An ancient healing practice, Chinese medicine has long been gaining popularity in the Western wellness world as an alternative to traditional methods. Championing a holistic approach to health, we asked Chinese medicine practitioner and founder of the Hayo’u Method, Katie Brindle, to share her insights..
It’s All About Qi
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a natural healing system that has been used by millions of people for thousands of years – it’s one of the oldest forms of healthcare with its own unique theories of anatomy, health and treatment. A core belief of TCM is that the body’s vital energy (known as chi or qi) circulates through channels called meridians, which have branches connected to bodily organs and functions. Blockages to your qi could cause anything from insomnia and acne to more serious issues such as chronic illness. Balancing qi is key to optimal health – we inherit it at birth and accumulate or lose it as we go through life, depending on the way we live.
Treatment Is Diverse
One of the most well-known treatments used to balance qi – the backbone of TCM – is acupuncture. As a treatment, acupuncture can have a significant impact on a wide range of illnesses and conditions. It has been proven to be effective for pain management and headaches, but is also widely used for digestive issues, gynaecological problems and anxiety and depression. Other Chinese therapies that aim to balance the flow of energy in the body include cupping, tai chi, gua sha massage (the process of scraping smooth pieces of jade along the skin to increase blood flow and release toxins) and herbology.
Chinese medicine has been proven to be effective in treating long-term disorders related to imbalance, including migraines, allergies, chronic digestive problems, IBS, asthma, infertility, painful periods and chronic fatigue. On a more basic level, it can also help to reduce stress levels, boost the immune system and vitality, improve sleep, mood and weight. In short, whatever your age, state of health or level of fitness, TCM could help you in some way.
What You Eat Matters
In Chinese medicine, the belief is that every portion you eat should be the size of your hand. Eating little and often – say five times a day – is crucial for a healthy digestive system, as is avoiding heavy meals late at night. In Chinese nutrition, a balanced diet is one that includes all five flavours —spicy (warming), sour (cooling), bitter (cooling), sweet (strengthening), and salty (cooling). In Chinese medicine, it’s also believed that if you’re weak or ill, you should consume certain coloured foods to improve your health. For example, if you have kidney issues you should eat food that is black in colour, such as seaweed, while red foods such as apples, sweet potatoes and peppers are good for your heart, small intestine and brain. Similarly, white foods – such as rice, onion, garlic, tofu and soy milk – are considered to be good for the lungs, respiratory system and skin.
The Beauty Connection
Chinese medicine sees beauty as a reflection of the state of someone’s whole body – radiance comes from a strong, vibrant spirit, good nourishment and enough rest. When energies are balanced in the body, skin is nourished, eyes are bright and nails are strong. TCM also encourages beauty by taking care of the liver and kidneys.
It’s well versed that the mind can directly affect the body, so make an effort to get to grips with your breathing for optimal health. Studies have shown meditation and deep breathing not only change our brain waves, but also our immune responses and circulation. Limiting stress – which causes inflammation and can lead to all manner of mental and physical problems – is also at the heart of Chinese medicine.
Be Wary Of Herbs
While Chinese herbs can be extremely powerful, be wary of where you buy them and who you seek advice from. The high street is flooded with specialist shops claiming to be experts in Chinese medicine, but do your research first, as it takes five years of very specific training to be a qualified herbalist. Always check your practitioner is qualified through the British Acupuncture Council.
Want in? If you’ve yet to discover traditional Chinese medicine for yourself, a consultation with an acupuncturist is an excellent place to begin, as the majority are also trained in Chinese herbs. If you’re intrigued but don’t fancy going down the acupuncture route, try the Hayo’u Method – an easy to understand self-care method inspired by Chinese medicine. Offering a range of tools and oils that can be used with the brand’s unique one-minute rituals, this is an easy way to balance your qi and ultimately improve your health, sleep and energy levels.
For more information, visit HayouMethod.com