The secrets of longevity in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM)
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Most women would envy the beauty of Chen Tongyun as soon as they saw her.

Chen, an 85-year-old traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) doctor, still retains the bright, porcelain skin of an Oriental woman.

"Nobody can stop the ageing process, during which their physical condition, as well as looks, decline," said Chen, daughter of a famous TCM doctor, in her graceful and youthful voice.

"But we are able to slow it down by preserving the qi, or the vital energy we are born with," she said.

Chen has been so successful at preserving her qi that she is still able to sing a few lines of Mozart's "Marriage of Figaro," although she can no longer play baseball as she used to.

The doctor sees patients every Tuesday and Wednesday morning at the Beijing Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Click to learn Chinese herb Semen Pharbitidis (Qianniuzi).

She has always told her patients that the key to everlasting youth is the healthy condition of internal organs and a peaceful state of mind.

TCM theory holds that the kidneys are where people store the qi given by their parents, Chen said. If the kidneys are in poor health, people age earlier than they should.

She added that this qi in the kidneys is replenished by food, which is digested by the stomach and spleen.

"The health of all these internal organs will be reflected in people's skin, teeth, hair, tendons, bones and eyes," she noted.

For the health of her internal organs, Chen has strict rules about the food she eats. Click to learn Chinese herb Fructus Cannabis (Huomaren).

She has her three meals at fixed times every day 6:30 am, 12 pm and 6 pm. For breakfast she eats oatmeal and fresh fruit with milk; for lunch she has fish, vegetables, tofu and rice; and for dinner Chen eats vegetables with a porridge made from a variety of coarse grains and beans.

At exactly 8 pm every evening Chen eats an apple, an orange or two kiwifruit.

"I never eat spicy food because it is very bad for the skin," she said. "I don't have foods containing too much sugar or fat, either."

Chen admitted that, like many people, she loves high-calorie chocolate and cheesecakes.

"But I am disciplined I have only one or two cheesecakes a year," she said. "As for chocolate, I have a chocolate to put on my table and I will sniff its wonderful smell, but I will never put it in my mouth."

In addition to diet, sleep is also one of the most important factors in maintaining health and beauty, said Chen. She goes to sleep at 11 pm and wakes at 6 am, taking a nap for 30 minutes after lunch.

Physical exercise and an appropriate amount of mental stimulation also improve overall blood circulation and helps people look good, according to the doctor. "People who do regular exercise have balanced bodies, elastic muscles and a pink tone to their skin," she said.

The 85-year-old takes a pedometer with her wherever she goes to ensure she walks no less and no more than 5,000 steps a day. She walks at the same brisk pace as other younger women.

Massage is also important, she said. She massages her face every morning and evening and her ears whenever she has time. Click to learn Chinese herb Natrii Sulfas (Mangxiao).

But according to Chen, one's state of mind is the fundamental factor in maintaining health and beauty more so than food, sleep, exercise and massage.

"I avoid anything that might make me unhappy," she said.

As a sports fan, she watches all kinds of sports on the television from basketball and volleyball to baseball and golf.

"But I only watch matches in which those sportsmen I love have a higher probability of winning," she said. Chen rarely watches football matches in which the Chinese national team plays foreign teams because the former often lose, she said.

The TCM doctor believes the arts are always good for maintaining a peaceful state of mind. She is a frequent concert-goer and loves the opera. "I try my best to get an affordable ticket every time when Italian opera singers arrive in Beijing," she said.

Chen also likes to close her eyes and listen to the music of erhu, two-stringed bowed instrument. "Its music helps me recall my past quietly," she said.

As for her past, the 85-year-old said that she is able to smile at even the most painful parts. During the "cultural revolution" (1966-76) Chen and her late husband, who was also a TCM doctor, suffered greatly. But Chen said she forgave those who tortured her during this period. Click to learn Chinese herb Folium Sennae (Fanxieye).

"Those people came to me to say sorry," she said. "They need my forgiveness to live on with a peaceful mind, and I also need my own forgetfulness to keep me happy."

Chen now lives with her ayi, or housemaid, and gets together with her children and grandchildren at weekends.

"My ayi is simple and nice, and it didn't take too much effort to develop our relationship into a mother-daughter one," she said. "To remain beautiful and healthy, one has to know how to love someone and also to get his or her love in return."

"One has to admit that human beings are able to endure everything but loneliness."

Article source: chinadaily

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