According to the theory behind Chinese medicine, human beings are regarded as microcosms of the natural universe. We are subject to the same cycles that occur in nature. Different organ-systems are more vital during different seasons, their function being more prominent than at other times of the year.
This lends to a rich discussion of cross-talk between pioneers of Functional Medicine and practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Here is a quick snapshot of how the organ-systems of TCM represent the key pillars of Functional Medicine.
Spring: Birth, New Growth
TCM – Belongs to Liver/Gall Bladder Organ Systems: This is a special time to open up to the new; this is the season to clear out from the past that which is ready to leave.
Functional Medicine – Key Pillar: Detoxification
Summer: Expansion, Growth, Activity
TCM – Belongs to Heart/Small Intestine Organ Systems: This is a time of high energy, outgoingness, and moving outward in nature and in our lives.
Functional Medicine – Key Pillar: Micro-Circulation, Healthy Blood Flow
Late Season (the time between seasons): Stability & Transition
TCM – Belongs to Spleen/Stomach Organ Systems: This is a nurturing and grounding time; a time to create stability, settledness, and a sense of “home”.
Functional Medicine – Key Pillar: Digestion
Fall: Harvest, Letting Go, Protection of Internal Resources
TCM – Belongs to Lung/Large Intestine Organ Systems: This is a time to eliminate what is unnecessary and become aware of what is essential. It is a time to prepare for winter and fortify our immune systems.
Functional Medicine – Key Pillar: Colon Health & Sustained Immunity
Winter: Reflection, Replenishment, & Conservation
TCM – Belongs to Kidney/Urinary Bladder Organ Systems: This is a time to store and reserve Qi in the body so that it can be used in times of stress and change, or to heal, prevent illness, and age gracefully.
Functional Medicine – Key Pillar: Hormonal Balance