Modern Chinese Medicine for the Whole Family
Oct 01, 2015 11:16PM
● By Kenneth Hoffman
Ancient wisdoms evolve and remain over time due to their practicality and usefulness. As societies grow, the wisdoms are tested and evaluated. They may be kept in their entirety or modified to fit the times. Take, for example, the Taoist treatment for lice. The afflicted person was told to burn a lice comb, take the charred ashes and drink them in a glass of water. Obviously this did not work, so the treatment was dropped from practice. Using this practical, observational approach, Chinese medicine has continued to evolve over centuries; it is the oldest unbroken lineage of medicine in the world. It has evolved as a modern medical system and can become a path for you and your family to restore and maintain health.
Organized Chinese medicine dates back to the Zhou Dynasty from 1100-221BC. During this time, the medical system developed into specialties such as dieticians, orthopedics, gynecologists, disease-specific and surgical doctors, and even veterinarians. The textbooks described diagnosis, anatomy and physiology principles and many types of treatments, including surgery, acupuncture, herbal and dietary medicine. In contrast, the modern medical system has only evolved over the last 150 years. So, to some extent, Chinese medicine has had thousands of years to evolve while conventional medicine is still exploring. Chinese medicine was almost lost to antiquity in 1912 with the Kuomintang government, which wanted to abolish Chinese medicine as folklore in lieu of Western medicine as a substitute. Fortunately, this never happened due to the will of the people in 1914 who voted to retain their medical system.
Modern Medicine Bridges Ancient Wisdom
In 1950, the People’s Republic of China held a conference and determined that future medical policy would combine Chinese and Western medicine; thus started the transition to a modern medical system that has now treated over two billion people in one of the most powerful countries in the world.
Unfortunately, as Chinese medicine transitioned to the U.S., there was a divide. Western or allopathic medicine became the dominant system while other forms became “alternative” or “complementary”. While allopathic medicine can certainly save lives, the medication and surgery-only attitude toward achieving optimal health has dominated much of U.S. society’s mindset. Yet today, many individuals, families and friends are suffering from correctible health issues that continue to affect their lives while standard treatments are unable to fix the problem and potentially cause others. There is a need for a modern medical system that addresses the true source of illness and brings about optimal health. An integrative natural medicine system that blends the best of functional/naturopathic medicine and Chinese medicine is needed in the U.S – such as the combination system that is currently practiced in China.
Optimal health is defined as the maximum function of mind and body that can be achieved by a being. Integrative natural medicine (INM) seeks to create optimal health based on the core principle of Chinese medicine: the body heals itself and seeks optimal function. This is described in the ancient texts as the free flow of qi and blood through all the vessels and to all tissues. Originally, in the West, it was believed that the word “qi” meant “life force” or “energy” but, upon proper transcription from Chinese medical texts to English, it was found that the word is the vital air carried by the blood (i.e., oxygen). Blood is the nutritive substance that carries the qi and brings life to all of your cells and, thus, optimal health. Simply put, if you suffer from symptoms, have a loss of functions, need to rely on medications, or do not feel as well as you should, you have a stagnation of the proper flow of qi and blood in your body. This will eventually lead to degeneration and disease.
If you want to restore and maintain optimal health, you will need to remove any stagnations to the flow of qi and blood. You also need to look at the physiology; it is defined as the organic processes or functions in an organism or in any of its parts. Your physiology is assessed through blood tests, adrenal testing, cardiovascular testing and any variety of functional tests that will help a professional discover where you have lost your health. This is very much in line with present-day, state-of-the-art Chinese medical hospitals; they have conducted more than 40,000 research studies related to Chinese medicine from functional MRI studies of specific acupuncture points to studies on herbal remedies for cancer patients.
In INM, the principles of the five disciplines of Chinese medicine are practiced.
• Right Thinking: This is the understanding that one should have a positive outlook toward health and life. The practice of meditation and proper relaxation techniques can help restore health.
• Acupuncture: The effect of using fine filiform pins in precise peppercorn-size points has been well documented for conditions from chronic pain to hormone problems to digestion. When done precisely, it can remove stagnation and restore qi and blood as effectively as some medications.
• Tui Na: This is a very specific form of massage and pressure therapy designed to dredge vessels and tissues and restore circulation. It can be performed in conjunction with acupuncture to magnify the results of treatments.
• Dietary Therapy: Once a diagnosis has been determined, foods can be chosen that will enhance the treatment. A practitioner will look into specific nutrients in foods as well as the preparation energetics. For example, some patients do better with cooked foods, others with raw.
• Herbal/Nutriceutical Therapy: Herbal medicine is much more than the use of single herbs; it is the precise use of combined formulas that have been preserved in medical texts. Some of these formulas for different diseases are still used in modern practice today. Nutriceutical therapy is the use of supplements and nutrients therapeutically to naturally repair and revitalize the body. No synthetic vitamins are used.
Ultimately, the achievement of optimal health comes about by looking at someone as a whole being and not separate parts. In the traditions of Chinese medicine, the doctor chooses treatments that work in direct harmony with the body and remove any stagnation to function.
Ken Hoffman, DAc(RI), LAc, is the medical director for Sophia Natural Health Center in Brookfield. He is the co-author of Essential Remedies for Women’s Health and host of The Natural Medicine Connection radio talk show on 800 WLAD. To connect, call 203-740-9300 or visit INM.center. See ad, page 3.