Ayurvedic medicine and Chinese medicine: what lessons can we learn from alternative medicines for sleep?
Different techniques exist for sleeping problems. If you can turn to classical medicine, it is also possible to turn to alternative medicine. Here we are going to develop two topical medicines: Ayurvedic and Chinese. Even if they are not officially recognized by science, their practice are increasingly popular. Overview !
What are the differences between Chinese and Ayurvedic medicines?
These are two traditional medicines, one from India and the other, as the name suggests, from China. What they have in common is the use of natural treatments. The biggest difference, in general, is how they are learned. To practice Chinese medicine, you need a degree in Chinese medicine. Only acupuncture has medical value because this technique is considered alternative medicine, but medicine nonetheless. It is reserved for doctors, midwives and dentists. Chinese medicine was recognized as such by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2002. Conversely, Ayurveda is about well-being and relaxation. It can be linked to yoga.
Chinese medicine assumes that body and mind are one and that health depends on several different factors:
- Energy (or Qi)
- Spirit ;
- Essence, or everything that makes our way of life(food, air, etc.)
- Fluids that our body can secrete such as sweat or saliva.
If one of its factors is blocked, it can cause symptoms that can be treated with massages, acupuncture or dietetics.
Ayurvedic medicine considers that human beings function like everything around us, thanks to five elements: space, earth, air, fire and water. These form three principles, the Doshas:
- Vata Dosha: manages movement and body coordination (you know who to blame for hiccups!)
- Pitta Dosha: manages the transformation – that of food into nutrients for example
- Kapha Dosha: manages support for the whole organization.
Treatments treat the patient, not the disease. So if the three doshas are balanced, you are in great shape. If one is unbalanced, your health is affected. To combat this, there are different techniques such as precious stones and digestive or phytotherapy. So it all depends on your Doshas.
Sure, but what does that have to do with sleep?
In Chinese medicine as in Ayurvedic medicine, it all depends on the times of awakening.
For Ayurveda, if one of your doshas is disturbed it can prevent you from sleeping. Too much Vata? This means that you are just thinking too much and that it is preventing you from sleeping. If you wake up too early, you have to turn to Pitta, you are going through a stressful period or a trauma is resurfacing. You sleep a lot but still feel tired? You have too much Kapha! This means you can’t get rid of your troubles and sleep becomes a way to ignore your discomfort. Doshas each have their moments throughout the night during which your metabolism regenerates.
In Chinese medicine, sleep disturbances are a consequence of a dysfunction of one of the factors previously mentioned. Depending on wake-up times, a different organ is affected. The lung awakens between 3 am and 5 am, the vesicle awakens between 11 PM and 1 AM. It also works during the day. Each organ is assigned a meridian. A cough around 4 am? The meridian of the lung is disturbed. Remember, in Chinese medicine, body and mind are one, so it can be a physical cause, but also an emotional one.
What solutions according to the traditional medicine will you chose?
Ayurveda advises first of all to establish a routine by carrying out meditation and breathing exercises to allow your body to let go: we empty our heads! To avoid bad thoughts, do not hesitate to read a book that makes you feel good or to listen to music that reminds you of a good memory (Forget the Heavy Metal concert, even if it was great, it will not help you sleep). It’s up to you to avoid activities that require too much energy. Go to bed in a cool room and put drops of eucalyptus oils on the pillow and above all, eat healthy and light before going to sleep. All this will allow you to rebalance your doshas and therefore improve your sleep!
Self-massage is also a solution. Yes you can ask someone to massage you, the effect will be the same. This massage will help your brain secrete oxytocin, nicely known as the happiness hormone. It will relax you and therefore help you fall asleep.
In the same way, in Ayurvedic treatments, sesame oil is everywhere: on your skin, in your plate … For sleep, it improves transit after the evening meal, which will facilitate falling asleep. In massage, sesame oil will impact your doshas so that the one that prevents you from sleeping regains its balance. Treatments with heated sesame oil will relax your muscles in conjunction with a circular pressure movements on the body, from the center to the ends. However, this oil may not be suitable to all skin types, it is allergenic.
Like Ayurveda, the first advice of Chinese medicine to fight sleep disorders is to calm your mind and eat less before going to bed. Light and noise are obviously to be avoided as much as possible. Foot massages, or foot reflexology, is one of the traditional Chinese massages. Going back and forth from top to bottom allows you to have an impact on the nervous system and therefore calm it. Your heart rate will drop, which will help you fall asleep. Be careful to apply low pressures if you have a heart condition and no pressure at all if you are pregnant, this could trigger a premature birth. It is also to be avoided on a sprain or a broken foot …
With acupuncture and massages, the practitioner helps the patient to relieve stress or improve their lifestyle, which is often the source of sleep problems.
For both medicines, it is necessary to pay attention to contraindications. Certain oils or plants used for phytotherapy in Ayurveda medicine can cause food allergies, it all depends on the person who uses the treatment.
Before embarking on these two traditional medicines, it is necessary to see a practitioner with a Chinese medicine degree or from a Ayurveda medicine professional association. Be careful however, if these traditional medicines have virtues related to the fight against insomnia, it may be important to consult a general practitioner if your symptoms persist.
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