Eastern medicine has been practiced for millennia, and it’s been proven effective even by modern-day scientific standards. Things like Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and even Traditional Indian Medicine (TIM), the latter of which is referred to as Ayurveda, are still the number one means of wellness and longevity in many cultures. Here, you’ll learn nine different tips you should take from eastern medicine and apply to your own everyday life.
In Western medicine, there are many different types of doctors. These can be divided into many categories, but from a broader perspective, there are general doctors who treat the body and psychiatrists who treat the mind. This effectively separates the body and the mind, leading patients to believe that one is not related to the other. However, when it comes to Eastern medicine, things are much different. These cultures consider the mind and body to be one. When you are physically ill, your mind suffers; when you feel mentally unwell, your body suffers. Keeping this in mind can help you remember to treat both and improve your overall sense of wellness.
In Eastern medicine, the body is considered an “integrated whole”. This means that every single structure of your body, from the capillaries in your fingertips to your brain stem, are important parts of what makes you, you. Your mind and body, alongside your spirit and your emotions, create a very complex (and in some teachings, miraculous) living organism that makes you who you are. In the West, we have doctors who specialize in individual parts of the body, and they focus primarily on those parts. In the East, all those who practice medicine consider every part of the body because one is just as important to your health and wellbeing as the next.
Many people can testify to the Eastern belief that your body remains connected to nature itself. For example, if you have an old injury or chronic conditions like arthritis, you know that everything from an impending rainstorm to the changing of the seasons can impact the way you feel. When it comes to Eastern medicine and its take on your health, there are many factors to consider. The current condition of your body and genetics certainly play a role, just as they do here in the West, but other things like the current season, the location on the Earth, and even the time of day can all help make diagnoses and form treatment plans.
Western medicine doesn’t really focus on the human body’s place in the universe. It considers each person as its own individual without relation to anything else. This is very different when it comes to Eastern medicine, though. In this case, your body is a microorganism that reflects the events of its environment, which isn’t limited to the home or office, or even a region of the world. Your environment is the human macrocosm – the entirety of the universe and beyond, and the whole of the entire complex structure from which humanity itself was born. This means you are connected to nature, to the planet, and to the universe. Just like the macrocosm has a way of balancing and healing itself, so do you.
Here in the West, there have been many documentaries that focus on how doctors and pharmaceutical companies treat their patients. It’s been said that there’s no money to be made in keeping people healthy; Western medicine is based solely on treating the sick. While this isn’t always the case, especially for children in the Western world who see their pediatricians several times per year for wellness checks, there is some truth to this statement. Chances are good your doctor only treats you when you’re ill or when you have significant risk factors for certain health conditions.
When it comes to Eastern medicine, though, things are very different. Doctors work with their patients regularly to help them avoid getting sick in the first place. They look for signs of illness that a Western doctor may not notice or many not attribute to a health condition, and they treat every patient accordingly. The goal in Eastern medicine is simple: treat patients before they become ill to help them live a longer, happier life.
Hippocrates hit the nail on the head with his famous statement, “Let thy food be thy medicine, and let thy medicine be thy food.” Your diet is one of the most important things you can change right now to keep yourself healthy. Here in the West, your doctor may tell you to avoid sodium or to cut back on saturated fat, but this is only after you’ve demonstrated a concerning health problem or a risk factor. What’s more, if you go to your doctor for chronic pain, fatigue, or depression, you’ll likely leave with a prescription slip in your hand.
Eastern medicine views food in the same way people in the West view prescription bottles. When a patient goes to see his or her doctor in the East and complains of fatigue, that doctor will likely prescribe a very specific diet to be used for a specific timeframe to relieve that fatigue. The best part? It truly works, and these individuals aren’t consuming laboratory-created chemicals to feel better.
If you go to the doctor because you’re dealing with stress-induced anxiety, you’d probably be angry if your doctor sent you home with a prescription for something like valerian root or kava. After all, these aren’t manufactured by a pharmaceutical company, and there haven’t been years upon years of extensive clinical trials to prove their efficacy. This is where Western medicine often leads people astray. In fact, there has been extensive study on these powerful herbs. They’ve been used in Eastern medicine for thousands of years with a great deal of success, and they’re still being used today. Herbs are quite powerful, and in many cases, they work even better than the chemicals in a pill bottle.
Please bear in mind that if your doctor has prescribed you any kind of medication, you should never stop taking it or start taking any herbal supplement without first getting that doctor’s approval. Suddenly stopping an important medication can create serious health problems and some herbal supplements can interact with prescription drugs. You may consider scheduling an appointment with a holistic practitioner who can help you make the transition more safely.
Westerners live hectic, busy lives, and thanks to social and news media, our minds are often overloaded with negativity from the time we wake up in the morning until we go to bed at night. One of the most important facets of Eastern medicine is the connection between who you are as a person and what you allow yourself to think about each day. In these practices, it’s known that your thoughts feed your very spirit, which in turn fuels the emotions that can negatively impact your physical and mental health.
Even Western studies have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that excessive stress can negatively impact your physical health. One of these studies, which was published in 2005 in Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, found that while acute stress that is short-lived may not have much effect on physical health, long-term stress and exposure to a negative environment could exacerbate or even create health problems. That’s why so much of Eastern medicine focuses on preventing negative thoughts through meditation, tai chi, acupressure, acupuncture, and more.
There are two primary considerations in Eastern medicine. The first is the relationship between yin and yang, and the second is your qi, or energy. Keeping these things in mind will change the way you think about yourself and your environment, which will improve every aspect of your health.
The very crux of Eastern medicine is the perfect harmony between yin, yang, and qi. When you can achieve this balance, you’ll experience a content, happy, healthy, and long life.
Most people in the West give little credence to Eastern medicine. They believe that Western medicine, which is based more on science than philosophy and spiritualism, is the true path to health, happiness, and longevity. There is one thing that Eastern medicine does best, though: it focuses on your overall wellness as a whole – not just treating a specific problem once it arises.