by Maureen Cromey
An Acupuncturist and Chinese Medicine Expert
Ageing- don’t you just hate it? There are a few good points, but if not managed, it can be a depressing and uncomfortable process. This article is about healthy ageing from the view point of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
In TCM terms, the ageing process is caused by diminishing kidney energy. The kidneys support fertility, libido, hair growth, lustre and youthfulness. We are born with a fixed amount of kidney energy which is used up over our lifetime. Energy is drained from the kidneys to supplement late nights, support reproduction and child birth, or cope with stress. It is difficult to replenish this and the more we drain this energy, the quicker we age.
To age well, we need to start looking after ourselves and support our kidney energy long before we become old. Healthy ageing is a consequence of healthy living and the pillars of good health are diet, exercise and peace of mind. Fundamentally, eating appropriately and exercising regularly will keep our lovely bodies oiled and comfortable. As we age, we notice changes and the key is to make adjustments within our lifestyle to accommodate these.
Exercise is essential as it moves qi and blood. The Chinese say “hinges never rust”. Instead of reducing physical activity with age, we should increase it. Not hard, exhausting exercise but comfortable, smooth movement with lots of stretching. It should be gently challenging yet nourishing. It also aids sleep, which is essential to nourish the kidney energy.
With age, as our stomach and spleen energy weakens, we become more sensitive to foods, absorb nutrients less well and become bloated quickly. To counteract this, eat less food but ensure that what you do eat is of the highest quality, fresh, lightly cooked and nutritious. Adjust the balance to reduce carbohydrates and increase protein and vegetables. Eat little and often.
Work on relationships, look out for friends and be open to new friendships. Keep busy and be sociable. Life can seem much harder with advancing years and there are inevitably bereavements and sometimes tragedies to come to terms with. Friends may be unwell, our children grow up and they face challenges which worry us. Sharing good times with friends can lighten this load and help keep life in perspective, comforting the shen or spirit.
If you do have a partner, sex can be very helpful. It boosts the qi of the kidneys and lifts our spirits. Even with a flagging libido, make an effort- it’s always worth it!
Traditional Chinese Medicine reveres and supports ageing. There are many treatments and herbal formulae that prevent the onset of age related problems such as arthritis, high blood pressure, dizziness, fearfulness, insomnia and menopausal changes. Regular visits to your TCM practitioner really help. As a preventative medicine, TCM is wonderful. You will receive acupuncture treatments, herbal prescriptions, dietary advice and lifestyle guidance which will keep you ageing gracefully and safely.
Stay well, keep that glint in your eye and enjoy a healthy longevity.