A Chinese and Functional medicine practitioner looks at the body from numerous perspectives.
The skin layer and the digestive tract wall are both external barriers. Your skin protects you from the external environment. This level becomes unsupported when the body only has resources for the internal terrain. Toxins can accumulate here. The skin may become dry and irritated. The tissues may become rigid or flaccid. You may deal with more “cold” symptoms though you don’t have a “cold or flu.” Applying topicals, taking cold medication or antibiotics, will not improve a deeper issue.
The outer wall of the digestive tract is a parallel to the skin because it separates one structure from another. In this case the digestive tract from the more superficial and internal terrain of the body. Dysfunction in the gut often manifests in the skin.
The encompasses the skeleton, joints, tendons, ligaments, muscles, and cartilage. Here we see both structural and physiologic imbalances manifesting as misalignments, muscular tension or weakness. Joints are also home to unresolved pathogens like pathogenic bacteria. The body stores pathogens in the joints to protect the organs. A common cause of fluid depletion in the body is due to the body utilizing immune cells to hold these latent pathogens hostage. Treatment should work to correct the physical structure, but often the presence of these latent pathogens and/or fluid depletion interferes with lasting improvement. The long-term solution is to investigate the internal terrain and resolve any pathogens.
This is where you allow information and nourishment to either come into your internal terrain, or feed your Microbiome: your internal ecosystem. Upper GI symptoms, like heartburn and reflux, are not caused by too much acid. Acid reducers are not the long-term solution, just a symptom treatment. Optimizing your stomach’s acidity to protect the body from pathogens, and enabling proper digestive function, so you may absorb your nutrients, is key to the health of the whole body. But this must be done correctly (see my ebook – Repairing Your Gut).
The Small Intestine is where your nutrients are absorbed into your internal terrain. If the digestive system is healthy, pathogens have been neutralized by the acidic stomach, and enzymes have appropriately broken down your food. If the small intestine is functioning properly, only the nutrients that are meant to be absorbed will pass through into the internal terrain. If it is not functioning properly, is leaky (leaky gut), food that is not meant to be absorbed gets by, causing an immune reaction. The Small Intestine relies on the upper and lower gut to be health for it to be health. Follow my ebook Repairing Your Gut, to begin repairing this structure.
The body will do whatever it needs to protect the organs. It will divert pathogens away from the organs and store them in the joints to protect life. Or push them out to the skin. We see this when the Liver, Kidneys and intestines cannot handle the toxins the body is trying to eliminate. Often the Liver is congested, the Spleen/Pancreas is depleted from compensating for the weak Stomach; the Kidneys are overwhelmed trying to compensate for the Liver and overstimulated via the adrenal glands; and the intestines are imbalanced and irritated. Repairing such a system requires a lot of support and interpretation. Sometimes you are supporting, and other times you are eliminating. Sometimes both. Treatment is very dynamic and requires a practitioner who knows how to interpret what the body is saying.
The brain and body communicate with each other to maintain balance. Feedback loops can be overstimulated or understimulated causing impaired communication. The brain may not understand truly what is going on with the body, or it may understand and force the body to adapt to protect life. We often see this with Cortisol, a glucocorticoid that manages our blood sugar, enables fight and flight, wakes us up in the morning, and reduces our inflammation. When Cortisol is overutilized, the body will reduce it to avoid the negative affects it has on the body. This can create a lot of other issues, but the brain has to chose its battles. One common issue is pain. Patients often seek out cortisone shots to reduce their pain, but a common reason for the pain is the reduction of cortisol by the brain to protect your life. Getting an injection of cortisone often improves the localized pain, but the underlying overutilization of cortisol must be addressed, or it will be a short-term solution.
The body operates on the principle of duality. Chinese medicine would say Yin and Yang, whereas Biomedicine would say feedback loops. One balances it’s opposite, and their interactions use and create energy:
Calcium – Magnesium
Sodium – Potassium
Cortisol – DHEA
Biceps – Triceps
There are many ways in which Energy can become blocked, contributing to disease – physical, physiologic, or emotional.
When the local anatomy is congested, Everything is impeded causing an accumulation of energy. This can be seen in musculoskeletal pain from lack of exercise and prolonged sitting.
The body has a tight correction system to keep opposites in balance. It will fight for homeostasis. If calcium is dominant to magnesium, you see muscle spasms or fluttering of the heartbeat. When sodium and potassium are imbalanced, you’ll see issues with water retention and the blood pressure. If cortisol is elevated, DHEA will also elevate to counterbalance it. When resources are imbalanced, functions are impeded, and structures are not supported.
The mind can control our energy. One of the strongest skills a human can develop is the power of intention. When the mind is emotional, the body constricts and everything stagnates. We often feel a mass in our throats which Chinese medicine calls Plum Pit Qi. There isn’t an actual mass, but an energetic mass.
Our bodies are also constructed in a way that we have neurovascular nodes where energy can be stimulated. Acupuncture, body, mindfulness, and/or energy work, can improve the energetic level.