Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is an ancient form of Chinese healing which dates back over 3,500 years. In particular, acupuncture is its most famous component; however, TCM has a lot more on offer than acupuncture alone.TCM is a comprehensive health system which is based both upon the energetic channels which run throughout the body which are known as meridians, and the centres of energetic distribution which are known as Zang Fu. The concept of energetic meridians which possess a number of points, which modulate these channels is fairly common knowledge. However, the purpose and functions of zang fu are much less well known. Leaving the mysterious title to the side for now, the zang fu are in fact the organs of the body (or rather energetic counterparts of them).The organs can be divided into yang (active energy) and ying (nurturing energy). What matters is the balancing of the energy in these zang fu, and it is the balancing of this energy, which lies at the heart of TCM.
Fortunately many people can receive great relief by visiting a TCM practitioner/acupuncturist who will provide them with back pain treatments. It is also possible to gain some degree of relief by applying TCM principles (without needles) from the comfort of your own home. Everybody has some degree of imbalance, both inside each individual zang fu and also between the various zang fu. The use of acupuncture needles is to realign the energetic flow within the meridians, which in turn relieves the symptoms of pain and ill health. Although acupuncture is the most popular approach to channel manipulation, there are also other methods such as Moxa (a hot herbal stick), herbs (for ingestion) and cupping (use of hot suction cups). More importantly for someone not trained in these areas, simply by following the principles of TCM it is possible to bring relief from back pain with simple DIY techniques.
How Can Do-it-Yourself Traditional Chinese Medicine Bring About Back Pain Relief?
Before outlining the TCM perspective of back pain, let us begin by clarifying that there is a vast range of back pain and that Chinese medicine is not a cure all, and furthermore that any back pain which lingers for more than a few days should be brought to the attention of your doctor.
Moving on, in order to bring about relief from back pain, it is necessary to understand lower back pain causes from the perspective of Chinese medicine. There are lots of variations on this theme and in an article of this size it is not possible to expand in depth upon this subject; however, on a very simple level, lower back pain relates to a powerful part of the body known as the mingmen. The mingmen (also known as the "Gate of Vitality") is to be found at the level of the second lumbar vertebrae. The second lumbar vertebrae are approximately level with the kidneys (just below the ribs in the lower back) and often a dull form of back ache along with weakness is to be found there.
The mingmen is particularly important because, according to TCM, the vitality of the body springs from this centre. More importantly from the perspective of treating back pain, weakness and a dull ache in the region of the mingmen indicates a deficiency in this centre. Deficiency in the mingmen points at over exertion in daily life (stemming from situations such as overwork, lack of sleep, too much sexual activity, and poor diet). Basically, once the body becomes low in yang energy (active energy) over time it will impact the mingmen and for many people, this will result in weakness and aches in the lower back.
Implications of an Overworked Mingmen
First off, if you are suffering from the symptoms above, then in the long term a sore back is the least of your worries. Once the mingmen runs down, it can result in lots of imbalances throughout the body which are detrimental to health.
Secondly, it also means that the easiest way to treat lower back pain is by looking after your health, namely by not overworking, eating good food and taking plenty of rest. In our modern, hectic world, we all have a tendency to take our bodies for granted, which results in many symptoms arising from such stress. Take the foot off the gas pedal and immediately some degree of relief will come.
Thirdly, on an active level, there are several really simple DIY tips to help reverse the symptoms of lower back pain. The mingmen needs heat. If experiencing achiness, then use a hot rub or even a hot water bottle, anything at all which will put heat into the lower back. Another useful tip is to take a lot of ginger, because it puts heat back into the body. Finally, drink a lot of water, because it aids the body’s metabolism which in turn will help to boost yang energy.
Healing Your Back, Healing Yourself
As noted, back pain is not only painful, it is also a message from your body telling you to make changes. This might sound a little far-fetched, but unless your back pain has come either from very acute injury or via some inherited disorder, then this is very much the case. For instance, even if your back pain is a result of a minor accident, why is it that a lot of people have accidents and they do not hurt their backs? According to TCM theory, if all the energy channels are balanced, then the body will have tremendous resistance to injury unless the accident is very serious.
So if you have back pain, please listen to your body, heal your back and make whatever changes you need to make, and as a by-product you will actually be rejuvenating your, overall health and wellbeing too.