Healthy Aging and East Asian Medicine
What limits us from living indefinitely? Is there a way to preserve life sustaining Qi reserves?
It is known in fundamental science, that the human life span has a natural limit. In East Asian Medicine aging is viewed not by age, but by the amount of Qi reserve within the complex of all the body systems. There are several influential factors that determine longevity and the preservation of life sustaining Qi.
In ancient times without the knowledge known now as the Human Genome,
Eastern Medicine scholars viewed longevity by the relative quantity or manifestation of Qi in the body.
Qi, also known as the essential life giving force, permeates every cell, tissue, and organ, and is also the trigger to signal a cell to thrive.
Inherited qi, also called Prenatal Qi, influences how much Qi a person is born with.This is set by family genetic patterns and fetal health during prenatal and neonatal life. These conditions vary from person to person and sets the stage for the quality and quantity of Vital Qi as part of your health map. It also influences the potential for good health throughout the course of your life.
If Vital Qi could be measured, some would appear to be born with a full glass filled with Qi. Others may have only one half or two thirds full especially if there were complications in pregnancy, inherited deficiencies, and depending on their mother’s own health.
If the amount of Qi early in life starts out with less than a full glass, its influence tends to make it more of a challenge to attain robust health, maintain good health, and benefit from long lasting longevity.
Although you can improve your diet and lifestyle, once you have lost Qi reserve it is unlikely to regain or restore the loss back to the full amount.
Preservation of Vital Qi
In modern medicine, deficient Vital Qi reserve due to inherent genetic deficiencies can be improved with targeted nutritional support and diet.
Other factors that influence the preservation of Vital Qi include toxic environmental exposure, foods that contain GMOs and chemical toxins, trauma, plus stress emotionally and physically. Too much exercise and excess sexual activity strain the reserves plus surgeries, medications, and drugs are certain to drain the reserves faster.
Everyone is not the Same
In Eastern Medicine not everyone is expected to age the same way. This is not only because of the differences in Vital Qi levels, or secondary to different genetic profiles, but because there are 5 different constitutional types that adapt to aging differently. These different types follow the laws of nature according to these 5 elements which are:
Water, Wood, Fire, Earth and Metal.
Health recommendations in Eastern Medicine are individualized depending on the strengths and deficiencies of each element.
For example, someone who is an earth element type may have weaker digestion. Eating in excess, especially sweets and fats, will damage their Vital Qi more than someone who has a stronger tolerance to a variety of foods.
Each body type, based on this kind of evaluation, suggests unique supportive recommendations for
Nutrition, Diet, Exercise, and Lifestyle plus
Herbal formulas and Acupuncture treatment.
Without a personalized plan a diet that works for someone else may not work for you.
If there was one best diet that would benefit everyone we would all be eating the same one. However the best diet is one that matches your constitutional element and builds maximum Vital Qi reserve.
Lifestyle can support the consolidation of Qi or it can accelerate its decline
Insufficient essential nutrients and nourishing food or lack of exercise, rest, relaxation, and a loss of human connection and affection depletes Vital Qi more rapidly.
Additionally, an excess of food, exercise, sex, and sleep encourages depletion.
Eastern Medicine’s ancient knowledge shares secrets of increasing Vital Qi
Ancient practice of exercise like Qi gong, Tai chi, and Yoga are the most life sustaining exercises that contribute to preserving and increasing Vital Qi. These exercises incorporate breath and movement at your own pace without the pressure of competition that accelerates adrenaline, a life depleting hormone.
Herbs and Acupuncture
Chinese herbs are prescribed in formulas to match each unique health pattern. One herb alone can not address the complex and changing symptoms.
Herbs are combined in formulas to address symptoms while always treating the underlying Vital Qi according to each person’s vitality level.
This avoids the risk of over stimulating or excessively draining Vital Qi.
Adaptogens are a category of herbs that help to modulate the level of Vital Qi. Usually one or two are added to each formula.
Common adaptogenic herbs include dioscorea, gou ji berries (lychi), rhodiola, various species of ginseng, gynostemma, plus blood nurturing herbs like polygonum, salvia, schizandra, and angelica (This list is not specific species)
is one of the most intriguing but effective treatments that restores health and increases Vital Qi. Although there are many styles of acupuncture, points are selected based on your Vital qi level. The combination of points tap into your complex network of circulating pathways that activate and recharge cellular activity. Its beneficial effects not only consolidates energy reserves but it also removes blockages and stagnation in all of the organ systems including cognitive function. Long term beneficial effects are noticed more with routine treatments.
Some of my patients consider their regular treatments as body and mind tune ups. Similar to car maintenance, if its taken care of at prescribed intervals before the problem occurs it keeps the systems running smoothly and prevents major breakdowns.
Years ago,when I used to practice at a holistic medical center in New York City with Dr. Ronald Hoffman,
the HIV epidemic was just getting started. The guys were getting sick but there were no approved treatments. The anti-viral drugs had not been developed yet, so we would treat them with all natural medicine treatments to help with their symptoms and support their immune system.
Acupuncture was one of their main treatments along with nutritional supplements and intravenous Vitamin C. I was so impressed with how well they responded to acupuncture that I tried it myself. After I experienced its relaxing and health stabilizing effects I decided I wanted to begin studying it too. Now years later I find that by broadening my scope of practice to blend Western, Nutrition, plus Eastern Medicine helps me to treat the complex health conditions I often see in my practice.
5 Vital Tips to Preserve Vital Qi and Longevity
Keep a diet diary and review what foods you crave the most. Similar to the Ayurveda medicine which is based on three main doshas or constitutions, East Asian Medicine looks at five elemental types to fine tune your health picture.
Look at which flavors you eat most often.
The flavors you crave may indicate you need more of it in your diet to balance the five elements.
It could also that what you crave is due to a weakness in that element.
For example, if you crave sweets it doesn’t mean you are deficient in the flavor of sweet but may indicate a weaker earth element which supports the digestive system and it needs additional support.
If you crave salt it could mean your water element, related to the kidney, is not concentrating your minerals well enough and you may need more full spectrum salt or electrolytes including potassium, chloride, and magnesium. These minerals support the adrenals.
Eat according to your elemental constitution but include a balance of all 5 flavors in your diet.There are many diets to choose from but keeping in mind your own constitution helps your diet support your Vital Qi and prevents excess depletion. All five flavors balance in your diet.
Salty, Sweet, Sour, Bitter, and Pungent
Exercise daily but gentle
Begin each day with deep breathing and add exercises like Qi Gong or Tai Chi or Yoga.
These gentle movements improve brain plasticity and strengthen tendons, ligaments, and joints. They cultivate balance and longer lasting Vital Qi.
Emotional Balance with Daily Self Reflection
Allow time for quiet contemplation. Give your internal voice a chance to ask for what it needs or how well it is satisfied.
Sleep and Self Massage
Sleep is essential to keep the “Shen” or spirit balanced. Without enough sleep Vital Qi cannot regenerate.
Allow 30 minutes before bed to create a quiet and restful calm. Include self-massage to relax the muscles, tendons, and nerves.
Slow deep breaths help shift brain wave patterns to a more restorative rhythm.
Maintaining Vital Health needs Vital Qi Care