Chinese Medicine


The universal principles that govern everything under heaven are simply known as the "Way" (Tao), and they apply equally to stars and planets, molecules and atoms, operating exactly the same way in the human system as they do in the solar system.

Human health depends not only on internal energy balance within the system, but also on harmony with the macrocosmic powers of heaven (the cosmos) and earth (nature).

Traditional Chinese doctors diagnose and treat the whole human system, rather than dealing only with its separate parts. Western medicine tends to focus on the overt symptoms of disease in the part of the body where they occur.

There are three dimensions of existence, called the Three Treasures : these are jing (essence, body), chee (energy, breath), and shen (spirit, mind).
1) Jing refers to the physical body, particularly its "vital essence," such as blood, hormones, enzymes, lymph, immune factors, and other essential bodily components.
2) Chee refers to the sum total of all the vital energies within the human system, and also to the constituent energies of each internal organs, gland, tissue, and other functional part.
3) Shen refers to pure primordial spirit as well as to the temporal aspects of spirit that define the human mind in all its various facets and functions.
"Essence transforms into energy, and energy transforms into spirit. Spirit commands energy, and energy commands essence."

1. Historical Milestones in Chinese Medicine

Disease and medicine has thirty-five hundred year history in China. The most important of early medical texts was entitled "The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine."

2. The Human Energy System

The Dynamics of Yin and Yang

Human energy is an electromagnetic force that functions by virtue of its dynamic polarity. It is called The Great Principle of Yin and Yang. This polarity is the basis of all organic structures and their functions. The terms yin and yang originally meant "the shady side of a hill" and "the sunny side of a hill" respectively. It transmutable relationship, for example, the shady side of the hill becomes sunny and the sunny side grows shady as the sun moves across the sky. Yin and yang naturally balance and regulate each other.

The Five Elemental Energies

By the transformation of yang and yin, the Five Elemental Energies of Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water arise. All things contain all Five Elemental Energies in various proportions.
The activities, transformations, and cyclic phases mediated by the Five Elemental Energies are all governed by a dynamic system of mutual checks and balances known as creative and control cycles. Whenever a particularly energy in the creative cycle exerts an excessively stimulating influence over the following energy, the control cycle automatically counteracts. If this natural balancing mechanism fails to function, the uncompensated imbalance of energies will soon manifest somatically and give rise to physiological disease.

Types of Human Energy

There are two fundamental forms of energy in the human system.
1) Prenatal energy
It is the basic vital force inherited from our parents. Each of us born with a limited supply, and it can not be replaced.
2) Postnatal energy
It is produced from food and air.
a) Nourishing energy travels within the blood vessels and energy meridians. b) Guardian energy runs along the body's surface, just below the skin, forming an aura.

The Human Energy Network

There are three circulatory networks in the human system : the nerves, blood vessels, and energy meridians. Energy commands blood; where energy goes, blood follows. So that both blood circulation and nervous system disorders can be corrected by stimulating and balancing the flow of energy through the meridian network. The Chinese found a series of sensitive energy points that function as transformers and relay terminals for human energy. These points, each of which has specific efforts on specific organs, tissues, and related energies, are the basis of acupuncture, moxibustion, and acupressure therapies.
The Eight Extraordinary Channels serve as reservoirs of energy for the entire system.

Chakras and Subtle Energy Bodies

The dynamic force field enveloping the human energy system is composed of seven subtle energy "bodies", each of them managed by one of the seven subtle energy centers known as chakras. The chakras transduce the cosmic energies entering our systems from the sky into forms and frequencies that can be utilized by the body ; and they refine the lower energies of earth into forms and frequencies that can be used by the mind.

3. The Cause of Disease

The root cause of disease is traced to a critical imbalance in organ-energies of the body, and to the overall functional disharmony of the whole system. Owing to the interdependence of the Three Treasures of the body, energy, and mind, energy imbalance always manifests in the body as physical disease and discomfort and in the mind as mental and emotional malaise.

4. Traditional Chinese Diagnosis

Western medicine focuses attention on the separate symptoms of disease. Traditional Chinese diagnosis views the external symptoms of disease as physical reflection disease. Chinese medicine recognizes that the same symptoms in different patients can have very different causes. To determine the cause and prescribe the cure for disease, they use the Four Diagnostics and the Eight Indicators.

5. The Chinese Tree of Health

6. Herbal Medicine

The herb includes not only plants and plant-derived extracts but also anything derived from nature's cornucopia, for example, cinnabar, mercury, oyster shell, magnetite, fossilized dinosaur bones, sea salt, centipedes, scorpions, earthworms, snakes, praying mantises, silkworms, tortoise shell, and deer horn.

7. Diet and Nutrition

There is no fixed boundary between food and medicine. They first treat the patient with food; only when food fails does he/she resort to drugs.
Food is classified in terms of the types of energy it releases into the human body.

Diet and nutrition remain important for health and longevity and regarded as crucial adjuncts to all branches of medical therapy. To benefit from proper diet and nutrition, the following items are essential.
1) purging the entire system of accumulated wastes and purifying the bloodstream
2) embarking on a dietary program
3) combining food properly
4) eating slowly
5) taking food in moderate, measured doses

8. Acupuncture and Moxibustion

Only China developed acupuncture and moxibustion. Both methods are applied to vital energy points located along the meridian system and operate by influencing currents of electromagnetic energies that flow through the channels. By the second century BCE, nine kinds of needles had been developed for medical use in acupuncture. Metal needles inserted at vital points along the meridian network can be used to stimulate, sedate, accelerate, block, and otherwise modulate the intensity and flow of these energies developing on which points are used and how the needle are inserted and manipulated.

Moxibustion employs a sort of cigar made from tightly rolled moxa leaves wrapped in paper. Moxa stick or piling pyramid of the powdered herb is lit, and the glowing end is held over the vital point to be treated, close to but not touching the skin, do that heat from the glowing tip radiates the energy of the burning herb through the surface and into the point, from where the effects travel along the affected meridians and enter the targeted organs and tissues.

9. Acupressure and Massage

Acupressure involves the application of deep finger pressure to the same vital points used in acupuncture. It is the forerunner to the internationally known Japanese technique called shiatu. Either tips or the knuckles of the index and/or middle finger, and sometimes the thumb, are pressed deeply into the points selected for treatment, with sufficient pressure to achieve a therapeutic level of stimulation. Because any point connected to an ailing organ will be especially sensitive to pressure, it is usually easy to find the precise location of the points required for treatment simply by observing the patient's reactions to pressure applied there.

Tuina massage is usually performed with the ball of the thumb and is used to relieve arthritic and rheumatic pains in joints, activate sluggish blood circulation in muscles and other tissues, restore weak of damaged nerves, and tone the spine and spinal channels. Its techniques are also applied to the soles of feet in a specialized branch of Chinese foot massage known in Western terminology as reflexology. Six of the twelve major organ-energy meridians have terminals in the feet - spleen, liver, kidney, stomach, bladder, and gallbladder - and the major branches of the autonomous nervous system also have roots here.

Head and neck massages are usually worked on first, to soothe the brain and central nervous system, which not only relaxes the body but also calms the patient's mind.

Deep-tissue massage is also applied directly to the internal organs of the abdominal cavity to drive out accumulated toxins, release obstructions, clear stagnation, and stimulate circulation of blood and energy to the organ tissues. This form of massage employs strong pressure from the index and middle fingers, which dig deeply into the abdominal cavity to massage the targeted organs, activate their vital functions, tone their tissues, and in the case of prolapsed organs, gradually to restore the organs to their normal shapes and locations in the abdomen.

Chinese therapeutic massage is devoted to the health of children. There are 170 points used in pediatric massage and acupressure, and over half of them are specific to children's bodies.

10. Chee-gung and Exercise

Chee-gung forms were based on the movements of animals in nature, a system known as the Play of the Five Beasts. Breathing practiced together with movements resembling a bear, bird, and other animals helps move our chee, nourishes our bodies, and builds our spirits. When the blood flows unobstructed through the veins, illness can not take root. The onset of illness is a sign that chee is not flowing. Chee-gung practice increases one's potential energy reserves and enhances the functional activity of every organ, tissue, and cell in the body. The energy is stored in an area just below and behind the navel known as the Sea of energy, or, the Elixir Field.

11. Meditation and Internal Alchemy

Nothing could be farther from the truth, for even a few brief minutes of genuine mental calm can do more to promote health and prolong life than the most expensive medicines on the earth. In the case of meditation. healing energy is drawn directly into the system from nature and the cosmos via the body's energy gates, converted in the cauldrons of the body's energy centers (chakras) to produce the True Energy on which the human system depends, then distributes to the various organs, glands, and tissues through the body's network of meridians and channels.

Reference : Daniel Reid,The Shambhala Guide to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the shambhala publications