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Traditional Chinese Medicine: A system in balance


BY: Camila Loew

If there's a word that perhaps best describes the way in which Traditional Chinese Medicine understands health, it's balance. Balance is a concept applied in many ways: balance between humans and nature, as we discussed in this post, balance among our own organs and internal systems, balance between yin and yang, between mind and body. And the list goes on.

When there is imbalance, disease arrives at our door. Disease, or dis-ease, is regarded by TCM as a message being sent to us to be mindful of where the imbalance is taking place. If we refrain from heeding the message, and instead try to force a suppression of the imbalance, we will not be successful with our health in the long term. Small imbalances should be viewed as an opportunity to improve our overall resilience,  lifestyle and well-being.

Viewing illness as an ally is not a typical Western way of approaching disease; in Western medicine we strive to make the upset part of the body regain balance as quickly and efficiently as possible, often at the cost of other possible side effects, by using strong treatments, which make the symptoms disappear, but don't always address the root causes. We are not denying here the progress and importance Western medicine has brought to the table: it is advanced in its use of science to treat complex problems, and has made great breakthroughs in acute care treatments with technological advances.

At Cokare we strive to combine the benefits of Eastern and Western medicine, along the lines of what Dr. Elson Haas has coined NEW medicine (Natural, Eastern, and Western). One of the aspects we would like to bring to the West from traditional Eastern healing methods is precisely this notion of balance and unity. This comprehensive perspective includes an awareness of lifestyle issues such as diet, the emotions, and stress, which, when properly attended to, could decrease incidences of disease, and perhaps reduce the need for so many extreme measures of surgery and strong medications with potential side effects.

In other words, we care about preventive forms of medicine, in which awareness, common sense, and moderation play a role. If you pay attention to the imbalances in your life, and view yourself and your body's many systems as a whole, unified being, you will begin to find ways in which to help regulate before the imbalance becomes chronic or too out of control. Rather than living at the limit, and then putting bandages on our wounds, let's make an effort to live in harmony and balance.

Instead of viewing this suggestions as proscriptive, try to take it as an affirmative call to action: think of the small things you can do, today, to feel in better health: whether it's moving your body more often, or resting as needed, introducing dietary changes or herbal and nutritional boosts, or practicing other activities that nourish you: a walk in the woods, alone time with a book, game night with your family, or a few minutes of deep breathing. Find balance, and become resilient.

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