. On the one hand, you could simply avoid certain things, foods, behaviors, etc, to help avoid or prevent the worst-case scenario manifestation of your type or genetic predisposition.
OR you could actively engage it. Not really “treatment”, but actively addressing it allows you to actually become stronger, instead of just avoiding being weaker. You could view your basic “type” as indicator of potential, unique strengths. But to actualize these strengths, you have to actively engage those core issues.
This is where this medicine is at its best, helping people maximize their potential as unique human beings, not just avoid or treat illness. Treating disease is the lowest form of medical care. It’s the most gross form, applied the latest, and having the least, overall, impact on the life of the patient. Cure a cold, and in a year, the person is unlikely to even remember the episode. Help them address their core issue, help them develop their innate gifts, and you change their lives – forever!
Chinese medicine is grand because it can do all the above. It’s been around long enough to become a fully developed, fully matured system of medical care – from treating disease to helping you live the fullest life possible.
So go call an acupuncturist – make it happen!
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