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The 6 Tissue States: A Means for Health Assessment, part 3

The continuation of the Tissue States series will address the disposition of Dry/Atrophy and Cold/Depressed.  Enjoy!

Dry/Atrophy-A State of Excess

In the early stages of Dry/Atrophy one may see dryness alone, while the advanced stage will worsen to include atrophy as well. In other words, one may see dryness without atrophy. But once things have begun to harden, waste and weaken from dryness, atrophy is the result. Therefore you can be Dry, or Dry/Atrophy. (Dry: hot, hard, impermeable. Atrophy: wasting, decreasing in size, shrinking.) Dry and Atrophy can affect deterioration and excessive heat in the muscles, as is often spoken of, but also the nerves and organs.

According to the eclectic doctors as outlined by Matthew Wood and me, indications of the Dry/Atrophy tissue state are:

o Tongue can exhibit one of two situations: if just Dry: thin and dry, but still has a bit of body to it; if Dry/Atrophy: will be quite withered and lacking any body
o Tissue dry, wrinkled, withered, hard
o Hardness or lumps in the lymphatic system (not cancer)
o Weak and wasting muscles
o Digestive distress: bloating with gas, hard marbley stools with constipation; dryness in gut can lead to poor digestion with malabsorption
o organs can atrophy with lack of fluid to transport and instill vitality; in atrophy, function is lessened as the muscle looses tone and the organ itself shrinks in size
o Skin will be pale and dry, hanging
o Skin will damage and scrape very easily (much like winter skin, but year round)
o Skin almost papery to touch as it lacks all moisture
o Hair loose
o Joints weak, wasting and painful; hot
o Loss of libido and dry vaginal area leading to an imbalance of healthy bacteria (any imbalance in an area, whether dry or moist excessively, can lead to an imbalance of healthy bacteria)
o Prone to thirst and dehydration due to lack of fluids, salt, nutrition, and electrolytes

How to balance

Plant tastes to balance: Salty and sweet, meaty and nutritious tonics lay the ground work for improving nutrition and the ability to use it. Increase secretions of stomach, liver and gallbladder to improve nutrient availability while also improving the tone of tissue, muscle and skin tone to increase nutrient absorption; sweet nervines for nerves.

There are many deficiencies: Nerves, digestion, muscle, skin, joints, urinary tract, liver, heart, circulatory.

Remember, you don’t want to heat and over stimulate function, as there is much heat from the dryness.

Cold/Depression-Deficient State

Generally speaking, the Cold/Depressed tissue state lacks fire and “the ability to be stimulated”. This lack of movement in the vital force fosters many deficiencies.

The “lack of stimulation” is the stimulation provided by the natural environment. Pathogens, stress, ingestion of food…things that we come across in our daily lives which test the strength and vitality of our stomach, immune system, endocrine system and nervous system.

The Cold/Depressed state lacks the ability to defend itself. The fire that is its inner warrior has been disabled leaving the body prey to invading pathogens. When someone meets with one of these “stimuli” their body is supposed to step up to maintain balance. If parasites are ingested the stomach acids should be strong enough to kill them. If there is exposure to a bacteria or virus the immune system should be stimulated to ward off the illness. Instead, constant exposure in the Cold/Depressed will weaken the body.

Note: Immune suppressing drugs may lead to cold/depression. Herbs can assist re-balancing, but it can sometimes be an uphill battle. If this is the case, I always recommend the client take milk thistle right away to help maintain the integrity of the liver, and work from there.

Another thing said about the Cold/Depressed state is that it sits “deeper in the tissue” than the Wind/Constricted state. Meaning that cold coupled with depression is rooted in the cold blood, the endocrine system and immune system.

According to the eclectic doctors as outlined by Matthew Wood and me, indications of the Cold/Depression tissue state are:

Deep cold: depressed and in the blood as opposed to the muscles and nerves (Wind/Constricted)
o Tongue will be blueish
o Depressed immune function with lymphatic deficiencies
o Skin lacks tone and activity; pores clog and rashes can arise due to lack of heat, therefore using astringents and cooling plants locally exacerbate the problem; the skin needs to be warmed
o Skin is slow to perspire, and is dry due to lack of oil and water
o Cold extremities (it is a chronic issue here, not seasonal as with wind/constriction or someone with autoimmune Heat/Excitation)
o Low, dull pulse, low blood pressure from low, cold, slow blood
o Tongue pale or dark bluish to purplish
o Low thyroid function and slow metabolism
o Extreme menopausal symptoms, especially severe hot flashes
o Poor hydrochloric acid secretion which leads to problems in the small and large intestines
o High cholesterol, either one or more of the following: LDL, HDL, and triglycerides
o Poor nutrient absorption and use with cold slow blood that impedes delivery of nutrients to cells
o Naturally low temperature (also indicative of low thyroid function)
o Depressed immune function and digestion leading to parasites, viral, and bacterial infection
o Low grade fever when exposed to illness
o Recurrent acute infection
o Adrenal insufficiency with an excess in Adrenal cortex and deficient Adrenal medulla
o Recurrent acute infection with poor immune reaction when exposed to acute pathogens; skin infections slow to heal

o Pale gums in the mouth
o Thick, very dark red, heavy clotted menstrual blood-reflecting cold congealed blood

How to Balance

Plant tastes to balance: pungent aromatic bitters plants are essential as they warm, thin and speed blood, improve digestion, balance endocrine function, and ignite a person’s desire to achieve their destiny. Other support: I sometimes combine pungent aromatic bitters with small amounts of cooling bitters for specific reasons based per person, and to bring balance.

Look at how this person responds to trauma and stress, as well as extremes in depression. Depression may be triggered by spiritual and/or soul depression.

Increase heat and energy slowly, for too much energy will be uncomfortable to the Cold/Depressed person.

Since these are basic descriptions, and there are many tricks for recognizing the different states in people, something that can’t be covered in a brief article series, I recommend you simply begin to observe and make note of symptom pictures.  Perhaps even take clients from the past that you couldn’t quite find the right herb for.  Consider their tissue state, and whether they would have benefited from a different quality of herb (hot, cold, dry and wet) or perhaps a different tension (relaxing or stimulating).

The final installment of this article series will speak about Damp/Relaxation and Damp/Torpor/Stagnation.




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