Archive for the ‘Chinese Herbs’ Category

Li Dong-Yuan and the Earth School in Chinese Medicine

Friday, June 20th, 2014

lidongyuanAs Chinese medicine evolved, practitioners began to realize that patients did not live in a vacuum and they could not be treated as such. Every patient affected by an ailment needed to be treated individually because many factors beyond just physical disease were playing a role and required attention. For Master Li Dong-Yuan, lifestyle was a major factor in the preservation of a patient’s well being. He felt that patients’ emotions could heavily influence the qi’s integrity and that physical illness could be eroded by the socio-economics of a war-torn society plagued with famine, epidemics and poverty.

Li Dong-Yuan, also known as Li Gao (1180 – 1251 c.e.), began his medical studies under one of the most famous physicians in the Hubei Province: Zhang Yuan-Su. Li Dong-Yuan’s family was wealthy, so he was afforded a great opportunity to apprentice closely with Zhang Yuan-Su and the teachings of the Yi Shui School. It was from this direct influence that he formulated his own school of thought that became known as the Earth School.

Once he completed his studies with Zhang Yuan-Su, Li Dong-Yuan became involved in managing his family’s property. After the decades of harsh Mongol conquests, he left home in Hubei to utilize his medical knowledge and training to treat the masses that were adversely affected by the unrest and upheaval of being a conquered region.

It was then that he began to deeply develop his thesis that the etiology of most diseases was a result of injury to the digestive system. The principle organs of the digestive system from a Chinese medical model are the Stomach and the Spleen, which are responsible for taking food and drink and transforming the raw material into energy (qi) for the body’s core functions. Li Dong-Yuan believed that the cause of damage to the stomach and spleen occurred as a result of three main factors: intemperance in eating and drinking (especially consumption of excess amounts of cold, raw, fatty or unclean foods), overwork which leads to exhaustion, and from the effects of excessive and habituated emotional expression — excessive emotions agitate the body and consequently weaken digestion.

When the conquered people were left powerless, poor and unable to access proper nutrition, opportunistic disease processes were able to also overcome and vanquish health physically, mentally and spiritually. This becomes the basis of the Earth School’s doctrine.

Weak digestion on a physical level leads to exhaustion and listlessness with loss of appetite, loose stools and visceral prolapse. On a mental level the organs of the stomach and spleen when distressed have lost the ability to problem solve and use intellect. There becomes a tendency to over-ruminate on the same subject without the ability to act on a resolution. This creates the concept of yin fire. Yin fire is the pathological state of habituated unresolved emotions that are unable to be expressed and manifested, which leads to a noxious feedback cycle culminating in repression and suppression of negative emotions.

Because these feelings have no outlet for expulsion from the mind or body, they become lodged internally. Over time, this leads to the generation of heat trapped in the body which further exhausts resources and causes further debility. We may recognize these states from a Western lens as syndromes of chronic inflammation or autoimmune responses.

Two of Li Dong-Yuan’s most important Chinese herbal formulas to treat digestive qi’s lack of strength and integrity along with the discharge of the injurious heat were Sheng Yang Yi Wei Tang (Yang Ascending and Stomach Nourishing Decoction) and Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang (Tonify the Center and Regulate the Qi Decoction). Both formulas include ginseng (Ren Shen), astragalus (Huang Qi), and white atractylodes (Bai Zhu) to strengthen the weakened person.

Another common feature is the use of bupleurum (chai hu) to ease emotional tension, allow unencumbered flow and to lift – holding the body’s structures in place. Historically, we are now at a turning point in the crafting of Chinese herbal formulas. Li Dong-Yuan is using a bi-directional strategy of both uplifting and rehabilitating the body’s resources while simultaneously draining out of the body injurious heat and dampness. He is also revolutionary in assigning directionality of herbs to ascend or descend when ingested and also creating a mapping of an herb’s proclivity to affect change certain organs and channels.

He also credited for the herbal formula Sheng Mai San (Pulse Generating Powder), which is still widely used in modern Chinese hospitals for cardiovascular cases, as well as Dang Gui Bu Xue Tang, which is a combination of astragalus (Huang Qi) and Dang Gui (in a ratio of 5:1), used to quickly and deeply nourish the qi and blood following extensive blood loss.

The addition of the Earth School’s ideas to Chinese Medicine helped to further incorporate the concept that exogenous pestilent factors were not the only etiology of disease – and that it was necessary to self cultivate to nurture and build health in order to maintain well-being. Li Dong-Yuan taught a way to live a proactively healthy life as well as a path to reclaim health when afflicted.

 

Liu Wan-Su and the Cooling School in Chinese Medicine

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014
one of the four great masters of chinese medicine

one of the four great masters of chinese medicine

So, we’ve established that the practice of Chinese medicine has a long and dynamic history—that’s why it’s still around and used actively today. Why and how Chinese medicine has such longevity has a lot to do with when and who brought about innovation and change. We’ve recognized that the when was during the Jin-Yuan period in 13th and 14th century China and the who—the Four Masters of Chinese medicine that lived and worked during this time. But who were they, what did they do and why were they so important?

Amongst the great political unrest of the Mongol Dynasty in the 13th century, where over nine rulers came to power in a short period of time, Chinese medicine improved. The Mongol rulers imposed restrictions on medical practices and began banning certain therapeutics. These changes instigated practitioners to innovate and find new methods. Seeking this progress in medicine was a personal mission for one of the Four Masters, Liu Wan-Su, who lived from 1120-1200. Liu Wan-Su, it is said, decided to immerse himself in medicine when his mother fell ill and later died after multiple failed attempts to secure treatment for her due to his family’s impoverished status.

Liu Wan-Su was a Neo-Confucianist– meaning he was influenced by the both the teachings of Daoism and Buddhism. His Daoist name was Xuan Tong, which translates to “Penetrate Mystery,” was very fitting given his zeal to deeply understand and demystify Chinese medicine. His commentaries and interest were primarily in discovering deeper meaning of the Nei Jing’s Su Wen. The Nei Jing is also commonly known as the Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon. It is a Chinese medical text that has been treated as one of the fundamental doctrinal sources for Chinese medicine for more than two thousand years. The work is composed of two texts each containing eighty-one chapters in a question-and-answer format between the mythical Huangdi (Yellow Emperor) and a physician Qi-Bo.

The first of the two texts, the Su Wen (also known as Basic Questions) covers the theory and philosophical constructs of Chinese medicine in relation to causation, diagnosis and treatment of disease. Liu Wan-Su was trying to find and decipher the hidden messages in its teachings. Eventually, Liu Wan-Su developed his own style based on his rigorous studies. This has become known as “The Cooling School.”

His treatment strategies are based on the Five Elements and the Six Influences. Meaning, his system is based on how the predominate climatic factors of each season tend to generate certain types of pathogens that flourish during that particular time of the year. His focus was based on the belief that all pathogens whether they originally were caused by wind, dampness, summer heat, fire, dryness or cold would turn into heat when trapped inside the body. So his herbal focus was geared toward the eradication of hot and feverish, febrile diseases.

The Cooling School utilized cool and cold natured herbs in addition to spicy and sweet herbs to comprise most of his heat reducing formulas. Many of his formulas also included the use of talc, known in pin yin as hua shi. Hua shi is useful in promoting urination. This works as a strategy in removing excessive heat from the body by increasing urinary output. His most popular Chinese herbal formulas include Liu Yi San (Six to One Powder), Yi Yuan San (Powder to Benefit Vitality), Bi Yu San, and Gui Ling Gan Lu Yin (Cinnamon, Hoelen, and Licorice Combination)

While keeping the idea of the pathogenic fire in mind, Liu Wan-Su tailored his treatments – so if a weaker patient couldn’t handle a strong heat clearing medicinals, the herbs were modified carefully to ensure good results.

He believed that acupuncture should be gentle with very shallow needling. He emphasized using jing-well points which are acupuncture points located near the nail bed on both the fingers and toes. Liu Wan-Su’s use of jing-well points facilitated multiple strategies to include opening the sensory portals on the head, resuscitation of the yang, expulsion of pathogenic wind, and the removal of irritability and unsteadiness.

Liu Wan-Su was also a great proponent of self-cultivation. Through his teachings, he encouraged patents to seek personal enlightenment, enrichment and education to help lift one’s self but also to benefit society as a whole. He believed that in order to help a person to see the world differently and to be able to act differently was the manifestation and discipline of a steadfast practice.

Witness and observe to become a sage.

Be in a place of looking out while also looking inward.

Liu Wan-Su’s teachings still influence the way modern practitioners diagnose and treat disease. Although many modern diseases present as chronic and very complex, Li Wan-Su’s basic tenants around lifestyle counseling seem tailored to a modern hectic existence. His philosophy included an approach that centered on slowing down to appreciate the things around you, to open yourself to seeing things differently and to empower people to change themselves in order to change and eliminate disease. Sounds like sensible medical advice to me!

The Four Masters of Chinese Medicine: Architects of Change

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

4 great mastersIn the mad world of newer-better-faster-stronger, it’s important to take a minute and remember that all of the advances that we have—from iPhones and micro-computers to laser treatments and super drugs—evolved from earlier innovation. The foundations of modern medicine are no exception.  Often the basics that new techniques are built upon trace back to systems laid out centuries ago and are still formidable in shaping new ideas and thoughts on disease treatment and prevention. Chinese medicine is arguably the oldest, continually practiced form of medicine in the world. There definitely is a reason these strategies have survived the test of time.

It’s become a pretty common practice to spend time on the internet diagnosing ourselves and thinking about treatment options. As more practitioners and patients move towards collaborative medicine and incorporate Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) into Western treatment plans, it’s not a bad idea to have a better understanding about the theories developed, the physiology around why it works, and the historical context that shaped the paradigm shift. Exploring the important contributions made by masters of Chinese medicine helps provide a better understanding of how medicine has evolved to where it is today. Never a bad thing to know where and why things started.

So, what and who shaped Traditional Chinese Medicine? Much and rightful attention is paid to the Han Dynasty (220 B.C. to 220 A.D.). The masters of Chinese medicine of this era included Hua T’o and Zhang Zhong Jing. This is when the most famous texts of Chinese medicine were published; these seminal texts include the Shang Han Lun (Treatise on Cold Damage Disorders) and the Jin Gui Yao Lue (Essential Prescription from the Golden Cabinet). Chinese medical knowledge during the Han dynasty is expansive. Hua T’o is credited for self cultivation practices known as daoyin exercises as well as surgical and anesthesia protocols. Zhang Zhong Jing is recognized for the development of the Six Stages Theory. This theory is a model for the diagnosis and treatment of disease based on the progression of pathogens once they enter the body. This becomes a foundation for the practice of herbal internal medicine.

The historical time known as the Jin-Yuan period will be the focus of our of next four blog articles. The Jin-Yuan period covers the 13th and 14th centuries and is a catalyst for the development of great innovation in Chinese medicine.

From the Jin-Yuan era came the development of four distinct schools of thought, created by men who came to be known as the Four Great Masters of Chinese Medicine – Li Wan Su, Zhang Zi He, Li Dong Yuan, and Zhu Dan Xi. Their mastery of Chinese medicine coupled with their personal circumstances during the times they lived helped shape four distinct philosophies in the causation, prevention and elimination of disease. Their critiques of the classical canons and doctrine create new developments and ways of thinking thus expanding the medicine for more modern times and conditions. Their novel new approaches helped usher in a renaissance in Chinese medicine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acupuncture & Chinese Herbal Medicine for the Treatment of Raynaud’s Disease

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014
Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine for Raynaud's Disease

Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine can be helpful for Raynaud’s Disease

Women are more likely than men to have Raynaud’s disease and, perhaps not surprisingly, it’s more common in people who live in colder climates.

“Treatment” for Raynaud’s disease often consists of activities like layering clothing, wearing gloves and donning extra thick socks. Some patients take medications deigned to open up or widen their blood vessels and promote circulation.

Increasingly, I am seeing patients who are interested in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) approaches to easing Raynaud’s disease. These treatment regimens are often focused on herbal formulas that warm, increase peripheral circulation and work on improving the integrity of qi and blood in the superficial channels. Depending on the Patient’s presentation we  evaluate and use herbs such as astragulus (huang qi), aconite (fu zi), ginger (gan jiang), ligusticum (chuan xiong) and cinnamon (gui zhi) to ease the chill, move blood and reduce pain in their extremities.

Patients are also finding relief with acupuncture as it can increase blood flow and decrease pain. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine showed that acupuncture treatment decreased the symptoms or “attacks” of Raynaud’s disease by 63%.

Finally, avoiding too much caffeine, getting a good amount of exercise and eating a balanced diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids can also help your body successfully combat Raynaud’s disease.

More information and helpful resources for Raynaud’s disease can be found here:

http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/raynauds-phenomenon

http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART00402/Raynauds-Disease.html

http://www.raynauds.org/2011/05/08/my-journey-with-acupuncture/

http://www.livestrong.com/article/533017-acupuncture-for-raynauds/

Keeping Up Your Health in a Time of Wearing Down

Thursday, November 7th, 2013
personal investment in health

personal investment in health

The mind-set, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” has become an ingrained attitude of embracing decay in America. It is played out in our current political arenas, our values and in matters of personal growth and self care. As a result of our quest to tighten fiscal belts, our infrastructure is also experiencing malnourishment and neglect. This has been highlighted in numerous articles and recent studies, and has been the source of outrage and, often, despair once something finally surrenders in a cataclysmic manner (think bridge collapses, levy failures, government shutdowns).

This was discussed in an interesting and thought-provoking 2012 article from The Economist, “A Question of Trust”:

For decades America has underinvested in infrastructure—even though poor roads, delayed flights, crumbling bridges and inefficient buildings are an expensive burden. Deficiencies in roads, bridges and transport systems alone cost households and businesses nearly $130 billion in 2010, mostly because of higher running costs and travel delays. This filters through to all parts of the economy and increases costs at the point of use of many raw materials, and thereby reduces the productivity and competitiveness of American firms and their goods. Overall the American Society of Civil Engineers reckons that this underinvestment will end up costing each family in the country about $10,600 between 2010 and 2020.

I believe that – unfortunately – this attitude of neglect and purposeful ignorance is affecting the state of our country’s personal health. We live in a time where most of us are connected to the web, texting and email 24/7. We are also over-connected to information that really is inane, unnecessary and just a diversion. Our personal infrastructure is overburdened and overly taxed! We tend to devalue expenditure on our personal infrastructure. We prefer spending on the novelty and status of newer and faster stuff that binds us more intimately to the accelerated disintegration of our body’s finite resources, our emotional stability and our potential for spiritual fulfillment.

Further, we tend to only pay heed when symptoms have gone from intermittent to fixed, subtle to untenable. This is a level of minimal engagement that is truly very costly, filters through all parts of the economy, reduces productivity and aides and abets the breakdown of community. If we were to become just an iota more introspective, and listen to the internal inspection reports that are constantly emitting as “the state of our infrastructure” we could CHOOSE to engage our efforts and modest financial resources to rebuild and recover our true innate personhood.

The potential net gain is infinite, but how do we engage in this process?

No it doesn’t require a new type of sporting gear, a faster processor or more mega pixels. It isn’t achieved through V8 German horsepower or a mani and pedi.

It is far more exclusive, but accessible by all.

To quote Elmer Fudd, “Shhh. Be vewy vewy quiet” and then check inside.

What is the state of your personal infrastructure?

If you are listening you might hear:

“I’m tired.”

“I am anxious.”

“I am unhappy.”

“I am scared.”

“I am in pain.”

The next step is to disengage our familiar response toward the cry.

Challenge your automatic responses and habituations toward the predicament.

If you are tired, rather than reach for more caffeine, get more rest.

If you are discontented, rather than mindlessly eating more “comfort food,” sit and think about involving yourself in things that engender happiness and freedom of expression.

If something is hurting, stop ignoring it. Seek nurturing and expertise to understand and work toward corrective measures.

Most of the challenges we experience with our infrastructure come from the chronicity of ignoring our body’s own reports and cries for help.

Yes, there will come the day that our infrastructure can no longer withstand the neglect just like the day that the levees no longer could hold, despite the decades of countless warning. It’s the broken aspects of our situation that provide the richest opportunities for innovation and growth.

It isn’t necessary to suffer so intensely or be so outraged with the state of our infrastructure.

How can I be so certain of this? We all struggle with our mortality and the ebb and flow of emotional discontent, feeling powerless and pain. I think they call it “the human condition”. Try something new put yourself in the zone of reaching beyond your own resistance, if this doesn’t work for you, you can always go back to what you are doing now, no questions asked.

If we pay attention and give town-hall time to the inner self and it’s innate mission to survive, we can go way beyond the fundamental preservation skills of our lizard brain and really begin to have a symbiotic relationship with ourselves, our responsibilities and our commitments, This is how we tap into our infinite potential.

Dedicate yourself to a small amount of structured time and resources for the communion, I guarantee it WILL pay off.

 

 

 

 


Getting Back into the Swing After Summer…

Monday, October 7th, 2013
seasonal acupuncture for wellness

Finding wellness and balance with acupuncture and Chinese medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine to Reduce your Stress and Find your Rhythm

Those long, lazy days of summer are waning and crisper fall days are just around the corner. For many of us – parents, students, professionals – this means a return to our “normal” schedules of school, work and daily routines. This can also mean a return to stress and anxiety. So, how can you keep the relaxed vibe of the summer going into the fall?

Many of my patients make the conscious choice to really focus on reducing their stress this time of year. They try to be mindful of the anxiety that back-to-school and back-from-vacation can bring and they carve out time to rest, exercise and use Traditional Chinese Medicine to help.

For example, a recent Georgetown University study showed that acupuncture can help reduce the levels of proteins associated with chronic stress in rats and shed light on exactly how acupuncture works to reduce stress.

There are also numerous herbs used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to promote balance and reduce stress:

  • Chrysanthemum tea – this has been used for 1000s of years in Chinese medicine as a daily soothing tea; it also helps maintain a healthy liver.
  • Suan Zao Ren (Sour Jujube seeds) – in TCM, these seeds are used to reduce irritability, stress and to help treat insomnia.
  • Xiao Yao Wan – is a very popular Chinese herbal formula, Xiao Yao Wan promotes free flow, smooth emotions and overall balance.

There are other ways to help reduce your stress this time of year that are also key to the tenets of TCM and in promoting body balance:

Get outside – even if it’s just for a short walk after dinner, getting out into nature can revitalize your mind and body and help de-stress after a long day in the office, classroom or car.

Sleep – your body can’t function at its best without proper rest; make sure to get your 8 hours!

Appreciation and Gratitude – while this may be a busy time of year, it’s always a good time to take a moment to appreciate what you have, be mindful about your health and be cognizant of your loved ones and family.

 

Enjoy the fall!

Eczema: How Chinese Medicine & Acupuncture Can Help

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

Eczema – also sometimes referred to as dermatitis – is a common skin condition marked by an itchy red rash that can appear in skin folds around the knees, elbows or neck. Children commonly suffer from eczema, but studies have also shown the condition to be widespread in adults – with recent studies showing that up to 30% of the population suffers from eczema at some point in their lives.

The causes of eczema are not fully understood, but researchers and scientists believe that the condition is probably the result of a number of factors including genetics and the patient’s environment. Eczema is usually mild and causes itching and irritation, but in more severe forms, it can lead to pain and discomfort, can disrupt sleep and can limit daily activities. Traditional treatments for eczema include creams, ointments or corticosteroids and doctors often recommend that patients avoid soap, detergents or materials that could increase irritation.

Looking at eczema from a traditional Chinese Medicine perspective is a wholly different approach. While allergies and environment may be factors, Chinese Medicine also explores the role of the body’s overall health and balance (both physical and emotional). Ailments and illnesses occur when this balance is disturbed and skin conditions, rashes and irritations can be external symptoms of other health factors and problems like emotional stress, diet and fatigue.

So, to treat eczema, Chinese Medicine takes a more whole body / whole patient approach. I talk with my patients to learn more about their health and habits. Is there an underlying health problem or illness? A change in work or stress levels? An alteration in diet?  Using this information I then develop a customized treatment regimen of herbs, acupuncture and even diet for each patient. Using this personalized approach to restoring overall balance, I have had success decreasing patients’ eczema, itching and irritation.

This approach has worked for others, as well, and more and more patients are turning to Chinese Medicine to help treat the underlying cause of their eczema. In fact, a study published in 2011 showed that acupuncture treatment helped reduce itch intensity for patients suffering from eczema.

Healthy New Year – Resolutions for Better Health in 2013

Friday, January 18th, 2013

It’s here. 2013. Hopefully you rang it in with joy and good health, but if you are like many Americans, you have resolved to eat better and be better when it comes to your health this year.

Easier said than done, right?

If you are still on track and haven’t broken that New Year’s Resolution just yet, good for you. If you’ve faltered a bit, here are 5 top tips from Traditional Chinese Medicine (or TCM) that may help you stay the course.

1. Move more

Stagnation is not good – especially when it’s your body. To really take control of your health and keep your blood and endorphins flowing, you’ve got to get up and move. It could be as simple as getting outside for a 20 minute walk. The key is moving. Your body is an instrument – the most important (and only one!) you’ve got – you’ve got to keep it tuned up and in shape to get the most out of it.

2. Stress less

This one seems obvious, but it’s often the hardest to accomplish. We all have stress in our lives, but it seriously impacts your qi and the body’s ability to clear toxins and ward off illness. Take 10 minutes to slow down and listen to your breathing. Seriously think about cutting out those activities or people that bring you nothing but stress. Your body will thank you.

3. Eat and Drink When You are Hungry and Thirsty

I know, this one sounds plainly obvious, but think about how the vast majority of people eat or drink today. It tends to be about quantity, not quality and about schedules, not listening to your body’s needs. Traditional Chinese Medicine emphasizes moderation in eating and drinking (TCM says to eat until you feel 70% full) and advises that people consume food and beverages when the body needs it.

4. Think About “Hot” and “Cold” Foods

Again, TCM is all about balance, so if you are someone who tends to feel or be cold, think about adding more “warm” foods and spices into your diet – both food temperature and also characteristics (curries, chili peppers, etc.) On the other end of the spectrum, if you are often hot or live in a warmer climate, TCM dictates that “cool” foods will help balance your diet. You might want to add more mint, cucumbers, or celery to your meals.

5. Eat locally and seasonally

TCM emphasizes balance and the body’s relationship with its surroundings. By eating fruits, vegetables and even meats that were locally grown or harvested, you are connecting your body and your health with your environment. You also eat more healthily by selecting produce that is in season. There’s a reason certain fruits and vegetables are ripe and ready for eating in certain months, whether it’s peaches in the summer or root vegetables in the fall and winter – your body is attuned to that harvesting cycle and will thank you for it.

 

These are just a few of my own tips and resolutions for 2013. What are some of yours? Let me know in the comments or Tweet me at @empiricalpoint.

 

And here’s to a happy and healthy 2013!

 

 

The Concept of Qi in Chinese Medicine

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

chinese qiThe Daoist philosophical approach is a close relationship between humankind and nature. Concepts of qi can be noted by Daoist writers such as Lao Zi, Zhuang Zi and Lao-Zhuang. Qi was used to explain the workings of the entire universe. As a microcosm of the universe, the concept of qi made its way into medical writings.

Qi became known as the vital substance of living beings. Medical theorists postulated that just as qi was seen to drive wind through the sky, collect in mountains and course from the river to the sea, qi must certainly follow these same principles within the body. This becomes the basis of anatomy and physiology in Chinese medicine. It is known to practitioners of acupuncture Chinese medicine as the jing luo  经络.

When qi was adopted as a construct of physiology in Chinese medical theory, differentiating the many processes of qi in the body then followed. Very sophisticated and complex mechanisms to explain the processes of human life took shape. By the time the seminal text, “The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine” was compiled (450-200 B.C.), close to 300 different categories of qi were expanded and developed to describe everything from the skin’s pores opening and closing to proper digestion and elimination.

The two most basic categories of qi are yin qi and yang qi. The yin qi is the nourishment that comes from the assimilation of food and drink via the digestion. The yang qi in its most yang form is known as Wei qi. This “defensive qi” circulates outside the jing luo as serves as a defensive mechanism against external pathogens that try to enter the body. This is very similar to the Western concept of having a strong immune system.

In addition to the basic broad categories of qi, all the internal organs have their own distinctive qi. Each organ’s unique qi is seen to control specific physiological, sensory and emotional processes

As you can see, qi is scalable and defines both health and pathological developments in the body. The practitioner of acupuncture and Chinese medicine uses questioning, palpation, observation and other sensory input to access a patient’s concerns. These concerns are then translated into proper and improper qi mechanisms within the body. The skilled practitioner then works to resolve the named imbalance, insufficiency or excess situation through the use of qigong, dietary therapy, massage, herbs or acupuncture.

This understanding and harnessing of qi – the vital substance of all living things – is the core element and foundation of Traditional Chinese Medicine and the basis for how I work with all of my patients. To learn more about qi, you can visit:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/arthur-rosenfeld/what-is-qi_b_743986.html

http://taoism.about.com/od/qi/a/Qi.htm

http://www.acupuncturetoday.com/archives2004/sep/09lo.html

History of Acupuncture

Friday, October 12th, 2012
historical acupuncture text

acupuncture and Chinese medicine has an interesting and long history

So, you are thinking about trying acupuncture to help improve and maintain your health? Or, perhaps you are a long-time devotee of the approach to balancing your energy and improving your well-being? No?  Maybe you are a skeptic?

No matter what your relationship with or thoughts about acupuncture are, I think you may agree that its origins and history are fascinating. I’m often asked by my patients, friends and colleagues and collaborators in the “Western medicine” field about the history of acupuncture. Here is a brief overview.

Most researchers and historians agree that Chinese medicine and acupuncture predate recorded history. In fact, sharpened stones and bones that date from about 6000 BCE have been interpreted as instruments for acupuncture treatment and the philosophy that shapes and drives current acupuncture theory is at least 2,000 years old.

The pivotal texts that reframe and reshape Chinese medicine and acupuncture from a supernatural medicine to cohesive somatic preventative practice were compiled during the Warring States period (475-221 BCE) and the early Han period (206 BCE–220 CE). These are known as the “Huang Di Nei Jing” or “The Yellow Emperors Classic of Internal Medicine.” They have a very conversational style and are written as a series of questions that are posed by the Yellow Emperor to a learned physician named Qi-Bo. They emphasize Daoist philosophy, including yin-yang theory and nature’s five element doctrine. The first book is commonly known as the “Su Wen,” or “Fundamental Questions” and covers the theoretical foundation of Chinese Medicine and its diagnostic methods. The second book is named “Ling Shu,” or “Spiritual Axis/Pivot” and is essentially a detailed acupuncture manual. These texts were revolutionary for the time due to their systemized content. The “Huang Di Nei Jing” departs from the commonly held societal shamanistic beliefs that disease was caused by demonic influences. These “conversations” between the Yellow Emperor and Qi-Bo revolutionized Chinese medicine and laid the foundation of a complete holistic medical system, emphasizing the premise that disease develops due to natural causes of diet, lifestyle, emotions, environment, and age.

Throughout the history of China, acupuncture and herbal medicine continued to advance and develop into a nuanced medicine. The Tai Ping, Imperial Academy, was very instrumental to this process. The Imperial physicians were often the “cream of the crop” physicians and scholars in Chinese medicine. They created criteria for excellence in medicine by developing detailed models for disease transmission, treatment and prognosis. Depending on the historical period, often societal and social constructs made their way into the medicine. Confucianism and moves back to renewed interest in mysticism often show up in the recorded medicine of the time.

Chinese medicine and acupuncture in the modern era was again morphing in the 1950’s. Chairman Mao declared that Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western Medicine would be united and acupuncture became widely available in all hospitals. “Barefoot Doctors’ were also trained in a very elementary manner to employ the use of Chinese medicine and acupuncture so that some form of healthcare could be deployed to meet the challenges of the rural populations. At this point in history, only 2% of China’s population lived in cities.

Acupuncture made its way to the U.S. in the early 1970s. In 1971, New York Times reporter James Reston was treated with acupuncture during a visit to Beijing and wrote an article about how it helped treat post-operative pain. The following year, the first legal acupuncture center in the U.S. opened in Washington, D.C. and in 1973, the IRS allowed taxpayers to take acupuncture treatments as a medical expense deduction.

Now, nearly 40 years later, acupuncture has become more mainstream and is rapidly growing in use and acceptance. Building on its thousands of years of history and practice, acupuncture is continuing to impact patients’ health and overall well being.

 

Sources and more interesting information:

https://www.acufinder.com/Acupuncture+Information/Detail/The+History+of+Acupuncture

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acupuncture

http://rheumatology.oxfordjournals.org/content/43/5/662.full