(Note from Neil: I would like to share Dr. Lee’s perspective on Chinese Medicine and utilizing herbs in your healing process. I have been receiving herbal medicine from Dr. Lee for the past several months and have noticed the more stubborn and older health issues have begun to shift in large ways. I highly recommend working with her or a skilled Chinese Medicine Herbal practitioner alongside the work you do with me; as I have seen the synergy between these modalities greatly support my clients.)

 

In the past decade of studying and practicing medicine, I often come across people with a diagnosis label that is seen as a life sentence. These labels include chronic degenerative pain, uterine fibroids, hypothyroidism, autoimmune disease, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and hypertension, to name a few. People also often assume that commonly experienced symptoms such as allergies and menstrual cramps are facts of life to be accepted or to be gotten rid of using sprays and drugs. In comparison, Chinese medicine views health differently. Rather than being sentenced or labeled with an unchangeable condition, in the view of Chinese medicine, all symptoms and dysfunction are signs of the body trying to communicate that something is imbalanced. Rather than deal with the symptoms alone, we seek to understand the ecosystem of someone’s body as well as their living environment. From this clear view and understanding, we seek to restore balance and harmony.

From the Chinese medicine perspective, each person is a small world of its own. Just as the Earth is 70% water, our body is about 70% water too. The body is like a bag filled with qi, blood, body fluids, all of which is in constant motion. The depletion or stagnation of these substances can cause disease. The body contains bones, skin, muscles, hair, nerves, tendons, as well as internal and sensory organs. Overuse or destruction of these can also cause disease. Just as our planet Earth deals with climatic factors such as tornadoes, snowstorms, floods, humidity, landslides, and fires, the body can reflect its own version of natural disturbances as well, with accumulation of water (such as edema), being overheated (as in fevers, hot flashes), too much wind (dizziness, vertigo, twitching), and so on.

Viewed through the lens of nature, whatever’s going on with the body is not an unchangeable, “forever” condition. It is always possible to change and move towards balance in one’s life. Herbal medicine plays a great role in facilitating this. There are herbs that can add qi, blood, and body fluids if there is not enough. Or, if the circulation of these substances is stuck or stagnated for some reason, herbs can help improve the flow. If there are issues with the structure and organs of the body, there are herbs for restoring functionality. When the body is struck by climatic disturbances of wind, heat, cold, dampness, dryness, there are herbs that extinguish wind, clear heat, warm the body, transform dampness, as well as moisten dryness.

However, though herbs are powerful helpers; they alone cannot take the place of walking our true paths in life, and honoring the natural laws of this universe. If we stubbornly refuse to live more in tune with nature, herbs can only do so much. Herbs can help facilitate tremendous change, but that is contingent on our willingness to sleep, eat, exercise, and eliminate with discipline as well as moderation. Even taking herbs is a discipline in itself. It requires effort to cook or mix one’s herbs on a regular basis, and a steady diligence over time to see lasting results. Herbs can affect our consciousness, but we need to be active participants in this process as well. On an emotional level, we must be willing to be honest about our true feelings and not betray our conscience. We must – when called upon – forgive, accept, and let go. And we must have courage, rise to the occasion, and risk our lives too, if that is what our journey calls us to do.

Many of these medicinal plants in Chinese medicine have been alongside humans for thousands of years. They have accompanied us through our evolution, and aided us throughout time. Many of them – like ai ye (mugwort) – can also be found growing in other parts of the world and are not limited to Chinese medicine alone. Today in the fast-paced modern world, the theoretical knowledge and practical application of these herbs is endangered. In seeking quick-fix or suppressive solutions to symptoms, the art of deep change using herbal medicine that is customized for the individual (not available in a prepackaged bottle that can be mass-produced and bought off a shelf) is hardly recognizable — people don’t even know this option exists. My deepest hope is that this can be changed. The climatic turmoil we see in the world today and the destruction of the Earth’s resources mirrors that of diseases affecting humans on an individual basis. It is in seeing our circumstances clearly and in starting by healing ourselves, that the possibility of healing on a greater scale can radiate out to our surroundings and to the rest of the world.

Dr. Julia Lee, DACM, L.Ac. runs her acupuncture clinic The Precise Needle in San Jose, California and also delivers valuable in-person lectures and webinars focused on healing.