Traditional Chinese Medicine Explorer

You Deserve a Long Healthy Life

 

TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE TALKS NUTRITION

Story by: Susan Taubman

Lin Pan is a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist, located at Plaza del Lagos in Granite Bay.

Pan has been located in Granite Bay for more than three years, and has been at the present site for more than one year. While she has practiced traditional Chinese medicine in the U.S. for more than 19 years, she received her formal medical training at one of China's premier medical institutions. By the time Pan graduated from the Nanjing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine in 1989, she had majored in both acupuncture and nutrition, besides completing training in modern western medicine.

Today Pan's office, Pan Acupuncture and Herb, offers the rare opportunity to get treatment that is not limited to acupuncture alone.

"Acupuncture treatment is often combined with herbs. Since everyone is different, individuals may need herbal and/or food therapy, combined with their acupuncture." Pan said.

Pan's commitment to medicine, her patients and community health can be seen in her belief that people need to learn more about how to cat properly, as part of maintaining optimum health. Patients who consult Pan for a wide variety of ailments often receive herbal supplements and dietary recommendations, according to diagnosis using traditional Chinese medicine. According to TCM, herbs, as well as foods, are classified by specific qualities and properties. Further, TCM stresses that each individual may need certain herbs and foods in particular cases, depending on the individual's need at the time.

However, Pan said, "it is essential to understand that when the needs of one particular individual change, then the recommended herbs and foods would also change." She sees it as important for people to learn that through the concepts of TCM, they can add or delete foods from their diet, depending on symptoms that may change from one day to another. A practitioner trained in theclassic arts of TCM will check for symptoms that reveal one's condition, such as variability of pulse rate, or numerous distinguishing characteristics of the tongue condition, such as coatings on the tongue. Such minute details are crucial to diagnoses in TCM.

"The same foods that a person finds helpful to eat today, may not be helpful for them to eat tomorrow. If a person'scondition changes, then that same food would not be the best choice. For example, abstention from certain foods for a time, such as garlic or onions, may help a person's system to get back to its optimum condition," Pan said.

Subtle changes in the condition of one's health are diagnosed by a licensed TCM practitioner, on the basis of complicated medical criteria, developed for more than 3,000 years in Chinese medicine. Pan pointed out that the origins of Chinese medicine hail back to "Huang Ti Nei Jing," one of the oldest books explaining its origins.

Research through the centuries has studied the effects of diet and food on health, forming the foundation of one of the main categories of TCM. It also led to information aimed at preventing disease. As a result, much of TCM includes treatments, such as nutritional or food therapy to preempt the eventual deterioration of the healthy body. Over the centuries, TCM has come to identify its chief precepts, including yin and yang, and at least nine body conditions to classify the state of health in the human body.

Food therapy in TCM, according to Pan, reflects the degree of balance or imbalance that corresponds to the two forces of yin and yang. If a person eats too many foods that are characterized by yin, and not enough foods characterized by yang, then there could be a resulting imbalance that affects the life force, or "qi:" The concepts of yin-yang, and qi are two dominant themes in the philosophies underlying the TCM concept of health and health treatments

In the accompanying photo, the foods on the left side of the picture, underscored with a black background, contain yin. Among the yin foods arc: watermelon, cucumbers, pear, eggplant, banana, orange. tomato, and celery. On the right, having a white background, are foods thatcontain yang. Among the group of yang foods are: pumpkin, peach, onion, tangerine, garlic, walnuts, ginger and hot pepper. In the eyes of those uninitiated into TCM, the differing sides of the pictures simply fuse together. as in a farmer's market table loaded with random, though fresh produce. In the eyes of the TCM practitioner, however, there is great significance suggested by the need to combine foods from the two distinct categories in proper amounts.

"A meal containing both yin and yang is an ideal combination," she said.

Pan points out that there are numerous other yin foods, categorized by their specific, inherent yin tendencies. Such foods include crab, duck, tofu, watercress and water. Likewise, there are innumerable foods that comprise the yang category. Just a few, cited by Pan, include: mushrooms, ginger, glutinous rice. sesame oil and wine.

"Another one of the nine TCM body types is qi deficiency," Pan said. Pan said this is based on a number of symptoms, such as shortness of breath, and sweating. as well as personality characteristics that may pertain to thisstate, such as inordinate worry or fear. Pan said that TCM also indicates that there arc particular foods that are beneficial for overcoming an injury, uniquely affecting qi. Such foods nourish the life force of the blood. These foods may include oatmeal, beets, raisins, salmon, tuna, spinach, carrots, corn, and warming spices such as cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg in small amounts.

As a basis of comparison, Registered Dietitian Kirsten Ransbury, MS, RD, CDE, of Kaiser, weighed in on the subject of how the hospital treats constipation, in terms of nutrition. First, Ransbury suggests, include plenty of water and other fluids up to 1.5-2 liters per day. She refers to foods that should be emphasized, such as "high fiber foods, including beans and legumes, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains; wheat bran is particularly helpful at improving bowel function. Fiber can be increased to about 25 grams per day.

Susan Ocheltree, certified nutrition consultant in Fair Oaks, recommends constipation treatment similar to Ramsey. According to Ocheltree, those suffering from constipation should eat plenty of high fiber fresh fruits and vegetables organic preferred. She, too, notes that one should drink lots of water

Ocheltree's suggestions foi nutrional supplements include taking magnesium glycinate to encourage bowel peristalsis and draw water to the colon. Also, increased Vitamin C car soften stools.

Pan has studied both TCM and western medical treatments for all conditions, including constipation. Ultimately, she notes that, TCM treatments make the distinction between the two type of constipation (deficiency and fullness), whereas other treatments cited tend to consider a condition, such constipation, as a singular condition with its attendant remedy.

Pan's suggested TCM treatments take into account the different, varying causes of any one given condition, as a means to determining any ope of a broad array of possible traditional Chinese medical nutritional, herbal and/or acupuncture remedies.

Granite Bay View I November 2008
www.granitebayview.com

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