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Infertility and TCM: Part 11: The Answer My Friend Is Blowin’ in the Wind

By David Kreiner MD

September 8th, 2014 at 5:49 pm


credit: stuart miles/

According to the ancient Chinese text, “The Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classic (Huangdi Neijing, 黃帝內經) “, written about two thousand years ago, the emperor Han asked his physician minister why his people in one town were all sick with colds but not elsewhere in the empire.  The wise minister, credited for accumulating and developing much of what is considered Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), answered almost in song…”the answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind…the answer is blowin’ in the wind”.

The common cold as we know it in Western Medicine is caused by viruses of a variety of types and species.  Today in Western Medicine, we have the capability of identifying the specific affecting virus.  TCM focuses on the syndrome of symptoms the patient exhibits from his/her illness.  The “common cold” typically causes fever and chills, headache, perhaps body aches, nasal congestion and mucus and avoidance of cold.  TCM since the time of Emperor Han and before has classified this set of symptoms as the Wind Cold… caused by “bugs” carried by the wind… which attacks the exterior of the body through the nose and the skin.  The wind pathogen invades the body surface which is blocked by the defending Wei Qi that as a result of the attack stagnates causing the fever.  The Wei Qi is also responsible to warm the body so as it is weakened by the pathogens it will induce chills in the affected individual.

Over the course of hundreds of generations, various herbs… which may include parts of a variety of plant species, animal species and minerals… have been observed to diminish the course of the illness as well as ameliorate the symptoms.  These herbs are prepared in numerous different ways depending on the illness and symptoms being treated, but often include cooking and drinking the finished product as a type of tea.  In the case of the Wind Cold, a feature of the herbal decoction, Ma huang tang, is to induce sweating in an effort to expel the affecting pathogen through the skin pores.  Acupuncture applied to specific points of the body can also induce sweating and “release of the exterior” pathogen so that it is eliminated from the infected superficial layers of the body.

In TCM, a variation of the common cold that is notable for inducing more fever than chills, a sore throat, and sweating is referred to as the Wind Heat.  Treatment, like for the Wind Cold, includes “releasing the exterior” as the pathogens are attacking the superficial layers much like they do with the Wind Cold.  However, therapy utilizes cooling herbs rather than warming herbs.  In TCM, the nature of a syndrome was established in conjunction with the development of an effective treatment.  Since, the “cooling” herbs were noted to benefit patients beset with the Wind Heat, not only did the treatment become standard, but it helped define the syndrome itself.  This is the way syndromes and treatments become established in TCM over the course of generations of experience.

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Do you use herbal teas or other herbal treatments to help prevent or recover from colds and flu? What do you use and has it helped?

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Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) – Perspectives from a Western-Trained Physician-Part 2

By David Kreiner MD

February 18th, 2014 at 4:44 pm



I am now four tests deep into my TCM training and have experienced some of the typical Spleen disharmony that comes with anxiety over my performance on the exams.  It was not bad enough to cause a clinical spleen Qi deficiency but I did have some stomach upset from rebellious stomach Qi and occasional weak knees.

I wonder at times if I could explain TCM fundamentals in Western terms.  It would be very satisfying to put TCM physiology in a language and system that was consistent with the science that as a physician I have learned and lived with for the past 30 years.  I am used to a medical construct based on organs and structures I can see and feel and metabolic processes that I can measure. TCM affords us none of this.

Instead, the physiology of TCM to me is based on faith and experience.  Hmmm… if there is experience supporting successful therapeutics whether they be herbal medicines or acupuncture then why do I say that TCM is based on faith.  From a scientific perspective, we cannot explain TCM fundamentals such as Qi or Essence nor the channels they travel in.  There is nothing we are able to see or touch to prove to ourselves their actual existence.

I am not saying that it is necessary to have a blind faith in TCM in order to either practice it or submit oneself to its treatment.  Once again, there is the experience to justify its practice.  However, it does make a Western-trained physician perplexed.  Perhaps our science is not yet at a level to explain TCM.  Maybe…if we were able to measure extremely minute changes in electrical charges, or levels of energy radiated in the body at a frequency or amplitude that we are currently unable to document… then we might be able to witness and even measure TCM phenomena related to Qi deficiency and other clinical syndromes.

In the meantime, I study so that I may be able to someday offer the TCM as an adjunct to my fertility practice.

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Would you be open to combining TCM principles with Western medicine in your fertility treatment plan?

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