What is Acupuncture?

In Eastern philosophy everything is seen to exist within the continuous circle of nature. Nature is a unified system. When the elements of nature are in balance, life is in harmony and flourishes. Humanity cannot be separated from nature – we are nature, manifest as people. Life in ancient China (and indeed many ancient cultures), was completely dependent on the earth, and life revolved around its processes. The people depended on the fruits of the land for survival. Agricultural societies experienced power through nature and aspired to be in harmony with the seasons, rhythms and patterns that connected all things to each other. Living in harmony with the world around you was the way to maintain health. If one was to live out of balance with nature, illness would develop. Doing activities or eating foods that did not coincide with the season, or living out of balance with your constitution would cause you to get sick. Everything in everyday existence was an integral part of not only the health of the individual, but their well being and peace of mind as well.

The ancient Chinese saw human beings as a macrocosm of the universe surrounding them. They saw themselves as part of an unbroken wholeness, the Tao. Taoism is a principal philosophy and system of religion that originated in China and is based on the teachings of Lao Tzu in the sixth century B.C. It advocates a simple honest life and noninterference with the course of natural events, preserving and restoring the Tao in the body and the cosmos. The Tao literally means “the Way”. The true physician teaches the Tao, or “how to live”.

“Maintaining order rather than correcting disorder is the ultimate principle of wisdom. To cure disease after it has appeared is like digging a well when one already feels thirsty or forging weapons after the war has already begun.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Huang Di Nei Jing

In the Chinese philosophy there was a fusing of the mind and body and the people with their world. Everything was integrated and interrelated. This is something that Chinese medicine has never lost, as it is the basis of not only the medicine, but the culture as a whole. The reason that Chinese medicine has never severed the connection is because it would be impossible. It is the connection that is the basis of the medicine. The body is absolutely connected to the mind, and they both work in harmony to keep us alive and healthy. Any disease, or imbalance that causes disease, is thought to be an imbalance in the entire system and cannot be broken down to the disease of just one thing. One thing affects all, thus, the whole body, mind and spirit are kept in working order, the idea being that if we are in balance, illness will never develop.

It is a wonder that Chinese medicine, a medicine that is more than 4000 years old, is still able to diagnose and treat maladies that affect people that live in a civilization that is so vastly different from the one in which it was created. One of the most impressive things about Chinese medicine is how is has evolved over the centuries, so much so that it is still as relevant and capable of treating disease as it was 4000 years ago. Perhaps the most attractive, and ultimately most effective aspect of Chinese medical theory, is its simplicity. This is certainly one if its strongest points and the thing that makes it truly universal. Its theories are based on things like emotions, diet, stress and weather and it contains metaphors from nature like fire, earth, metal water, wood, hot, cold and wind. These fundamental qualities mean that it can be applied to any culture, in any time. The Chinese have a truly poetic way of describing the body and its processes. For example, a feeling of extreme anger and frustration causing high blood pressure may be seen as liver qi stagnation – the blockage of the body’s vital energy emanating from the liver, and an inability to sleep may be attributed to a disturbance of shen – the mental aspect of the heart.

The Chinese believe that everything has energy or a life force called qi. The concept of qi is absolutely at the heart of Chinese medicine. Every living thing has qi, and the Chinese accept this even though it is hard to define, invisible to the naked eye and almost impossible to prove. It is immaterial yet essential to life and all of its processes. Qi is an invisible force known by what it generates, fosters and protects. Matter is qi taking shape. Without it, life wouldn’t exist.

 


Tui Na

Tuina is a form of Oriental bodywork that has been used in China for centuries. A combination of massage, acupressure and other forms of body manipulation, tuina works by applying pressure to acupoints, meridians and groups of muscles or nerves to remove blockages that prevent the free flow of qi. Removing these blockages restores the balance of qi in the body, leading to improved health and vitality.


The Importance of the Pulse: Chinese Pulse Diagnosis

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac

Anyone who has ever been to see a doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), will be familiar with having their pulse taken in the unique TCM way. We all know that the pulse tell us about heart rate, and that listening to the heartbeats speed and regularity are used to help diagnose heart problems in the Western medical model. The pulse in Chinese Medicine however, is used to give us a lot more information about the patient.

There is no stethoscope. The pulse is generally taken with the patient seated, the practitioner placing 3 fingers on the patients wrist, feeling for the radial artery. Each wrist's pulse is taken, and the position of each finger represents a specific organ. There are 6 organs represented, 3 on the right, and 3 on the left. There are 3 different depths at which the pulse is taken as well, each representing a different aspect of the overall health of the patient. The three wrist sections of the pulse are the front, middle and rear, respectively. The three levels are superficial (pressing lightly), middle (pressing a little deeper) and deep (pressing even deeper). The three levels at each of the three sections on the wrist are referred to as the “Nine Regions.”

LEFT WRIST

FRONT: HEART / SMALL INTESTINE

MIDDLE: LIVER / GALL BLADDER

REAR: KIDNEY / BLADDER

RIGHT WRIST

FRONT: LUNGS / LARGE INTESTINE

MIDDLE: SPLEEN / STOMACH

REAR: GATE OF VITALITY FIRE

These three levels of the pulse give an immediate idea of the level of Qi in the body and, therefore, the kind of pathological condition that might be present. In particular, the superficial level reflects the state of Qi (energy), the middle level reflects the state of Blood and the deep level reflects the state of Yin (the water aspect of the body). Thus, by examining the strength and quality of the pulse at these three levels, we get a better idea of the pathology of Qi, Blood and Yin, and of the relative state of balance in the body as a whole.

Any imbalance in Chinese medicine is seen to be the cause of disease, therefore the goal of the TCM practitioner is to discover the root of the imbalance by listening to the pulse, looking at the tongue, observing the body, and doing a thorough investigation of the patients medical history and presenting symptoms. Once all of the information has been collected, a diagnosis is reached and a treatment plan can be created for the patient according to their specific needs. The pulse is an important part of the diagnostic process in TCM, and although it may seem mysterious, there is a lot it can reveal about your health, your organs, energy level, and the overall condition of your internal environment.