Traditional Chinese Medicine Tongue diagnosis, as used by acupuncturists, offers a useful tool because it reveals so much about basic health. A healthy tongue is pinkish red (too pale is a deficiency, purple is stagnation, too red is excess heat from a yin deficiency), has an even thin white coating with no patches and the coating is rooted. It has “spirit” rather than being flabby, is not too moist and not too dry. Cracks also provide information, such as a crack down the center to the tip represents a heart deficiency. Notice the location of patches in the coating. The front of the tongue indicates the heart, behind it the lung, the middle the stomach and spleen and beside it the liver, in back the kidney, bladder, colon, and uterus. Look at http://www.gancao.net for link to Al Stone’s site for do-it-yourself tongue analysis with a mirror. Giovanni Maciocia’s book Tongue Diagnosis in Chinese Medicine has color photos and case studies. A local acupuncturist can do tongue diagnosis along with checking deep and shallow pulses.
Bob Flaws, a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner, gives these suggestions in his tape series for Sounds True, “Chinese Secrets of Health and Longevity.” To relax, progressively think of each muscle as long, soft, heavy, elongated. To bring in chi, imagine breathing it up the spine (governing meridian) and breathe it down the front, along the central meridian. Send the chi to the bone marrow, kidneys, gonads and brain where essence chi is stored. To tune up meridians, every morning tap with your fist down the inside of the arm, turn the arm over, and tap up the outside of the arm over the shoulder. Do this three times, and then move to the other arm. Tap down the outside of the legs, turn the hip and go up the inside of the leg. With a lightly closed fist, tap the shoulder and the neck, then over the head and down the face with your fingers, including the jaws.
For digestion, exhale and press under the sternum. Start in the center and move over to the right, then from center to the left, four times. Push in on the exhalation and move on the inhalation. Think of a vertical line down the center of the abdomen, with three lines on the right and four lines on the left. Press in along the lines, three times going up and four times going down. Then repeat the pressing in under the ribs. After meals, take a short walk and massage the abdomen with the palm of one hand making circles up from the right over to the left and around, 100 to 300 times. For teeth, click them together 108 times and percuss/pound the gums. For ears, pull in each one, down, then out, then up. For the brain, flick the base of the brain, pushing the middle finger off the index finger, while the hands are cupped over the ears. For kidneys, pound the lower back. Kidneys are considered the root of inherited chi and involved in the aging process. Also massage the first point of the kidney meridian, between the arch of the foot and the ball of the foot. This is the most yin point on the body. You can put the foot on the knee and also massage the knee with the other hand.
For breast health, with the palms quickly rub inside down the outside and around up, 100 times, and then reverse the direction. For men’s health, gently squeeze the testicles for as many years as he is old plus one. For eyes, pinch around the eyes and smooth out from by the tear ducts along the eyebrows. Look up, down, side to side, in circles, without moving the head. Close your eyes and cup your palms over them. Rice porridge is considered a helpful tonic, slowly cooking rice in six times the water, as in a crock-pot. To heal a cold, add peppermint and chrysanthemum flowers. For a cough with white fleam, add mustard greens. For a dry cough with no flea, add butter and honey for moistening. Also use herbal teas, such as mint to add digestion and corn silk to lower blood pressure.
Traditional Chinese Medicine identified four types: excessive yang who tend to be tall, beefy, muscular, overweight, and red faced. They should avoid yang foods like alcohol, fatty red meats, coffee and tea. Moderate yang is the ideal, often seen in young people. Yin deficients are thin, active, cerebral, and vivacious. Their yang is very active, floats up without base. They need seafood, meat, and eggs, as well as grains and veggies. Excessive yin types are overweight but without the muscle of excessive yang, sweat easily, and have poor skin tone. They should avoid raw uncooked foods, shouldn’t drink much liquid with meals, should avoid mucus foods like dairy and fatty foods, and use warming spices like cardamom and ginger.
Ayurveda In an audio tapes series, “Ayurveda: The Science of Life,” Dr. Vasant Lad explains that three basic body types exist. Health stems from a balance of the three types. An imbalance causes disorder that leads to illness. You can be a vatta type who has lung congestion, a kapha imbalance, due to eating too much ice cream and other dairy foods and sweets. Vatta qualities are: dry; light (can be fearful and worry); active and restless, walk and talk fast, in a rush, addicted to doing and multiple tasking; rough skin, nails, tongue, joints crack; cold (doesn’t like winter), subtle, clear with quick understanding, and expansive (can be ungrounded, spacey, like to buy junk at flea markets). In relationships, can be insecure and fearful. Pitta qualities: hot (temper, irritable, perspire, go bald, doesn’t like summer); sharp (eyes, mind, memory, speech, concentrates on one task, good investigators and leaders), fear failure, seek success; oily (don’t like oily food), soft skin, sweat with smelly socks; penetrating, sour and loves sweets, acidic; creeping (move without being noticed); spend money on luxuries; perfectionist, orderly, neat. In relationships pittas can be competitive and intellectual.
Kapha: heavy bones and muscles, slow; oily (with soft, cold skin, oily wavy hair); compassionate and loving; calm, quiet, grounded, forgiving; cloudy. They take time to understand complex problems and doesn’t forget, may be lazy unless asked to do a task; strong sex drive, and long lived. Doesn’t like windy late winter and spring. Kaphas are loving, compassionate, and forgiving in relationships. Youth is kapha, adulthood is pitta, and old age is vatta. Summer is pitta, fall is vatta, winter is kapha, and spring is kapha pitta.
Dr. Lad recommends that a partnership between the same types should be avoided. Disease occurs in four stages. Every disease is caused by too much of one the doshas, or of two of them, or of all three. In the first, an imbalance occurs: Vatta in the colon, Pitta in the intestines, and Kapha in the stomach and lungs. Vittagenic foods are beans, nightshade vegetables like tomatoes and eggplant, and beans. Kapha is increased by sugar, cold, ice, watermelon, cucumber, wheat, meat, and dairy. Pitta foods are hot foods like chilies.
The second stage is leakage, causing gas, stomach acid and burping, and mucus respectively. The third stage is like a leaky tap overflowing into a bucket. A Vatta imbalance causes sensation of tingling, Pitta causes heat, and Kapha causes congestion as in the lymphatics and muscles. In the fourth stage, the deposits sprout like a seed creating symptoms. The overflow deposits in weak spots, like a puddle of water, caused by addictions such as smoking, poor diet (such as combing milk and bananas, milk and meat, melon and grain), karma, genes, trauma, or suppressed emotions. Suppressed anger affects the liver, fear the kidneys, grief the lungs, and hate the gallbladder, and anxiety and worry affect the heart. The moral of the story is to deal with Vatta, Pitta, and Kapha imbalances before they cause disease.