On the Symptom, in Acupuncture

May 22, 2015

M. Virginia Kelly MS. L. AC.

In the era of climate change, from the greenhouse effect to the Global Dimming, the accumulation of gases trapped in the atmosphere reduces the penetration of sunlight responsible for heating the water, delaying evaporation, and subsequent rains. The latter is the result of the first, although it might seem contradictory.

Both factors not only affect balance and ecosystems but also affect our biorhythms and, therefore, our health. With extreme temperature changes in short periods, the body does not have the time to adapt, which lowers our defenses and makes us susceptible to disease.

Today more than ever, we must learn to take care of ourselves and our environment, become aware of our impact, and vice versa.

Many suffer from seasonal allergies, and some suffer from colds. Chinese medicine states that it is healthy to get sick once a year. And by that, I don't mean that it's healthy to get sick up to once a year. I mean that it is healthier to get sick yearly than not get sick at all.

Why? Because toxins in the body bind with mucus produced when you're sick, and as you get rid of that mucus through the process of expectoration, you rid your body from those toxins too. It's like a restart of the system. The one way in which the body gets enough rest and experiences an internal cleanup, where we eliminate the excesses accumulated during periods of wellness when we tend to abuse the resilience of the organism.

In sick states, we remove not only physical toxins but also emotional, too. Most of these states are due to stress, lack of rest, poor nutrition, etc. But just as ordinary is the result of emotional tolls that surpass us, and thus, the body like the unconscious catches up with us by processing the information and somatizing (putting on the body). In this way, the body expresses what we are not capable of doing. Therefore, the worst that we can use as a treatment for any disease is suppressive medicine. For example, when we cough, we must incorporate expectorants instead of cough suppressants. Expectorants help express the symptom, clear mucus, and with it, the toxin. Suppressants, do not eliminate the symptom but mask it, suppressing only its manifestation, yet not the origin. The symptom suffers a transformation to be concealed and sent even deeper, to later be expressed in a more complex way. So we develop other, more serious internal problems that end up requiring more invasive treatments, and the problem perpetuates and multiplies.

If we were to make a simple analogy would be like pulling the car light that warns us the tank is running out of fuel instead of filling the tank. The symptom is a red light that tells us that something is not in order. It is not for us to attack the symptom, which is nothing more than a messenger, but to address that which underlies it, and is the source of the problem. A disease has several functions, and we must recognize its usefulness. Otherwise, we are doomed to suffer their existence in an enhanced manner. Most of these illnesses are psychosomatic, since the psyche and body are intertwined, and not limited within us but connected with everything around us: the topography, climate, society, family, etc.

Increasingly we are disconnected from ourselves, others, and the environment. Frequently science produces advances that prolong our lives. However, diseases are on the rise, and quality of life decreases. 

A typical example of disconnection with the environment is air conditioning. You'll find that the thermostat is often too cold (under 68 degrees) in summer, and too hot (over 72 degrees) in winter. Instead, we should aim for a comfortable balance of temperature throughout the year, like 70 degrees. Even better, we should swap the temperatures that most agree with the current weather as not to suffer shock. Like 68 in winter and 72 in summer, since we are already dressed appropriately for the season. The previous discrepancy proves our struggle with nature, and diseases are the manifestation of this fight, the healthiest of this scenario is, paradoxically, the disease.

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