Industry News

Debra Holman awarded 2011 Doris Sweetnam Scholarship

by User Not Found | Mar 04, 2011

Congratulations to Debra, a third-year TCM student at Eastern College in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Debra was awarded free admission to COMS 2011 (a $295 value), as well as a scholarship totalling $2,000.00 courtesy of Eastern Currents, Carbo Trading, and the Sweetnam Family.

We wish Debra all the best as she continues her studies!

If you are a full-time Canadian TCM student about to enter your third or fourth year, stay tuned for more details on the 2012 scholarship!

We are pleased to post Debra's winning submission here:


Seven and Eight Year Life Cycles:

Relating Traditional Chinese Medicine Views to the Modern World

By Debra Holman


In the third millennium BCE, the Yellow Emperor, Huang Di is said to have authored one of the most revered medical classics in Chinese History, the Neijing.  In his works, he relates the human life in a holistic, universally encompassing manner.  He shares his understanding of how the energetic cycles of the Universe impact human beings, creating significant life events in cyclical patterns of 8 years for males and 7 years for females. 

In this essay we have been asked to examine this traditionally based ‘gold standard’ of growth and development and to ‘translate’ its contents in order to make it more relevant in this modern Western world. Doing this will allow us to see if our life cycles have remained aligned with the Universal Energies or if we have shifted out of sync.  We will determine if our advances in medicine, nutrition, and fitness have been enough to counter all of the added external stresses on the body and environment that these past few centuries of industrial growth have incurred.

Western medicine specialists, who study nothing but growth and development, offer us ‘norms’ or guidelines against which we can compare individual progress.  Although none of the researched materials could directly correspond to or repute the TCM life cycles, I feel we must modify the table to account for the extended childbearing phase of females, the extended life expectancies of both genders, and the psycho-emotional aspect of each life phase.

The chart below will offer a side-by-side comparison of the TCM based view and of my own modified and translated view.  Included at each stage are the supportive measures one might be able to offer clients as they search for ways to welcome these significant life changes in a positive, healthy manner.  For example, if a young female begins menses around 14 years of age, she and her family can prepare her body for the inevitable changes.  She can adjust her diet to support and nourish her blood and yin; she can work on controlling or stabilizing hormonal mood shifts through exercise, diet and acupuncture; and she can educate and prepare herself for a safe and healthy understanding of her sexuality.

It is important to stress that the ages listed in the table below are averages.  Multiple factors such as genetics, lifestyle, diet and activity levels may shift one individual’s life cycle events. Chronic illness may also expedite or delay life events. In this case, a TCM practitioner must offer treatment based on symptomatic and diagnostic presentation rather than relying on the indicators within the table.




TCM Life Cycle Events

Re-Defined Life Cycle Events

Supportive Actions



- Kidney energy full

- Permanent teeth

- Hair is longer


- Full of potential energy and growth

- Independence

- Socialization

- Life outside the family unit


- Promote healthy diet and active lifestyle

- Use acupuncture, and/or acupressure to stimulate Hui Meeting points that would support and nourish the growing tissues of the body

- Provide opportunity for independence





- Kidney energy becomes full

- Permanent teeth come in

- Hair grows longer


- Full of potential energy and growth

- Independence

- Socialization

- Life outside the family unit



- Kidney energy is ample

- Tian Gui is mature

- Jing is ripe and procreation is possible


- Puberty, growth and sexual maturity

- Hormones shift resulting in bodily changes

- Finding identity through friends and activities

- Encourage healthy diet, active lifestyle and balance between friends and activities

- Acupuncture treatments serve to ease challenges associated with mental and physical changes occurring in the body

- For girls, TCM treatments supports movement of Qi and Xue in the body to ensure natural onset of menses





(12 may be avge in West)


- Tian Gui or fertility essence matures

- Ren and Chong Mai open and are responsible for conception

- Menses begin

- Conception is possible


- Peak height and sexual maturity

- Shift from growth phase to readiness of sexual organs

- More emphasis on mental maturity

- Hormones shift resulting in bodily changes

- Finding identity through friends and activities



- Kidney is abundant

- Bones and tendons are strong

- Wisdom teeth arrive


- Full of strength, energy and vitality

- Adult independence and responsibility

- Anticipation of future


- TCM treatments promote good bone and tendon health, strength and energy, sexual vitality/fertility, and mental-emotional stability

- Clients can be educated on lifestyle, activity and nutritional ways to support this period of life




- Kidney energy strong and healthy

- Wisdom teeth appear

- Body is vital and flourishing


- Increased strength and vitality

- Wisdom teeth appear

- Adult independence and responsibility

- Anticipation of future

- Considering feminine role versus career



- Body is at peak strength

- Function of the male is at its peak height


- Height of male sexual energy

- Heavy into career

- Beginning or in early stages of parenting

- Lifestyle habits begin to catch up to the body

- Body both physically and mentally challenged

- Continued TCM maintenance, including acupuncture, diet and lifestyle instruction, can enhance sexual vitality/fertility, and physical and mental functioning

- There may be an emphasis on controlling the Yang energy and the supporting the Yin



- Height of female development

- Bones and tendons are well-developed

- Secondary sex characteristics  complete


- Childbearing years

- Balancing or deciding between career and family life

- Peak of physical and mental function




- Kidney Qi begins to wane

- Teeth become loose

- Hair starts to fall


- Career and family demands high

- Body needs more active maintenance to stay on par

- Sexual energy declining

- Acceptance or dissatisfaction with position in life

Last Few Stages:

- TCM treatments shift at this time to adding more support to the weakening Kidney functions of the body

- Ensuring the Liver is properly directing Qi and Xue will support one’s emotions and prevent Qi and Xue stasis

- Diet, exercise and lifestyle education are very important at this time as pre-heaven essence will exhaust more rapidly without post-heaven essence support




- YangMing channels that govern facial muscles begin to deplete

- Muscles begin to atrophy

- Face wrinkles appear

- Hair thins


- Focus on family and career

- Moving away from ‘low-risk’ child-bearing years

- Body needs more active maintenance to stay on par

- Sexual energy variable

- Acceptance or dissatisfaction with position in life

- More self reflection



- Yang energy of the head begins to deplete

- Face becomes sallow

- Hair grays

- Teeth deteriorate


- Physical body in a state of decline

- Changes in skin, hair, teeth and muscle strength are visible

- Self reflection and coming to terms with position in life



- TaiYang, ShaoYang, and YangMing are all exhausted

- Face wrinkles

- Hair turns gray

- Physical body in a state of decline

- Visible changes in skin, hair, teeth and muscle strength

- Continued self reflection and coming to terms with life’s progress

- Sexual energy declining as hormones begin to fluctuate




- Liver energy weakens and tendons stiffen


- Continued decline in strength, organ health, sexual function, and mental and physical endurance

- Tendency towards spiritual growth



- Ren and Chong channels are empty

- Tian Gui is dried up (menopause)

- Peri-menopause

- Stronger spiritual grounding and appreciation of self

- Late stages of career and family life

- Possible empty nest emotions




- Tian Gui dries up and the Jing is drained

- Kidneys are fatigues, weak and exhausted

- Possibility of conception very low

- Continued decline of body and mind

- Retirement

- Grandparent role

- Stronger spiritual grounding or full of regrets about life



- As above

- As above but Menopause more likely in this stage


The table presented above ‘polishes off’, if you will, a gold standard established in the roots of Traditional Chinese Medicine.  It demonstrates that although life has had to adjust to tremendous surface change, at our individual roots, we are still a part of the Universal life force!  Ongoing TCM support throughout the cycles keep us aligned and help us to transition through life in a healthy, balanced manner.


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