By Roberto Merante, physician and TCM instructor
It was nighttime again. Our club was snoozing, surrounded by that dream-like atmosphere typical of our reunions. An ancient music coming from Tibet was flowing out of a strange instrument played by Asmir.
But I am rambling, lost in my memories… let's take one step at the time. Seated at our table there were Wilhelm, Professor Augustus and Nefir, an adventurer of Nepalese origins, certainly richer in money than in words. Actually I often asked myself how he had arrived at our club, seat down and listen in complete silence… In fact I had never heard him speak until that night. Sunk into his armchair, he spoke up while gazing at the shimmering red tea in front of him, "music and thoughts: the vital lymph of the soul". Then he added, after a long silence, "The energy of life is nourished by all the things that come from deep down ourselves".
As he was saying this he leaned towards me, "even physicians cannot always find a physical explanation for those people who suffer from low vital energy levels, as if they were living in a limbo".
"Chronic fatigue: that's how it is called my dear Nefir – said the professor – and a large number of people are affected by it. Tell us doc, what could be the causes for it?"
"Fatigue or asthenia is a symptom common to several disorders. Think about how you all feel during a flu. There are, a part from infective diseases (some of them particularly serious), those that affect the blood like anemia1, hormonal alterations like hypothyroidism2 , or tumoral diseases. What all these situations have in common is a reduction in the organism of one or more basic substances like oxygen, nutritive substances and hormones".
"That's it – Nefir blurted out – we are saying the same thing: 'lack', that is to say an energy reduction".
With a half a smile Wilhelm intervened, "Restoring the energetic balance is one of the fundamental principles of Shiatsu and all bio-energetic disciplines. It applies to pharmacological therapies too, when they are necessary, when they try to make the person stronger and more balanced both in the body and in the mind".
The professor suddenly took off his glasses and while cleaning them he said, "Sure, energy has to do with this, but it seems all too easy to explain everything through such a vast concept as 'energy'. Let's add that physical fatigue depends also on the overall mental state/condition. An intense mental work deprives the person from his vital energies as much as an incorrect emotional state". Putting his glasses back on, he continued, "Think about sadness, depression3 and emotions like fear: they all affect the ability of the body to face life in general". After one of his dramatic pauses he looked at us straight in the eyes and concluded, "we are lucky for this: our Asclepius' Club is a cure for the soul, for the mind and – why not? – it helps recharging our batteries".
We all went silently back to our tea and to Asmir's music.
1. Anemia is a condition that generates a reduction of hemoglobin in the blood, which is the substance that allows red blood cells to transport oxygen and carbon dioxide. This reduction can have multiple causes:
- congenital, genetic alteration that leads to not having enough red blood cells, like Mediterranean anemia or sickle-cell anemia.
- acquired, like anemia due to lack of vitamin B12, folic acid or iron caused by a poorly balanced diet.
- tumoral, altered production in the marrow.
2. Hypothyroidism is a thyroid gland dysfunction, which rules the metabolism of our body, that is, the use of cellular energy. A lesser production of its hormones can also slow down the proper functioning of the cells.
3. Depression is a disorder characterized by not being able to react to life's stimuli. The person does not feel capable to face life's challenges. In worst case scenarios it is a real mental disorder that can lead to suicide. Depression causes a reduction of substances that regulate cerebral functions like serotonin.