Overcoming the Challenges to Healing

by Salvador Cefalu, M.S., L.Ac.

The purpose of this multi-part series is to present concepts established in Chinese Medicine that explain physiologically and philosophically the many challenges involved in a person's healing. My hope is to empower those  who may be struggling with healing through the insightful wisdom of Chinese Medicine with its history of more than 2500 years.

Chinese Medicine is rooted in ancient philosophy with a human being considered to be a microcosmic expression of the environment in which he or she is created. This philosophy is based on the theories of Yin and Yang and the 5 Elements which were established as an integrated theoretical system by the School of Naturalism during the 5th century B.C.;  the Warring States period in China's history. During this period, these concepts became fundamental elements of Daoist philosophy and Chinese Medicine.

This ancient wisdom can help us understand many of our modern day dilemmas regarding our physical and psychological health.

In a previous article, we examined an often overlooked issue -- scar tissue.

If there are scars with significant adhesions causing tightness and tenderness to the touch, this may be the first factor that needs to be treated and resolved in order to initiate the healing process. Scar tissue if problematic can block the flow of energy in an area of the body that relates to a person's health problem. (You can read the article here for insights on how scar tissue may be a major barrier to your healing.)

Conventional medicine and the use of medication is often the first resort for most chronic sufferers of disease.

While medication often provides quick relief, it usually does not provide a longterm solution to health problems. Most patients of chronic disease seek alternative healthcare to either reduce their need for medication or to get off medication altogether. While medication may bring quick short-term relief, healing chronic problems usually takes time for deep change to unfold on the physical and psychological levels. 

Lifestyle changes are essential to heal chronic diseases in particular, though the healing that comes from these changes takes time to unfold. 

Essentially, a chronically suffering individual must give the body and mind a chance to both integrate these changes in his or her life as well as time to allow deep internal transformation.

The development of a chronic disease does not occur overnight and the longer a condition has been around, the longer it's likely to take to resolve. Often the chronicity of a person's disorder is due to the very treatments used to control it. Western medicine is designed to control the disease process, not necessarily resolve it. This approach can create health complications with side effects that further complicate the disease process and make healing an even greater challenge.

Another barrier to healing we commonly see in our clinic is the simultaneous introduction of too many different healing modalities.

This shotgun approach can send mixed messages that confuse the body, potentially interfering with the healing process. One practitioner may be working to detoxify a patient while another is trying to strengthen and consolidate energy for healing and rejuvenation. These approaches do not necessarily work well together at the same time. If the various healing modalities with which the patient is working are not in alignment with one another, the effects of the various treatments can be counterproductive to achieve the desired result. 

It is therefore important to ensure that your healthcare practitioners' strategies are in alignment and clearly working towards your health goal.  

Some of the greatest barriers to healing a chronic health problem are rooted in a long history of emotional, medicinal, surgical and dietary complications. 

To understand these barriers, the following articles will survey the pathological factors that according to Chinese Medicine underlie chronic health disorders and impair the healing process. These factors include the pathological processes of WindDampness, Cold, Heat, food stagnation, Qi stagnation and blood stagnation. In addition, there may be factors of deficiency such as deficiency of Qi and deficiency of blood.

The material presented in this blog series will help you gain an understanding of these pathological factors  and help clarify, according to Chinese Medicine, why you may be suffering from a chronic health disorder.


Salvador Cefalu, M.S., L.Ac. is the Founder and Co-Director of A Center for Natural Healing in Santa Clara, California, a wellness clinic that specializes in Classical Chinese Medicine & Japanese Meridian Therapy, a rare non-insertion form of Acupuncture. More information at www.acenterfornaturalhealing.com