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Getting enough rest: a good way to start the New Year

Published:Tuesday | December 30, 2014 | 11:31 PMTracey-Ann Brown

Getting enough rest: a good way to start the New Year

Complementary & Oriental Medicine

After the usually very hectic Christmas period, many will find themselves especially looking forward to catching up on some much-needed rest. While most people recognise that they function and feel much better when they are well rested, the endeavours of daily life often make it very difficult for us to get enough. With the reflection that usually accompanies the transition to a new year, one thing to consider is how to get enough rest and sleep.


Chronic or prolonged low energy or exhaustion over time can affect a number of daily functions, such as: the carrying out of daily tasks, work, mood, health, and can affect the general quality of life.

The benefits of sufficient rest include:

n Improved overall health

n Less pain, whether due to chronic or acute pain conditions

n Improved moods

n Better weight control

n Boosts brain function, clearer thinking and improved memory

n Improved energy and immunity

n Lowers stress

n Aids sleep

In traditional Chinese medicine, a feeling of exhaustion or depletion is typically characterised as a deficiency of the body's qi.


Although in traditional Chinese medicine, chronic tiredness is often considered a deficient condition, in some cases, it is considered an excess condition brought on by the obstruction of the proper movement and transformation of qi, which is the case, for example, in persons suffering the after-effects of the chikungunya virus, which is accompanied by pain and which has continued to affect so many.

In the case of a deficiency, treatment depends on the type of deficiency.

n Lung Qi Deficiency: fatigue accompanied by shortness of breath and coughing

n Spleen Qi Deficiency: fatigue accompanied by digestive problems such as poor appetite, abdominal bloating especially following meals and loose bowel movements

n Heart Qi Deficiency: fatigue accompanied by palpitations, racing of the heart and slight breathlessness

n Yang Deficiency: characterised by an intolerance of cold alongside feelings of fatigue

n Yin Deficiency: characterised by an intolerance of heat alongside feelings of fatigue.

n Blood deficiency: tiredness which is worse at midday, accompanied by poor memory, dizziness, poor sleep and blurry vision.


Herbs which are beneficial in boosting energy and a general feeling of well-being include:

n Ren Shen (Radix Ginseng): one of the most well-known qi tonics. Ren Shen has a wide range of actions and can be used for lung qi, spleen qi and heart qi deficiencies

n Da Zao (Chinese Date, Jujube): is used to strengthen in cases of spleen qi and blood deficiency.

n Gan Cao (Licorice): is used in cases of lung and spleen qi deficiency.

n Dang Gui (Chinese Angelica Root, Tang-Kuei): another very popular herb, is indicated in cases of blood deficiency.

n Yin Yang Huo (Licentious Goat Wort): ndicated in cases of yang deficiency, it is also used for impotence.

n Hei Zhi Ma (Black Sesame Seed): is used in cases of yin deficiency and blood deficiency.

As we all look for ways to rejuvenate and replenish, here's to a healthy and joy-filled New Year.

n Dr Tracey-Ann Brown is an oriental medicine practitioner of acupuncture and herbal medicine as well as adjunct lecturer at the University of Technology in Oriental/ Chinese Medicine. email:;