Social Behaviour and Your Health

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

Chinese medicine is not just a physical medicine. Although it does treat the physical body, the body is only one small part of a much larger picture. It is a holistic medicine, taking into account all parts of a person, including the environment in which that person lives. Everything that person experiences has an effect on their health, and so all must be examined when diagnosing and treating disease.

Because Chinese medicine takes so much information into account when diagnosing and treating a patient, it makes the task of the TCM practitioner more difficult, and requires more skill. It also makes the medical system extremely effective and is why it has survived for almost 5000 years.

Social Behaviour : Chinese Medicine Living

Social Behaviour

The way we spend our leisure time isn't something most people associate with poor health, but many of the ways that Westerners pass the time when they are relaxing, are actually detrimental to our health on many levels. I personally believe that at least some of the reasons why we choose to engage in activities like drinking, smoking and doing drugs are a way to escape the stresses that living in the modern world places upon us. So let's look at how some of these things affect health in the context of Chinese medicine.


Smoking : Chinese Medicine Living

The act of smoking introduces a lot of heat into the body and creates dryness, especially in the lungs. The short term effects are the consumption of lung yin, but over the long term this yin deficiency can spread to the rest of the body and cause all manner of other disharmonies. Another factor with smoking is the effect on the body's qi. The heat from smoking actually acts to move any stagnant qi that may be in the lungs, which explains why many people find that the act of smoking relaxes them. The movement of stagnant qi is short lived though, as the reason for the qi stagnation to occur in the first place has not been addressed. So although there might be a temporary short term benefit, if the cause of the qi stagnation is not addressed, the qi stagnation will return and if left untreated, can lead to more serious disharmonies.


image courtesy 

Alcohol introduces both heat and dampness into the body. Although alcohol has been used medicinally for many years and can be beneficial in cold climates to help to warm the body, it is important, just as with everything in life, that we exercise moderation so that the energies of the body do not swing too far out of balance. Alcohol has a similar effect on qi as does cigarettes, acting to move any stagnant qi, but the stagnation soon returns if the cause is not determined and dealt with.


Drugs are a hugs a complex subject, and acupuncture and Chinese herbs have been used for many years with great success to help people with addictions (to read more about Chinese medicine and addiction read - Acupuncture & Addiction). Different drugs have different negative effects on our bodies, its organ systems, relative yin and yang and the body's qi. In my experience I have found that the psychological component is as important as the physical one in dealing with the addiction and so is the desire of the patient to recover. Addiction is a complex issue, but Chinese medicine, thankfully, has many modalities to help people to recover from addictions from things to food to cigarettes to heroin, as long as there is a genuine desire to recover and the person is getting the support they need for a long and often difficult process.

Sexual Energy

Sex : Chinese Medicine Living

Our sexual lives have a definite effect on our health, and in Chinese medicine too much sex, or not enough sex can actually contribute to disease (to learn more read - Can Too Much Sex Be Bad for Your Health?). Having a healthy sex life is part of being a happy, healthy human being, but in Chinese medicine, they have perhaps a different outlook on it than you may have heard before. You can read the article above for more detail, but essentially the Chinese view on sex and disease is not based on morals or social norms, but on its impact on the energies of the body. The kidneys, for example, are the source of the body's yin and yang energy and also a very important energy called Jing. Too much sex is said to deplete kidney Jing, especially in men who lose precious Jing when they ejaculate. The situation is not so serious for women who do not lose Jing during sex. A woman's eggs or ovum are seen to be the direct manifestation of Jing so they are not losing them the way a man does when he ejaculates. This is why, regardless of gender, it is important to practice moderation with sex and all things to maintain health. There are other ways that women can lose Jing like having too many children too close together. The effects of depletion of Jing for both men and women are symptoms like premature aging, prematurely greying hair, developmental and growth problems in children, cavities, sore knees, weak and sore lower back, blurred vision, frequent urination and extreme fatigue.

Don't worry, a healthy amount of sex is good for your health, it is only when we do not practice moderation (which is so common in our culture) that problems can arise. There is a handy chart in the above article if you are curious about how much sex is recommended for different ages, just remember these are only guidelines!

The other thing is that there are many Taoist practices that teach how to preserve the body's energies, including kidney Jing. One of the masters is Mantak Chia and his wife Maneewan Chia who have written several books on the subject. If you are curious, check them out. ;)

The great thing about Chinese medicine is that it is not just a medical system, it really teaches a way of life. It is not a pill you take, an herb you drink, or a few needles. It really teaches how to live in balance with yourself, and the world around you. I love that everything is relevant, because it all has an effect. It is such a beautiful system that I fall more in love with every day. I hope that learning a little bit more about it, you will fall in love with it too.

I Love Chinese Medicine : Chinese Medicine Living

Social Behaviour and Your Health : Chinese Medicine Living

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Buddha Bracelet : Chinese Medicine Living



















Social Behaviour & Your Health : Chinese Medicine Living

Can Too Much Sex be Bad for Your Health? Sex and Chinese Medicine

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac

There, I said it. It seems that sex is everywhere in Western culture, plastered on billboards, all over TV and in magazine ads - scantily clad beautiful people looking seductive and, well, sexy. So lets talk about sex and its role in our health.

Sex, or our drive to reproduce, is hard wired and a very primal physiological need. But sex has had a rough go throughout history, with many religions and groups trying to convince people that they should abstain, hide their desires and longings, or that sex itself is simply a sin.

Luckily, in Chinese medicine, sex and sexual activity is a healthy part of being human. It is perfectly natural, and we need it to be healthy, happy individuals.  I can hear the collective sigh of relief. But its true. The Chinese are realists. Pragmatists. Buddha bless them.

sex in Chinese medicine

Chinese medicine was developed out of prolonged observations of people, animals and their relationship to their environment, and the result was a deep understanding of what it is to be human - and sex is a fundamental part of the whole package.

Chinese medicine also views sex (either too much or too little) as a cause of disease. This may seem strange to us in the West, but allow me to explain how that is seen to happen. First, there are a couple of things to clarify when speaking about sex and its potential role in disease.

Men and Women Are Not the Same

The first is the difference between men and women. Men and women differ physiologically and this why too much sex is seen to affect men more than it affects women. To understand why we must look at how Chinese medicine views how boys and girls develop, the Tian Gui (heavenly water) and something called Jing.

In Chinese medicine growth and development is governed by the Kidneys and happens in cycles of 7 years for girls, and 8 years for boys. According to the ancient Chinese medical text called the Su Wen - at 14, girls "Tian Gui" arrives (menstruation), and she is able to reproduce." At 16, the Tian Gui is said to arrive for boys, meaning they are able to produce viable healthy sperm. Tian Gui is the essence that allows girls to conceive and become pregnant and boys to fertilize a girls egg, leading to conception. Tian Gui manifests as sperm in boys and eggs or ovum in girls.

Both girls and boys ability to successfully reproduce however, depends on the strength and vitality of Kidney Jing. We are all born with a finite amount of Kidney Jing, but it can be supplemented and supported by the food we eat. When Jing is abundant, one is fertile and can conceive easily. If Jing is deficient, conceiving becomes difficult, and one can develop symptoms like weak and brittle bones, problems with development both physically and mentally, prematurely greying hair, and loose teeth that are prone to cavities. In young people, a deficiency of Jing can lead to delayed menstruation in girls, and delayed arrival of sperm in boys as well as developmental problems.

Sex in Chinese Medicine

Too Much Sex

In Chinese medicine too much sex is seen to affect men more than women. The reason for this is because when a man reaches orgasm and ejaculates, he is losing some of his precious Jing. A man who engages in frequent sexual activity, or masturbation that results in ejaculation, can deplete his Jing and this can lead to a deficiency. Yes, that's right guys. Too much sex can be bad for your health. There are many ancient Taoism practices that teach ways for men to reach orgasm without ejaculation - a master of these techniques is Mantak Chia who has written many books that offer instruction on how to cultivate both male and female sexual energy, which are techniques that are useful not only for your sexual life, but have wide applications to your life in general.

For women, this is not an issue. Since the eggs or ovum are considered the direct manifestation of Jing, they are obviously not lost during sexual intercourse and orgasm, so they cannot become deficient in Jing by having too much sex. Good news, right ladies? There are things, however that can lead to a loss of Jing for women. Having too many pregnancies and births too close together can be depleting to a woman's Jing. Pregnancy and childbirth are extremely taxing to the body's resources, so it is important to give the body time to recover and rebuild in between pregnancies to keep your Jing strong and your overall health at optimum levels.

Under normal circumstances and in a healthy individual, the loss of Jing can be quickly made up so it never leads to a deficiency and potentially disease. It is only when sexual activity is in excess and/or engaged in by an unhealthy person that the body does not have the time or energy to recuperate and restore the Kidney essence. You may be wondering how you would know if you are engaging in too much sex. If you have weak kidney essence, then some symptoms you may experience after sex are:

  • marked fatigue
  • dizziness
  • blurred vision
  • lower backache
  • weak knees
  • frequent urination

These are all symptoms of kidney deficiency. So if you are experiencing any of these you might want to cut back on the sexual activity and seek out an acupuncturist who, with acupuncture and Chinese herbs, can help strengthen your kidneys and get you back to your normal sexual activities. So, this may be one of the best motivations ever for staying healthy, right guys? For a quick list, you can read - 10 Easy Tips To Get Healthy Right Now - which will get you going in the right direction and help you stay in tip top shape. :)

Another factor is that the Chinese believe that sexual activity should be adjusted according to ones age. We can get an idea of what frequency might be appropriate from references from ancient Chinese classics. Here is a helpful chart...

15              2x day                               1x day
20              2x day                               1x day
30              1x day                               Every other day
40              Every 3 days                     Every 4 days
50              Every 5 days                     Every 10 days
60              Every 10 days                   Every 20 days
70              Every 30 days                   None

Of course, this information should only be used as a broad guideline. The great thing about Chinese medicine, and why it works so well, is that each individual is diagnosed and treated according to their specific issues and imbalances, so knowing how much sexual activity is good for you is about you knowing your body and perhaps, if you are having problems, getting a thorough diagnosis and working with an acupuncturist/herbalist to rebalance so you can get back to healthy sexual activities.

Not Enough Sex

One subject that is not frequently addressed in ancient Chinese texts is a lack of sex, but this can definitely affect us both physically and psychologically. There is a physical component to not having enough sex in our lives, especially if we have the desire, but I think what can be even more detrimental is the psychological impact this has on us. As human beings we are social animals and most of us need connections to other people to give us a sense of belonging and connectedness. These are also important for our health and survival. This is a difference I see between Chinese culture and our culture in the West. In China, it is common for many generations to live in the same household. In the West, it is common for the children to move out of the house as quickly as possible as things like independence and self sufficiency are seen as desirable and fostered traits in our culture. This leads to a society with many people living closely together, but being alone. Chinese medicine really teaches us balance, and to have healthy, meaningful connections in our lives is an important part of both physical and psychological health and wellbeing on every level.

Sex and Love in Chinese Medicine

Sex is Not The Same as Love

When speaking about sex and its potential role in disease, we are speaking at the level of physiology. We are discussing the level of the body and not about the psychological aspect that accompanies sex (although not always), affection, companionship and love. When assessing a patient the practitioner would ask about the persons sexual life from a physical level, but would also be careful to discern the emotional component as well in order to get a complete picture (read about the importance of the emotions in Chinese medicine here). Ailments of physiology, at least in Chinese medicine, do not exist in isolation. They are one part of a larger picture, and it is important to bring into focus the entirety of that picture in order to determine where the root of the imbalance lies, and how to correct it.

Because ideas about sex differ wildly from culture to culture, the sexual problems encountered within that culture will differ also. In the West, we are perhaps seen to have a quite relaxed attitude towards sex compared to much of Asia and the middle East, but we seem rather uptight in comparison to much of Europe and Central and South America. But the basics remain constant. Sex is natural. It is something most everybody does and having a healthy and satisfying sexual life in an important aspect of our health. As important is having love in our lives, as this is proven to release endorphins which make us happy, give us energy and increase immunity helping us to fight off disease. If you can have sex and love together, you are exponentially increasing the benefits of both.

Libido - Sex and Chinese Medicine

Problems with Sex

There are many issues both physical and psychological that can create complications when it comes to our sexual lives. In many ways we are fortunate to live in a time and place where talking about those issues has become more commonplace and a dialogue can begin to help heal whatever problems have arisen. Many people are still quite shy to talk about sex, but in the comfort of their doctor or acupuncturists office can open up and talk about the sexual issues they are struggling with. Acknowledging and talking about your concerns, fears and questions is the first step in the healing process.

There are many different issues that can hinder a healthy sex life. Erectile dysfunction (inability to get or maintain an erection), inability to reach orgasm, vaginal dryness, low libido, excessive libido, infections of the sexual organs, and pain during or after sex are just a few of the issues that we can experience. And most of us will experience them at some point in our lives. The wonderful thing about Chinese medicine, is that instead of prescribing medications (which only deals with symptoms and not the root problem) the reason for the problem is sought and using Chinese herbs, acupuncture, moxibustion, Gus Sha, and the myriad other modalities that practitioners of Chinese medicine employ, a person can rebalance the system and enjoy a healthy and satisfying sexual life.

Chinese Herbs for Sexual Problems in Chinese Medicine

Chinese Herbs & Acupuncture

The good news is that acupuncture and Chinese herbs have been used to help sexual problems for thousands of years. There are myriad treatments for everything that could be hampering you in the bedroom. Sometimes, people find these types of problems difficult to talk about, but because sex is such an important part of our lives, health and wellbeing, it is worth it to sit down and discuss any problems or concerns with your acupuncturist as there are many things that they can do to help you sort out any problems you may be having. Like anything else, knowing your body and being able to tell when things are out of balance is important, and going and speaking to someone when you notice a problem is the first step to rebalancing the system and having a healthy and satisfying sex life.