If you have spent any time in China you have probably have heard about Chinese Medicine; It is more than 2000 years old, it is based on ancient texts (the oldest being the Huángdì Nèijīng (黄帝内经) compiled by unknown authors between 300 and 1000 BCE) and extensive clinical observation and testing. However, it is also based on Chinese philosophy and habits of civilizations based on years of human experience and interaction with the natural world. Western medicine and Chinese Medicine are capable of complementing each other as they often focus on different things. While Western Medicine tends to categorize illnesses into individual parts or symptoms, the Chinese approach is a more holistic approach that incorporates the physiological and psychological of the individual. The phrase “cure the source, not just the symptoms” (治标不治本 – zhìbiāo bù zhìběn) is at the core of Chinese Medicine.
Chinese Medicine’s main focus is on creating harmony. A symptom is not seen as an individual issue, but rather a part of the total disharmony and how it fits into the context of a person’s life. This is where the philosophy of Yin and Yang comes in which there is a fundamental duality of the universe. Yin and Yang are complementary energies and have to be balanced for a healthy life.
While it would be too difficult to go into the many details of Chinese Medicine in one blog post, there are some easy takeaway ideas for your everyday life that are simple to follow. This is based on the idea that Chinese Medicine follows the principle of “three parts treatment, seven parts life habits” 三分调，七分养 (sānfēn tiáo, qīfēn yang).
1. Eat Seasonally
It is widely believed that eating in line with the seasons allows us to remain in harmony with the environment. This makes us more able to prepare our bodies for the upcoming seasons and protect ourselves from the changing temperatures. Every item of food we eat is linked to a different energy and we should be eating food that balances what the world around us is doing. For example: eating cooling foods such as watermelon in summer.
Look after your sleeping habits
2. Look after you sleeping habits
Early to bed, early to rise and aim for it to be at a constant time. Remember when we touched on the idea of Yin and Yang? Sleep helps us keep in touch with the natural daily cycle of the changing yin and yang in the universe. Staying close to a natural rhythm is important for maintaining harmony within the body. More and more research is being done on how sleep affects us. Sleep is vital for our bodies to recharge and repair! If you are chronically sleep deprived increases your stress levels dampen your immune system and affects your memory. Definitely not helpful for remembering all that Chinese vocabulary!
3. Drink enough warm water
Warm water is the key point here. In the West, we are constantly being told to drink more water to flush out toxins and keep our skin hydrated, but the habit in the West is to drink water cold. Much in the same way that a constantly higher temperature can have an adverse effect on the body, too cold is bad for it too. The Chinese believe that drinking water below room temperature can have a long-term negative effect on the body leading to damage of the internal organs.
You can also check our lesson on drinking water and health
Favourite ChinesePod lesson: "The frog prince in the well".
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