On July 7th, an Earth time began in the Chinese Calendar, in addition to what Chinese Medicine calls, Later Summer Heat. means an extra heat trend takes its turn. This is a time of centering, grounding, and relaxing! Enjoy!
Continuing with Red Tree Wellness’ philosophy of helping guide you on your pathway to health, this is the fifth and final in the series of newsletters that will focus on educating you about a condition that relates to that season’s element from a Chinese Medicine perspective. Our topic this Earth time is Diabetes, and the Late Summer Earth element organ systems of the Spleen and Stomach systems.
Red Tree Wellness’ Doctor of TCM, Karyn Smith, will guide you on the connection between Diabetes and the Earth element meridian systems of the Spleen and Stomach:
Late summer is between summer and fall, between the elements of fire and metal. Late summer is the earth element where dampness meets heat, and we get languid, humid, and lethargic days. Diabetes is connected to the Earth element Spleen and its partnered organ system of the Stomach meridian. The description of the Spleen meridian function more closely resembles the Pancreas functions in Western Medicine, so we will refer to the Spleen as the Spleen-Pancreas system.
The Earth element is sinking, swelling, fullness and heaviness. It relates to humidity that is present in most regions in late summer. The activity of summer slows right down to a feeling of lethargy and stillness. The Spleen-Pancreas and Stomach organ systems regulate our digestion and blood sugar levels. The digestive fire of the Stomach breaks down our food. The nutrients go to the Spleen-Pancreas to be further refined into our daily energy (Qi) and blood supply. Dampness in our environment, as well as created from cold, rich, greasy, sweet foods and drinks, cause internal dampness. When the Spleen-Pancreas is injured, it will lead to more internal dampness that slows our digestive system and weakens our digestive fire. We become sluggish, especially in the morning, and gain weight easily. Dampness is sticky and difficult to get rid of and obstructs circulation. It can flow downwards and lead to edema, oily skin, sticky perspiration, abundant discharge of mucus, swelling around joints and dull pains.
In Chinese Medicine, Diabetes is called Xiao Ke, which is known as a “wasting-thirsting” disorder. It is also known as “3 more, 1 less;” meaning to drink more, eat more, urinate more but lose weight. The root cause is an imbalance in the Spleen and Stomach systems which have been injured by damp-forming foods and drinks that lead to an overall body deficiency in Qi. It is easy for other major organ systems to become involved. Internal Dampness can lead to weight gain, but can also obstruct circulation and lead to a build-up of heat that damages body fluids. When the fluid of the Lung system is damaged, there is great thirst, increased drinking and urination. Too many greasy, fried, or spicy foods can injure the fluids of the Stomach. This leads to excess heat in the Stomach and a feeling of gnawing hunger and increased eating. When the Kidneys, which control the lower gates, are involved, injury will lead to increased cloudy or oily urine. Weight loss can result due to the damage and loss of body fluids and the inability of the body to properly absorb nutrients and restore lost body fluids.
The TCM approach to treating Xiao Ke or Diabetes Type 1 or 2 is by determining which organ systems are involved in forming a treatment plan. Acupuncture points are chosen to help strengthen the root, which is the Spleen-Pancreas and Stomach meridians, to clear heat and nourish body fluids. A combination of acupuncture and herbal formulas will lead to better results. Also, diet and lifestyle is explored to help get the most from our bodies. A diet that is bland is recommended to help rid the excess dampness and improve circulation and allow our digestive system to function well. Who do you know that may like assistance managing their Diabetes? We are here to help!
– Dr. Karyn Smith, RAc, Dr.TCM
Enjoy the rest of your summer, and look for us in the fall at the Douglas Park Community Centre Health Day on Sunday, September 16th, 2012. We will be doing free tongue and pulse diagnoses to those that visit our booth, so pass the word around! In addition, please let us know of any other topics that you would like to learn more about for our next series of newsletters!
Good health to you,
Sonia F. Tan
BA, BA(H), DTCM, R.Ac, R.TCM.P.