Prevention is the Best Medicine

In Eastern Medicine, we often talk about the concept of “Han-Byo” (literal translation: half-sick), a state of health in which you are neither perfectly healthy nor sick enough to manifest a serious disease. Sadly, most people ignore their state of health until the condition is no longer manageable on their own and they finally must see a doctor. When conventional medicine offers little or no relief, they come to us acupuncturists as a last resort.

From the Eastern medical standpoint, most people live their lives with “Han-Byo,” complaining of migraines, shoulder stiffness, digestive problems, and so forth. It is astonishing that most people choose to get an oil change for a car before they decide to do something about their physical complaints. In Asia, acupuncture and herbal practice were initially developed to cater to the privileged who had longevity in mind. The practitioners have developed diagnostic skills to find imbalances of the body, even in the healthy state, in order to postpone life-threatening situations as long as humanly possible.

As we have different body types, so we all have different constitutions. One example that all Japanese can relate to is “Fuku Mimi,” or large ear lobes. They are often a symbol for good fortune because large earlobes are indicative of longevity in Eastern medicine. Ears are associated with the kidney, the source of “Qi.” When the lobes are well developed, it is acknowledged that the person has abundant kidney “Qi.” Brittle nails, on the other hand, are indicative of blood deficiency and a tendency toward liver deficiency because blood nourishes nails (and hair) and is stored in the liver.

Also, since each organ system is associated with an emotion, behavioral patterns are often influenced by organ systems. It is said that people who sound angry or oppressive when they talk have a tendency toward liver imbalance because anger is associated with the liver. People who worry too much often have weak digestive systems since worries and pensiveness are products of spleen imbalance.

The environment can affect our emotional state as well. Suppose you seem to be in good health, but you start a very stressful job. The stress might affect your weak area(s). If, for example, that is liver and spleen, the stress may cause irritable bowel syndrome or stomach ulcers. These types of digestive issues are commonly seen and treated in an acupuncture clinic. If the patient had only known about his or her tendency toward stress-related digestive problems, he or she could have paid more attention to stress management (and wouldn’t have had to pay for a visit to a doctor’s office, medication, and a visit to an acupuncturist).

If you are feeling not particularly sick, but tired, irritable, and not quite like your normal self, it is the perfect time to get an acupuncture treatment, for there is probably an imbalance in your body that might lead to something costly if left ignored. When you hear a strange rattle under your automobile, everyone knows it is dangerous to ignore it, and if you keep driving your car with the problem, it will cost you a lot to fix it in the future. Why don’t we apply the same sensibility toward our bodies?