A 3-Min Guide to TCM & Getting Back in Balance
by Kiki Athanas
February 04, 2019
If you’ve ever felt like there’s something “wrong” with you, but your doctor doesn’t share that same sentiment - tests come back as “normal”, and you’re sent off with the classic “take it easy” speech, a seemingly shot-in-the-dark pharmaceutical drug - or both, you’re not alone.
While there’s a time and place for medical doctors and I’m certainly honoured and thankful to have access to one, there’s some things that Western medicine can “miss”. At least that’s what I discovered as I started to learn more about Traditional Chinese Medicine, which really helped to provide the answers I was searching for and fill in the “gaps” as it relates to my overall health and happiness.
In search of a more holistic and long-sighted approach to a few my own recent health concerns (although mild), I wanted a real solution that I could feel good about. That brought me to seeing a TCM practitioner, and beyond receiving extremely effective acupuncture treatments, the real gift has been in the personal lifestyle and diet suggestions which I now firmly believe in as potent medicine.
This stuff WORKS and it’s shocking to me that more people aren’t aware of the often faster, cheaper, safer, and more effective, natural treatments and healing modalities available through this traditional way of medicine that the Chinese have practiced for literally thousands of years. Rather than simply enjoy the benefits it’s bringing into my life - I wanted to share a few of my key learnings with you, so that you can reap some of this goodness too!
Get your Qi in Balance
According to TCM, qi is the life force that drives every activity in organic life forms. If you’re qi is deficient, pain, suffering, and illness may occur - it can happen anywhere the body doesn’t have enough energy to perform its functions. Symptoms may include problems in the heart, lungs, kidneys, digestive upset, and even mental and emotional troubles.
Restoring and nourishing your qi depends on your own individual makeup and unique circumstances, but usually involves:
- Nutritional Strategies: Opt for more warming foods (both in temperature and energy) like cooked grains, squash, poultry, and add spices like ginger and pepper.
- Tip: Crack out your slow cooker or instant pot and meal prep with hearty stews - throw in a protein (I’ve been opting for lamb lately, but mung beans are another great vegetarian option), some root veggies (turnips are awesome), and a grain (wild rice or barley are great).
- Adaptogens: TCM often refers to these as “tonic herbs” - and they are widely used to help one’s body and mind adapt to stress. A common herb that works well for many people - particularly when it comes to stress and anxiety - is Ashwagandha.
- Tip: I mix Ashwagandha into my nut butter with a touch of honey and the result tastes like chocolate...I’m not sure why, but I’m not complaining.
- Lifestyle: You can eat all the nourishing goodness and diligently take adaptogens throughout the day - but if you’re not slowing down to enjoy it all, then it will do no good (or at least not as much good as it should!).
- Tip: Wake up and take a self-audit before you check your phone/computer/rush off to work etc etc → how do you feel? What are you grateful for? Take a breath, a pause, and carry that slower, more mindful pace into the rest of your day. Bonus if you can quick all the multitasking and simply do one thing at a time - trust me, the world WILL go on (yes, it shocked me too).
While there’s SO much more sacred information and guidelines to help you restore and truly activate your own natural self-healing ability within TCM, I’ll leave you with those few basics above for now.
Please know that whatever your circumstances or your ailment(s) (physical, chemical, biological) - there ARE ways to heal, feel better, and the pathway to the life you want and deserve is often only a few steps away - or perhaps you’re already on the golden trail, and for that I salute you my friend!