East Asian Medicine has an amazing track record because it has been developed and adjusted over a long period of time.  This makes it invaluable when it comes to treating a number of health problems, many of which are still observed in the modern world.  But one of the shortcomings of East Asian Medicine is that it has to be used differently to deal with modern diseases.

If we look at the history of East Asian Medicine (EAM), we can see that it’s roots began in a primarily agricultural society, which meant that people spent a lot oof time outdoors, doing physical labor.  These ancestors woke up with the sun and stopped working when it set.  They ate according to the seasons.  They consumed organ meats, more vegetables and unrefined grains.  The general population had to contend with starvation if the crops didn’t grow, as well as the real possibility of civil unrest.

The modern American today does none of these things and has a fairly easy life.  Additionally, even if the average person ate only organic fruits and vegetables, the topsoil in which our food is grown is enormously depleted of nutrients.  The nutritional deficiencies in the soil are so alarming that conventional crops are almost completely dependent on the chemical fertilizers they are fed in order to grow.  A recent study out of Rutgers University shows that it now takes 19 ears of corn to equal the nutritional value of one ear of corn grown in 1940!  Then when you add in the easy access to processed foods, having access to all kinds of foods year round and our sedentary lifestyles, you have just created the perfect combination of a malnourished but overfed society.

There are some modern diseases that weren’t around or weren’t prevalent when EAM was developing, including hypoglycemia, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, hormonal imbalances caused by food, thyroid disorders and different forms of cancer.  It’s not enough to treat patients as if they are metabolically the same as people were generations ago.  We have serious nutritional problems now that are dwarfing how traditional medicine should be practiced.

Something that we thought was a thing of the past is starting to become an issue again…severe vitamin D deficiency aka rickets.  Yup.  It’s starting to appear again in children.  And vitamin D isn’t just important for bone health.  It is also vital for immune function to prevent autoimmune disorders, infectious diseases and cancer.  The best sources of vitamin D are sunshine and fatty fishes or oceanic algae.  But there are also direct links between the latitude in which people live and the prevalence of autoimmune conditions like multiple sclerosis, diabetes and Crohn’s.  So the farther away you live from the equator, the more likely you are to be vitamin D deficient and also more likely to have some sort of autoimmune condition.  Between 10-20 minutes of direct sunlight is enough to make adequate amounts of vitamin D.  But most Americans are trapped in an office all day or slather themselves with toxic sunscreens when they do venture outside.  And if you live in an area where there is a true winter, it’s even harder to get those precious rays of vitamin D.  This is why supplementation is highly recommended.

Another common deficiency is vitamin B.  The highest concentrations of vitamin B can be found in animal liver and whole, unrefined grains.  But most Americans only consume refined grains, thus they are vitamin B deficient.  Vitamin B is required in all steps for converting energy in the cell.  When it is deficient, we are tired, have less brain function and suffer from more depression and anxiety.  Vitamin B is responsible for nerve regeneration and a deficiency can cause “frayed nerves” or poor resistance to stress.  It breaks down homocysteine, which helps prevent heart inflammation and heart attacks.  But almost all of the American population is deficient.

Most of today’s food is pasteurized, homogenized, irradiated, bleached, flavored, colored, preserved with chemicals and processed to remove nutrients that would cause it to spoil.  Our waters are full of aluminum, chlorine and fluoride, which are added intentionally, in addition to petrochemical and pharmaceutical contamination.  Our meats are treated with growth factors, hormones and antibiotics.  Livestock are fed unnatural foods like corn on feedlots, as well as ground up plastics, which causes them to have chronic disease.  And all of this is passed down to us, the consumers.  On top of that, we tend to ingest only the muscle meat, which is the least healthy.  Traditionally, there are two groups of foods that are the most nutritionally dense, vegetables and animal organ meat.  But most people today aren’t eating those items and after looking at what is being done to our food from every aspect, not many people would want to eat in a traditional manner.

Thus, addressing nutritional deficiencies in the modern world is mostly about education.  One of the best ways to help is educating people on how to choose and prepare nutritious foods.  This is why it’s so important to know what food you’re actually getting.  For example, if you don’t have access to local farms and have to get all your food from the grocery store, start by buying as much organically grown food as possible.  Here’s an sample of why organic is better than conventionally grown.  An organic tomato is 12 times higher in magnesium, 68 times higher in manganese and almost 2000 times higher in iron than a conventionally grown tomato.  Organic lettuce is 5 times higher in calcium, 50 times higher in iron and 170 times higher in manganese.  So while it may look the same, it definitely is not.  If you do eat meat, it is also important to eat organic, pasture-raised and free from hormones animals.  These items may be more expensive, but otherwise people are paying the difference with their health, in the form of antibiotic resistance, nutritional deficiencies and hormone imbalances.

Nutritional concentrates, supplements and herbal formulas are used frequently to support the nutrition of patients.  If a patient is severely deficient, they may initially have problems digesting huge quantities of nutritious food.  This is why EAM reaches for supplements and herbal formulas that get their nutrients from healthy whole foods.  EAM utilizes all the elements of foods and the synthesis of these elements then helps to nourish your body.  As a patient becomes better nourished, their bodies can then start to utilize and digest larger quantities of whole foods, which makes the need for supplementation less.

In the modern world, helping someone achieve health is slightly more complicated than in previous generations.  And sometimes it takes a team of professionals to help people obtain their health goals.  If you are struggling with health issues, it may be nutritionally related and EAM can help.

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