Chinese Medicine

Health has been described as our greatest gift. Each of us wants to know how to keep ourselves in the best state of health and well-being. Chinese medicine has a unique view of the whole person as an energetic network of interconnecting channels and organs. It is increasingly being recognised as one of the great resources for promoting health and treating disease.

In modern life, more people are turning to such ancient wisdoms. There are several reasons for this. Some need help with specific health problems, some wish to make more sense of their busy lives whilst others have a deep feeling of connection with Chinese or, more generally, Oriental philosophies. Whatever is your situation, you will find that Chinese medicine has the breadth of view and the profundity of knowledge which can help and support you.

Over the past ten to fifteen years there has been a dramatic increase in the number of people seeking help from practitioners of Chinese medicine and in the numbers of people choosing Chinese medicine as a healing profession. This trend seems set to continue as a consequence of the benefits which people experience.

When I worked in conventional medical practice in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, there was little mention of Chinese medicine. My first experience of it was when some of my patients would return to me with relief of their symptoms, not from anything which I had done but because they had received acupuncture or herbal treatment. I became more and more interested in what it has to offer. I subsequently trained in Chinese medicine and now only use that as a method of treatment. I find that it is extremely effective, safe and gentle. Since then, it seems that almost everyone has heard of acupuncture, many people have had such treatment and many more are considering receiving it.

What is traditional Chinese medicine?

Chinese medicine is an holistic system of medicine which originated in China at least 4000 years ago. Over the intervening centuries it has spread from its origins to be found world-wide. It provides the basic philosophical foundation for related medical systems in neighbouring countries such as Korea, Vietnam and Japan. Some practitioners describe themselves as using Oriental medicine to include these influences. The same ideas are, however, common to all these strands of medical practice.

The principles which underlie Chinese medicine are universal and can be applied to all of us, whatever our background and culture. Eventually, Chinese medicine will become integrated into Western culture and take account of our experiences and situation.

Modern perceptions of health and health care

In the past 20 or years or so, people in the West have started to think differently about health and disease. As people begin to take more responsibility for their health, they are becoming more familiar with systems of healing, such as Chinese medicine which include, rather than exclude, their active participation. This is a resurgence of ideas which were once common in the West but have disappeared or are difficult to find due to industrialisation and the growth of materialism.

Chinese medicine has always been concerned with health and its maintenance rather than with disease and ill-health. It is excellent in dealing with disease when it occurs but prevention is always preferable to cure. There is a Chinese saying that treating an illness is like digging a well when thirsty. That is to say, there may be some benefit in doing so but preparing before the event is the best policy. Traditionally, physicians would be paid to keep people well. They would not be paid if their patients were ill. It was therefore in everyone’s interests to maintain health.

The Chinese, consequently, have a positive view of health and being human. Health is not just the absence of symptoms but the presence of a vital and dynamic state of well-being. You may know from your own experience that there are times when you feel ‘under the weather’ or below par. You do not have a disease and but there is something not quite right. Chinese medicine is able to explain such feelings and has methods which can correct them. This will help prevent the development of more serious problems later and allow you to benefit from increased feelings of vitality.

The beauty of Chinese medicine is that is gives you a simple, yet profound, understanding of how the body works and its connections with the environment. By changing our habits or applying specific treatments, it is possible to correct any abnormalities and to generally strengthen ourselves.

The underlying principle is that of energy or Qi (pronounced ‘chee’) which pervades the whole of the body and the surrounding environment. The flow of Qi may become disordered. Essentially, this may be as a result of a weakness in the Qi or because its flow is not harmonious.

There are eight methods available to Chinese medicine which can be used to prevent illness or to treat illness once it arrives. They are all effective in regaining and supporting health. A variety of approaches is helpful in any situation as each person is obviously different. It may be that a simple adjustment to an aspect of lifestyle may be sufficient – perhaps diet, exercise or relaxation. If this is not the case, there are more powerful methods available such as acupuncture and herbs.

Eight methods to treat disease and to be healthy:









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