Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is an ancient form of medicine. It is based mainly on the prevention of illness, although it has helped many people to find a cure for a wide variety of health problems.
Chinese medicine uses herbs, acupuncture, acupressure massage, and diet to promote health. It especially emphasizes changing lifestyle habits. The key to understanding Chinese medicine is to understand the idea of balance. The goal in using any of the tools of Chinese medicine is to supply the body with what it requires to retain balance. Once balance is attained, the person regains health.
For centuries the Chinese have taught how to achieve balance in life using the concept of yin and yang, which are present in human beings and in all of nature. Yang is characterized as heat and light; yin as shadow and cold. Dryness and summer are yang; wetness and winter are yin. Chinese philosophy also classifies energy as yang and blood as yin. A person with an excess of yang might be overweight, have an angry temperament, and high blood pressure. Such an individual would benefit from such foods as asparagus, bananas, cucumbers, soy products (tofu), and watermelon. A person with a quiet personality, who is listless or tires easily, may have an excess of cooling yin. Foods recommended for this type of person include beef, garlic, ginger, lamb, and pepper. Yin foods are cooling and have a cooling effect, whereas yang foods are warming. Neutral foods include black beans, cabbage, carrots, lemons, and rice and other whole grain foods. These foods provide balance. To maintain health, one must consume the proper balance of yin, yang, and neutral foods.
Like foods, medicinal herbs are seen in terms of yin and yang. Chinese herbs are very powerful and should be used under the advice of a healer trained in traditional Chinese medicine. Traditional Chinese remedies that have recently become more widely available in the United States include cordyceps and velvet antler. Cordyceps is a plant that is found only in certain isolated places in southwest China, more than 12,000 feet above sea level. Chinese researchers have found more than 200 species of wild cordyceps. Studies on this herb suggest that it can reduce the ill effects of radiation treatment, lower blood pressure, reduce symptoms of asthma and other respiratory problems, increase energy levels, improve memory, and improve male sexual ability. Velvet antler has been reported to increase energy, mental alertness, and sex drive; decrease blood pressure and cholesterol levels; and reduce PMS symptoms. Velvet antler may also be effective as an anti-inflammatory.
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