As a conclusion to our Chinese Herbal Medicine certification program I am using this reflective opportunity to discuss ''the importance of the strength of the Unification in the overall healing process''.
The different Chinese Medicine trainings I have accomplished in the past all had the ''Traditional Chinese Medicine '' approach. The Unification concept and treatment method was therefore not encountered and I believe it is of most importance and needs to be acknowledged and addressed properly. Over the years as an Acupuncturist, I have noticed that the healing process can operate in stages, and on some occasions be halted for periods of time for no apparent reason.
Usually with Acupuncture treatments and certain life style alterations we can facilitate a good portion of the healing. At times, we comfortably reach about 80% recovery, but the patient remains at that level with no further improvements. As if something was ''blocking'' the healing. In other cases, we reach full recovery, and later the patient has another subsequent accident that injures the same area of former concern, and the treatments do not have the same previous positive effects. I have noticed that coincidentally these patients usually also feel more tired than previously and are either experiencing sleep difficulties or mental health issues or both.
Prior to this training, I knew that most of the healing process operates when we are sleeping and therefore it is of most importance to look at the sleep patterns. I also knew from a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective that the functionalities of the digestive system is also a priority as it creates the quality of Blood, which we need in order to heal. On the other hand, the concept of Unification brings more clarity to fully grasp what is supporting health and in both these scenarios it is of great interest to look at the strength of the Unification of the respective patients and to address it if necessary.
To start with, it is important to present an in depth description of the Unification process of a patient:
Unification represents the restorative and replenishing abilities of a person, from a body perspective and from an emotional perspective. The strength of the Unification should be optimum until (at least) 35 years old. Experiencing a long term chronic disease, having surgeries or taking certain drugs for a long period of time (including wrong and invasive treatments) will weaken the Unification. In these cases, the Unification abilities will need to be supported with our treatment, even if the patient is younger than 35 years old.
The Unification principle embraces all aspects of Shaoyin (including the relationship between Heart and Kidney, the brightness of the spirit, the intellect, reasoning and memory) and always involves the Taiyin conformation as well. The Taiyin conformation is the concealed part of the Unification where energy from the outside is transformed and transported deeper within. It is therefore primordial to have a deep understanding of TaiYin and proceed to a clear assessment of its adequacy in order to prescribe the right combination of herbs.
If one's Unification abilities are declining, we can witness a combination of the following symptoms: low energy levels, sleeping difficulties, feeling of anxiety, feeling cold, experiencing heart palpitations, lack of concentration, eyesight problems and low libido.
The prescription of the right herbs in the adequate quantity directly derives from the precision and accuracy of the diagnostic. If the diagnostic is clear and accurate, the treatment will be carried out with clear direction and will be leading towards positive changes in the patients life, without creating any other problems.
As we are assessing the strength of the Unification, the speed of the body and the state of the Heart, it is also important to have a clear history and understand where the problem started and the possible involvement of the Unification weakening. For instance, a chronic issue in Yangming; like thirst for cold drink and constipation, can appear to improve as the Unification is weakening. This doesn't mean that the speed of the Yangming conformation is reestablished, but that the Unification weakening is hiding the problem of Yangming slowing down. This particular situation would lead to the wrong herbal treatment if the Yangming has been wrongly perceived to be ''on time'' and would undeniably make the person feel worst. As soon as the strength of the Unification improves, the initial problem with the speed of the circle would become obvious, which will also reveal what has been missed in the initial diagnostic. One of the primary goal is to avoid making such mistakes in clinic.
Another mistake that could be done in clinic would be to confuse the Unification weakening with a disruption in the speed of the body. For example, frequent urination could be likely connected to the speed of the body, for instance TaiYang fast (separating too fast), but if it has been occurring for a long period of time, it is important to assess the Unification as, in this case, it would be the root cause of the manifestation of symptoms. In either case, the herbal diagnostic would be different and therefore the outcome would be very different too.
If the Unification is weak, it is always the priority and needs to be addressed first with the appropriate prescription of herbal formula. It can be addressed at the same time as re-establishing the timeliness of the body.
The pulse and the tongue give us more information in order to refine our diagnostic. At times, it might also contradict our diagnostic. Is is valuable to reassess our initial diagnostic comparing with the pulse and the tongue as they are very reliable tools. If the pulse is weak, Unification is an issue. If the tongue is pale, Unification is also a problem. If the tongue is red and/or cracked, we need to reflect on the speed of Yangming and Jueyin. The Unification herbs are warming, and is it very important to know how much warmth the person can ingest without creating problems. If Yangming is Slow and/or Jueyin is fast, the person is already experiencing heat within which means we have to be careful with the power and the quantity of warming herbs. If Yangming is on time and Jueyin is slow or on time, we can use the standard Unification formula involving warming herbs.
The Unification formula is inspired by a combination of the following classical formulas: Si Ni Tang and Li Zhong Wan.
It is important to understand the role of Zhi Gan Cao in the Unification formula. It is used to submerge the fire produced by the warming herbs and necessary to support the replenishment of the energy deep within. Zhi Gan Cao has to be cooked with molasses, not honey, as we need a high quantity of Zhi Gan Cao in the Standard Unification formula and if it was to be processed with honey it would likely create bloating and loose stools for the patient. Liu Lihong said:
''Zhi Gan Cao... it can turn the potency of fire towards its intended goal. By means of earth, fire can heat without burning, and warm without scorching.
Many Chinese Medicine physicians do not dare to give herbs that are hot in nature, for as soon as they do, their patients complain of ''rising fire''. This is because they have not yet grasped the importance the relationship between earth and fire.1
I have been reflecting on different natural phenomenons over the past few weeks in order to deepen and refine my understanding of the newly learned concepts. It is very interesting to contemplate daily or cyclical manifestations of life and understand them with the concept of Unification. For example, the ovulation part of a woman's cycle is a direct result of the strength of the Unification. It is a clear example of the energy gathered from Heaven (the outside) is being integrated and utilized optimally to create healthy eggs later on released out of the follicles and become available for sperm implantation. If successful impregnation, the expression outwards (separation) is carried out by the growth of the baby. If unsuccessful fertilization of any egg, the outwards expression (separation) will be carried out by the bleeding phase of the menstrual cycle.
Another example is be the daily action of eating food; the food is an energy coming from the outside, coming into the body, the nutrients are been extracted and transported. Once reached the lower and deeper part of the body, the nutrients are absorbed and are nourishing every part of the body via the Blood and Qi, which gives the person power to engage into actions, interacting with the outside world.
We can witness the same pattern for certain emotional events. When we experience a shock, one of the natural response is to isolate ourself, rest, regroup, disconnect from people, sleep a lot, etc. These are all showing movement towards our inside realm and having only minimal interactions with the outside world. As time passes and healing of the Heart happens, along with the natural recharging abilities, the changes are integrated in the Heart, and the general strength is slowly been rebuild. Only then we can engage into the world again and reconnect with others and our surroundings.
My partner and I live on a large parcel of land where small bushes, large trees and multiple gardens are home. We also have herbivores grazing on the back of the property. I have been contemplating the rhythms of our daily routine on the land in relation to the Unification principles. The herbivores are browsing and chewing most of their day, As long as there is natural light. They are breathing and actively digesting all day long. Before sunset, we herd them back to the yards close to the house, where they routinely sit in their own area and prepare for the nighttime. At night, they are sitting and resting. They might stand up for a little bit of time but if they do they are in absolute stillness. Some people say that they can ''lock their joints'' in a way where they can stand completely still without expanding any energy. As the first morning light appears, they get up and start moving around, interacting with each other and with their surrounding. We open the yards, and they go on and start browsing again. We can correlate this to the separation on the left side of the circle, now possible by the previously restored and recharged abilities, the energy produced is now available to them as they engage with the world.
Hibernation is another natural phenomenon which demonstrate quite well the principles of Unification. Hibernation is described as ''a way animals conserve energy to survive adverse weather conditions or lack of food. It involves physiological changes such as a drop in body temperature and slowed metabolism.'' 2 The slowing down process of the metabolism shows that the energy is been withdrawn internally, deeply in the body. The inactivity and immobilisation of the animal means that there are no movement of separation on the left side of the circle. The energy is drawn within and preparing for the right environment in which to express this energy and re-enter in interaction with the world – separation occurs.
Also, I have noticed that once a tree has fallen, it looks like ''nothing is happening'' for the untrained eye, but within the hollow sections of the large limbs, moss, fungis, insects and bacterias are slowly building a new world. Often weeks later, new shoots from the tree emerge, and they grow as if small trees where growing on top of the fallen tree! Another beautiful example of the natural phenomenon of different energy usage that are internalized and transformed to manifest in a transmuted creation! Antoine Lavoisier, french chemist and biologist said “Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed" 3. This quote represents well one's unification been executed perfectly, given that the body is also on time! It also illustrates well the constant transmutation from the Yin to the Yang, and the Yang to the Yin.
I have also been contemplating the relationship with the seeds we plant in the garden. As we plant them, we make sure they have abundant water, sunlight and good soil quality. As these ingredients get taken in and absorbed by the seed on the right side of the circle, the expansion of the energy gathered shows in the exponential growth of the plant. If enough is ''going in'', food quality and quantity will be produced by the seed (now plant) as an expression on the left side of the circle.
As I am seeing a lot of people with chronic pain and other chronic disorders in clinic, I believe that assessing the strength of their Unification and using the Unification formula when needed will be very helpful and insightful. With a deeper understanding of the Unification processes and its implication in one's health and recovery, I am aiming to gather more clinical experience using the Unification formula and its different variations and observe with great interest the results and the upcoming changes in my patients.
1. Classical Chinese Medicine, Liu Lihong
and notes from the Chinese Herbal Medicine certification program
About Marie-Claude Asselin
Marie has always been passionate by health, the unique healing process of each individuals and the many different ways to achieve it. She fell in love with the Chinese Medicine philosophy many years ago and have been astonished at the positive results in clinic. Marie has now been established in Australia for 10 years and she runs her own Acupuncture business where she can utilizethe many skills accumulated over time, and guide each patient on the road to recovery. Marie loves teaching each individual how they can improve their quality of life and specifically address their health concerns.
Marie has successfully completed
Chinese Herbal Medicine Certification Programme in May 2022.