Monday, May 14, 2007

Command System

Command System

The command system is composed of the brain and is used for thinking and giving orders to body functions. The actual functions of each organ are not controlled directly by the brain. The command system utilizes the nervous system to rally the information regarding each organ back to the brain. The brain responses to these information and these responses are then rallied back to the organs. This process occurs rapidly and thus our body is able to react to external stimulation almost instantly.

Most primitive living creatures do not possess a brain. These creatures do not have the ability to flee nor attack, and they can only move mindlessly. Yet most of these creatures possess the same organ functions as human’s 5 Zan and 6 Fu. They can breath, absorb nutrients, and dispose waste material. Thus, we can suspect that during evolution, the brain was created in order for creatures to adapt to their fast-changing environment.

If we compare the human body to a modern computer network, the brain can be compared to the master terminal, and the organs can be compared to separate servers. Each server is responsible for each organ’s functions and health while it is controlled by the master terminal. Such a complex network must require a operation system in order to function. In the case of the human body, it may very well be something that we can not yet prove using our current technology – the spirit.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Relationship of the organs based on the elements

Relationships between Organs.

Ancient Chinese people use the ideas of assist and hinder to explain the relationships of these 5 elements. Each of the 5 elements has an element that it assists when its energy is increasing and an element that it hinders when its energy is decreasing.

l Wood assists Fire: When the liver’s (Wood) energy increases, the heart’s (Fire) also increases.

l Fire assists Earth: When the heart’s (Fire) energy increases, the spleen’s (Earth) energy also increases.

l Earth assists Metal: When the spleen’s (Earth) energy increases, lung’s (Metal) energy also increases.

l Metal assists Water: When the lung’s (Metal) energy increases, kidney’s (Water) energy also increases.

l Water assists Wood: When the kidney’s (Water) energy increases, liver’s (Wood) energy also increases.

l Wood assists Fire….Etc.

Using the ideas of assist and hinder, we can see that every Zan and Fu organ are interrelated. When a change occurs in a single organ, other organs will also be affected.

There is also a cycle for hindering elements.

l Wood hinders Earth: When the liver’s (Wood) energy decreases, spleen’s (Earth) energy will also decreases.

l Earth hinders Water: When the spleen’s (Earth) energy decreases, kidney’s (Water) energy also decreases.

l Water hinders Fire: When the kidney’s (Water) energy decreases, heart’s (Fire) energy also decreases.

l Fire hinders Metal: When the heart’s (Fire) energy decreases, lung’s (Metal) energy also decreases.

l Metal hinders Wood: When the lung’s energy decreases, liver’s (Wood) energy also decreases.

The hindering logic can be described as the transfer of negative energy. A common example is the energy transfer during anger emotions. According to Chinese medicine, anger is a negative energy formed from the heart. Such energy will transfer to the lungs and then transferred to the liver. When a person’s body energy is not sufficient, this type of energy transfer may cause permanent damage to the organs. It is said that patients during the final stages of cancer is highly vulnerable to anger as the patient’s body energy is extremely low. Lung failure often occurs as a result of anger received by these patients.

A brief look at the 5 elements

By using the 4 diagnostic methods (observe ( wàng), smell ( wén), ask about background ( wèn) and touching ( qiè)), Chinese doctors can obtain valuable information about his patient. The information is then used in a series of logical reasoning to determine the source of the patient’s illness. In order to proceed with such a reasoning procedure, we must have a macro view of the human body. The body system model described in “The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine” provides the basis for such macro view in diagnosis.

- Wood: Represents growth

n Wood represents spring in the 4 seasons as spring is the season of growth for living things.

n Wood is represented by the color green.

n The liver (Zan) and the gallbladder (Fu) relate to the wood element.

u In Chinese medicine, the liver is used by the body to store extra blood, acting as a buffer for the quantity of blood in circulation. In winter, due to lower temperatures, the body requires more blood in order to maintain body temperature in different internal organs. When the temperature rises in the following spring, the extra blood will return back to the liver. Once the blood is back to the liver, the extra blood and energy that the body now has access to can be used for self-repair and self-healing procedures. Wood also may represent anger. According to Chinese medicine, a person’s rage is related to the condition of his/her liver. A person with a weak liver tends to be more easily enraged, and by being enraged, the anger in return will damage the liver, causing a vicious cycle.

- Fire: Represents flourishing and growth.

n Fire is represented by the color red.

n Fire represents summer, the peak of growth of most plants.

n The heart (Zan) and the small intestines (Fu) relate to the fire element.

n During winter, the body uses more blood to maintain body temperature. During summer, the body also needs to maintain body temperature by reducing heat. When the temperature is too high in the summer, the heart will be at risk of being damaged.

n By looking at the meridians, heart’s meridian and small intestines’ meridians are close to each other. When a person’s heart energy decreases, it will also have an effect on his/her small intestine. We can say that the 2 organs are related in terms of health.

n In summer, the body requires less blood to keep warm, thus leaving more blood for the body to perform repair duties. The repairing of the heart usually occurs early morning, which is why people often feels more tired when they wake up in summer.

- Earth: Represents dampness and humid.

n Earth represents the end of summer, or the middle of the year.

n Earth is represented by the color yellow.

n The spleen (Zan) and the stomach (Fu) relate to the earth element.

n In Chinese medicine, the anxiety emotion is related to the earth element. Being overly and constantly anxious will damage the spleen. Consequently, a person who has a weak and damaged spleen will tend to be overly anxious. Many stomach illnesses and discomfort occur during the period of time in the end of the summer. According to Chinese medicine, such discomfort is due to the body repairing the stomach.

- Metal: Represents solemn-ness and graveness.

n Metal represents autumn. During ancient Chinese times, most of the government executions are conducted during autumn. The reason is said to be due to the sorrowful atmosphere in autumn.

n Metal is represented by the color white.

n The lungs (Zan) and the large intestines (Fu) relate to the metal element.

n In Chinese medicine, the emotion of sorrow is related to the metal element. An excess of sorrow will damage the lungs. A person with weak lungs is more vulnerable to sorrow.

n According to Chinese medicine, many lung related illnesses occur during autumn.

- Water: Represents coldness.

n Water represents winter.

n Water is represented by the color black.

n The kidney (Zan) and the bladder (Fu) relate to the water element.

n Because the kidney is the only Zan organ that is not protected by the ribcage, it requires the most amount of blood during winter.

n Water is also known as the element of life. In Chinese medicine, the kidney which relates to the water element also is said to carry the發佈 energy of life. Such energy exists at the very beginning when the body is still forming inside the mother’s body.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Chinese diagnostic methods

The most distinguishing feature of Chinese medicine is its diagnosis process. The process is similar to a detective solving a mystery case. The doctor must accumulate the information regarding all of the patient’s symptoms, and then use the information to diagnose the patient using the Zan and Fu logic explained earlier.

observe ( wàng), smell ( wén), ask about background ( wèn) and touching ( qiè) are the 4 main diagnostic methods used by Chinese medicine practitioners. Out of the 4 methods, observation of the patient is the most important one. An experienced Chinese doctor can analyze a patient’s health condition through looking at the patient’s body shape, hair, face shape, facial features, and skin color.

For example, a person that enjoys cold beverages often times will have fat deposits underneath the eye area. The area underneath the eye is the starting point of the stomach meridian. When a person rapidly drinks a cold beverage, the stomach meridian will be damaged, causing the corresponding stomach meridian areas near the eye to gradually swell up. An experienced Chinese doctor will be able to recognize these appearance traits and use the information towards the diagnosis.

From looking at a person’s appearance, a good Chinese doctor can have a general idea on the body energy level of the patient, as well as the conditions of the patient’s meridians. A thin person whose face is darker than the rest of his body is often a sign of low body energy. A fat person will most likely have a clogged pericardium meridian. Sometimes, a Chinese doctor can even determine the conditions of the patient’s parents. For example, a person with thick dark brows is usually fast tempered, and such temper can also be found in his father. Usually a good Chinese doctor can diagnose 70-80% of a patient’s ailment through looking at the patient’s appearance alone.

The second diagnostic method, the smell method is also an essential method in Chinese medicine diagnosis. Patients that suffer from similar disease will share some similar smells. For example, bad breath is common amongst patients with stomach ulcer. People that suffer from kidney diseases will transpire a certain odor. Such odor is especially noticeable amongst patients that are undertaking dialysis. A good Chinese doctor will have the ability to distinguish different types of odors from his patients and use the information towards his diagnosis.

The third method involves getting an in-depth background search on the patients’ medical history, family history, personal life, and sometimes information about the patient’s character nature. The third method is conducted after the first 2 methods as it acts as a confirmation of the information derived from the first 2 methods.

Finally, the touching technique is perhaps the most unique diagnostic method in Chinese medicine. Chinese doctors use 3 fingers and place them on the wrist of the patient to feel the pulse of the patient. This is also the most difficult method for Chinese doctors to master and often takes years of experience and training. A good Chinese doctor can recognize several dozens of different pulse patterns. Through these patterns, a doctor can gauge the patient’s present condition and sometimes even detect illnesses that have not yet recognized by the patient. In ancient times when there were no medical diagnostic equipment, pulse diagnosis is one of the best methods of gathering information on the patient’s body. Even today with our advanced equipment, there are certain illnesses that the pulse diagnosis excels over other diagnostic methods.

For example, in the detection of pericardial effusion, which is the abnormal accumulation of fluid in the pericardial cavity, the pulse diagnosis can easily detect such illness. The pulse pattern of a patient suffering from pericardial effusion can be easily recognized even by an amateur Chinese medicine practitioner. Using present day technology, it is difficult to diagnose a patient with pericardial effusion. Due to the difference in the size of the heart amongst different people, the amount of fluid in the pericardial cavity also varies. Usually pericardial effusion is detected after the patient feels discomfort, which means that the fluid has already affected the function of the heart. With pulse diagnosis, when a patient’s pulse pattern shows sign of weakness, the doctor can already predict with good accuracy that the patient has abundance in pericardial fluid. In other words, pericardial effusion can be detected earlier with the pulse diagnosis method.

Using the pulse diagnosis method, most overweight people will be diagnosed with different level of pericardial effusion. Sometimes before a person becomes overweight, signs of pericardial effusion can already be detected. However, compare with modern medicine, only a small portion of these people will be actually diagnosed with pericardial effusion, with most diagnosis coming after the patients felt discomfort. Moreover, with pulse diagnosis, the cause and effect relationship between obesity and heart illness can be reversed. Modern medicine can only detect pericardial effusion amongst a small number of patients that also have overweight problems. Thus, such diagnosis leads to the conclusion that “Obesity is one of the causes of pericardial effusion.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Zang and Fu

Chinese medicine and Western medicine are quite different over the basic philosophy and understanding of the human body. Western medicine takes a micro approach to diseases and uses anatomy as a source to provide evidence for its theories. Chinese medicine uses a more macro approach to describe the human body and its diseases. The phrase “The human body is a small universe” is commonly used in Chinese medicine scriptures as Chinese medicine tends to treat the body as a complete, inter-related system.

In Chinese medicine, the human body has 10 main internal organs. These 10 organs are the source of all chronic illness. The organs include heart, liver, spleen, lungs, kidney, small intestine, large intestine, stomach, gallbladder, and bladder. The pancreas is considered to be a part of the liver system because it does not have a corresponding meridian line. In Chinese medicine theory, each main internal organ has a corresponding set of meridian. The meridian lines are placed on either side of body and symmetrical to each other. Along the meridian lines, there are several points that are called acupuncture points. Through stimulating the acupuncture points, one can then stimulate the meridian lines and modulate internal organs’ conditions. Acupuncture therapy is a well known method where practitioners place needles on these acupuncture points in order to cure certain illnesses.

In recent years, Chinese doctors have performed open heart surgery under acupuncture anesthesia. The patient was conscious during the entire procedure and the surgery was a success. This successful operation further strengthens the argument that the meridian system and meridian points do exist.

In “The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine,” it states that each internal organ’s meridian line is linked together with another internal organ’s meridian line. For instance, the heart meridian and the small intestine meridian are symmetrical along each arm. The lung meridian and large intestine meridian are also symmetrical, as well as the liver and gallbladder meridian, spleen and stomach meridian, and kidney and bladder meridian. What is interesting about the pairings is that each pair consists of an organ that is hollow and an organ that is solid. Large intestine, small intestine, stomach, gallbladder, and bladder are organs that are considered hollow and are often used as containers for the body. Heart, lungs, liver, spleen, and kidney are solid organs that contain mechanism apparatus. The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine defines hollow organs as Fu and solid organs as Zang.

5 Zang: Heart, lungs, liver, spleen, kidney.

5 Fu: Small intestine, large intestine, gallbladder, stomach, bladder.

Furthermore, the Emperor’s Classic states that each Zang organ corresponds to a Fu organ. This relationship is valuable during diagnosis as illness located in Zang organs may have originated from Fu organs and vise versa.

Corresponding Zang and Fu organs:

- Heart and small intestine

- Lungs and large intestine

- Liver and gallbladder

- Spleen and stomach

- Kidney and bladder

These corresponding relationships can be seen in many symptoms during illness. For instance, when a person catches a cold, Chinese medicine defines the symptoms as originated from lungs. Because lungs and large intestine are interrelated, during cold illness, the person will often experience symptoms of constipation. Another example is the enterovirus that is common in Taiwan during summer times. Using the system above, we can see that the heart and small intestine are interrelated. During summer times, the high temperature will cause the heart to increase activity, thus affecting the bacteria within the small intestine area. Using Chinese medicine, one can relieve the symptoms of enterovirus by stabilizing the heart activity through meridian.

The Emperor’s Classic interprets the human body system as a system that is made out of 10 organ sub systems. Each sub system includes the organ and its meridian. Moreover, each sub system is connected to another sub system through their meridian lines. Since the 2 interconnected sub systems react similarly to body changes, The Emperor’s Classic merges the 2 sub systems into 1, which means the entire body system can be divided into 5 sub systems. This classification made it easier for Chinese medicine practitioners to observe the relationships between body organs and utilize the body system model.

It is rather common to divide complex systems into 5 sub elements. For instance, I have been a business management consultant for many years; we can see this type of classification in business management. Any business can be divided in to 5 parts – production, sales, personnel, research and development, and financial affairs. Any change in any of the 5 elements will have an impact on the other 4 elements. The most important job of a business management consultant is to balance the 5 elements when they are imbalanced. Such job task is very similar to the one of a Chinese doctor.

The Emperor’s Classic explains that a healthy body is one that is balanced in the 5 sets of internal organs. Most illnesses are caused by imbalance within the organ systems and the most important part of healing is to restore such balance. The Zang and Fu terms in Chinese medicine not only the meridian system is similar to our everyday house lighting system. Each internal body organ can be considered as a light bulb within the lighting system. Meridian lines are similar to the wiring from the power supply to the light bulbs. Meridian points are similar to the light switches. A complete lighting system consists of the light bulb, the wiring, and the switches. When a light bulb is not responding, it could be that the power supply is malfunctioning. It could also be that the light switches are broken, or there could be something wrong with the wiring or even the light bulb itself. Similarly, when a body organ is malfunctioning, it could be because that the body’s power supply, or in this case, the body energy level is low. Or it could be that there are abnormal clogging near the meridian points (Light switches), or there could be clogging within the meridian lines (wiring), or it could be that there is something wrong with the organ itself (light bulb).

The knowledge of the meridian system allows Chinese doctors diagnosis illness and determines its original cause. For instance, when person experiences spasms in the foot area, the diagnosis from a modern doctor would most likely be focused on nerve damage or muscle sprain. A Chinese doctor however, in addition to modern doctor’s diagnosis, will determine which meridian line is related to the spasms according to the location of the spasms. Once the meridian line is determined, Chinese doctors can judge whether the spasm is caused by 1 of the 10 internal organs.

Besides the 5 Zang and 5 Fu meridian lines, there are several additional meridian lines according to The Emperor’s Classic. These meridians are the pericardium meridian which affects the viscosity of the fluid between the heart and the pericardium, the heart meridian that affects blood flow, and finally the “Three Jiao” meridian. Chinese medicine defines the chest area into 3 sections, upper Jiao, middle Jiao, and lower Jiao. The Three Jiao meridian affects the air flow within the chest cavity. Since the chest cavity shares the hollowness characteristic of a Fu organ, it is considered as the 6th Fu of the body. Thus, the term “Five Zang Six Fu” and the 12 related meridians became the common terms that Chinese people use to describe the human body.

The original "Manual for Human Body" - The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine

Appromixmately 3000 years ago, a mysterious medical scripture appeared in China. The scripture was titled “The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine.” (皇帝內經) The scripture explains the relationship between the human body and nature, and teaches people how to live healthily during different seasons. For instance, people should sleep late and wake up early during spring and summer, whereas people should sleep early and wake up late during fall and winter. Basically, a person’s biological clock should be based on the time of dawn and dusk. The scripture then talks about the various causes of illness that can be avoided during daily life and various ways to deal with illness once it occurs. Through reasoning and analysis, the scripture explains how each illness symptoms relate to different body organs as well as how different moods have an effect on the body.

There has been no confirmation as to who the author of the scripture is, as well as the exact day that the scripture was published. But for the past 3000 years, almost all of the practitioners of Chinese medicine acknowledge the scripture as the bible for Chinese medicine. It has been said that if a doctor can master 1/10 of the scripture, he would have the ability to treat patients. If a doctor is able to master 1/3 of the scripture, he would become one of the more famous doctors of that era. Throughout history, only several doctors have ever mastered the entire scripture.

In the past 3000 years, there has not been any significant advance in terms of Chinese medicine theories that has not already been covered by the Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine. In the past 50 years, many Chinese scientists attempted to prove some of the theories that were stated in the scripture through scientific experiments. There has been more and more evidence to show that these theories are indeed accurate. For instance, the scripture stated that the body fluids can be classified into 2 groups, “Ron-Qi” and “Wei-Qi”. Chinese scientists have recently proven that “Ron-Qi” is another term to describe the blood inside the blood vessel and “Wei-Qi” is another term to describe the body fluid that flows along the meridian. With the current speed of progress, perhaps it will take many more decades until we can prove the majority of theories from the scripture.

From the story of King Midas, to the development of Modern Medicine vs. Chinese Medicine

When I was young, the story of King Midas left a deep impression in my mind. King Midas had the power to turn everything that he touches into gold, making him the wealthiest person in the world. Although this power ended up becoming a burden for the king, the idea of creating gold has been an aspiring one. Alchemy, the investigation of nature with the goal of converting metals into gold and silver has long been a major driving force of Western science up to the 18th century. Many alchemists made significant contributions to what was the modern day chemistry and physics through their quest to uncovering the recipe of gold making. The study of alchemy helped lay the foundation for modern day chemistry which is also the basis of modern day medicine.

By contrast, ancient Chinese emperors have long been pursuing immortality. Qin Shi Huang’s (The first emperor of the Qin Dynasty) aspiration for eternal health has been well documented as well as various other emperors throughout Chinese history. Instead of wealth, Chinese emperors were more interested in prolonging their life. Such difference of goals between Western and Eastern rulers had a deep impact on the science development of each civilization. While alchemy was considered a serious science up to the 18th century, Chinese emperors turned to Taoism and Taoist priests for guidance towards immortality.

If Western medicine was developed under the foundation of chemistry, Chinese medicine was a science built from systematology. Before the invention of computers, human have never built any product that had similar systematic make-up as the human body. Because of the lack of knowledge in systematology, Chinese medicine theories have been difficult to understand in the past for non practitioners and are often times considered as metaphysics or sometimes even as a religion. However, since computers became a commodity in the late 20th century, systemotology has become common knowledge for many people. If we compare our body system to the computer system, we can see that they have many similarities. For example, a typical computer system consists of hardware, operation software, and application software. Similarly, Chinese medicine defines to body system into 3 parts, body, mind, and soul. The mind, in Chinese medicine in the sense of Chinese medicine, is not just the brain organ but rather the entire conscious of a person. If a person attempts to dissect a computer, he will not be able to find proof of the operation and application software. By the same token, mind and soul cannot be seen through anatomy. Operation and application systems can only be seen when the computer system is functioning. Similarly, a person’s heart and soul can only be found while the person is still alive. Many observations of Chinese medicine can only be found on a live person, these phenomenons disappear after the person dies.

Reincarnation is a concept that is believed by many Eastern religions. The believe that a person’s soul will remain after the person’s body is deceased is similar to a computer’s software being able to function on different computer hardware. However, because we cannot prove any of these theories through anatomy, we are unable to explain these occurrences.

Modern medicine, like most other sciences, is interested in evidence and proofs. Most of these proofs are obtained through anatomy, which is a field that Chinese medicine is lacking in. If anatomy is a science that is performed on a dead person, Chinese medicine can be described as a science that can only be performed on a living person. For instance, the meridian is a major system used in Chinese medicine. During acupuncture therapy, when the needle arrives at the correct meridian points, patients will report sensations such as soreness, numbness, and bloating feel. Acupuncturist will feel that the needle appears to “stick” to the meridian points once the needle is in place. Such event is known as “Attracted Needle” in acupuncture. Acupuncturists have attempted to perform acupuncture on corpses, however, these phenomenon do not occur on dead subjects. Thus, researches regarding acupuncture can only be done on living creatures, rather through plain anatomy. Besides acupuncture, the flow of the body fluid is also a key study in the meridian system. Yet once a person dies, the body fluids will no longer flow regularly. Therefore once again we cannot observe these phenomenons through anatomy. For these reasons, it has been much more difficult to provide proofs for Chinese medicine theories compare to modern medicine.

Besides the lack of proof using anatomy, Chinese medicine’s diagnosis is based on another system that is difficult to prove scientifically. Chinese medicine constructed a complete model to describe the human body system. This model divides the body’s 10 major organs into 5 groups, each group consists a pair of organs. Each pair of organs is related closely to each other. When an organ experience changes during illness, the organ that corresponds to sick organ will go through similar changes. Chinese medicine practitioners observed these changes and created a system that uses wood, fire, earth, metal, and water as symbols to describe the body system.

During Chinese medicine diagnosis, Chinese doctors need to observe the patient’s symptoms closely as well as the patient’s physical and mental conditions. Using the above system as a guide, Chinese doctors then use logical reasoning to diagnosis the illness. Such reasoning requires the doctor to be both experienced and skilled. Thus, traditional Chinese doctors are trained through the form of master and apprentice.

Similar to the meridian system, Chinese medicine’s model for human body system can only be seen on living body. With the current technology that we have access to, we cannot prove many phenomenons described in the model. Yet with the continuing technological progress, the real concepts of Chinese medicine should be able to be accepted as more and more people understand its various systems. And for many current chronic diseases, Chinese medicine may be the right direction towards finding a cure.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Xie Chi Storage

Chinese medicine uses the idea of Xie Chi (Blood Energy) to measure a person’s body energy. However, Xie Chi is an abstract item as there is not a specific item in the human body defined as Xie Chi. Using Chinese medicine definition, Xie Chi includes many substances from the human body. Out of these substances, blood is the major item that signifies the amount of Xie Chi that is present. The volume of blood in the body is proportional to the amount of Xie Chi that is in the body. Since blood is used to carry energy, or Xie Chi, to various body parts, more blood means more Xie Chi can be stored and carried within the blood.

As long as the body can manufacture more blood than it consumes each day, then the total amount of blood that is in the body will increase. Extra blood will enter and be stored in various body organs. From the Chinese medicine point of view, liver has blood storage capability.

When a person’s blood quantity is constantly increasing, his body organs will be filled with blood and his bones will also be filled with medulla. These are signs that the person’s Xie Chi is in high condition.

Conversely, when the quantity of blood that is manufactured each day is less than the body’s daily consumption, the total quantity of blood will decrease. Thus, the blood that is stored in various organs will also decrease in quantity, causing each organ to function less effectively. When the blood storage in your spleen decreases, your body’s diagnostic and repair systems will be less effective, this will weaken your body’s immune system. When blood storage in your liver decreases, the ability for the liver to cleanse blood will decrease, leaving the blood contaminated. When the blood storage in the liver reaches minimum level, some livers will develop liver cirrhosis and atrophy. As the liver loses its function, it loses its ability to remove waste from your blood, which will eventually result in uremia.

We can compare the storage of Xie Chi to the storage of electrical energy in rechargeable batteries for cellular phone. It usually only takes 2 to 3 hours to fully charge a cellular phone battery, yet the battery can keep the cellular phone working for up to 2 to 3 days. The time used charging the battery is only a fraction of the functional time of the cell phone. Xie Chi storage is similar in this aspect. As long as we grasp the essence of Xie Chi storage we can rapidly replenish our Xie Chi.

We must understand the concept that Xie Chi is storable. Using this concept, we can explain how a person can live an unhealthy lifestyle yet his/her body does not break down immediately. The reason is that the person has stored a high quantity of Xie Chi in his/her youthful years and that his/her body can maintain normal function using stored Xie Chi. However, if the person continues to decrease his Xie Chi storage, eventually the person will run out of Xie Chi.

When the body uses backup Xie Chi storage, since the storage quantity is limited, the body will only use the Xie Chi to perform tasks that are essential to the survival of the body system. Other tasks that are not essential will be set aside to be attended to in the future when the body is capable of dealing with these tasks.

Chinese medicine defines regular energy as Xie Chi, and backup storage energy as Gan Huo. When the body uses Gan Huo, the most significant symptom will be insomnia. Since the body is using backup energy, the body’s diagnostic and repair system will not be working at full strength. Therefore the person will not feel discomfort even though his Xie Chi level is below average.

We often recommend our patients that the key to a healthy life style is to keep in mind of our Xie Chi condition. We should recognize our own Xie Chi level and try to increase our Xie Chi storage.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

How does a change in Xie Chi level affect our body?

The increase and decrease in Xie Chi level will both result in illness symptoms. Although both symptoms are similar, the causes of the illness symptoms are different as the Xie Chi levels are going in opposite directions. We need to have separate treatment procedures for patients whose Xie Chi level is increasing versus the patients whose Xie Chi level is decreasing.

When a patient of weak Yang energy level develop illness symptoms (Discomfort feeling), there exists two possibilities. One is that the patient’s Xie Chi level is decreasing, the other is that the patient’s Xie Chi level is increasing.

When a person’s Xie Chi level decreases from level 1 healthy level to level 2 weak Yang level, the body will start show signs of the lack of Xie Chi in the form of illness symptoms. There are two ways to relief these symptoms. One is that the person improves his sleeping pattern and increases his Xie Chi level back to level 1 healthy level. The other way is to ignore these symptoms and continue living the unhealthy lifestyle and let the body’s Xie Chi keep decreasing. As the body’s Xie Chi drop from level 2 weak Yang level to level 3 weak Yin level, the body’s diagnostic system will only take care of problems that are life threatening. Minor illness will be ignored which means that the illness symptoms will disappear. Although the patient may feel that his body is healthy, but in fact the body has actually gotten worse.

Conversely, when a person’s Xie Chi level increases from level 3 weak Yin level to level 2 weak Yang level, the person may feel some illness symptoms that were none existent before. In this case, the patient may feel that his body’s condition has gotten worse, but in reality the condition has actually improved and Xie Chi level increased.

Many people have had the experience of getting ill during a vacation. During normal work days, the body’s Xie Chi level falls into level 3 weak Yin level. Once the person gets a chance for a vacation, the Xie Chi level rises back to level 2 weak Yang level and the person receives illness symptoms as a result. When the same person returns to work after the vacation, the Xie Chi level will drop back to level 3 and the illness symptoms will disappear. My suggestion for this type of patients is that they should try to find a time for a long vacation. It is important to give the body enough time for Xie Chi to replenish and for the body to repair itself.

Measuring Body Energy Level Using Xie Chi

As said in the previous post, Chinese medicine uses the idea of Xie Chi to indicate how much body energy a person processes. Xie Chi supplies the body with energy for it to function much like how the power supply in the computer allows the computer to run. Unfortunately, current technology does not have any instrument that can measure how much energy a person has. We cannot calculate the amount of Xie Chi that is present in a person’s body.

Doctors of Chinese medicine generally determine a patient’s body energy level through examination. By looking at the patient’s appearance, hair color and thickness, skin tone, color of the teeth and gum, tongue color, and etc, an experienced doctor can make an educated guess on the Xie Chi condition of the patient. But since this type of examination lacks consistency, diagnosis will vary amongst different doctors.

Although currently we do not have any instrument that can directly measure Xie Chi, but through data gathered from ancient Chinese medicine documents and through years of observation, we have developed a model that can help us categorize various body energy levels. We can use this model to help us understand the causes of various diseases and devise a healing procedure according to these causes.

Five levels of Body Energy

Chinese medicine categorizes body energy into 5 levels. Because of the lack of a number system in ancient times, Chinese medicine uses the system of Yin and Yang, weak and strong to represent the body energy status.

We can compare our body to a battle field with 2 opposing sides. On one side we have the body’s ability to resist illness and on the other side we have the illness’ ability to invade the body. The illness ability will stay unchanged, but the body’s ability to resist illness will change according to the body energy level.

Now I will explain the 5 level of body energy using the above system. Readers can try to match your own body condition to see which level represents your body.

Level 1 - Healthy Level

From Chinese medicine’s perspective, this type of person is balanced in all aspects of his body. The body does not have too much Yin or too much Yang, and that the body is neither weak nor strong. Having a balanced body is the goal of Chinese medicine. The people that are at this energy level have a fit figure, healthy facial complexion, mild temper, and a regular sleeping pattern. The body’s resistance to illness is much higher than the ability for illness to enter the body; hence the person does not get sick often. This type of people is quite rare. Perhaps only practitioners of Chi Kong and Tai-Chi can achieve this body energy level.

Level 2 - Weak Yang Level

The body’s Xie Chi level is lower than healthy level. There are many causes for the decreasing of Xie Chi, such as lack of sleep, late sleeping time, malnutrition and more. At this level the body’s resistance to illness is similar to the illness ability to invade the body. Because the 2 sides are balanced in power, many battles will occur in various parts of the body. The person will experience various symptoms of discomfort as his body combats illness. These symptoms can be frequent colds, fevers, and etc.

Level 3 - Weak Yin Level

The body’s Xie Chi level is even lower than weak yang level. Due to low Xie Chi, the body’s resistance to illness is lower than the illness’ ability to invade the body. The body cannot combat to remove illness but rather it only has the ability to defend itself. At this stage the body uses all of its limited Xie Chi to maintain the major body functions and ignores the minor illness unless the illness is life threatening.

Many people of the working class are in the weak yin level. Many of them feel that their body is in healthy condition as they are rarely ill. These people usually have irregular sleeping patterns and high pressure work schedules.

People that have this level of Xie Chi shares a common trait: They are abnormally energetic during late night. The irregular energy comes from the “Gan Huo” that their bodies stored previously. (For definition of Gan Huo, please see the previous post) Their bodies’ Xie Chi can no longer support their bodies’ daily activities hence they will use the backup energy to maintain their functions. In other words, the people at this energy level are not as healthy as they think, but rather their bodies lack the ability to get ill since their Xie Chi is too low.
The duration that a person can maintain his body in this energy level varies according to the person’s lifestyle. A person that had a well-rested life will have more energy stored than a person that had a busy life. Generally speaking, children that grown up in the countryside will have more energy stored than the children that grown up in the cities. This is because the children that live in the countryside usually sleeps earlier and have a more stable lifestyle compare to the children of the cities.

Level 4 – Weak Yin and Yang Level

If the person that is in the weak Yin level continues to deplete his energy, when he uses up all of the backup energy, his body will reach the weak Yin and Yang level. At this stage the person the body’s energy will be at the minimum safety threshold. The person will feel constant fatigue during the day as his Xie Chi decreases to the minimum. At this point the body will try to obtain energy from the muscle and other areas of the body.

Level 5 – Xie Chi Exhaustion Level

If the person’s Xie Chi level continues to decrease from the Yin and Yang level, the person’s Xie Chi will drop beneath the safety threshold and reach the Xie Chi Exhaustion level. At this stage the body will attempt to extract energy in anyway they could as the body approaches total collapse. The energy extracted in the form of Gan Huo will cause the patient to have insomnia and making it difficult for the patient to sleep and replenishes Xie Chi. As the patient’s Xie Chi drops even lower, his Gan Huo will increase and his sleep will decrease, this malignant cycle will continue until the body collapses.

The patients of this Xie Chi level will develop some serious diseases as their bodies lose their normal functions. The diseases can be various cancers, kidney failure, stroke, and etc. Since various organs suffer from the lack of Xie Chi, there is a good chance that several organs will develop diseases simultaneously. From Chinese medicine’s perspective, it is not the first diseased organ causing other organs to malfunction; it is rather that all the organs are at the brink of malfunction due to the lack of Xie Chi.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Sleeping during daytime and the definition of Xie and Chi

In Chinese medicine, body energy is defined as “Xie Chi”. Xie meaning blood, and Chi meaning energy. Chinese medicine has a specific definition for blood as blood is tangible, but the definition for “Chi” or energy is rather abstract since Chi is not visible. When a person wakes up in the morning, he is feeling refreshed and full of energy. As the day progresses, the person loses the energy, or chi, and he becomes tired as the day approaches night time.

Xie, or blood, is the most important element of the body. Xie is the carrier of Chi. The more Xie that the body has, the more capacity that the body has to carry Chi. Human body generates Xie through quality sleeping. Sleep can also generate Chi, however the amount of Chi that sleep generates varies according to the sleep quality and the amount of Xie that the person has. The higher the quality of sleep, the higher amount of Xie that is present in the body, and the higher of Chi that can be stored.

If a person had quality sleep the previous night, majority of the time that the person will feel refreshed or in Chinese medicine terms, full of Chi the next morning. As the day progresses, after 4-6 hours of work, the person will feel fatigued as his body’s Chi diminishes. After lunch time, if the person takes a short nap, he will feel energized in the afternoon. Short nap is a good way to replenish Chi.

I have a friend who suffers from severe anemia. He also suffers from insomnia and as a result, he goes through the day feeling fatigued and drowsy. Many people have the idea that if they sleep too much during the day, they will not be able to fall sleep during the night. Yet often times this idea will make it harder for these people to sleep during proper hours. A good number of these people cannot fall asleep until way past midnight.

In order to explain the above situation, let me explain the concept of body energy usage from the Chinese medicine point of view. The main energy source that the body uses is the Chi. The amount of Chi that the body has is defined as above. When the body is low on Chi, it will generate backup energy, called “Gan Huo”. When a person feels fatigue, it means that the person’s Chi is low. If the person chooses not to rest at this point, his body will generate Gan Huo to fill the energy void of the body. In the above example, the people that felt fatigue during the time chooses to stay wake instead of resting. Their body will generate Gan Huo throughout the day. By night time, when the proper sleeping time arrives, their body is still filled with Gan Huo from earlier, thus making it difficult for these people to fall asleep, causing insomnia. Perhaps many people have had the experience of feeling tired early evening, but as the night progresses, the tiredness will fade away.

The advice that I gave for my friend who suffers from anemia is that whenever his body feels fatigued, he should rest immediately. This eliminates the body from generating Gan Huo and it makes it easier for him to sleep at night. As a result, my friend took multiple naps during the day and his insomnia was cured as he fell asleep around 10pm and he slept until 6am the next day.

Sometimes it is not necessary to use medicine to heal an illness. Understanding your body and having a healthy sleeping pattern are the first steps toward a healthy life style.