Vitamins-Minerals

Traditional Chinese medical (TCM) theory has been developed over many centuries and the core ideology pre-dates the discovery of individual vitamins and minerals which is relatively recent. However, with a modern understanding of how these substances can benefit the body it is easy to overlay them with specific TCM archetypes based on Chinese medicine with a few liberties taken. Most vitamins and mineral impact multiple organs and elements. Note: This is a theoretical exercise with the understanding that these substances would be of benefit only in the case that they are lacking.

Five Elements

Five Element theory of traditional Chinese medicine associates energetic organ systems, emotions, sensory organs, and all of the related symptoms of each element. It is a core tool of Chinese medicine to allow practitioners of Asian medicine to form an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan.

Water Element of Chinese Medicine

Vitamin A

Vitamin B-7 Biotin

Vitamin B-9 Folate

Vitamin B-12 Cobalamin

  • Essential for healthy growth and the utilization of our DNA blueprint

Vitamin C Ascorbic Acid

Wood Element of Chinese Medicine

Vitamin A

Vitamin B-1 Thiamine

Vitamin B-3 Niacin

  • Associated with arthritis if deficient

Vitamin B-6 Pyridoxine

  • Associated with headaches and depression
  • Prevents Liver attacking the Spleen due to Liver Qi Congestion
  • Promotes liver’s ability to break down fatty acids
  • Associated with hormonal balance in women

Vitamin B-7 Biotin

  • Promotes liver’s ability to break down fatty acids
  • Used in conditions with Internal Wind (likely due to Liver Congestion-think Parkinson’s disease)
  • Associated with unexplained mood disorders and mood swings

Vitamin B-9 Folate

  • Used in conditions with Internal Wind (likely due to Liver Congestion-think Restless Leg Syndrome)

Vitamin C Ascorbic Acid

  • Associated with treating gallstones
  • Benefits the Liver
  • Combats arthritis

Vitamin E d-alpha Tocopherol

  • Benefits the eyes (reinforces blood vessels of eye)

Fire Element of Chinese Medicine

Vitamin B-1 Thiamine

  • Contributes to emotional health
  • Strengthens the Heart muscle

Vitamin B-3 Niacin

  • Breaks up Blood Stagnation
  • Calms the Shen (necessary for psychological balances)

Vitamin B-6 Pyridoxine

  • Associated with Heart Health (clotting factors)

Vitamin B-12 Cobalamin

  • Associated with psychological disorders due to neurological issues
  • Protects blood vessels

Vitamin E d-alpha Tocopherol

  • Prevents heart disease as anti-oxidant

Earth Element of Chinese Medicine

Vitamin A

  • Fortifies the lining of the Stomach

Vitamin B-2 Riboflavin

  • Associated with the Stomach’s Yin qualities (cracks at the side of mouth, dry lips)
  • Fortifies mucosa lining of Stomach-impacts sugar regulation & digestion
  • Impacts absorption of foods (symptom: undigested food in stool)

Vitamin B-6 Pantothenic Acid

  • Supports the Spleen’s function of metabolizing food
  • Supports the Spleen’s function of extracting Qi energy from food (Symptom examples: Sinking Qi, muscle weakness)
  • Deficiency associated with diabetes

Vitamin B-6 Pyridoxine

  • Associated with symptoms of Spleen Deficiency (feeling of heavy limbs, weak muscles, low energy-fatigue)
  • Promotes the Spleen’s function of assimilating foods (converts protein in to amino acids)

Vitamin B-7 Biotin

  • Promotes the Spleen’s function of assimilating foods (converts protein in to amino acids)
  • Associated with symptoms of Spleen Deficiency (feeling of heavy limbs, weak muscles, low energy-fatigue)

Vitamin B-9 Folate

  • Supports the Spleen function of generating tissue and promoting flesh
  • Protects Stomach Yin (mucosa lining)

Vitamin C Ascorbic Acid

  • Enhances the Spleen’s function of generating flesh-speeds healing from wounds and surgery
  • Resolves muscle fatigue

Vitamin E d-alpha Tocopherol

  • Enhances the Spleen’s function of generating flesh- speeds healing from wounds and surgery

Metal Element of Chinese Medicine

The Metal Element of Chinese medicine includes the Lungs, Large Intestine, skin and sinuses. The Lungs are the most external Yin Organ in TCM and are closely associated with the Wei Qi which is associated with the immune response (see more below).

Vitamin A

  • Benefits the skin
  • Enhances the ability to smell and taste
  • Protects the respiratory tract
  • Nourishes the mucous membranes of the Large Intestine & sinuses
  • Re-enforces the Wei Qi

Vitamin B-1 Thiamine

  • Benefits the Liver energetic organs ability to move Qi

Vitamin B-3 Niacin

  • Fortifies and thickens the skin

Vitamin B-3 Niacin

  • Combats dermatitis

Vitamin C Ascorbic Acid

  • Involved with bone growth
  • Treats all types of skin conditions

Vitamin D-3 Cholecalciferol

  • Protects the colon by enabling the lining to absorb calcium (possibly)

Vitamin E d-alpha Tocopherol

  • Benefits the skin by maintaining the stability of skin membranes
  • Protects the Lungs from environmental toxins

Brain (Sometimes referred to as a Curious Organ in Chinese Medicine)

Vitamin B-1 Thiamine

  • Benefits neurological pathways (memory)
  • Improves memory and concentration
  • Combats insomnia

Vitamin B-3 Niacin

  • Directs Qi and Blood up to the brain

Vitamin B-3 Niacin

  • Calms the Shen (necessary for psychological balances)

Vitamin B-6 Pyridoxine

  • Used in children with autism (magnesium added to direct to the brain)

Vitamin B-7 Biotin

  • Associated with unexplained mood disorders and mood swings

Vitamin B-9 Folate

  • Supports the utilization of amino acids in neurological structures of the brain
  • Supports bone marrow production (the Brain of Chinese medicine is the Sea of Marrow)

Vitamin B-12 Cobalamin

  • Reinforces blood-brain barrier from toxins
  • Supports bone marrow production (the Brain of Chinese medicine is the Sea of Marrow)
  • Deficiency results in a deterioration of neuro-connections
  • Associated with auto-immune disorders (think chron’s disease)

Vitamin D-3 Cholecalciferol

  • Improves mood (think seasonal disorder)

Vitamin E d-alpha Tocopherol

  • Protects the membrane of the brain (think strokes)

The Three-Four Level Theory of Traditional Chinese Medicine

Theoretically, there are four levels that diseases must pass through; each becomes more serious as it progresses to deeper levels of the body. In reality, some viruses or diseases may not affect every level. This is a practical working theory of the most likely path that is taken:

  • Wei (Defensive) Level
  • Qi Level (or stage)
  • Ying (Nutritive) Level
  • Xue (Blood) Level

Wei Qi Level

The Wei Qi level of Chinese medicine refers to the more outer-body protective abilities of the skin, nerves, muscles, sinews, tendons, and immune response (loosely). We have includes minerals and vitamins that play a role in the body’s defenses beyond the immune system here also.

Vitamin A

  • Tonifies the Wei Qi-bolsters the immune system
  • Protects the body from environmental toxins

Vitamin B-1 Thiamine

  • Benefits the nerves (neuropathy)
  • Anti-oxidant

Vitamin B-3 Niacin

  • Fortifies and thickens the skin

Vitamin B-6 Pyridoxine

  • Affects neurological issues (carpal tunnel)

Vitamin B-7 Biotin

  • Associated with neurological disorders (Parkinson’s disease-peripheral neuropathy)

Vitamin B-9 Folate

  • Used with cancer patients to rebuild healthy cellular division

Vitamin B-12 Cobalamin

  • Reinforces blood-brain barrier from toxins
  • Associated with auto-immune disorders when deficient
  • Deficiency results in a deterioration of nerve tissue (myelin sheath)

Vitamin C Ascorbic Acid

  • Maintains the integrity of the skin
  • Defends against environmental toxins and stresses
  • Re-enforces immune system
  • Generates flesh and heals wounds

Vitamin D-3 Cholecalciferol

  • Boosts the immune system

Vitamin E d-alpha Tocopherol

  • Blocks the formation of tumors
  • Protects the lungs from environmental toxins
  • Protects the cells from environmental toxins and radiation

Qi Level

At this stage, the disease has progressed into the interior and begins to reach the organs. We discussed individual organs in the Five Element theory archetype above.

Ying Qi Level

The Ying level of Chinese medicine is associated with the Blood, blood vessels, flesh, fascia, and connective tissue collectively.

Vitamin B-2 Riboflavin

  • Promotes the production of red blood cells
  • Deficit of riboflavin associated with Blood Stagnation due to Blood Deficiency

Vitamin B-3 Niacin

  • Alleviates Blood Stagnation
  • Flushes, pushes out through the sensory organs of the head (skin, sinuses, eyes-think allergies)

Vitamin B-7 Biotin

  • Resolves dermatological issues due to Heat in the Blood

Vitamin B-9 Folate

  • Promotes the production of health red blood cells

Vitamin B-12 Cobalamin

  • Protects blood vessels

Vitamin C Ascorbic Acid

  • Enhances the action of iron in the blood and Blood production
  • Anti-oxidant-cleanses the blood of damaging toxins

Vitamin E d-alpha Tocopherol

  • Reinforces the blood vessel walls

Xue Level

This is the Blood Level where diseases and conditions become more serious. Heat in the Blood is a common manifestation.

Vitamin B-7 Biotin

  • Used in conditions with Internal Wind (likely due to Liver Congestion-think Parkinson’s disease)

Vitamin C Ascorbic Acid

  • Lack of associated with bleeding gums

Vitamin E d-alpha Tocopherol

  • Powerful Blood level anti-oxidant (free radicals are Blood Heat)
  • Prevents Blood Sticky (think cholesterol)

Yuan Qi Level

This is from yet another three-level system of Asian medicine that considers the Yuan level as the bone, marrow, genetic considerations (loosely the Kidney Jing or Essence), which would be the deepest level, or our core.

Vitamin B-9 Folate

  • Promotes the DNA synthesis of cell division
  • Used with cancer patients preventatively with a familial history of cancer (think breast cancer)

Vitamin B-12 Cobalamin

  • Plays a role in DNA synthesis

Vitamin C Ascorbic Acid

  • Involved with bone growth and collagen production

Vitamin D-3 Cholecalciferol

  • Facilitates the body’s ability to utilize calcium in bone-building

Vitamin E d-alpha Tocopherol

  • Extends the life of cells and prevents aging