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into energy. When there is a dysfunction of
these organs, the ingested solids and fluids
are not processed efficiently and dampness
and phlegm accumulate in the tissues
resulting in weight gain. An excess of rich
and greasy food in the diet will weaken the
spleen and stomach organs and results in the
build up of da mp heat and phlegm in the
body. A lack of physical exercise will cause
the Qi a nd blood to stagnate, so the energy
will not be supplied to the organs when it is
needed. This explains why patients suffering
from constipation are encouraged to exercise
to get the Qi to circulate and stimulate their
It is important for the Oriental
practitioner to closely look at the symptoms
that help identify the specific pattern of
dysfunction of the patients. An over weight
patient suffering from a weakness of the
spleen with an accumulation of dampness
in the body will exhibit swelling in the
extremities, general fatigue, poor appetite,
loose stools, and a pale and swollen tongue.
If an excess build up of heat in the stomach
is weakening the spleen's ability to transform
the fluids, we will see the evidence of excess
heat being manifested by excessive hunger,
thirst, s weating, constipation, abdominal
pain, a red tongue with a yellow coating and
a fast pulse.
In another case, a weakening of both the
spleen and kidney Yang energy might be the
causative factor. Since Yang energy represents
heat, when it is deficient the patients will
complain of feeling cold, especially in
their hands and feet. The kidneys have a
connection with the bones, knees and lower
back, and a weakness in that organ will be
revealed by soreness in these areas.
As predicted, the treatment strategies
will be quite different for each of these
dysfunctions. In addition to acupuncture
treatments, Chinese herbal medicine might
be prescribed, as well as dietary guidelines.
But the biggest battle is often psychological.
For most of us eating brings comfort in
time of stress a nd unhappiness and until
a different coping mechanism has been
established, long term weight reduction will
often be difficult to achieve.
Olivier Lejus MHSc. (TCM), BHSc. (Acup.) is an
accredited acupuncturist practising in Sydney.
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In the last few decades, obesity has
become a major health issue around the
world. According to the World Health
Organisation (WHO), there are now
more than one billion people on our planet
who are over weight, and 300 million who are
clinically obese. In the United States alone,
it is estimated that 65% of the population is
obese or overweight.
Obesity is a very complex problem,
which has many causes including genetic
inheritance, social changes, lifestyle choices
and emotional disturbances. Researchers
have found that certain family genes impair
our metabolism, which is the body's ability
knew when their next meal would be. In
response, the human body gradually adapted
to be able to store excess ingested energy as
fat, ready to be consumed in times of need.
Today, every cell in our body needs
glucose to produce ATP, our consumable
source of energy. The cells have developed
to take only what they require for optimum
functioning, and to store the excess in our
blood and liver as energy. When they have
more than they can handle, these excess
calories are stored as fat in the tissues. The
fat tissue will only be converted into usable
energy when the body is star ved of nutrients
and all the other reserves have been used.
It is estimated that it will take from five to
seven days before a chemical switch in the
brain releases its reser voir of adipose tissue
for conversion. Unfortunately for most of us,
this calorie deficit will never occur, and these
fat reser ves will gradually keep building up
around our organs never to be used.
Now the heart has to work harder in
order to pump the larger volume of blood
needed to irrigate the extra mass of body
tissue. This extra strain on our cardiovascular
system soon leads to high blood pressure
and cardiovascular diseases. We all know
that losing weight means eating less food
and doing more exercise, but it is a constant
battle when we a re constantly over worked,
with no time to cook or go to the gym.
In Chinese medicine, everything in
the body is related to Qi (energy). Every
organ has a specific form of Qi for optimum
function. In this medical framework, the
spleen a nd stomach a re responsible for the
tra nsportation a nd transformation of food
to transform our digested food into energy.
Our changing environment is also a
significant causative factor. For the first
time in human history, most of the world's
population is now living in cities, a nd while
the demand for manual work has steadily
declined in the last few decades, our intake
of calories has not changed. Probably the
human body was not made to sit around a
desk all day in the first place.
It pays to remember that our first
ancestors, who evolved 200,000 years ago,
were hunter-gatherers who sur vived like
wild animals by eating as much as they
could whenever they could, as they never
Oriental practitioner Olivier LeJus says our hunter-gather
origins play a central role in the modern obesity epidemic.
© NOVA AUGUST 2013
TCM & Obesity
'The human body gradually
adapted to be able to store
excess ingested energy as fat,
ready to be consumed in times
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