One definition of a symptom is stated as: A change from normal structure, function, or sensation as would be experienced by the patient and indicative of disease.
This is very interesting. The first thing that stands out to me is, what is considered “normal”? And what is considered “disease”? There are a vast majority of people today experiencing some sort of “dis-ease” that may not be considered a “disease”. Quite frankly, this is what preventative and most alternative medicine is all about… supporting someone before dis-ease turns into disease.
Upon further exploration what is considered a symptom to one practitioner is easily glossed over by another. For example, if someone has insomnia or headaches, is a traditional doctor going to inquire about their digestion or ask about the color of their stool?! Probably not, but to a naturopath or TCM acupuncturist, these could be crucial pieces of information when considering a holistic approach.
As for a Five-Element acupuncturist, there are many subtle symptoms that the patient is giving off even without them being aware of it… in the way a particular emotion is expressed, or sound in their voice. In the above example of insomnia, this could very well be due to a sick Colon (belonging to the Metal Element). Sound crazy? This organ or meridian is physiologically in charge of letting go of what is no longer needed nutritionally, we all know this. On the psycho-spiritual side this is no different. If someone had lost their dog 5 years ago, and is still “holding on” to his memory, his personal belongings, or holding on to things that remind them of him, this is a very real type of mental constipation! Insomnia may be a symptom in one individual, a frozen shoulder could manifest in someone else. The body, mind, spirit has many ways of not “letting go”.
Chiropractors look at symptoms in relation to the nervous system, psychotherapists look at symptoms in relation to the experiences of the mind. Whether its doshas, chakras, elements, mental processes, subluxations, or physiology, each practitioner has a different lens to look through when working with a patient. This is why integrative medicine is so important and powerful! For those of you in Seattle, please check out my Links page for a list of incredible practitioners of various modalities.
The most important thing to remember is… we are not our symptoms, we are not our disease, or diagnosis. ALL things are changing from moment to moment. And the more we can embrace this constant state of impermanence, the less energy is spent toward our suffering, and more towards manifesting a healthy body, an open heart, and a vibrant spirit…