Confused and Sick
When I was first diagnosed, I was lost. Completely lost with knowing who I was and what I would become.
Lupus to me was a hard pill to swallow. I felt inadequate, decapitated, and scared.
In and out of the ER was the norm for about 6 months prior to diagnosis. All the doctors can do was throw meds after meds, from suspecting meningitis, erythema multiforme, cancer, to I don’t even know what else.
All I can say is that I am thankful that we didn’t have the internet. You see, I have Ph.D. in creating my own rabbit hole. Not my best attribute, but it is very much a part of who I am.
I got introduced to Traditional Chinese Medicine 19 years ago when all the Conventional Medicine interventions didn’t work. I think in retrospect, it gave me a sense of hope because I didn’t know what it was and what it can do for me. All I thought was “it’s gotta be better than the Medical treatments I’ve thus received.”
I lived in Los Angeles at the time, the mecca of Traditional Medicine. It was called Sasang Medical center and Dr. Kim claimed to “cure” Lupus.
Upon entering Dr. Kim’s “herbal” infused office, I tried really hard to see a halo over his head. I was desperate for a cure so I can wake up from this terrible dream. He had a white coat on and was petite, 5-6″ weighing no more than 130 lbs max.
His wife was the receptionist and immediately greeted my dad and I and invited us into the treatment area. The treatment area was an open area with multiple patient beds in longitudinal rows of 5 tables.
He had me lay on my back on a cold table he had in his office. He then proceeded to hold my right wrist and closed his eyes for what it seemed like an eternity at that time.
He gently opened his eyes and seemed concerned. Then swiftly pulled up my shirt and began to assess my abdomen. With his warm hands stacked right over left and with and firmly pressed into my gut, ascending, transverse, and then descending colon. Then with his right palm held it firmly over the stomach and the spleen, then my liver, and lower abdomen.
He knowingly opened his eyes and looked at me with concern. He said my “Qi” (life force within the body) was very weak and said I was more yang than ying and that my body type “constitution” was So Yang. That my digestive, pancreas and nervous system are more dominant than other systems.
As the last year Doctoral Student in Physical Therapy, prior to my illness, I would tell you I had an “ego” the size of the world about medical sciences but I listened without comprehension. I gave him the blank glossed over the look of sheer confusion.
He then asked me about my diet and I told him I ate very healthy. He asked me to be specific and was very firm (a cultural nuance) and I told him that I’ve been vegetarian – vegan for the last 5 years.
He mumbled something to my dad and told me in Korean that for my constitution, I need to eat meat, not just any meat, but red meat. He said that my body type cannot survive on the vegetable proteins alone. Didn’t explain much beyond that and told me that I need to be drinking a herbal tincture that he will customize for me and that I should come visit him once a month. The tincture would be carefully concocted by him and showed me how he would make it using the dry herbals and ensure that my Yin-Yang energy was in balance to promote healing.
He also told my dad that my Lupus can be cured.
At $800/ month, I took his advice and drank the tincture faithfully. It came in a plastic pouch about 3-4 ozs and the tincture was black and tasted awful. I complied obediently. (I desperately wanted to feel better)
On a side note, to do something like this blindly was out of character for me. I believed in Medical sciences and was proud to be a part of it. My ego was derived from my knowledge of the human body and to listen to a Korean “Pseudo Doctor” was not my idea of the best intervention. I guess I was pretty desperate for some answers and most importantly, wanted so much to live a normal life.
I did so for 6 months and hid this fact from my awesome Rheumatologist. Took the prednisone that he prescribed and the Plaquenil. I read in a Lupus book that I should let my doctor know about every supplement and other natural intervention and to get the approval to take it but I knew my doctor would be against it.
My Rheumatologist was so traditional and had very little knowledge or the tolerance outside of science. He was heavily involved with Lupus research at Loma Linda University at the time and I knew our conversation would not end very well.
Healing from Lupus
After 6 months though, my ANA was negative, and my hair and rashes were subsiding and he was amazed. He told me to keep on the meds.
This sparked my curiosity and so began my journey studying Sasang Medicine because I studied nutrition, (I have a Masters Degree in Nutrition), and everything I knew about nutrition was tangible science.
We never studied the variables of the human body when prescribing a diet. We respected their culture and recommended calories and macronutrients like the amount of protein, carbs, and limited fats. (This was the 90’s, I was living the FAD that all fats are bad so they infested all foods with artificial sweeteners…oh but they were “fat-free”)
Sasang Constitutional Medicine
I was intrigued and so began my studies in Sasang Medicine, founded by Dr. Lee Jam Ma in the 1800’s.
Sasang Constitutional Medicine uses a different system that focuses on classifying people into four broad genetic types: the Greater Yang constitution the Lesser Yang constitution or the Greater Yin constitution and the Lesser Yin constitution.
Based on my extensive research, I’ve created a “questionnaire” that will aim to classify your body type based on your temperament, body structure, and health tendencies.
Go to the link here and find out what body type you are and I created a downloadable report that you can use to find out the best foods for you.
Please be aware, nothing is absolute, so while your results may give you a clue as to what foods you should eat, there are overlaps in the 4 constitutions.
Have fun and share your results with me, I have future plans to conduct Lupus research using this data.
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