How do regular people use Optimal Medicine? I've had occasion
to think on this one quite a bit since I started writing a book
on optimal living a few months back. I thought the book would
be easier to complete until I realized that I wasn't following
all the advice myself! Despite my imperfections, which will doubtlessly
continue, I decided to not only write the book but to live with
it for a while before publishing and expecting other people to
live by it.
I don't doubt in the power and utility of Chinese medicine advice,
but I wanted to write a book that real people would use in their
real lives. And in the last couple weeks while my wife and I have
been buying a house, packing, getting ready to move, and in the
meantime trying to keep up with all our regular work, writing,
teaching, and patients, I became acutely aware of one of our biggest
modern problems: overwhelm.
When you barely have time to get everything done at work, take
care of your kids, and keep up the house and cars, how can you
add even more health-promoting tasks to your to-do list? How can
you integrate optimal wellness ideas without dropping everything
or totally reworking your life all at once?
I think the best way to start to get on track is to work with
an acupuncturist. Taming some of your imbalances, boosting your
deficiencies, and clearing your mind will make everything else
easier. Once you're more in balance, you can start shifting your
food choices, exercise, sleep habits, relaxation techniques, etc.
This fits with Chinese medicine. Herbs and acupuncture are for
real imbalances, diseases, and annoying symptoms. True, the wise
way to live is preventively, but since most of us are just hearing
about Chinese wellness wisdom, the likelihood is that we've already
messed ourselves up a bit over the last few decades. You probably
need some serious herbal and acupuncture intervention before you
can get to the prevention side of things.
To be completely honest, this has been my own path. When I went
to school, I received acupuncture and took herbs for years before
I thought to look at whether my eating habits were contributing
to my perpetual problems and imbalances. Now, even as I've changed
my eating and living habits and found enjoyable exercises that
improve my health, I still am not perfect (how shocking!), I still
crave the wrong foods at times, I still over commit socially,
and I occasionally get knocked out of emotional balance by situations
that come up with other people.
Fact is, unless you move to a rural environment, simplify your
life, purge yourself of greed and ambition, etc., you're going
to be living in the same stress-filled, demanding, tiring world
the rest of us live in. And if you do live in that world, acupuncture
and herbs are an essential tool for remaining in balance and living
Here's an analogy for you. Say you live on a boat in the ocean
- unless you paddle over to a lake (where the surface is almost
always still), there will occasionally be storms, and waves will
crash over your bow and fill your boat with water, and perhaps
the occasional high wind will break your sail. Unless you bail
out the water or use a water pump, you'll eventually sink. Unless
you fix your sail, you won't go anywhere. If your water pump breaks
down or gets clogged, you'll likewise be "up the creek."
If you use engine power but don't replenish your gas supply, you'll
get stuck out there.
Living on a boat in the ocean is just like managing our stressful
lives. Unless you use herbs and acupuncture to calm your internal
stress, reduce inflammation, purge toxins, and boost your deficiencies
of energy, etc., you'll eventually sink, get stuck, or be up the
creek. In other words, you'll get sick. If you don't take care
of small imbalances, you get sick, and if you ignore your health
even then, you may get a chronic illness that is too stubborn
The best time to deal with problems is when they are still small.
So, regular acupuncture and herbal formulas that address the imbalances
that tend to come up for you are the best way to stay in balance.
Consult with a local acupuncturist to get on track for this.
AFTER you've added that layer of self-help, you can start thinking
about changing your food choices, exercise, social and emotional