Acupuncture: Past and Present.
Let’s talk about Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine in a different way to most people, that being Qi (chi), Blood, Meridians, etc. It can be difficult to explain Acupuncture to patients, as Western medicine and Acupuncture have very different ways of looking at the body, and very different histories. Here are just some of the differences.
What people don’t realize is that Acupuncture and Chinese medicine is over 2,500 yrs old and is highly organized, very systematic and complete in its own right. Where as Western medicine is over 500 yrs old only, in comparison, but yes we have definitely come a long way in that time. I, as an Acupuncturist, certainly can’t do operations on people’s brains or bodies, nor do transplants. Yet if we look at Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine, it was being used during times of real plagues that wiped out thousands, real wars where people were injured on the battlefield resulting in infections, without the use of antibiotics or the understanding of bacteria and viruses, nor the use of microscopes to see these in blood tests, as is used in Western medicine today.
Another way in which Acupuncture has trouble relating to today, is the cultural language that is used in this system. As the Chinese language is figurative and doesn’t have every object and disease named exactly, in Acupuncture we use terms such as Wind, Damp, Qi, etc. It can be difficult and sometimes confusing, to explain these disease states to our patients, together with the fact that Chinese Medicine says that the disease state does not have set boundaries and that it changes from moment to moment or day to day. So no two people will respond to treatment in the same way, unlike when 10 people take a prescription drug.
Chinese Medicine has been based on observation and correspondences found in nature and life, for example, we say wind strikes the body and the pathogen enters the body. When we look at diseases that are viral or bacterial they tend to travel through the air, and what does air do? It moves as wind, hence the catching of Colds and Flu in winter. Again no microscopes or images were available to refer to, at that time or period.
Another difference between Chinese medicine and Western medicine is that in Chinese Medicine we look for the root cause of the disease, not the symptoms as in Western medicine, which is the end result of the infection and its related symptoms, such as headache, muscle aches, tiredness etc..
Also during the period when Chinese medicine was being developed there were a number of schools of thought that focussed on different areas of health. The Pi Wei Lun focussed on Stomach/Spleen disorders, Shang Hun Lun focussed on cold disorders eg. Colds and Flu, Wen Bing focussed on summer diseases, eg heat stroke. This whole area of Chinese medicine has continuously been added to, improved, researched and expanded into all areas of health from Women’s Health, Stroke, Post Stroke, Cancer support, Sports injuries, Digestive, Mood Disorders and all other areas of Health.
During my time studying and training in China with Professors and Practitioners in private practice outside the hospital System, I was always amazed at the results patients obtained by the use of a traditional system that uses fine hair like needles and natural herbs to obtain results that would need to be seen and experienced. All without the side effects of Pharmaceuticals. So food for thought, I look forward to being given the opportunity to introduce you to this old and amazing system of Medicine, at Health In the Bay.