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One of the main differences between Eastern and Western Medicines is the ability to see the bigger picture.
In the East, they take a very different view of the world than we do in the West. If we were both asked to look at the same picture of a man in front of a building, the Western mind set is usually to focus in on the man in explicit detail. However, the Eastern mind would instead focus on the background and entire picture including the man. Our Western culture and upbringing have geared us towards concentrating in on small details and fine points; we are trained to tune in on tiny details and be hyper critical, but sometimes when we do that we lose sight of the bigger picture.
This is often the case in Western Medicine. By breaking down the structure of diseased cells into more and more minute parts, it often isolates these cells from the bigger picture of what is really going on in the entire body. It then tries to find a chemical or procedure that will have some bearing on this secluded group of diseased cells. Unfortunately this method, when effective, often just covers up the symptoms of the illness rather than treating the cause of it.
For example, a doctor may prescribe a steroid spray to squirt up your nose if you have sinus problems, rather than trying to discover exactly what is causing all that mucus to build up in your nose.
Or they might give you blood pressure lowering drugs, rather than trying to address what has caused your blood pressure to go up in the first place. Was it from stress, anger, alcohol and coffee, an overheated liver or so forth.
The problem with this approach is that by covering up a symptom, you are still allowing the underlying cause to continue and sometimes to strengthen which may lead to even more disastrous consequences.
The Chinese do the complete opposite to Western Medicine; instead of just looking at this one illness in isolation in one part of the body, they will expand the picture and bring in every aspect of the body and all things affecting it from the environment into their view. They can from there see the bigger cause of the illness. Or see whatever weakness is in the body that has allowed the illness to start. And therefore what needs to be altered to completely cure the patient of the illness.
If you had a toothache in your mouth, heartburn in your stomach, irritable bowel syndrome in your intestines, acne on your face, and stress and anger in your head; then in Western Medicine, everything will be reviewed as isolated problems without connections. You will be sent to a dentist for the toothache. A digestive specialist for the heartburn and irritable bowel syndrome. A skin specialist for the acne. And a psychiatrist for the stress and anger issues.
In Chinese Medicine you will see just one doctor. The same Chinese medical practitioner will build up a big pattern from all those symptoms and see what links them together. In this simple case, excessive heat is a common denominator for them all, (as you learn more about Chinese Medicine you will see how this conclusion has been reached). The doctor may give you a herbal formula to clear general heat with extra herbs added to cool more localized areas. When you start to clear away the overall heat you will see a reduction in all of the above symptoms. They will eventually all fade away.
Herbs are seen in Chinese Medicine as stronger more potent versions of foods. They can give quick and powerful effects in treating illness. However you will see later that there are many simple foods which we can buy in our local stores that are perhaps a little slower to work but are often very effective in treating illnesses.
Through questioning and examining, the Chinese doctor will gather many symptoms from all parts of the mind and body to produce the real causes of illness. No single symptom is ever viewed in isolation. We must look at the big picture to see what created it.
For example, for eye problems, too much heat in your liver may overheat your blood, which in turn inflames and irritates the eyes as it passes through them. Or weak production of hormones may lead to a lack of replacing and repairing of cells in the eyes. Or a weak digestive system may fail to break down and digest foods adequately to make strong blood and energy which in turn fails to feed the eyes. And so forth. So although the symptom might be in the eye, you can see the underlying conditions of organs have a big part to play in the problem.
In Chinese Medicine the body acts in a similar way as a tree in nature does. The roots feed the trunk, which feeds the branches, which then feed the leaves and flowers. In the body, the organs feed the muscles, bones, tissues, eyes, hair, skin, nails and so on. To treat any of these individually without treating the bigger underlying conditions and the organs responsible for them is considered as bad medicine.
Sometimes when we are concentrating on the small details we lose sight of the obvious that is right in front of our eyes. This can be seen when we look at some Western diagnostic methods, such as microscopes and blood tests. They are very useful for seeing and measuring diseased cells in the body. But they are not so good at determining the strength in an individual, and therefore that individual’s strength to maintain good health, to combat germs, and to recuperate from and fight illnesses. For example, a ninety year old and a twenty year old may both have had a blood test that shows them to be disease free. However, it is very likely that the twenty year old is much stronger and in better health than the ninety year old. This will not be shown through medical tests and instruments, but is easily seen by the eyes.
Finally, the big picture is also very important in all other aspects of our health. Not just in the treatment and causes of illness but also in the prevention of illness and creation of good health. In order to create excellent health we need to focus on all areas of our lives and environments. These areas include mind, emotions, spirit, soul, diet, exercise, sex, climate, relationships, sleep, work and so on. You cannot just have a perfect diet or exercise regimen and ignore the rest. Although some may have bigger impacts on you, all are fundamentally important for health and happiness of the whole being.
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