Fibromyalgia within the parameters of modern medicine is considered a syndrome with a series of symptoms of unknown etiology, Chinese Medicine considers fibromyalgia as a condition resulting from the general weakness of the spleen-stomach, liver and heart. To understand the difference you need to acknowledge that Chinese Medicine views and analyses organs from a very different perspective than Western medicine. The oriental culture interprets the mind and body as a psychophysical unit, and the organs comprise a functional physical-emotional-mental sphere. The anatomical form relates only to physiological functions. Each organ is considered to inform the form and the nature of a person and the areas which these manifest in specific tissues of the body. The interaction between all the functioning organs reveals the most complex personality of the individual and their health.
So, all psychosomatic diseases are diagnosed as the primary energy of the human system, which means that the imbalance affects the entire energy system as a whole. In other words, energy is compromised both in organic (tissues and organs) and emotional manifestations, which demonstrate a crisis in the person’s life.
To understand further the Eastern view, fibromyalgia is classified as a Bi Syndrome. This is characterised by obstruction of Chi and blood in the meridians and acupuncture channels. This occurs firstly because of the individual’s constitution, and then how stress and, or emotional repression, and superphysical and mental effort affect this constitution. In addition, more than 50% of cases of people who are diagnosed with fibromyalgia also suffer from poor digestion that leads to inadequate nutritional intake.
These factors, when experienced for a long period of time, lead to what Chinese Medicine calls “Spleen and Heart Deficiency” or “Liver Chi Stagnation”.
The spleen aided by its partner organ, the stomach, is in charge of transforming food into blood and energy (Chi in Chinese) to maintain our body and especially our muscles.
The main muscle to nourish the spleen and the stomach is the heart. In Chinese Medicine the heart beyond its circulatory functions is considered the home of the soul (Shen in Chinese). When the spleen or stomach does not generate enough substance, due to malnutrition, physical or psychological overload, etc., to nourish the heart, the quality of Chi of the heart is not enough for the Shen to reside properly, which will give rise to symptoms of anxiety, worry, palpitations and insomnia.
Along with other symptoms such as pain, fatigue and general contracted tone of the body that characterise what the West is called Fibromyalgia.
In Holistic Physiotherapist’s Aline Tisato’s many years of experience she explains that the contracted general tone, which is gaged according to the degree of pain on “the 18 tender points of Fibromyalgia”, occurs in two ways:
- Due to Liver Chi Stagnation: Stagnation due to emotional repression leads to the blockage of Chi and blood in the muscles, in addition to also blocking digestion, which in turn hinders the work of the spleen and stomach to produce good quality of blood and Chi. When treating patients that manifest these symptoms, at palpation during the evaluation, the overall body tone is tight and “dry”, and the muscles have a ropy quality to them.
- By Chronic Spleen Weakness leading to Moisture: Typically manifested in a feeling of heaviness with muscle pain, abdominal bloating and slow digestion. When in flare-ups of patients diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, there is also a Dampness quality felt on palpation of the muscle myofibers.
If we make a pathophysiological comparison or better, a correlation with modern western medicine, Fibromyalgia constitutes a fascial “grouping” where fascia (thin layer that covers the muscles), produces fascial adhesions or “knots”. This is also aggravated by bad postural habits, repetitive motions and post-traumatic sequels that produce what we call in myofascial dysfunction physiotherapy. This pathological process produces an inadequate circulation that limits the supply of nutrients to the fundamental substance of the connective tissue (muscles, tendons, etc.). In turn, this condition affects the quality of movement, since this chronic dense tissue becomes “hypomobile” which causes discomfort and pain. The so-called “tender points” of Fibromyalgia are actually a fascial grouping where Chi and blood are trapped.
Best of all worlds
The privilege of living in this era is that we can count on the resources of both medicines, knowing of course that each of them has their own way of seeing and treating fibromyalgia.
Modern medicine aims to treat symptoms, or better, eliminate the sensation of them and commonly prescribe antidepressants, pain relief, and moderate physical activity. Although some patients respond well to medications, the improvement in symptoms varies from person to person. Unfortunately, many complain about the side effects of these drugs, such as dizziness, constipation, dry mouth, rash, headache, and increased appetite.
In Chinese Medicine the word disease does not exist, instead, imbalance is the description. So the goal of a treatment plan is to rebalance the spleen and stomach Chi and move the liver Chi. The aim is to harmonise the relationship of the spleen and the liver so that they can carry out their work in the processing and transformation of food into Chi and blood to nourish the muscles in general and the heart. It is to recover the balance between the internal organs so that the driving force of nutrition is given to all the bodily systems. This is done through nutrition, herbal medicine, self acupressure at key acupuncture points and conscious movements through specific exercises that mobilise the fascia, releasing the adhesions of the sensitive points and reconnecting the body as a whole.
Restoring the body with a holistic treatment approach
With comprehensive daily care and treatment, “patients” diagnosed with Fibromyalgia learn to restore the flow of Chi (vital energy) in the acupuncture meridian systems of the human body. This translates into better organ function, more efficient metabolism, strong blood flow and a clear mind. As the internal spaces, both physical and mental, increase, energies are released which drive the body into a natural state of balance. Keeping joints mobile, tissues malleable, muscles toned and flexible, also keeps body fluids moving, freeing the vascular system and nervous system from constrictions to feel the pleasure of a body without pain.
When you learn to release discomfort little by little, with consistency and gentleness, this care and attention, awaken the body’s innate healing intelligence and sense of personal power that is the natural extension of our state of balance.
“When watched Aline´s TV interview, I told my husband “…she is going to help me ¨… and she did! I have been following Aline´s inner tools and exercises for 3 weeks now and it is the first time in 7 years I managed to clean my house and feel no pain afterwards.“
Ana Paula Dama, 37 years old – Baker