It is very common to compartmentalize the body. Sometimes I have patients in my clinic who have multiple problems and who tell me something like the following:
I’d like you to do something about my back ache - don’t worry about the high blood pressure, the sore shoulder and the asthma as my doctor has given me pills to control them - I just need to get my back fixed.
Can you fix it?
This kind of thinking that parts of the body are not related to each other is very much the result of modern medical practice. Drug companies, who are usually giant multinational organizations driven by profit (not necessarily your health), have added to a system of medical care which does not encourage seeing the body as a whole.
If you have a headache, the problem is somewhere around your head area. And you fix it with pain killers. If you have back pain, you have a back problem. If your knees hurt, you have a knee problem. If you have a hearing problem, your ears are to blame.
Problems are normally seen in isolation of one another.
The most dramatic distinction is between physical symptoms and psychological symptoms. Your brain is inside your body, connected through the same nerves, blood vessels and body tissues, so when there is a psychological problem – how can the body not be connected?
If you have depression for example, the cause of the depression is almost always seen as inside your head and you need to take strong pills to try to change it. But why can’t the cause of depression be inside the body and the depressed feelings just be symptoms?
This is the view taken by Oriental medicine. Symptoms don’t just appear randomly – there is a reason. If you look at the body as a whole, you can often see the reason.
For example, headaches again. Migraines are often the result of a complicated interaction of inflammation causing what the ancient Chinese called heat to quite literally rise up to your head. The cause of this symptom is usually somewhere in the middle part of your body. There may be an impairment in how your Liver is able move blood around your body. This does not mean there is anything actually wrong with your Liver. It means that gradually you have changed how your body works through your lifestyle or diet and now the body is telling you there’s a problem.
If you don’t see this relationship, you can never really stop the headaches. You can hide them with strong drugs but you can’t prevent them.
If however you make the necessary changes, perhaps lifestyle, diet and appropriate treatment then you can treat the cause and remove the problem.