Yin and Yang of Integrative Medicine

In ancient Chinese cosmology, Yin and Yang describe forces of Nature. Yang represents Heaven, the Creative, Fire, Masculine; Yin represents Earth, the Receptive, Water, Feminine. In the I Ching, or Book of Changes, the oracle-text describes Yin and Yang as agents of change, the intrinsic catalysts of processes of nature and human relationships. Traditional Chinese Medicine applies their meanings specifically to physiology, psychology, and pathology.

In TCM there are 8 Principles that form the fundamentals of health and disease: Yang is Heat, Excess, Exterior; Yin is Cold, Deficiency, Internal. The 8 principles and the 5 Elements combine to create the theoretical and practical foundation of TCM. The primary clinical practices of herbal medicine, acupuncture  tui na , and dietary regimes are complemented by meditation and Internal martial arts such as Qi Gong and Tai chi chuan.

Integrative medicine presents a more comprehensive and enlightened version of conventional western practices by integrating attention to physical and mental health, and to lifestyle issues such as diet and exercise programs. Improvements in diagnostic assessments include saliva tests to track adrenal hormones, expanded profiles of food allergies and sensitivities, and evaluation of neurotransmitter levels. As practiced by MD’s, Integrative medicine utilizes nutritional supplements and probiotics to complement or replace pharmaceutical prescriptions. They may also recommend herbs, but are not typically trained at the high level of expertise found in practitioners of Chinese herbal medicine.

I had the opportunity to experience a version of Integrative medicine firsthand, in 1987, when I trained in herbal medicine and acupuncture in Chengdu, Sichuan Province. In the USA, most doctors do not consider acupuncture or herbal medicine as treatment options for their patients, which leaves a gaping hole in potential therapeutic benefits, and leads to over-reliance on pharmaceuticals. The doctors in China are trained in, and appreciate, western medicine and its appropriate drug therapies, which can be combined with TCM.

I propose an expanded paradigm of Integrative Medicine, which is anchored by TCM; global herbal medicine, which adds western and ayurvedic herbs to the Chinese formulary; and Classical homeopathy, the profound healing system developed over 200 years ago in Europe, which uses herbal, mineral, and other natural substances to stimulate the body’s healing abilities.

The holistic therapies in this paradigm clearly transcend conventional allopathic medicine. They can be appreciated along two vectors: Eastern and Western medicine, and Traditional and Modern medicine. While modern western medicine excels in emergency and surgical medicine, and offers antibiotics and other effective drug treatments, Integrative medicine, especially in its expanded version, provides the best approach for managing long-term health issues, chronic disease, and some acute illnesses.

Integrative medicine supports, balances, and strengthens all of the body’s physiological systems, and its ability to treat the endocrine and immune systems enables it to (Thyroid) effectively treat women’s health, including menstrual, reproductive , and menopausal issues, and immune deficiencies such as candida.

Global herbal medicine, classical homeopathy, and diet and nutrition provide the primary treatments in internal medicine and gynecology. Acupuncture treats most conditions, resolving specific symptoms while systemically affecting stress reactions and providing a neuro-metabolic re-balancing. Acupuncture treats gynecological ailments, and is extremely effective in treating menstrual cramps, headaches, and any pain syndrome. It also affects endorphin and dopamine production.

With this array of therapies I have seen impressive results in treating infertility, irregular menstruation, PMS, endometriosis, ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids, hot flashes and night sweats, and chronic candida yeast infections.  In the view of many Integrative physicians, many women who are treated with anti-depressants actually suffer from undiagnosed hypothyroid, due to the unreliability of standard lab tests; our range of therapies can support thyroid function, as well as allow women to stop taking toxic drugs that often make them feel worse, not better.

Case I: A woman in her late 30’s doing IVF had poor results in her first two cycles; we began acupuncture and herbal medicine, her egg harvests improved, and in the third month of treatment she became pregnant. Her son is now 21.

Case  II: My patient in her mid-thirties had no medical evidence of hormonal imbalance; as compared to an organic cause, she had functional infertility.

After trying to become pregnant for eight months, we began treatment with acupuncture, herbal medicine, and classical homeopathy; she became pregnant after three months of treatment.

Case III: This woman in her mid-30’s came for treatment for various issues over the years. When she did not become pregnant after 6 months of trying, we treated her with acupuncture and herbs for two cycles;  we then added classical homeopathy into her treatment program, and she became pregnant the next cycle. A very similar progression occurred with her second child: the addition of homeopathy again enhanced the benefits of TCM, or was itself the specific healing agent.

In my practice most women come in with at least one of the following: menstrual cycles of more than 32 days; PMS; migraines; menstrual cramps treated by pain medications; depression or anxiety; insomnia; weight concerns, eating disorders, or unhealthy craving of sugar and carbohydrates. These are all issues that are not effectively treated by pharmaceuticals, and relate to female hormones, thyroid and adrenal hormones, the digestive system, and brain chemistry. Integrative medicine offers the best solutions to these health issues.