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Preventive Principles

Preventive principles refer to the criteria of preventing the occurrence, development and transmission of disease made in accordance with the laws of the occurrence, development and transmission of disease.

Traditional Chinese medicine has been always attaching great importance to prevention. The earliest preventive thought, known as "treating the undiseased";, was advanced in Huangdi Neijing. It has imposed great influence on the formation and development of preventive medicine.

Preventive principles mainly include: prevention of the occurrence of disease, prevention of the development and transmission of disease, prevention of the recurrence of disease.

Prevention of the occurrence of disease

It means that various measures should be taken in advance to prevent the occurrence of diseases, including two aspects: health preservation and prevention of the invasion of pathogenic qi.

1. Health preservation

It means to cultivate life, aiming to direct people to take various regulative to build up constitutions, avoid disease, postpone the aging process, keep fit and prolong life span.

A. Complying with nature

According to traditional Chinese medicine, life activities of the human body must comply with the waning and waxing laws of yin and yang all along the four seasons; otherwise, diseases would occur. Therefore, psychological activities, living habits and diet are all required to be regulated consequently according to the seasonal changes. Only so, can the physiological activities synchronize with the natural changes and to maintain the coordination and unity between the internal and external environment of the human body.

B. Cultivating mental faculties

It means to regulate psychological state, consciousness and mental activities to keep healthy physically and mentally.
Psychological and emotional changes are the responsive reaction to various external stimuli. Under normal conditions, not only do they reflect the normal psychological activities in the life process, but also they can build up constitutions, resist diseases, and prolong iife span. But if intense emotional stimulation or changes go beyond the range of physiological regulation, qi movement of viscera will be affected and various diseases will follow subsequently. Therefore, health preservation in traditional Chinese medicine puts cultivation of mental faculties in the first place, holding that harmful emotional stimuli and excessive emotional changes should be lessened as much as possible to keep a cheerful state of mind.

C. Moderate work and rest

Suitahle work, exercise and rest are essential for maintaining life and keeping fit. But overwork and over-rest will affect health and cause diseases. Therefore, health preservation and disease prevention mean both to avoid overwork, overstrain and sexual strain, and to avoid over-rest.

D. Proper diet

Diet is indispensable to human existance and health, through which necessary nutrient substances are obsorbed to maintain the normal growth and physiological functions of the human body. The proper diet should be regular, moderate, diverse and sanitary. Otherwise, various diseases will occur. Therefore, proper diet is an important principle of health preservation and disease prevention.

E. Proper living habits

Living hahits include work, rest, living conditions, clothing, etc. Proper living habits mean to lead a regular life. According to seasonal changes and individual conditions, the work-rest schedule should be set reasonably, and the living habits should be regulated appropriately; the living environment should be kept quite, clean and comfortable; the clothing should be clean and comfortable, not too thin or too thick.

2. Prevention of the invasion of pathogenic qi

Pathogenic qi is a major factor of causing disease and harming health. Therefore, preventing the invasion and spread of pathogenic qi is important to the prevention of the occurrence of disease. It involves the following three aspects: first, attention should be paid to hygiene, i. e. , to prevent environmental, water and food pollution; secondly, attention should be paid to avoid the invasion of the pathogenic factors, such as six excesses, pestilence, seven emotions, improper diet, overwork and over-rest, etc.; thirdly, attention should be paid to avoid accidental injuries.

In addition, intake of medicine can improve the resistance against disease, and effectively prevent the invasion of pathogenic qi. For example, during the prevalence of common cold, intake of Ban Lan Geng (Radix Isatidis) and Da Qing Ye (Folium Isatidis) can prevent the occurrence of disease.

Prevention of the transmission and development of disease

It means that effective measures of diagnosis and treatment should be taken to prevent the development and transmission of disease at the early stage of disease.

1. Early diagnosis

At the early stage, disease is easy to treat because it is mild and healthy qi has not declined yet. If not treated timely, disease will become complicated and worse because pathogenic qi is transmitted from the exterior into the interior and healthy qi is exhausted. Therefore, early diagnosis and treatment is the key to recovery, significant for preventing the transmission, development and aggravation of disease.

2. Controlling transmission and development of disease

The development and transmission of any disease follow its unique rules. So according to these rules, "treating the unaffected area first", cutting off the transmission link of disease, is a major measure to prevent the development and aggravation of disease. For example, since liver disease is most likely to transmit to the spleen, measures should be taken to strengthen the spleen in the treatment of liver disease in order to prevent liver disease from transmitting to spleen.

For another example, when treating epidemic febrile disease caused by deficiency of stomach yin,for the purpose of preventing pathogenic heat from impairing kidney yin, Ye Tianshi usually apply treatment to kidney yin at the same time by adding up drugs of nourishing kidney, salty in flavour and cold in nature, to drugs of tonifying the stomach, sweet in flavour and cold in nature

Prevention of the recurrence of disease

When the body has not yet completely restored to the normal state after disease is somewhat relieved or cured, disease easily recurs due to improper diet, emotional disturbance, etc. For example, when just recovering from diarrhea, infants should have light food, as functions of the spleen and stomach have not completely restored to the normal state; otherwise, heavy diet and overeating will severely impair the spleen and stomach and lead to the recurrence of disease. Therefore, it is also considered as an important part of "preventive treatment of disease";.