Borrowing A Western Perspective
TCM as a style of Chinese medicine uses the 4 examinations to gather information from a patient to determine their disease pattern. Often there are 3-4 patterns simultaneously that determine diagnosis and treatment. If any piece of information is ungatherable through the 4 examinations, technically it can not be used to discriminate a TCM pattern – that information or aspect of treatment should be put aside for the time being. With this foundation in mind, we can not in the purest sense speak in Western terms or treatments as it is outside of the cohesive scope of Chinese medicine. Since dietary therapy is foundational to health and disease, and poisons are prevalent in the supply of foods that are available, I present the following discussions for the sake of general interest.
Bu Nei Bu Wai Yin
Traditional Chinese medicine originally made no reference to chemical preservatives, additive compounds, pesticides, and GMOs. In modern times these have become definite factors in the cause of disease and mortality. ‘Poisoning,’ however, was a pattern differentiated in early Chinese pathology described as, Bu Nei Bu Wai Yin, a disease causing condition arising from ‘not inside; not outside’ derived influences.
Hydrogenated, Partially Hydrogenated, and Trans Fats
Resource: Dr. Walter H. Schmitt, Jr.
Dorland’s Medical Dictionary defines ‘poison’ as “any substance which, when relatively small amounts are ingested, has chemical action that may cause damage to structure or disturbance of function, producing symptomology, illness, or death.” Partially hydrogenated fats and oils do not exist in nature, instead they are processed versions of fats and oils. In the processing, hydrogen is bubbled through at high temperatures naturally derived fats and oils, which denatures their structural form. This process renders them partially hydrogenated and their structure changes to ‘trans’ form. Partially hydrogenated and trans are terms used interchangeably. When eaten, fats and oils are incorporated into cell membranes. Trans fats alter these delicate structures. Further, trans fats interfere with important normal functions by inhibiting enzymes which are necessary for normal fat metabolism. When you eat normal fats, your body metabolizes half of them in 18 days. When you eat trans fats, your body requires 51 days to metabolize half. This means that half of the trans fats you eat today will still be inhibiting essential enzyme systems in your body 51 days from now. Many essential functions in the body depend on PGs a grouping of hormones which are produced from fats in our diets, the good and the bad ones. Trans fats block the hormones produced from good sources and by default, the bad are produced unopposed. This contributes to the complex enigma of chronic disease known in modern society.
When trans fats inhibit the balancing effects of the good PGs, the following daily, nagging symptoms ensue: Headaches, Joint pain, Back pain, Arthritis, Asthma, Depression, Skin problems, Hot flashes, PMS and Menstrual issues, Heart disease, Elevated LDL cholesterol, to mention a few. People are taught to take aspirin and other NSAIDs to alleviate and mask the symptoms. Eating foods with hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils contributes to the common aches and pains of daily life, and degenerative problems and illnesses people more or less take for granted. The status can be changed and quality of life improved by simply avoiding hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils all together. Read labels as if your life depends on it, and if you are dining out it is probably out of your control as food service suppliers and restaurants base decisions on bottom line economics, not health per se. These oils are ubiquitous.
Good PGs found in black current seed oil, evening primrose, borage, flax seed, or perhaps fish oils may be beneficial supplementation. Due to the prolonged life of trans fatty acids one must be diligent in avoiding them while patient for changes to take place, perhaps 2 weeks to 2 months.
The following by Dr. Dwight Lundell, a heart surgeon, is a good way to visualize the inflammatory process which is another systemic effect that trans fats trigger, and the effects of which have manifestations in countless disease conditions.
“What are the biggest culprits of chronic inflammation? Quite simply, they are the overload of simple, highly processed carbohydrates [sugar, flour and all the products made from them] and the excess consumption of omega-6 vegetable oils like soybean, corn and sunflower that are found in many processed foods. Consuming food of poor nutritional quality, the inflammatory process could be going on, whether externally or internally.
Take a moment to visualize rubbing a stiff brush repeatedly over soft skin until it becomes quite red and nearly bleeding, and you kept this up several times a day, every day for five years. If you could tolerate this painful brushing, you would have a bleeding, swollen, infected area that became worse with each repeated injury.”