Brian is an author of international renown
and public speaker. He is currently writing his book Chinese
Medicine: A Practical Guide to Optimal Healing. Brian
practices acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine in sunny
San Diego, California.
But the caffeine boosts my anxiety, makes me very uneasy, and
many times makes me run to the bathroom whereupon I have diarrhea.
Is there any healthy alternative I can take instead of caffeine
to keep myself awake? No, I am not a coffee drinker (actually I
dislike the stuff very much) but I sometimes drink it to give myself
a wake up call in the morning when I am half awake.
||Question: I have IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and I
have a problem when I drink coffee (with caffeine), and sometimes
even sodas, which also contain caffeine. Problem is that many
times I need to jumpstart my day with some extra energy like
when I am tired, etc.
In Chinese medicine, IBS can be several different patterns, but
often it is an alternation of attacks by the Liver qi. (NOTE:
Chinese medicine has its own concepts of organ-systems with similar
names to western anatomical organs. I am not talking about your
Liver Qi Stagnation Attacking Other Organs
The Liver qi is responsible for the free flow of qi throughout
the body, and when it stagnates, many problems can occur- it can
attack the Lung, causing breathing problems or cough, the Spleen,
causing loose stool, the Stomach, causing hiccups, reflux, nausea
or vomiting, or the Large Intestine, causing constipation
Liver qi stagnates for a number of reasons - stress is the number
one cause... Liver blood deficiency is another, and in fact, anxiety
is often a Heart blood deficiency that begins with Liver blood
deficiency. Coffee may temporarily move the Liver qi and give
you energy, but it also depletes the Liver blood, leading to further
Liver qi stagnation later on when the coffee wears off. The Liver
blood and qi have a yin and yang balanced relationship- if one
is deficient or excess, the other is adversely affected.
Coffee, IBS, Heat, and Anxiety
Coffee is a short-term solution that worsens the Liver qi stagnation
problem. It also adds heat to the Liver. In the long run, heat
and blood deficiency can lead to yin deficiency, a more serious
problem that manifests as feeling hotter at night and sweating
while sleeping. If the yin is deficient, the Heart becomes anxious,
and this is one cause of insomnia.
An Energy Boost Without Side Effects
You need an energy boost that doesn't make you anxious. But is
your digestion good enough to handle an energy boost without your
Liver qi stagnating? If you have (even alternating) loose stool,
low appetite, and tiredness, then you have what is called Spleen
qi deficiency. That means youd have trouble digesting things,
and might get tired after meals. It sounds like you may have Liver
qi stagnation, Spleen qi deficiency, and Heart blood deficiency.
Of course, I can't diagnose you long distance, and you should
see a Chinese medicine practitioner one-on-one to be sure.
Chinese ginseng is good for Spleen qi deficiency. American ginseng
might be even better for you, since it boosts the qi and the yin,
and blood belongs to yin. Korean ginseng is hot, and would probably
affect you like coffee does. Another good herb for yin deficiency
is rehmannia root, but its hard to digest with Spleen deficiency.
For Liver qi stagnation, the lifestyle answers are exercise and
expressing your emotions, but for herbs you'd have to see a Chinese
herbalist. Really, that would be the best bet for all the herbs
you need, because you'd end up with just one formula based on
all your patterns of imbalance.
Neat, simple, and comprehensive.
Spleen Qi Deficiency Diet
People with Spleen deficiency should eat simple foods. Rice is
a good example. Chicken noodle soup is nice, too. In fact, we
have a whole article on what Spleen
deficient people should eat.
Hope that helps, and let me know how it goes!