Feb 21, 2020
Different Types of Medicine
by Aspen, Trainer of the Things
At RidgeCrest Herbals, we take an eclectic approach, using ancient herbal knowledge from around the world. Like wine, certain global regions and ecosystems are necessary for the cultivation of the most effective herbs, so why limit ourselves to one school of thought?
Ancient herbalists didn’t have the ability to put herbs under a microscope and say, “well turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties because the curcumin blocks cytokines and enzymes, including cyclooxygenase-2…” so they had to explain why things worked in certain ways from a more symbolic point of view. Interestingly, when you understand the framing of different traditions, you begin to see a logic that allows you to understand the flow and connection of the human body and the earth we live in. While a particular issue (say a runny nose) may not make sense to you when explained in terms of Chinese medicine, it may click when framed in the Ayurvedic lens. Another issue, (say feeling anxious at a certain time of day) may be the reverse. So how do these different traditions frame the concept of health in the human body?
Traditional Chinese Medicine:
TCM gets it’s framework from Taoism, using the symbolic language of the Yin-Yang (dark/light, heat/cold, etc.) paradigm and focusing on creating balance and harmony in all parts of the body to find a natural state of health. To explain this, TCM uses the concept of Wu Xing, or the 5 elements (fire, wood, water, metal, earth). Within the body, these five elements exist and are continually in a state of flux, and different symptoms are associated with different elements. To create healing and health, deficiencies and excesses must be brought back into harmony. Because the body is considered to be made up of physical, spiritual, and mental aspects, all are considered when looking to heal. The seasons of the year and other external factors also play a part, because the body is interconnected with and affected by the earth we live in. TCM has been honing itself for over 2,000 years and is one of the largest medical traditions in the world today. A trained practitioner can offer treatments such as cupping, moxibustion, Tui Na massage, acupuncture, herbs, and diet.
In Sanskrit, Ayurveda means, “The Science of Life.” This tradition dates as far back as 5,000 years ago in India, though nothing was written down until much later. In this tradition, it is believed you need to devote your life to balance, including clear thinking, healthy eating, and living a good life. Ayurveda states that everyone has a unique energy pattern, and that balance is key to good health. The three energies of the body are called vatta, pitta, and kapha, and each individual has their own unique blend of the three, so you need to understand your tendencies for imbalance and work to create harmony within your own natural energies. within yourself. Ayurveda also believes that the five elements affect your body, and use the symbolism of the elements to describe the factors that play into health, but in this case, the elements are Space, Air, Fire, Water, and Earth. A trained practitioner can offer multiple avenues for returning to balance, including herbs, diet, massage, meditation, yoga, and more intense therapies.
Native American Medicine:
Because of the vast differences between tribes and geographies, pinning down Native American medicine is a little more difficult. However, in general there was a strong emphasis on balance with nature, with a stronger external focus that combined herbs, rituals, and both physical and supernatural causes of health conditions. The tribal healer had extensive license and would seek spiritual guidance and visions before determining a treatment plan. The use of tobacco, music, and dance in ritualistic ceremonies was used to ward off evil spirits believed to cause ill health and call for balance and harmony with Mother Earth. Herbal remedies were ubiquitous, and often sweat-lodges were utilized for purification, which today have been proven to be extremely beneficial in certain circumstances to boost immune function.
Our amazing herbalist, Brittini Gehring, has been trained in multiple herbal traditions and is an encyclopedia of knowledge. With her help we are able to utilize herbal traditions from around the globe to provide health and wellness to our customers, helping you Reach Your Peak!
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