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The Practical Herbalist

More is Better?

It is a common thought in many people that if a little helps, then more must be better. In some cases this is true, but many times when it comes to health, more, is actually the cause of problems.

Our culture has a crisis of obesity related health problems, more food is not needed. Obesity in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is considered malnourishment. The overload of food makes it difficult for food to be converted to energy in the body creating a situation where the body is starving for more energy when there is an over abundance available. TCM focuses on function of the body rather than the structure. The excess of food causes a decrease in function, which in turn creates a demand for more energy to increase function, thus driving the cravings for more food. It is much the same thing as putting oil into the gas tank of your car. Oil is a very rich form of the same hydrocarbons found in gasoline, yet the oil clogs the system and creates a deficiency of function. The driver wanting more speed uses the accelerator to increase the amount of fuel thus compounding the problem. The answer is to use the proper fuel in proper amounts.

This problem of using more is also a problem with people who claim to eat a healthy diet and are not over weight. Some of these people have odd problems are really associated by doing too much of a good thing. Some over exercise, which can be a drain on the health of the body. Some take vitamins at levels beyond what their body needs, which can create a situation where the body is expending too much energy to remove unneeded chemical products from the body. This tends to tax the liver and the kidneys. These people often feel so good and proud of what they are doing they are perplexed when they fail to heal well after injury or can’t seem to shake a chronic cold condition.

When a TCM herbalist formulates herbs together, the final mix of herbs is always adjusted to the specifics of the patient. Often a patient will come in complaining of "low energy". They have often used stimulants, sugar, and various herbs like ginseng to boost their energy. Sometimes patients get results from these methods, but they find they have odd side effects, and they need more and more of these things to get the same effect. To the herbalist the reason for the apparent low energy is not the lack of energy but the mismanagement of the energy they have. Adding more does not make the situation better. Dropping all of the "energy boosters" and shifting to herbal formulas that simply "move energy" rather than "nourish" will create longer lasting positive changes to the way the patient feels.

We would all like the answers in life to be a simple matter of one thing that will fix the problems we have. While this sometimes happens, more often than not, life is just more complicated than we want it to be. Too much of a good thing can create as many problems as it solves.

David Bock

This article was from David's LakeCountryOnline.com column, "The Practical Herbalist"

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David Bock, C. Ac., Dipl. OM, FABORM
Wisconsin Certified Acupuncturist
National Board Certification in Oriental Medicine
Fellow American Board Of Oriental Reproductive Medicine

Bock Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine
888 Thackeray Trail #206
Oconomowoc, Wisconsin 53066