Is Where You Live Damaging Your Health?
A Blog by Acupuncturist, Steve Coster
I was chatting to a client the other day who happened to mention how only the poor people lived on the shady side of Sugarloaf mountain in Cape Town, while only the rich could afford to live on the sunny side.
Ignoring the sociopolitical reasons for why this might be, and how true it is (!)…anyway, it got me thinking:
Chinese Medicine tells us that where we live has an affect on our health, so surely always being in the shade can’t be healthy. And I suppose being in the shade is equally true on an emotional level too. And what does it say about a person who prefers to live on the shady side of the street?
Yin and Yang
To understand this, we need to look at Yin and Yang theory. Put simply, we need both to survive.
The sunny side of the mountain is Yang, while the shady side is Yin, and as the sun moves across the sky throughout the day, the degrees of Yin and Yang on each side of the mountain increase and decrease. And this is the same in every aspect of nature, including what goes on inside of us. But if this balance is disturbed, then problems will ensue. On a global scale we see global warming and the consequences of climate change, and in the human body we see illness.
We need sunshine to flourish. However, too much and we dry out, and too little and we become Vitamin D deficient. In Chinese Medicine another result of this imbalance could be Dampness. In fact, low mood and weight gain, both signs of Vitamin D deficiency, are also symptoms of Dampness.
The Acupuncturist said I’m Damp!
If you’ve had Acupuncture before, you might have heard this! Like the Yang of sunshine, we need the Yin of moisture. But too much and we can become Damp.
Dampness is basically the impairment of fluid metabolism in the body as a result of an internal imbalance. This could be caused by overthinking or overeating (which puts pressure on the bodily processes), or working/living in an overly damp environment. And once you have Damp it can affect every part of the body. It is sticky and heavy, it infuses downwards and it causes repeated attacks.
It is like sugar; a little is ok, perhaps even good for you, but the more you have, the more you crave it, and it does more and more damage, but you just can’t stop eating it!
Cold and Damp
Cold often goes hand in hand with Dampness. Cold causes stiffness and pain. So we need the heat (either from the Sun, but most probably in the UK, artificial heat) to keep the cold and the damp out. This is of course not a new idea. It is a primal need. The Yang must stay in balance with the Yin.
How can Acupuncture help?
Acupuncture, like other therapies, can be very powerful.
But sometimes it can be frustratingly slow to take affect. Why is this? Well, the following case study shows how just a little bit of understanding of where the client lives can greatly increase the potency of the treatment.
It reminds me of a client who came to see me for acupuncture when I was working in London. I will call her Jane, although this is not her real name. Jane complained of a low mood and weight gain, as well as lower back pain. Observing her, she always wore black and dark clothes, and she looked tired. She had moved to London from overseas because of her husband’s work, and now found herself feeling bored and homesick. Jane tried to eat properly and exercise, but found herself unable to exercise because of her low energy and back pain, and as a consequence her diet suffered too.
She was in a vicious circle, and this is the nature of Dampness – it pulls you down and clouds the Mind, classic symptoms of Dampness….like mental quicksand. We began an acupuncture programme, but frustratingly every time she showed progress, she would slump back into her mire. But one day she just happened to mention that she was living in a basement flat that had constant damp issues filtering up from the earth. The landlord was doing very little to help and a dehumidifier was sucking the moisture from the air 24 hours a day. So this, I believe, coupled with the fact that she was lonely, bored and homesick, was the cause of much of her distress.
Illness, like life, however, is not simple; Jane couldn’t just up sticks and return to her home country. However, the acupuncture helped with Jane’s back pain and helped clear her Mind enabling her to think more clearly. But I felt the root of her problem was being somewhere she didn’t want to be, and to top it all off that place was damp!
I encouraged her to get the damp problem at home sorted out as soon as possible. And slowly, over just a few weeks, her symptoms began to improve. Her back pain was no longer an issue; she was feeling more motivated and she was losing weight. Until finally, wearing a bright summer dress, Jane felt like she had moved on and was her old self again.
For more info about Chinese medicine
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