Chinese Medicine makes no distinction between the mind and body. Often times the patient doesn’t need to explain their illnesses but their body tells the by looking at the body, the tongue and other aspects. “The two main digestive organs are the stomach and the spleen,” Dr. Peter Borten, acupuncturist with a doctorate in Chinese Medicine. In discussing The I Ching, The Book of Changes, he explains Chinese Medicine is using nature and traditional medicine for health.
He says, “The stomach is responsible for receiving food, ripening it, breaking down food. The spleen is responsible for transporting it to the body and extend nourishment to all parts of the body.”
Chinese Medicine centers around our digestive organs working together like a fire with the goal of having it all burn evenly versus overwhelming the fire, hyper neglecting the fire or throwing green wood on the fire. The metabolism will work most efficiently with a body that burns consistently, efficiently and purposefully.
Dr. Borten says nutrient dense food and proper digestion is vital to health. In regards to raw food eating he says, “From a Chinese perspective it’s thought that you can only handle so much. Cooking is a good thing, it’s like predigesting it makes it easier for your body to assimilate it.” In discussing raw foodies he says, “They’re really kind of pale and sickly. Just have some warm cooked food, especially if it’s cold and snowy out.”
The Chinese advise against eating too much food that’s thermally cold. Dr. Borten says, “Traditional terms like warmth and cold, dryness and dampness can be a little hard for people who are brought up with science being the dominant view of health.” The biomedical concepts is what’s important.
He says, “Dampness is an expression of something that’s retained in the body that doesn’t serve you but you carry around with you anyway. It can be the residue of food that isn’t well digested or it could be an accumulation of something from improper eating like body fat, plaque, yeast or phlegm.”
Lonny Jarrett, M.Ac., M.S., FNAAOM discusses dampness in one of his books Nourishing Destiny: The Inner Tradition of Chinese Medicine. He explains dampness can include undigested life experiences that burden the body as well as improper digestion of food.
“From a naturopathic perspective or a Chinese Medicine perspective so many of these kids who have ADD or ADHD also have food sensitivities. Something’s disrupting the digestive process and in the meantime their ability to focus is scattered,” Dr. Borten says. “In many cases it’s just a matter of finding out what their food sensitivities are and they’re really able to hone in on their studies.”
An explicit description of how our bodies become out of touch with health and become toxic can be found in The Last Child In The Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder.
“If we’re stressed, from a biomedical perspective, that tends to activate the sympathetic nervous system which diverts blood away from non-essential functions. You don’t need to digest when you’re prepared to run for your life or fight for your life. That’s not essential.” Dr. Borten goes on to say, “Salivation, lacrimation, urination, defecation are the aspects of the parasympathetic system that blood is shunted away from when we’re stressed out.”
Good nutrition and absorption happens in a body that is not under stress.
The body works best when it is scheduled. Eating close to the same times daily, with approximately the same quantity of food accompanied with a comfortable and consistent elimination schedule creates the optimum digestive situation. Traveling can expose the trauma on the digestive system through inconsistent elimination.
In Chinese Medicine the intestinal tract is primarily connected to the heart. Meaning the heart is affected by the intestine. If they can not decipher the pure and impure from life, they talk and talk and talk without getting to the point, they are unguided with a specific focus in Chinese Medicine this means the small intestine is suffering.
If there is anger, or inappropriate emotion this means the liver is not functioning properly.
Looking for sympathy from other people or having the need to give sympathy to others is a fundamental imbalance or worry which is a sign of an improperly working digestive system.
According to Chinese Medicine, correcting an unhealthy body can start through slowing down, getting in touch with nature, and proper nutrition.
Food affects the system in different ways. Chinese Medicine connects desires for taste and altering the body. Spicy foods open up your body, makes you sweat, opens the nasal passages. Bitter foods work in a descending manner opening up the bowels and benefiting digestion.
Sweet foods draw you in, comforting and centering you but Chinese sweet and Standard American Diet sweet are different. Chinese sweet consists of poultry, potatoes and milk. American sweet is bleached refined sugar, processed chemicals that give a sweet taste, white flour and whole grains. “Any of those flavors consumed in excess causes too much inward focus, too much consolidation and therefore accumulation of unnecessary flesh,” Dr. Borten says. He adds cutting out sweets will be a gift to your health.
Bland tasting food is considered valuable for eliminating dampness in the digestion system. Pearl barley and poria mushroom both have almost no flavor aiding in assisting damp digestion.
Grains are not highly recommended and should only be eaten if there is absolutely no food intolerance.
Sour foods generate fluids internally, act as an astringent quenching your thirst. This is good in the summertime.
Astringents work to decrease and consolidate such as cases of bed wetting or extreme diarrhea.
Salty foods, like sea vegetables or crustaceans, break up congealed material like tumors, phlegm or Alzheimer’s disease.
Chinese Medicine connects the organs and the body holistically. It is more traditional, less scientific and lab oriented. Healing is a whole body process. To learn more go to peterborten.com.
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