Thursday, August 14, 2014

What is Wrong With Everyone

In my experience - and I am just one little case study - American medicine has it all wrong, much like American Zen.  In both cases, they're really good at some things but miss the big picture.  In the case of Western medicine, it's been preoccupied with fixing people and only now starting to think about how to be healthy.

For big-picture medicine, turn to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) or Ayurveda or, I suspect, many other native healing systems.  It is the gift of what we call primitive people that they don't think in terms of the laboratory or the gold-standard study* as Western science does.
*The gold-standard study in medicine can be defined as a study that follows specific protocol,  indicates correlations and possibilities, and concludes by saying more study is needed.
What is that big picture? Context. We are not isolated individuals. We live in environments.

You sometimes saw contextual medicine in action in the TV series House.  Dr. House was a radical misfit who valued his intuition and often sent his team out to search someone's house for toxins and secrets.  He watched family interactions and quizzed family for information. All that stuff was more interesting to him, and the viewing audience, than lab results.

Our context right here now is Weather. It is actually everyone's context, no matter how much time you spend indoors.  Here in mid-America it is high summer - mid-August - and this brings about different problems than mid-winter, which is happening right now in Australia where my sister lives.  (In mid-winter in Australia you actually have to use your space heater!) And there sure is a lot of weather, drought here, flooding there, as if some climate change is happening.

Weather affects people differently depending on their constitutions.  Both TCM and Ayurveda see human beings as made of elements. And so the elements affect them.

In Ayurveda I clock in as a Vata-Pitta, or air-fire person.  The fire in my temperament is easily disturbed.  And oh, August, season of too much ripeness, as you know if you grow tomatoes or zucchini.  August is Too Much. It's not just the heat or humidity, it's the light.  Lately here we've been getting a little relief with small batches of autumn days down from the North Pole or Canada.

Canadian air is nice.  It is fresh and coolish and breezy. But uh-oh, wind is really not good for Vatas, who are made mostly of air. In Chinese medicine there is actually a disorder called "wind devil."  I relate to that.  To prevent it, we are advised to cover the head and neck, that is, wear what my mother called a babushka. This makes you look like an old lady even if you're only 12, not that I care, as I am 71 11/12 years old.  If I did care I could get a special hat.  They even come in Desert Sunrise. It's a thought.

I notice a lot of fire people looking haggard these days, running around in the heat and the noonday sun. So this post is a sort of public service announcement.  If you don't know whether you're air, fire, or earth, Banyan Botanicals has a little test you can take that may indicate more study is needed. They will also sell you various oils and things, which are helpful to me me (I am not paid for this).

They will also advise you on your diet, since you are composed, in part, of what you eat and drink.  Bear in mind that alcohol is sometimes called firewater.  Yes, it is a heating food.  My own diet at the moment includes nothing hot and spicy, no raw onion or garlic, more cucumber and peppermint tea. I have tested this empirically. It is interesting to me that these ancient folk traditions see mood disorders as an imbalance of fire.  Worth investigating, since Western medicine is notoriously poor at managing them.


  1. Ancient medicine is more effective than what is promoted in the modern west. Many of the diseases we have today would not exist if we stuck to certain ancient principles. Modern western medicine and the pharmaceutical industry are in this for the money. Ancient medicine has a spiritual scientific approach, they look at things like the patient’s astrology and chakras, modern western doctors ignore these things.

    I like your new diet, it's important that we learn to appreciate the natural taste of vegetables without adding salt, oil, garlic and spices. People hardly take a leaf of cabbage and eat it as is and feel happy.

  2. Thank you for this....You're right, fresh food can be so good unadorned. I have a friend who gardens, and says a sugar snap pea never makes it into the house, that's how much she enjoys them raw.