New Year is one of the best times of the year to detox; to cleanse and remove the toxins that we got from the foods, drinks and stresses that we had during the holidays. Traditional Chinese medicine is effective when you are planning to detox. Let’s start with looking at the common toxins from the TCM perspective.
What are the common toxins in TCM?
Usually dampness is absorbed from the external environment. For example, if you live in a city like Hong Kong, the average relative humidity is more than 70-80%, you actually absorb a lot of dampness while you breathe. Another resource is from internal. We believe the spleen and stomach work together to help the body get rid of the dampness. If something wrong with them (eg. spleen deficiency), the dampness will accumulate in the body. Some common signs of dampness accumulation: weight gain, heavy limbs, fatigue, loose stool, hyperlipidemia etc.
Phlegm is similar to dampness, which we regard as a yin pathogen. It could be the phlegm in the respiratory system, but also it could be invisible. Sometimes we will describe it as a more sticky form of dampness, because it is difficult to eliminate. If there’s invisible phlegm in the body, it may cause: dizzy & nausea, chest pain, goiter, bloating, numbness etc.
Blood-stasis is an outcome of bad circulation. We believe it stays out of the blood vessels, which no longer serves the body as a nutrient-carrier. For women, it is easily noticed during the period as the form of blood clots. More often, it is not easy to be seen by the form of blood but in other expressions: purple color of the tongue, petechia, dry skin, stabbing pain, rib pain etc.
There are some foods that can bring excessive heat into the body. Fruits grow in tropical areas: durian, mango, pineapple, lychee, long an etc. Meats like beef, lamb, chicken, shrimp. Also, cooking methods can alter the features of food. Deep-frying, roasting, and baking will increase the heat inside of the food. If the heat is over the threshold of the body’s tolerance level, it will “break out” from the body as: pimples, oil-secretion, bad breath, mouth ulcers, swollen gums etc.
Similar to the heat, we can catch the coldness from foods as well. Especially iced drinks and raw foods like sashimi, salad. Or if we fall to put on more clothes during the cold and windy weather, the coldness could also enter the body causing pain, cold extremities, heavy cramps during the period, constipation, easy to catch a cold etc.
Cupping and guasha are the most popular methods we use to help the body eliminate toxins. After the treatment, We could tell from the marks to identify the types of the toxins in the body. Showing in the picture:
Herbal medicine is more directive working on the internal organs. It will help the body eliminate toxins, and regain the balance if there’s deficiency or excessiveness. For the dampness and phlegm(they are sticky), we usually combine herbal medicine with cupping to have a stronger effect.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), moxibustion is especially effective in the treatment of Yang deficiency or cold-type conditions. People who often have obstructed blood circulation often complain of cold hands and feet, menstrual cramps or other chronic pains, weak immunity, frequent urination, irregular ovulation/menstruation, endometriosis and blocked fallopian tubes.
This treatment is a good choice if dealing with blood-stasis and coldness. When burning the moxa, it generates a heat that can travel through the 12 meridians of the body and increase the warm energy inside of the body.