Healing The Heart Of The Addict With Traditional Chinese Medicine


Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) sees addiction as a disease of the heart and spirit.

The spirit in Chinese medicine is said to be housed in the heart, which is viewed in TCM as the Emperor or the “King of the castle”, and if the king is unhappy, all of his royal subjects suffer.

This put simply means that disharmony in one area of the body begins a chain reaction of imbalance that affects the whole person.

All things in Chinese medicine from the foods we eat to the substances we use hold specific elemental qualities of temperature, movement, and flavour that affect the body and its organ systems differently.

For example:

Alcohol in terms of Chinese medicine has a warm energy, a dispersing upwards movement (moves qi), and a sweet flavour. It affects the spleen, stomach, liver and gall bladder.

Heroin and other opiates have a sour and astringent flavours, a warm aromatic energy, and are very dispersing (strongly moves qi). Opiates enter all 12 of the meridians/channels.

Crack/Cocaine has a bitter flavour a warm energy, has a dispersing upwards movement (moves qi), and either affects the lungs (smoked), heart (spirit), liver and kidneys.

The body is designed to shift and compensate for changes in diet and emotion, however, it loses this ability when we are exposed to repetitive harmful or imbalanced lifestyles.

The aim of Chinese medicine is to re-balance the internal atmosphere of the body, and regain harmony of the spirit and emotions through acupuncture, herbal medicine, meditation, exercise, and diet.

By following nature’s path, we can find harmony in all things. Acupuncture can be an amazing tool in the management and treatment of both acute and post acute withdrawal symptoms.

Its use is included as part of many treatment programs to help clients cope with the complex physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of healing.

Additionally, other mindfulness based practices such as meditation, breathing, relaxation skills training, and Yoga have been proven to be of tremendous benefit.

If you start with the heart, everything else will fall in line.  When the King is happy, his people are happy.


About the author: 

Dr. Kim Graham, heads the Together We Can Acupuncture Program, and is a Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine. With eight years of education in Eastern and Western medicine, Dr. Graham is an expert in her field, and has hands-on experience with homelessness, addiction, and mental illness in Vancouver’s downtown East Side and at Harbour Light. 

Dr. Graham has been facilitating acupuncture treatments for men in early recovery since 2002, and is an expert at recreating balance and alignment for the processes within the human body.

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