Chinese and Western medicine agree that weight control is important and that obesity can lead to a range of other illnesses. In the West, the emphasis is on dietary discipline and being sufficiently active, however sometimes healthy eating and exercise fail to deliver the desired results.
The Chinese perspective differs in that obesity is seen as only a symptom of more important underlying problems that, if left untreated, will affect all the other organs in the body.
Chinese medicine sees the problem of weight gain in a very different way from Western Medicine. There are numerous possible diagnoses, but easily the most common is what the Chinese call “spleen qi deficiency”. This can be roughly translated as having weak digestion that does not allow the body to absorb and transport food effectively.
This means no matter how well or how much the person eats, they are left feeling tired, sluggish and usually hungry as the body is not absorbing nutrition from food, which makes weight loss hard. This can lead to a destructive cycle whereby the person always feels hungry and gains weight regardless of the efforts they make to eat less or healthier.
Spleen qi deficiency and weight loss
Spleen qi deficiency can have a number of different causes and thus approaches to weight loss. There can be a genetic component and similar conditions can run in the same family. Unsurprisingly, it can also be caused by poor diet such as eating meals on the go, unwholesome snacking, lots of greasy or sweet food, too much cold food, cold water or other drinks, particularly beer. All of which hamper weight loss. Eating late at night is especially damaging for this type of condition. The Chinese clock states that the strongest time for the digestion is between 7am and 11am and this is the best time to eat larger or heavier meals.
Too little sleep, lack of movement, overwork and over-thinking or worrying are considered especially hazardous to the spleen and not good for weight loss. Given our current lifestyle, it’s not hard to see why so many people could now be considered spleen qi deficient and thus are searching for a weight loss program.
How Chinese medicine can help
Chinese medicine predates modern science, so you don’t have to worry about calorie counting or modern dieting techniques when you are following a Chinese medicine weight loss program. What is essential is that a dietary plan is tailored to suit your individual constitution and internal imbalances. Every person is different, according to TCM, and the treatment must be individualised according to pulse and tongue diagnosis.
Usually, a list of healthy foods for your constitution and a list of foods to avoid are provided to help you choose the correct diet. The foods are selected according to their flavour, nature and what internal organs they affect from a TCM perspective.
Food is medicine and can certainly be used to balance the body in conjunction with Chinese herbs carefully selected to tonify spleen qi, and increase your energy and metabolism.
When following a diet designed to strengthen the internal organs, you notice a difference in your digestive system within a short time.