Historically, a lunatic according Wikipedia, is someone who had madness or epilepsy which were regarded as diseases caused by the moon. Philosophers as far back as Aristotle, said that the full moon induced disorders that would be regarded in todays terms as something similar to bipolar. The word lunatic was used for many centuries as a law term but was changed to “a person of unsound mind” in the 20th century. What does Traditional Chinese Medicine say about the phases of the moon?
Do patients come into the clinic complaining of problems being aggravated by the full moon?
Well surprisingly, the answer is yes. Some people suffering from insomnia say they have even more difficulty sleeping at around the full moon. Over the years in clinical practise I also have noticed that some patients coming into the clinic around the full moon for another problem like back pain comment with statements like “I don’t know why but I have not been sleeping well the last few nights“. I them inform them that it has been coming up to full moon and some people get affected by that.
The moon affects the tides but can we conclude therefore it affects the water in the body? Could that influence health?
According to LiveScience there have been many studies to determine if the full moon can influence events such as increased depressive episodes, heart attacks, increased psychiatric hospital admissions and so forth. They say there is no evidence that this could be the case . But then in another study according to LiveScience, there is evidence that the full moon can effect birth rates. In a typical modern scientific conclusion though, when the evidence does point towards something the scientists don’t like to believe in, they conclude that the the study was too small. Science is one thing, and observation is another thing. I always remember a policeman patient of mine in Sydney said to me “I don’t believe in any of this astrology stuff, but I do know we dread it if we get picked for a Saturday night shift when its a full moon. Its as if every psycho comes out and causes extra fights and brawls“. Many nurses have also commented to me that they don’t understand why it is, but full moons just stress out so many people.
Does traditional Chinese medicine have anything to say about moon phases?
To explain this, first we need to look at five of the main organs, Heart, Spleen, Lung, Kidney and Liver. Each organ is said to control or govern physical and mental aspects of the body. For example the kidney controls will power and bones.
The liver is said to control the ethereal soul and the lung the corporeal soul.
These terms roughly equate to the traditional Indian ayurvedic terms of astral and etheric body.
Chinese medicine then says that the ethereal soul corresponds to the full moon and the corporeal soul to the new moon.
Can Chinese medicine treat these mental aspects of the liver and lung that may be influenced by the moon?
Some problems associated with the ethereal soul can include insomnia and dream disturbed sleep, timidity and having a lack in the sense of direction in life. It can also be associated with anger and depression and this is perhaps why some people say that others become aggressive or depressed around full moon. The Corporeal soul on the other hand has a number of attributes attached to it including the relationship to crying and weeping. In Giovanni Maciocia’s book: The Practise of Chinese Medicine, in the chapter on mental-emotional problems, he quotes that some modern day Chinese medicine physicians even say that “basic regulatory activity all physiological functions of the body” derive from the corporeal soul, lung controlling aspect. Perhaps some people are more sensitive to pain around the new moon. That would be an interesting research topic.
The full moon and qi gong.
Qi gong is an exercise involving breathing and doing certain postures developed by the Chinese thousands of years ago and there is even a specific qi gong exercise to do during the full moon. The full moon relates to yin and this exercise is performed to build up the yin in the body. But I don’t think science will ever be able to research if this exercise is of benefit or not. Science still doesn’t know what yin or yang is. And scientists would think that people doing qi gong at a full moon would be lunatics.