Look Younger, Live Longer
Revealing the Secrets of Chinese Medicine and Longevity
by Lucy Postolov, L.Ac.
Long life and everlasting vision proceed from the good conduct of life.
-Translated from the Huangdi Neijing Yellow Emperors Classic of Internal Medicine
Live long and prosper.
– Mr. Spock, Noted Vulcan
People everywhere have traditionally searched for longevity and elixir from the fountain of youth. The desire to live long, happy and healthy lives is a recurrent theme of many philosophers and religions. The first man, Adam, fathered a child at 130 and lived to the ripe old age of 930. The bar has been somewhat lowered since Genesis. For some time, the maximum life span for a human being has held steady at somewhere between 110 and 120 years. Today, 50 percent of Americans will survive through the age of 74. That figure is up from 1946, where half the population could expect to live to age 67. Naturally, your mileage will vary.
Being a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Herbologist with a western medical background, I have seen the best of both worlds when it comes to tuning your biological clock. Factors such as family history, lifestyle, diet and exercise will go a long way in determining your life span and quality of life. Neither eastern nor western medicine will stop the aging process. However, there are ways to regulate and slow that course, and make it all the more pleasant.
Who isn’t anti-aging?
Long life or longevity when translated to Chinese characters becomes Chang Sheng. Loosely interpreted, Chang Sheng means maintaining ones vitality in such a way that it is not used up. Nourished by the essential, having only natural life, thus reaching the full span of ones days and even going beyond apparent limits to eternal life.
Chinese medicine and acupuncture treatments offer many different remedies that are effective for health, youth preservation and Chang Sheng. There are treatments for skin texture, tightness and moisture. Muscle tone can be restored, sexual performance rejuvenated and mental clarity sharpened. An acupuncture face-lift can take years off your face with no pain, scars or the nasty side effects of surgical procedures. Nevertheless, beauty’s only skin deep.
The Three Treasures In Chinese literature, heaven has three treasures, the Sun, the Moon and the Stars. Earth possesses three treasures, Water, Fire and Soil. A human being is enlightened by three treasures, Jing, Qi and Shen. Wise application of these treasures liberates us to eternity. The Jing (essence) is divided into two categories, prenatal and postnatal. Prenatal essence is what we receive at the moment of conception. The Chinese believe that the special moment of the union between the egg and the sperm will determine an individual constitution because the essence is the source of your lifes energy. Western medicine would call this your gene pool. Postnatal Jing is what we receive after birth. Generally, it would evolve from what we eat and the air that we breathe.
The Qi (pronounced chi) is the aforementioned life’s energy or vital force. As long as Qi is coursing through the body, life is sustained. Traditional Chinese Medicine concentrates on the healthy flow of Qi to maintain and restore good health. The last treasure is Shen, or the vital spirit. It is the consciousness for our mental faculties. To give you a beautiful visual illustration of the Three Treasure concept, think of a candle. The base of this candle represents your Jing or essence. The flame is your Qi or energy, burning brightly and sustaining your being. The aura that is created by the flame is your Shen, the spirit that results. Burn your candle at both ends and you are sure to disrupt the essential quality of life.
Altering the course of destiny
Science, both modern and mystical, has not come up with a way of changing the prenatal Jing. However, we can use what we are given wisely. We can slow the consumption of prenatal Jing by manufacturing more Qi. As mentioned previously, the air that we breathe and the food we consume is converted into acquired essence. This process takes place after a day activity during sleep. Chinese medicine has much to offer in terms of longevity and replenishing postnatal Jing. Daily use of Chinese herbal supplements will nourish the essence, while acupuncture will stimulate and regulate the flow of Qi.
As the aging process unfolds, Qi production declines due to the natural weakening of organ function. Obvious signs of aging include a decreased libido, appearance of wrinkles, weakening of the bones, loss of hair and teeth, low energy and mental clarity. The TCM pharmacopoeia is comprised of 5,762 natural ingredients. They help tonify and nourish the Qi as well as balance the Yin and Yang deficiencies.
A qualified Herbologist should be consulted before you consume any herbal supplements, and for good reason. An example would be that of the most popular herb for nourishment of life, Ginseng. Ginseng can tonify Qi, nourish the blood and fortify essence. However, it is contraindicated for people with high blood pressure, excess of ‘heat’, or symptoms of stagnation. Although Chinese tonic herbs tend to be non-toxic, they are not entirely safe when self prescribed. A qualified practitioner of Oriental Medicine will balance the flow of Qi and blood with acupuncture and choose herbs to address the root of a problem, not just the symptoms. The practitioner may also suggest other modalities of Chinese Medicine, such as Tai-Chi (exercise), Qi Gong (Chinese massage) and Tui Na (meditation). A proper diet according to an individual’s constitution, would be suggested in order to reestablish harmony and balance to the whole person.
Waiter, My (Reality) Check Please
There is only so much time in a day, and only so many days in our time. Spending your life pursuing the preservation of youth and the quest of a long life will inevitably leave you quite disappointed at the end. If you devote your life to some greater purpose, then living a long life will be the means to that end rather than the end itself. Throughout the course of your life, there will be an expenditure of your Three Treasures. I urge you to spend them wisely.