[book review] Between Heaven and Earth: A Guide to Chinese Medicine

April 24, 2016

Short story:
Buy the book.

It’s highly rated, well-written, and a great guide to chinese medicine, written by westerners. They were the first two non-asian acupuncturists in america. It’s a must for any health focused person, which should be everyone.

The premise is that the body is a garden, not a machine.
Western doctors tend to be mechanics while eastern doctors are gardeners. In a machine, you can replace a broken part and the thing starts working fine again. Think of a broken clock where you replace some gear.

In a garden, everything affects everything. Sunlight, water, soil, wind, etc. Too much or too little results in different symptoms. When all elements are in harmony, the garden thrives.

The chapters on figuring out what kind of element you are (earth, metal, fire, water, wood) is worth more than the price of admission. It also includes detailed sections on the symptoms you will encounter if your body is not in balance.

Take a look at the table of contents preview on amazon to see what all is included. It’s comprehensive. You can buy a used paperback copy for $0.01 + $3.99 shipping. What a steal!

Long Story:
I’m late to the party.
This book was written in 19(freakin)91 and I’m reading it in 2016.

It shows that unless the student is ready, the master won’t appear. Unless the reader is ready, the right book won’t appear.

I just wasn’t ready to hear about chinese medicine unless I had trial and error-ed my way here after decades of chasing dead ends.

You know by now that I decided to go hardcore and read every book and try everything I could to improve my health, back in 2012. I made it my full time job.

Without writing a whole novel, I’ll quickly summarize weird symptoms I had.
1. Arm numbness while sleeping (in hindsight, this was triple warmer issue)
2. Overweight no matter which diet I tried
3. Acid reflux
4. Hair graying fast at young age (i thought this was normal until I started looking into TCM, kidney weakness)
5. 4th toe pain, felt like I stepped on glass (exactly where triple warmer is)
6. Weak spleen meridian, tested by eden energy practicioner. i also notice the spleen meridian points on my body are super sore quite frequently
7. bloating, gassy, poor digestion, loose stools (i thought this was normal)
8. oral thrush candida on tongue. (looking now, it’s exactly where kidney function is according to tcm)
9. Neck nerve pain (exactly where the triple warmer runs)
10. super cracked lips no matter what balm i use (later realized cracked lips happened only at certain times of day, and became soft again at other times, spleen deficiency)
11. i was diagnosed with adrenal fatigue. adrenals are associated with kidney meridian. i also noticed the adrenal points (1 in to the right of belly button, 2 inches above) are sore often, especially on days i have severe fatigue
12. post nasal drip, the nurse practioner gave me antibiotics and nasal sprays, didnt really cure the issue. acc to tcm this is probably dampness?
13. super low vitamin d levels, this is a yang (sun/heat) deficiency
14. seasonal affective disorder, this is a yang deficiency, esp pronounced for a kidney/water/cold system
15. there are other issues, i can’t remember all right now.

You may remember that I tried multiple health care professionals.
A regular md, an osteopathic doctor, chiropractor acupuncture doctor, tcm doctor, functional medicine chiropractor, others i can’t remember now. Did blood tests, hormone spit tests, genetic testing, micronutrient testing, ubiome stool testing, genetic testing, and whatever else i could afford.

Some said I looked healthy according to tests except that i need lose weight, lower my cholesterol, and exercise to raise my hdl. This is something I’ve always heard from all my doctors. One person diagnosed me with adrenal fatigue.

The TCM doctor diagnosed me with something, but at that time I didn’t understand what he was saying. His solution were some herbs and regular acupuncture treatments, neither of which I felt like doing because I thought he was wrong.

So I took the questionnaire listed in this book and it lists me as a water type. Kidney system. The kidney/water system has its own psychology and physical symptoms. And kidney interacts with the other 4 organ systems, especially the heart (fire) and the spleen (earth). Your system may be harmonic, collapsed, and exaggerated. Mine seems to be that the kidney system is exaggerated, depleting heart and spleen energies.

I did a double take reading this section.
Remember last year, I went thru a hardcore astrology phase? So, my sun sign is water. I’m air dominant. And I’m weak in fire and earth, according to my chart.

I also had a hardcore feng shui period last year. While working on that, I noticed my living area lacked fire and earth as well.

I rely heavily on coffee, tyrosine, full spectrum bulbs, bright lightboxes, sauna, and warm bright sunlight to keep me energized and balanced. All of which can be categorized as fire energy. Love of spicy foods all my life, which could be a natural way I’m craving yang energy to balance me out. Niacin and turmeric, two things I’ve tried that help with depression are warming items. Drinking ice cold drinks for YEARS, put out my digestive fire, increased yang deficiency.

Earth wise, i’ve tried some things as well before knowing any of this. earthing mat, grounding my feet outdoors, grounding with a stainless steel spoon etc. many health practitioners have told me i need a lot of grounding. I’ve also experimented with crystals and gemstones for grounding. They do work. Essentially, that’s like carrying earth in my pocket. Been taking high doses of soil based probiotics, basically adding earth to my gut. This has normalized my digestion issues.

So there is a pattern emerging.

Pretty nuts how separate systems say the same thing and results in all the health symptoms I’ve been experiencing. And TCM is able to categorize all these random symptoms into a few imbalances. There are 5 organ systems, 5 emotions, 5 climates, and yin (deficiency) or yang (excess). The root cause can be figured out simply by looking at the tongue and the pulse.

Once you figure out what is wrong, there are sections in the book on how to fix your issues thru acupuncture, herbs, and nourishing meals.


Ok I was going to write more but this is getting to be too long. My point is that random symptoms I’ve been keeping track of all these years are now put into the proper perspective by reading this book.

I’ve only skimmed the relevant chapters since I got the book last nite. But I’m super impressed and wanted to share the news with you.

I’ll update you later once I figure out more.

Between Heaven and Earth