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Traditional Chinese Medicine Should be on Your Radar
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Traditional Chinese Medicine Should be on Your Radar

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Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been around for millennia and has changed very little in that time. You could say it's the most "tried and true" method of healing, but it hasn't been widely accepted.

Lately, however, traditional medical practices like acupuncture have been gaining a foothold in Western medicine, but thanks to increased exposure and study, we’re seeing the prevalence of traditional Chinese care methods increase around the world, including an increasing acceptance of Ayurveda, the world’s oldest holistic healing system. 

The basics of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda 

Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM, has been practiced in China for thousands of years. The basic belief is that a “vital force of life”, called our qi, or chi, surges through our bodies. Any imbalance of chi can cause disease or illness. Keeping the balance between our yin and yang, the opposite forces that make up our chi, keeps us healthy and whole. 

Ayurveda is another traditional type of holistic medicine that appeared in India over 3,000 years ago. Like TCM, Ayurveda beliefs state that health and wellness depend on a balance between our mind, body, and spirit. Like many aspects of TCM, Ayurveda looks more toward promoting good health, preventing illness instead of fighting diseases. 

In May 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) included TCM in its International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD). The inclusion of TCM could provide the opportunity for more traditional and holistic medical practices, like Ayurveda, to be more widely accepted and relied upon in the Western hemisphere. For many years, TCM practices have only been available in China or nearby countries. With its inclusion in the ICD, holistic medicines could start appearing in doctor’s offices around the world, and care practices such as acupuncture, which has been shown to be effective in managing pain, could begin to be covered by insurance companies. 

As Ayurveda has taken its place in the compendium of complementary and alternative medicine in the U.S., it has become easier for us to access its guiding principles and benefit from the holistic lifestyle it professes.

Ayurveda 101

Ayurveda has a long, ancient tradition in India (some estimates even claim it is 5,000 years old!). It is the “sister science of yoga.” The word Ayurveda broken down in Sanskrit is “ayur,” meaning life, and “veda” meaning knowledge. In other words, Ayurveda means the science, or knowledge, of living. This science of living is achieved by balancing the needs of the mind, body, and spirit.

According to Sahara Rose, a globally accepted guru of Ayurveda, you can achieve balance through diet, herbal treatment, and lifestyle changes. She says that living correctly for your Dosha, or mind-body type will give you success in a balanced life. The three Doshas are: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Sahara Rose offers great explanations on each Dosha, but here are some brief summaries:

  • Vata are very creative, eccentric people. They are most likely to associate with the elements of air and space. Vata struggle with digestive issues and often have difficulty sleeping because their minds are “like tornadoes,” constantly spinning with thoughts and ideas.  
  • Pitta, associated with the elements of fire and water, “bring the heat,” as Sahara Rose says. They are very organized and motivated but are often prone to anger and overheating. Pitta are very nurturing, warm, and giving, but those qualities can often result in frustration when they are drained. 
  • Kapha are stable and grounded people who identify with the earth and water. Being so intensely grounded often results in holding on to issues and difficulty in progressing towards their goals. They are often jealous and materialistic. Physically, Kapha often struggle with losing weight and are “heavy and sluggish.”

Maybe none of those sound like you. Don’t worry, Sahara Rose has created a widely accepted and accurate quiz to determine your Ayurvedic mind and body types. Once you have figured out your Ayurvedic types, you can start learning more about what your mind, body, and spirit need to achieve balance and how to customize your diet for your dosha.

How Ayurveda and TCM can help you

By understanding your mind and body Doshas, you can begin the journey of creating balance in your life. Ayurveda gives you the tools you need to make changes in your diet, mental health, and exercise. Even making small adjustments can make a big difference in your quest for balance. 

Ayurveda emphasizes preventative care and can help reduce stress and promote lifelong wellness and balance. Likewise, Traditional Chinese Medicine emphasizes caring for your body over the long term so it can defend itself in periods of stress and illness. TCM has been shown to improve sleep, cognitive health, and inflammation—without the side effects associated with conventional treatments. 

Looking outside traditional Western medicine can seem daunting at first. But as you implement traditional medicines like Ayurveda in your life, you can discover and balance your chi and become happier, healthier, and better able to exist in the world. 

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