In Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM), in order to understand health, illness, diagnosing and treating diseases, Yin and Yang are the foundation. Because of Yin and Yang’s interconnectivity, illness is understood as the imbalance of Yin and Yang. Remember from my last blog post, Ideal health is created in balance… living more towards the middle and avoiding extremes. With balance comes health, with imbalance comes illness. Just as the universe strives for balance of Yin and Yang, as well as the five elements (which I will discuss later), so does the body. My job as a Master TCVM practitioner is help the body restore balance between Yin, Yang and the Five Elements so that the body can self heal.
“The law of Yin and Yang is the natural order of the universe, the foundation of all things, mother of all changes, the root of life and death” – The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine
Yin and Yang are opposites that are interdependent and cannot exist without the other. Yin is responsible for cooling, like an air-conditioner in the summer. When a dog is Yin deficient it lacks the ability to cool down and will show signs of feeling hot, panting, increased thirst, seeking cool areas in the home and with heat we get dryness which can result in dandruff.
Yang is responsible for warming, like a fireplace in the winter. When a dog is Yang deficient it lacks the ability to warm up and their body can feel cold and lethargic. A Yang deficiency is equivalent to a Qi deficiency plus coldness. Where there is cold there must be a Yang deficiency. The Yang deficient dog may seek warm areas in the house, feel cold to touch and be weak. When there is disharmony and imbalance within the body (between the Five Elements) or between the body and the external environment, the result is disease.
The three treasures of Traditonal Chinese Veterinary Medicine and more….
In Chinese Medicine philosophy there are three treasures: Jing, Qi (pronounced “chi”) and Shen. Qi — analogous with energy — is the most recognized in the general population, followed by Shen — analogous with spirit or heart — and Jing, which is the least well known.
Jing is best described as the essence of life. We can, loosely, compare Jing to genetics, which clearly does have an impact on your health.
I am sure you have heard of the people that smoke, drink and party excessively. Living a life with complete disregard for balance, not getting enough sleep, not eating right and not exercising. Somehow, some of these people live to ripe old ages without many health concerns. We might say these people had the blessing of good genetics handed down from their parents.
Great Jing, I would say. But to help explain this, which is often how I consider end of life care for pets, I compare Jing to the length of a candle, the amount of wax and the length of the wick.
I would say that these party-goers who live very long lives were born with a very large candle. Even if they burn it from both ends, it will last a very long time before burning out. Then there are those people that live a very clean and balanced life. They eat well, exercise regularly, sleep 8 hours a night, don’t smoke, don’t drink but only manage to live a relatively short life and pass away much too early. How is this explained?
We may say that these people were not given the blessing of very good genetics, poor Jing, or — in my analogy — that their candle was very short. Even though they burned the candle slowly and efficiently, it just didn’t last very long before burning out.
So Jing is the length of the candle and the wick… with good Jing and genetics, comes longevity.
Qi is the energy that brings life. It is the power, or energy, that allows us to live and move and keep our internal organs functioning. It circulates through the body on the meridians or channels allowing it to move over the surface of the body as well as throughout the internal organs.
While Jing is associated with longevity, Qi is loosely connected to vitality. In my candle analogy, the qi is the energy used to actually burn the candle or how hot the flame is.
Shen, which is associated with the spirit, is analogous to the radiance (brightness) of the flame given off by the burning candle.
Excess conditions are diseases of “too much”. Excess patterns are usually found in the young dog, the condition usually acute and coming on quickly.
Deficiency conditions are those of “too little”. Deficiency patterns are usually of a more chronic course, more frequently seen in the older dog. When we see a dog that is weak, depressed, lethargic, and easily fatigued, we’re likely dealing with a Qi (pronounced “chi”) deficiency. Qi is similar to “life force” energy responsible for all physiologic activities so where there is weakness, there must be a Qi deficiency.
Blood is a bodily fluid that provides nourishment and moisture to the body and the organs. When the blood is deficient, the dog may have dandruff, dry and cracked skin, nose, paw pads and may have poor stamina. Where there is dandruff there must be a Blood and/or Yin deficiency.
“It matters not whether medicine is old or new, so long as it brings about a cure. It matters not whether theories are Eastern or Western, so long as they prove to be true”
Please stay tuned for next weeks blog….. Yin, Yang and more…Part 2
Michel Selmer, DVM, MS, CTCVMP – “The Caring Vet”