The Three Vital Treasures

A healthy individual will keep all aspects of our being: Physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual, balanced. (Photo:
A healthy individual will keep all aspects of our being: Physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual, balanced. (Photo:


by Sandi Martinez

In December of 2012, I successfully completed my Fundamentals of Traditional Chinese Medicine course from RMSAAM! Some of you may remember previous entries in which I was challenged not only in making time to study, but also, the challenge in learning what I was studying. This was not only a comprehensive course, but a fun one – alas, my determination to work through the loneliness of this correspondence course! Once I got past the ‘lonely’ part, I stopped grumbling, and looked for fun and effective ways to study, and absorb the material.

For over 5,000 years, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has observed how human conditions are related to nature. Three vital essences, Jing, Qi, and Shen, are said to be life force components that make up the substance and functions of the body and mind. The vital essences or, three vital treasures, are responsible for carrying out every manifestation of our lives. The balance or imbalance of these directly affects the state of our health.

Jing, is considered DNA, genes, and heredity, in the Western world. It is a substantive essence we are born with; the basic material in each cell. Jing’s substance is composed of blood and fluid.

Qi, (pronounced: chee) is known as vital energy, or life force. When this energy is free-flowing and unrestricted, it reflects as a body full of health. This energy flows through meridians. Qi and blood are closely related. It is said, ‘wherever the qi goes, the blood will follow’. In addition fluids (Saliva, tears, joint fluid, lymph, urine, and central nervous system fluids), are also considered one of the vital essences.

Shen, is the spirit and the psyche of the body. It encompasses our emotional well-being, our thoughts, and beliefs. When qi enters the heart meridian, part of it turns to shen. It helps to guide our survival instincts, allowing us to express love, caring, and compassion; keeping our hearts calm.

A healthy individual will keep all aspects of our being: Physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual, balanced. Emotions can and do affect the physical body.  Our animal friends most certainly are affected in the same way. Extreme anger can adversely affect the liver, causing pain in the rib cage, such as a continuously chained dog, who then constantly barks at passersby. Too much worrying can affect the spleen, (perhaps like a dog that worries about pleasing her human). And finally, too much fear can adversely affect the kidney, such as a cat that is petrified by loud noises, or sudden movements, caused by too many screaming children.

Will I be considering taking the Energy Meridian Pathways course next? You betcha!

References: Four Paws Five Directions, by Cheryl Schwartz, DVM.

Oh Yes, Where Was I?

‘The Canine Acupressure Workbook; A Learning Tool for Enthusiasts and Professionals’ by Lisa Speaker, Founder and Executive Director of RMSAAM.

by Sandi Martinez

Where was I?  Oh yes… meridians.  A few entries back, I mentioned I am taking the Fundamentals of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) course.  I said we would talk about meridians.  I have sat patiently, maybe an hour or two at a time, trying to put these twisting and turning energy lines in some kind of perspective.  What I found is how intricately, and perfectly designed we are as human beings.  But okay, the truth is, I could go on and on, about how miraculous we are really… but I’m just delaying the obvious – how to put all these together?

At first, I tried to come at it through a very mental and logical panorama.  Of course, I paced the room, very much like I do when I’m writing.  That didn’t go so well.  Because really, there are 12 main meridians and each one is partnered with the organs in the body; and to make it more interesting, each meridian coincides with Yin and Yang components.  So, approaching this method of study doesn’t seem to go so well (pacing the room, I mean).

What is a meridian anyway?  Think of a meridian as a river; qi (life force) flows through it, and nourishes and energizes the human body.  You can’t see the ‘river’ it’s an internal landscape, and very much mirrors our environment, which leads me to the elements that are associated with the meridians/organs.  The Five Element Theory is based on the observation of the natural cycles and interrelationships in both our environment and within ourselves.

So what are those elements?  Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, and Wood; now this gets even more interesting because, Fire corresponds to the Heart and Pericardium, Earth to the Spleen, Metal to the Lungs, Water to the Kidneys, and lastly, Wood to the Liver; these are the Yin organs.  Well now, where did I come up with the organ/Yin part, and not even segue gracefully into it?   You’re right, not cool!

I’ll bet you even thought I was giving you some kind of TCM lesson?  NOT!!  I’m studying… this is the only way I’m going to be able to learn; to repeat it to those who find TCM as fascinating as I do, to those whom are curious enough to peek at this entry, and to those whom have never even heard of TCM!  Thank you for studying with me, and just know I’m not done!  We still have to cover the Yang organs; oh yes, and the Yin and Yang theory!

Can Living or Vacationing at High Altitude Affect Your Dog’s Health?

“Every mountain top is within reach if you just keep climbing.”
― Barry Finlay, Kilimanjaro and Beyond

by Jack Sommars

(Reprint from PetsMatter Newsletter – May/June)

Although there is no documented medical evidence, it’s reasonable to assume that pets can suffer from altitude sickness, says Dr. Christopher Orton, professor at Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

“So the best advice would be to use good judgment for yourself and your pet,” he says. “The greater the change in altitude, the more you need to be careful with your activity levels.

“Acute mountain sickness is not pleasant, but if you slow down a little bit and acclimate, you and your dog will eventually adapt and can enjoy being in the high country.”

However, Dr. Orton cautions that humans and animals living over extended periods at altitude are much more prone to develop a chronic lung condition called pulmonary hypertension.

This disease makes it difficult for the body to process oxygen and, in severe cases, can lead to heart failure and death. Pets that are most susceptible to pulmonary hypertension are those with pre-existing breathing conditions or other medical issues.

“Certain breeds of dogs—like bulldogs and others with pushed-in faces—have trouble breathing to begin with,” he says. “They are more likely to develop this consequence of low oxygen and may even require surgery to open their nasal passages.”

Dr. Orton says chronic bronchitis, which is one of the most common diseases of middle-aged dogs, can also lead to pulmonary hypertension when dogs live at higher altitudes. So it’s no surprise that Colorado is the state with the highest incidence of this chronic breathing disease in both humans and pets.

“I used to practice in Las Vegas and had never seen anything like it,” says Dr. Jennifer Tremblay, a veterinarian in Littleton, Colo.

“I’ve had several cases here, including a dog whose family relocated here from Kansas. The dog had a heart condition and deteriorated very quickly. The owner had to move him back to Kansas to essentially preserve his lung life.”

Dr. Tremblay advises clients who relocate to Colorado to prepare like someone training for the Olympics. “You can’t do it overnight and expect your body—and your dog’s body—to work well,” she says.

“You should also be alert to warning signs that your pet might have a problem. These include coughing, difficulty breathing, and refusing to eat.”

“Another symptom is exercise intolerance, especially among dogs that are very active, but all of a sudden, when they go on a walk, they get winded and have to lay down.”

The key to preventing or minimizing the effects of pulmonary hypertension is to diagnose and treat breathing disorders before they get severe, advises Dr. Orton.

So, before taking your “best friend” to experience the breath-taking vistas of Colorado or other high-altitude destinations, he suggests visiting with your veterinarian about any concerns, so make sure to schedule your dog’s regular health exam.