June © 2004
by Bridgette Mongeon
Acupuncture and acupressure are increasing in popularity in the United States. Until recently it was believed that Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), was unscientific, but further research on TCM is resulting in gradual acceptance by the western scientific community. Some insurance companies are also beginning to recognize the value in keeping people healthy through TCM and are paying for treatments.
Some of the practices of TCM have been around for centuries. It is one of the oldest medical practices of the world. Principles behind TCM are very different from western medicine.
MERIDIAN SYSTEM AND QI
Just like western medicine understands different pathways in our body like the lymph, blood or nervous system, TCM has its own invisible pathway based on the meridians. Through these meridians flows the life force of the human body known as qi (pronounced chee). Though scientists have been trying to define qi they can really only study its effects. Sickness comes from qi that cannot flow through meridians because of blockage. Several different things can cause a blockage, for example stored emotions are one form of blockage. TCM understands that anger, fear or any emotion can be stored within organs in the body, and may cause illness. Western doctors are also realizing the effect that emotions play on a person’s health, for example, the discovery in western medicine that anger can raise blood pressure and can cause us to keep high levels of stress hormones in our bodies, may bring on illness. When a patient of TCM is receiving acupuncture or acupressure it is applied to the specific meridian points to induce the flow of qi and release the blockage.
YIN AND YANG
Another principle of TCM is Yin and Yang. Just as a battery needs two poles to work, a positive and a negative, so does the human body. Doctors working in TCM will try to bring harmony and balance to an individual Yin (positive) and Yang (negative.) Too much Yin or Yang and a person will be sick. .’
The organ network is another principle of TCM. The five organ networks are Liver, Heart, Spleen, Lung and Kidney. These not only perform the functions that western medicine had discovered but in TCM they have an extension of both physical and psychological aspects to them. For example, the liver affects the storage of blood and ensures the smooth flow of qi in the body. It is also believed that anger is stored in the liver and will affect a person’s even temperedness.
In TCM five elements are related to individual organs, the liver is wood, heart is fire, the spleen is earth, the lungs are metal, and the kidney is water. Symptoms that a patient may be having are not necessarily of the organ that is in trouble. Within this organ network the different organs can have strong effects on each. other. For example the heart (fire) and kidneys (water) influence each other. It is also recognized by western medicine that heart failure is often accompanied by kidney complications and the kidney problems usually induce heart palpitations or symptoms. The heart represents fire and yang and the kidneys represent water and yin; A person with not enough kidney yin, representing water, might not be able to put out the fire and yang of the heart, causing heart problems. Too much of one or not enough of another would cause illness or symptoms for the patient. The TCM doctor works to bring balance.
Doctors of TCM utilize noninvasive treatments using a variety of different methods to restore balance and harmony including herbs, acupuncture, qigong, meditation and diet, among others.
If you are interested in TCM you can read more about it on the Internet. Houston also has many doctors that work with TCM and a College of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine with a clinic www.acaom.edu.
Scientific documentation is indeed catching up to this age-old form of medicine and the results are something that
is worth looking into.
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