Finding the Root Cause
External symptoms always have a root cause. TCM practitioners work to determine and treat the source of the problem through their diagnosis and treatment plan. Each person is unique, with his or her own constitution and internal energy (Qi) pattern. It may surprise you to know that similar symptoms do not always have the same root cause.
Take high blood pressure, or hypertension, for example. In the TCM view, this condition can be related to the Heart, the Kidney, or the Stomach organ systems. Frequently, it is a combination of organs that have a functional disorder and have fallen into a state of imbalance. Actually, in many cases, you can say that the symptom of high blood pressure is a sign that the entire body is out of balance.
Yin and Yang are two complementary energies that are a part of everything in the universe. They are also part of you. In your body, each has a natural direction: Yin naturally descends and Yang naturally rises. In good health, an internal balance is always maintained. Yet with high blood pressure, an excess of Qi rises to the head and becomes stuck there. This is why some of the symptoms associated with high blood pressure—headaches, dizziness, redness of the face and eyes—are experienced in the head.
TCM does not treat complex health issues such as high blood pressure in a disease-specific way. This means the TCM treatment approach for this condition has the fundamental understanding that similar symptoms can have very different causes in different people. TCM practitioners carefully analyze individual symptoms and life patterns to determine exactly which organ or organs are out of balance. The practitioner is always looking to find and treat the root cause, so treatment plans for high blood pressure will vary from person to person. This type of healing approach is actually customized for each specific individual.
Western medicine generally approaches this condition by suppressing or controlling symptoms with medication. But if the root cause of high blood pressure is not addressed—including lifestyle issues—the person can never truly be well. TCM does not separate the symptoms a person experiences from the whole. It seeks to reestablish balance within the body’s energy system and then create harmony between the individual and the external natural world.
Tips and Treatment
The symptoms associated with high blood pressure have been successfully treated by TCM for centuries using a variety of natural methods in combination. Acupuncture restores and balances the function of the affected organs. Chinese herbal formulas work to support the organs without negative side effects. Energy practice like Qigong helps your organs function more efficiently and at their peak, thereby conserving energy. Because it helps calm the mind and emotions, meditation is also a deeply healing practice. Lifestyle adjustments are also important components in regaining balance and health if you have high blood pressure. Reducing stress and managing the emotions are essential.
Changes in diet—what, when, and how you eat—promote healing as well. Food is one of the body’s two major sources of energy. Focus on foods with an energy essence that nourishes the unbalanced organs. For the Kidney, be sure to include shellfish (clams, lobster, oysters, shrimp and squid), beans (especially black beans), and toasted nuts (pine nuts and walnuts). The Heart benefits from eating broccoli, broccoli rabe, and watermelon. Celery, which helps increase Stomach Qi and removes heat from the body, and zucchini, a vegetable that has a cool essence, both help heal the Stomach. Also, warm and cooked foods support the function of the Stomach. Eat regular meals in a calm, peaceful environment. Just adding these few tips to your daily life on a regular basis can help maximize your healing.