Category Archives: medical marvels

Seahorses in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

Seahorses are magnificent fishes that exhibit the phenomenon of male pregnancy. Pregnancy in males is unique to seahorses in the entire animal kingdom, thus, making them a true biological marvel. This exclusive behavior was discussed in detail in my research article titled “Seahorse – Male Endurance – Roles Swapped!!” Here, in this new research paper / article, I shall explore the use of seahorses in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

Seahorses are globally exploited for use as aquarium fishes, curios (articles or objects of curiosity), medicines, and even foods. Use of Seahorses in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) was first mentioned in the book named “Bencao Shiyi” (Supplement to Materia Medica), written by Chen Cangqi around 720 A.D.

Seahorses are used in the treatment of a wide range of health problems under the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which is a complementary and alternative system of medicine (CAM). You can refer to my article – “The Basis of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)” to learn the fundamentals of TCM. Seahorses are employed in the treatment of sexual weakness, reduced sexual desire or drive (reduced libido; libido means sexual desire or sex drive), and are considered as broad-spectrum or general tonics. The practitioners of TCM claim that seahorses strengthen “kidneys” and improve “nerves”, which in the context of Traditional Chinese Medicine points to general morale, well-being, and vigor. “kidneys” also imply sexual function in the context of TCM. Seahorses are categorized under sweet, salty, and warm medicines. They are usually not prescribed alone but in combo-preparations (formulations containing multiple ingredients) containing matter from other animals and plants.

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Rationally Coping With High Blood Pressure or Hypertension

Posted on 2 October 2012

Rationally Coping With High Blood Pressure or Hypertension

How To Cope With High Blood Pressure or Hypertension?

“High Blood Pressure or Hypertension Is A Multifaceted Menace; It’s Best To Control It At Its Very Beginning”

High Blood Pressure or HBP or Hypertension has been aptly called by the author of this article as a Multifaceted Disease because it does not damage a single organ or part of your body but it can cause damage to multiple organs of your body including heart, blood vessels, kidney, brain, eyes, and others. Also, this disease is a Silent Killer as it can silently (without any symptoms) damage your organs or even can kill you.

High Blood Pressure or Hypertension Silent Killer - AdidarwinianIf you have High Blood Pressure, then in order to cope with this menace there are two proven strategies. High BP or Hypertension can be normalized with lifestyle changes and by the use of certain medicines. When lifestyle changes are not sufficient enough to keep your blood pressure or BP in control, your doctor will likely add medication to your treatment regimen. Most people who have High Blood Pressure or Hypertension need lifelong treatment. Adhering to the treatment plan is vital not only to keep a person healthy but also to prevent or delay health problems related to Hypertension. For most adults, the goal of treatment is to achieve and maintain blood pressure below 140/90 mm Hg. For adults suffering from the diabetes or the chronic kidney disease, the goal of treatment is to achieve and maintain blood pressure below 130/80 mm Hg.

Lifestyle Changes Are a Must to Control Hypertension / High Blood Pressure

“Healthy lifestyle habits are the basis of a long and active life”

Lifestyle Changes Are a Must to Control Hypertension - AdidarwinianThere are certain healthy lifestyle habits that help control Hypertension. These healthy lifestyle habits include –

Healthy Diet

Balanced and flexible eating plans, such as, DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) eating plan can help control High Blood Pressure. In order to control High BP, DASH eating plan advocates the limited use of cholesterol, saturated fat, total fat, salt, sweets, sugary beverages, added sugars, red meat, and hard drinks.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

A healthy weight can help you control your blood pressure, lower the strain on the heart, and lessen your risk for other health problems.

Maintain a Healthy Weight - AdidarwinianBe Physically Active

Physical activity helps control your blood pressure, weight, and strengthens your heart and reduces stress. A strong heart, healthy weight, and good emotional health are beneficial for your blood pressure. Discuss with your doctor before starting a new exercise plan. Your doctor will suggest how much and what types of physical activities are safe for you.

Quit Smoking and Avoid Secondhand Smoke

“Each cigarette that a person smokes, temporarily increases his or her blood pressure for many minutes after he or she finishes”.

Quit Smoking and Avoid Secondhand Smoke - AdidarwinianSmoking harms nearly every organ in your body, including your heart, the blood vessels, your lungs, mouth, eyes, reproductive organs, bladder, bones, and the digestive organs. Smoking raises your risk for High BP. Discuss with your doctor about the community programs, support groups, and products that are available to help you quit smoking. Also, avoid secondhand smoke as secondhand smoke also harms the heart and blood vessels in the same way by which active smoking harms. For a healthy life, and to reduce risks for heart attack and stroke, one should avoid all forms of smoking including secondhand smoke.

Manage / Control Stress

Managing stress can improve both the emotional and physical health of a person. Physical activity, meditation, listening to music, yoga, relaxation, and tai chi can help reduce stress levels. Certain support groups and healthy lifestyle programs are available which teach you how to cope with the common problems of life without getting stressed.

Medicines Used To Treat High BP / Hypertension  

Medicines Used To Treat High Blood Pressure or Hypertension - AdidarwinianMedicines play a major role in controlling Hypertension. Different types of High Blood Pressure medicines reduce blood pressure by different actions or mechanisms. Some medicines lower BP (blood pressure) by eliminating extra water and salt from the body; some medicines slow down the heart rate; some relax and widen your blood vessels; etc. Generally, combination-therapy of two or more medicines works better than a single medicine.

Beta Blockers

Beta Blockers slow down the heart rate and reduce heart muscle’s contractility, thus reducing High Blood Pressure.


Diuretics reduce the amount of fluid in your blood by helping kidneys to eliminate the excess of water and salt from the body. This causes lowering of High BP or Hypertension.

Calcium Channel Blockers

Calcium channel blockers prevent calcium entry into the muscle cells of the blood vessels, thereby, causing relaxation of blood vessels. Thus, High BP or Hypertension comes under control.

Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme (ACE) Inhibitors

Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors dilate blood vessels by blocking the action of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE). Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) helps in the formation of a chemical called angiotensin II. Angiotensin II causes blood vessels to constrict. Thus, inhibiting the formation of angiotensin II lowers High BP.

Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers (ARBs)

Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) class of medicines lowers blood pressure by blocking angiotensin II receptors. Angiotensin II requires angiotensin II receptors to constrict blood vessels, so blocking these receptors blocks the action of angiotensin II, and this results in relaxation of blood vessels.

Direct Vasodilators

Vasodilators work directly on the muscles in blood vessel walls and causes dilation of blood vessels, thus, Hypertension comes under control.

Alpha Blockers

Alpha blockers interfere with the conduction of nerve impulses resulting in relaxation of the muscle tone of the walls of the blood vessels. This lowers the High BP.

Alpha-Beta Blockers

This class of medicines interferes with the conduction of nerve impulses like alpha blockers, and also, slows down the heart rate like beta blockers. Thus, High BP or Hypertension is normalized by double mechanisms.

Centrally Acting Medicines

These medicines stimulate specific receptors in the brain. This, in turn, sends nerve signals to the blood vessels, causing them to relax and widen. This causes lowering of High Blood Pressure or HBP.

Direct Renin Inhibitors

Renin is a protein (enzyme) secreted by the kidney in response to decreases in blood volume and other reasons. Renin converts angiotensinogen to form angiotensin I. Direct renin inhibitor decreases plasma renin activity (PRA), and hence, inhibits the conversion of angiotensinogen to angiotensin I. Suppression of angiotensin I causes decrease in the formation of angiotensin II which is a potent blood pressure-elevating chemical. This way, direct renin inhibitors lowers High BP or Hypertension.

The Basis of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

The Basis of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) stands up on the platform laid down by Taoism. Taoism, also known as Daoism, incorporates both a religion and a philosophy. Its deep roots extend back into the ancient Shamanism which existed in China since the Ice Age. Shamanism denotes a religion which involves weird practices, such as, influencing the world of good and evil spirits, entering a trance state by performing a ritual, divination, and healing. The cardinal principles that laconically explain the essential tenets of Taoism revolve around one’s conforming to moral and ethical principles, achieving union or harmony with nature, self-development, and the attainment of spiritual immortality. Tao literally means path, way, right way (of life), reason. Tao is a universal principle that forms the foundation of everything from the creation of galaxies to the behavior and interaction of human beings. The coverage of Tao is very wide, spanning even beyond the human logic. Tao can be comprehended only when both the reasoning and intuition are applied.

Qi, Yin and Yang, and Disease

Yin and Yang form one of the most fundamental concepts in the realm of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Yin and Yang are opposite forces and yet cannot exist without each other. Yin is regarded as the feminine, passive, or negative and Yang is regarded as the masculine, active, or positive principle. In our bodies, the life force or the vital energy, known as Qi, circulates and regulates our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. The two opposite forces, Yin and Yang, influence the vital energy or the life force, that is, Qi. The vital energy, Qi, circulates in our bodies through a system of pathways or channels known as the meridians. Balanced and harmonious flow of Qi keeps us in health whereas an imbalance or blockage in the flow of Qi results in disease or illness.

The Theory of Five Elements in The Traditional Chinese Medicine

In the Traditional Chinese Medicine, another theory, the theory of five elements, also known as the five-phase theory, is acknowledged. The theory of five elements holds that the five natural elements: fire, earth, metal, water, and wood govern everything in the universe, including our health. This theory emphasizes the entwinement between the human beings and the nature.

The Theory of Five Elements in TCM - AdidarwinianAccording to the Traditional Chinese Medicine’s five element theory, each of the five elements is associated with particular organs, seasons, senses, tastes, sounds, tissues, directions, colors, stages/changes, etc. The wood element is associated with the liver and gall bladder (organs), spring (season), eyes (senses), sour (taste), shouting (sound), tendons/sinews (tissues), east (direction), green (color), germinate/birth (stages/changes), etc. The fire element is associated with the heart and small intestines (organs), summer (season), etc. The metal element is associated with the lungs and large intestine (organs), autumn (season), etc. The earth element corresponds to the stomach and spleen whereas the water element is associated with kidneys and bladder (organs), winter (season), etc.

The Eight Guiding Principles in The Traditional Chinese Medicine

In order to analyze symptoms and differentiate conditions, the Traditional Chinese Medicine, uses eight principles. The eight guiding principles form a very important aspect of Chinese Medicine, as it helps deciphering the nature and the location of the imbalance in the body. The eight guiding principles comprises of four opposites: yin/yang, excess/deficiency, cold/heat, and interior/exterior.

Yin/Yang – A disease can be categorized in terms of the dominance of either yin or yang. In accordance with the theory of the Traditional Chinese Medicine, human beings have both the yin and yang qualities, and it is the perfect balance of these two qualities that is vital for maintaining good health. Yin is said to represent the solid organs, and is associated with cold and female energy. Yang is said to represent the hollow organs, and is associated with hot and male energy. Yin represents a chronic illness whereas yang represents an acute illness.

Excess/Deficiency – This principle helps determining the strength of a disease or illness. An excess condition signifies the excess of blood, energy (Qi), etc. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, an acute condition is regarded as an excess condition. A deficient condition denotes a lack of energy (Qi), heat, blood (anemia), or fluids. A chronic illness is categorized under this condition.

Cold/Heat – This principle of Traditional Chinese Medicine helps determining the overall energy of the patient. Chills, slow metabolism, pale skin, low-grade fever, etc., point towards a cold condition. Feeling heat in the body, increased metabolism, flushed skin, high fever, etc., point towards a hot condition.

Interior/Exterior – This guiding principle the Traditional Chinese Medicine elucidates symptoms in terms of the location of the disease. Exterior symptoms are the symptoms affecting the skin, hair, muscles, peripheral nerves, joints, and blood vessels. Exterior conditions result from the invasion of the body by the disease causing organisms and are usually acute. Exterior conditions are superficially located and have a short duration. Interior symptoms are the symptoms affecting the deep vessels and nerves, organs, bones, brain, and spinal cord. Interior conditions are the outcome of the disease causing organisms or pathogens entry into the interior of the patient’s body.

Diagnosis in Traditional Chinese Medicine

The diagnosis in TCM consists of the following main steps –

Observation/Looking at the Patient – The practitioner keenly looks at a patient in order to determine the overall state of disease or imbalance. Different types of body shapes and constitutions point towards different elements of the five elements theory. For example, small hands, pointed chin and head, along with curly hairs or a small amount of hair represent fire element whereas thin and tall body shape represent wood element.

Extensive Interview – The practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine asks questions about the symptoms, origin of the current problem, patient’s medical history, eating habits and diet, emotional issues both current and past, partner relationships, family relationships, work issues, stress, living conditions, environmental conditions, dreams, quality of sleep, etc.

Listening and Smelling – The Traditional Chinese Medicine’s practitioner checks how the patient’s voice sounds, for example, a loud and coarser voice represents an excess pattern, a low and weak voice reveals a deficient pattern, talking incessantly indicates a heat pattern, muteness represents a cold pattern, etc. An acute onset of hoarseness in voice points towards exterior pathogenic wind, especially, if there is soreness and redness of throat. A chronic hoarse voice represents an interior disease such as that caused by deficiency in Lungs’ Qi or Yin.

The secretions and excretions having foul odor are attributed to heat and excess type patterns whereas the secretions and excretions having little odor represent cold and deficiency type patterns. Belching with a sour or foul odor shows retention of food whereas urgent diarrhea with foul smelling stools represents damp heat in the patient’s large intestine. Foul smelling breath indicates heat in stomach.

Pulse Diagnosis – Although in the Modern medicine the pulse has a minor diagnostic role to play, it is of prime value in the Chinese medicine. Pulse diagnosis offers valuable information on the state of a patient’s blood, Qi, Yin, Yang, individual organs, and the constitution. In TCM, the practitioner observes six pulses in each wrist of his/her patient – three superficial pulses and three deep pulses at specific points along the patient’s radial artery. Practitioners describe pulse in terms of frequency, volume, and rhythm. They categorize a pulse as floating, slippery, or thready type.

Tongue Examination – In the Chinese medicine, the tongue is believed to be a vital measure of human health. The tongue has crucial relationships and connections to the meridians and the internal organs. The tongue has an exclusive relationship with a person’s heart as the heart opens to the tongue. Tongue is said to flowers into the heart or tongue is regarded to be an offshoot of a person’s heart.

Tongue Examination in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) - AdidarwinianIn the Traditional Chinese Medicine or TCM, a pinkish or light red tongue with a thin white coating is considered normal. Texture, color, size, shape, and coating of the tongue very much assist in diagnosis. A white tongue represents deficiency of energy (Qi), moisture, or blood whereas a very red tongue represents a fever or an inflammation. A very red tongue shows too much internal heat or dampness condition. Each part of the tongue, in this traditional system of medicine, is said to correspond to the state of an organ. For an instance, the heart and lungs are represented by the tip of a person’s tongue.

All the above mentioned diagnostic techniques provide comprehensive information about the state of a patient to the practitioner of this traditional system of medicine.

Therapies Used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

Acupuncture – Acupuncture is a healing method which involves insertion of needles into the patient’s skin at specific points in order to normalize the flow of energy (Qi).

Acupuncture in Traditional Chinese Medicine - Adidarwinian

Chinese Herbal Medicine – Chinese herbal medicine involves the use of herbal remedies to treat energy imbalances and diseases. The remedies used in Chinese medicine are derived not only from plants, but also from the animals, and also include mineral substances. The international trade in seahorses for their use in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is leading to rapid decline in the population of these biological marvels. Seahorses are the only animals (seahorses are actually fishes) in the entire animal kingdom having pregnancy in males (see this interesting paper – Seahorse – Male Endurance – Roles Swapped!!). The remedies are combined in formulas and are prescribed as teas, capsules, pills, tinctures, and powders.

Chinese Herbal Medicine - Adidarwinian

Moxibustion – Moxibustion involves the burning of a small herb called mugwort on or near the skin. Moxibustion helps stimulate the flow of energy (Qi), strengthen the blood, and maintain general health.

Chinese Massage Therapy – Massage therapy of Traditional Chinese Medicine is described as Tuina or Tui Na, which literally means “push and pull”. Tuina or Chinese massage therapy works with the energy system of a person’s body and helps bringing the body back into the balanced state. As this therapy is based on the same meridian points as used in the acupuncture, it is often described as “acupuncture without needles” or “needleless acupuncture” or “acupressure”.

Qigong – Qigong means the skill (gong) of attracting energy (Qi). Qigong is a kind of exercise therapy that optimizes the flow of Qi in the body. Qigong is comprised of postures, movements/exercises, breathing techniques, and meditation techniques. It purifies the Qi and increases sense of well-being.

Tai Chi – Tai Chi or Tai Chi Chuan (Supreme Ultimate Boxing) is actually an ancient Chinese martial art for self-defence. It consists of breathing techniques, meditation techniques, and body movements, and is practiced in slow motion. Tai Chi helps in reducing stress, provides relaxation, and promotes health.

Cupping – In cupping therapy of Traditional Chinese Medicine, a glass cup is warmed by burning a flammable substance or a cotton ball inside the cup; this removes all the oxygen and creates a vacuum. The cup is turned upside-down and placed over a specific area on skin. The vacuum helps in anchoring the cup to the skin and pulls the skin upwards on the inside of the glass. Drawing up of the patient’s skin helps opening the skin’s pores. This stimulates the flow of blood, harmonizes the flow of energy (Qi), removes obstructions, and helps in the elimination of toxins.

Dietary Therapy – According to the Traditional Chinese Medicine, a person’s diet helps in maintaining a perfect balance of vital energy (Qi), and thus, contributes to good health. Diet is believed to be one of the three sources of Qi, the other two being – heredity and environment. Therefore, in the Traditional Chinese Medicine, a person’s diet plays an important role in causing diseases. The Chinese diet is based on the fundamentals laid down by the theory of five elements and the theory of eight guiding principles.

Dietary Therapy in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) - AdidarwinianFood articles are said to possess Yin and Yang properties. Food articles are also described as warming, cooling, moistening, and drying types. Food is selected according to a patient’s particular needs and constitution, for example, a person suffering from a hot-dry condition is advised not to eat food articles that are broiled, fried, spicy, or contain high fat.