Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Are you tired?


Recently I have been seeing patients complaining of feeling tired all the time, not being able to focus on tasks and having a hard time getting up in the morning.

Perhaps something is in the air lately; I don’t know the reason for this spate.
I do know that they don’t all suffer from fatigue for the same reasons. An old proverb in Chinese medicine goes something like this – Two people come in complaining of the same disease and get different treatments, two people come in complaining of different diseases and get the same treatment. How can this be?

As I have written in past posts Chinese medicine looks at the individual and assess the patterns of disease present in that person. So for instance if Jane comes in complaining of fatigue and Jane works 60-70 hours a week, drinks coffee and eats a muffin for breakfast, eats restaurant food at her desk for lunch & supper then goes home and crashes, but wakes up still tired. Perhaps she goes out with friends on weekends for “relaxation” and begins the cycle all over again on Monday. Jane would get a treatment that would focus on re-education (teaching her how to eat better (food and way of eating), sleep more, rest on weekends, along with learning how to relax. She would also get acupuncture, massage and Chinese herbs to help balance the energies that she has clearly thrown out of whack.

Then there is John, who works normal hours, but eats mainly pasta, pizza, and other processed foods, plays sports on weekends (throws the ball around) and works out in the gym 2-3 times a week (although it is more yakking with the guys than a serious workout). He also enjoys a couple of beers with his buddies Friday & Saturday nights yet he struggles to complete tasks assigned to him at work. His apartment/house is unkempt, perhaps if married his wife is always after him to get on with his honey-do list. John could sleep 10-11 hours a night if his wife would only let him. Only problem is John has no energy, can’t remember what it was he was going to do especially if someone distracts him with something else. He is scoring no points with his boss, his wife and is at a loss to explain why he feels the way he does. For treatment he would get the same education on food as Jane got, but the treatment focus would shift to ridding John of what Chinese medicine terms dampness. Dampness makes one feel slow, foggy & heavy – sort of like trying to operate in a thick & foggy day.

The Washington Post recently had an article on fatigue in which the author, Jennifer Huget, reports that conventional medicine has no definitive way to define or treat fatigue. Wow – what a statement of failure.

Although Chinese medicine claims no magic pill for any ill you may have, it does claim to better understand fatigue (albeit in Chinese medical terms not as a diagnosis) and other ills that conventional medicine can’t seem to put their finger on. I seek to help my patient through the wisdom of Chinese medicine. By looking at them through a different prism that helps break things down in a different way. I invite you to have Chinese medicine help you – it may take some time so if you are patient, persistent and committed then give me a call. No one seeking a quick fix need apply.

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