Postgraduate of Liaoning University of TCM
Bachelor Degree in TCM of Beijing University of Chinese Medicine
Bachelor Degree in Biomedical Sciences of Nanyang Technological University
Registered TCM Physician of Singapore
Physician Poh’s special interests are in the use of acupuncture and herbal medicine to treat Sub-Health conditions such as obesity, sleep disorders and chronic fatigue; Pain Management such as frozen shoulder, stiff neck and lower back pain; Gastrointestinal Disorders such as gastritis and irritable bowel syndrome; Neurological conditions such as migraine and vertigo; Respiratory conditions such as sinusitis and to promote general well being. In Paediatrics, she focuses on children’s chronic health conditions including recurrent colds, cough, asthma; poor appetite, indigestion; eczema; night crying; restlessness and other conditions such as myopia with the use of TCM Paediatric Massage Therapy, herbal medications and/or acupuncture. Physician Poh also provides treatments for women’s health conditions including menstrual irregularities, premenstrual syndrome and infertility.
A “sub-health state” means that the body is unhealthy but does not fulfil the criteria of illness. For example, one may always complain of a headache, dizziness or fatigue; however on medical examination, no abnormal results were found. From a TCM perspective, the body is already manifesting an imbalance of yin and yang, qi, blood, and the viscera.
In comparison with healthy people, people in a “sub-health state” have a higher rate of developing a psychological or physiological disease. Therefore, prevention and elimination of the “sub-health state” have become one of the most important tasks in TCM. To prevent, and treat a state of “sub-health”, one should pay attention to the healthy state of one’s body and mind, having a proper diet, regular sleep and an appropriate amount of exercise. In addition, one should also try to detect the early appearance of problems and deal with them early.
Signs of Sub-health:
Problems with aspects of daily functioning, such as:
-Susceptibility to falling sick
-Other bodily signs
In managing sub-health conditions, Chinese Herbal Medicine is used to boost body immunity by restoring internal harmony. Acupuncture is also employed to help relieve aches, insomnia, depression and other symptoms closely related to sub-heath conditions.
Women’s Health and Infertility
Managing Women’s Issues with TCM
Menstruation should be painless and accompanied by minimal pre and postmenstrual signs and symptoms. If there is free flow, there is no pain; if there is pain, there is no free flow. In TCM, the uterus and liver are closely related. The liver maintains a free flow of Qi (vital energy) of the body. The liver, spleen and kidney channels run through the pelvis and all can effect menstruation. If any of these channels is blocked, congested or deficient, this will usually manifest in women as some sort of menstrual problem.
The most common cause of Qi stagnation is stress, and usually results in liver depression. This can also become the cause of female infertility. In addition, emotions play an important role. In general, one should avoid fear, anger and excessive emotions. Maintaining an even, free flow of moderate emotions is the same as maintaining an even, free flow of qi and blood. Before and during menstruation, women should have plenty of rest and should not dwell on negative thoughts or frustrations. One should also avoid eating cold and raw foods prior to or during their menstruation.
Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine both treat effectively: painful menstruation, menstruation which is too little or too large in volume, menstruation which is either too early, too late, or which occurs at no fixed schedule, amenorrhea, PMS, lower abdominal pain, any endometriosis symptom and infertility.
The body comprises acupoints located on pathways at which the energy traveling through them can be manipulated and therapeutically adjusted. Patients may experience the slightest pinch upon insertion and then any of several sensations as the needle touches the point that is below the skin. These sensations can include tingling, heat, distention, heaviness, soreness, or an electrical feeling. Typically, patients relax and may even fall asleep during the acupuncture session.
Women with menstrual irregularities issues generally require three to six months of intensive Chinese herbal therapy to achieve substantial amelioration in their condition.
Definition of Infertility: an inability to conceive after 1 year or more of regular sexual activity without using birth control
From TCM’s Perspective, if the mother and/or father-to-be are generally healthy, are in balance and have normal functioning reproductive organs, both mother and father should be fertile. If the couple experiences infertility, TCM theorizes that there are energy imbalances in their bodies.
These energy imbalances could be a result of:
-poor diet / improper eating habits
-lack of exercise
-stress, environmental factors
-emotional / physiological issues
-toxins / hereditary influences
TCM Physiology: For a normal conception to occur, the three criteria as follows:
1. Abundant Kidney Qi
2. Non-obstructed meridians around the uterus
3. A favorable environment inside the uterus
The kidney, spleen and liver are the three most relevant internal organs affecting the functions of female reproductive system.
Kidney essence (Kidney Jing)
According to TCM, the variation of kidney Jing supply produces significant physiological changes in a woman’s life every seven years. At 7, a girl starts to mature into a young woman; at 14, she has her first menstruation and is able to conceive; at 21 and 28, she reaches her most fertile years; at 35, her fertility starts to diminish; at 42, her fertility is mostly lost and at 49, a woman’s kidney Jing is depleted, and therefore, she has her menopause.
The kidney essence can be transformed into blood and kidney Qi, which becomes the source of human growth, development and reproduction.
Common treatment methods (Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine) revolve around:
-Regulating the menstrual cycle
-Relieving hormonal disturbances
-Releasing stress-related dysfunction
-Increasing sperm count and motility
-Improving ejaculatory and erectile conditions
TCM: Unique Characteristics of children
According to TCM, children are considered to be immature both physically and functionally. Most common pediatric complaints are due to this immaturity. Hence, they are susceptible to diseases that affect the lungs such as allergies and asthma, eczema, recurring episodes of colds and coughs and the spleen such as indigestion, constipation, diarrhea and stomach aches.
In TCM, the digestive system is comprised of spleen and stomach. The spleen energy in children is often deficient. A weak digestion results in the children having difficulty in separating the food they consume into “clear” (i.e. nutrients) and “turbid” or waste (i.e. urine and stool) effectively. The accumulating waste materials may collect in the stomach and intestines, thus affecting their function and causing abdominal distension, stomach aches, constipation and diarrhea.
When this “turbid” substance accumulates in the body, it is referred to in TCM as dampness and phlegm. If dampness is present in the body, it may manifest as diarrhea or skin conditions such as eczema. The phlegm produced has a tendency to accumulate in the lungs. This is supported by the statement of fact in TCM that says “the lungs are the place where phlegm is stored.” Symptoms of phlegm in the lungs include a stuffy or runny nose, sneezing, coughing and even asthmatic wheezing.
Furthermore, there is a close relationship between the lungs and spleen. For example, in clinical practice, it is common for respiratory problems to either begin or be aggravated by faulty digestion due to an improper diet. Another observation noted was that children easily and quickly return to health when the root of their illness is addressed.
Indications of paediatric conditions for TCM:
• recurrent colds, cough, asthma
• poor appetite, indigestion
• abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea
• skin problems
• poor sleep, night crying
• restlessness, agitation, hyperactivity
TCM Paediatric Massage Therapy, Chinese Herbal Therapy and/or Acupuncture are therapeutic and preventive measures by reinforcing Spleen, Lung and Kidney energy, improving the organ function of growing children, strengthening the child’s immune system and enhancing mental growth and development, all of which act holistically to effectively prevent childhood ailments.
Weight Management with TCM
The TCM perspective on weight gain
TCM does not treat “excess weight” per se; rather it deals with the underlying body condition that may have led to the excess weight. Once the body’s balance is restored, the metabolism will process food properly and excess weight should no longer be a problem provided that suitable choices of food are eaten in moderate quantities.
The underlying cause for excessive weight gain is due to a dysfunction of the Spleen and Stomach’s physiological function.
According to TCM, one of the spleen’s functions is to transform and transport food nutrients for the whole body. In the case of Spleen Qi deficiency where the spleen is not working properly, the food nutrients will not be properly transformed and transported. In other words, the body will not be able to absorb and utilize the food consumed. This leads to an accumulation of turbidity in the form of fat and nodules under the skin and throughout the body, hence resulting in excessive weight gain. There may also be water retention.
People suffering from Spleen Qi deficiency may experience excessive weight gain without even consuming lots of food. The reason is that they have a low metabolism rate.
Some of the symptoms of Spleen Qi deficiency include bloating, sugar cravings, fussy or picky eating, fatigue, bowel irregularities, allergies, obesity, sagging skin and muscles, dull and lifeless skin, pale complexion and low immunity.
In TCM, for a person to be healthy, a good flow of Qi (vital energy) in the body and a balance of yin (the element responsible for cooling organs) and yang (the element linked to heat) are required. The function of the Stomach is to store and ferment food. If the Spleen yin is deficient, there is going to be excess Stomach yang, leading to Stomach fire. The excess fire in the stomach will ripen an excessive amount of food. Therefore, the stomach will digest food easier and make an individual feel hungry, hence resulting in an excessive food energy intake, leading to obesity.
In addition, the Liver is an important organ involved in obesity. According to TCM, the function of liver is to regulate the flow of the body’s Qi and blood (as well as your emotions). Our modern, fast-paced lifestyle and chronic stress can negatively impact the liver’s ability to function properly and smoothly, which can cause the spleen and the whole digestive system to function poorly and decrease the metabolism. Most people, when their emotions are triggered, they look for food as a comfort and this leads to uncontrolled diet and obesity.
A holistic approach to weight loss in TCM
The goal of acupuncture is to strengthen the spleen. In other words, to increase the metabolism rate and improve the absorption of nutrients. This can lead to having more energy or vitality, better complexion, regular bowel motions, enhanced immune system to fight against the colds and coughs, reducing the symptoms of allergies and losing weight. In addition, acupuncture can be used effectively to reduce the Stomach fire, hence, reducing the desire to eat. During acupuncture, the inserted needles act to stimulate the release of endorphins, the body’s natural “feel good” hormones. This can create a calming, relaxing effect, which counteracts the need for excessive eating brought about by increased stress, frustration or anxiety.
Chinese herbal medicine is also prescribed for weight loss. The herbs in the prescription are selected according to each individual’s body constitution. Generally, the prescription helps to harmonize the spleen yin and stomach yang to promote fat digestion, remove blood stasis so as to lower the lipid content in blood, eliminate the dampness and phlegm, enhance bowel movements and regulate the function of the liver.
Stepping stones to losing weight
Last but not least, here are some of the guidelines to follow in your daily life to get one step closer to achieving optimum slimming and healthy results.
– Try to maintain a healthy lifestyle such as no smoking, less alcohol intake and get enough of rest
– Avoid cold drinks, drink plenty of warm water
– Practice regular intake of meal. Do not skip. Intake of food during breakfast and lunch can be heavy while dinner should be light
– Cut down bad eating habit; avoid intake of junk food
– Sleep early
– Moderate exercise
Article presented by Physician Poh Yu Min. Copy right reserved.