Holism, Chinese Medicine and Systems Ideologies: Rewriting the Past to Imagine the Future
Holism, Chinese Medicine and Systems Ideologies: Rewriting the Past to Imagine the Future Volker Scheid
EJOM Vol. 8 No. 4 (2016)
This paper explores the articulations that have emerged over the last half-century between various types of holism, Chinese medicine and systems biology. It is an inquiry into the historical processes whereby Chinese medicine, holism and systems biology have come to be entangled with each other in the present, and asks how we relate ourselves to the ongoing transformations of the world by the as yet unfinished project of modernity.
Foods According to Traditional Chinese Medicine Nuria Lorite Ayán
EJOM Vol. 8 No. 3 (2016)
According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), food is a keystone for wellness and for the prevention of ill health. Choice of food is part of both prevention and treatment, and it is difficult to separate the study of foods and eating for everyday use from the study of medical nutrition. TCM has its own classification system for foods, so it is useful to know the rules that will lead to the use of one or another specific food, including knowing when it should be restricted. This paper presents the different groups of foods, not from the classical point of view, as in therapeutics and herbal medicine, but as a system of groups which more resembles our Western nutritional considerations.
The Development of Auricular Acupuncture in Europe and China
The Development of Auricular Acupuncture in Europe and China Manfred Angermaier
EJOM Vol. 8 No. 2 (2015)
This article describes the origins of ear acupuncture, and its development through an exchange of European and Chinese experience. Different patterns of point localisation in the ear are discussed, as well as different techniques for detecting pathological points. Also described is the effect of ear acupuncture, and holistic medicine, in promoting the distribution and storage of energy in body cells to maintain health. Key words: auricular acupuncture, Paul Nogier, energy, RAC, laser, needle material.
Patterns, Syndromes, Types: Who Should We Be and What Should We Do?
The author traces the evoloution of the concept of 'zheng' (syndrome) from its origins in the 11th century Song Dynasty with the Formulary of the Pharmacy Service for Benefitting the People in an Era of Great Peace (Tai Ping He Ji Jiu Fang) through several bifurcations into the modern era in which the globalisation of standardised zheng is being forecfully promoted by the Chinese state. In the process, he undermines the current acceptance of zheng as 'the unique core of traditional Chinese medicine' by pointing up other influences on medical practice, notably "the medicine of yi" (as espoused by physicians such as Zhu Danxi and Fei Boxiong) and the classical formula style of practice, which emerged as a reaction to this from the late 16th century onwards and whose most influential proponent was the Japanese physician, Yoshimasu Todo.
Acupuncture and Physiotherapists - A Personal View
Val Hopwood EJOM Vol. 6 No. 2 (2009)
This article, written by a well-known physiotherapist and acupuncturist, traces the growing adoption of acupuncture by physiotherapists in the UK, dating back to 1982 when it was approved by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists as an adjunctive skill for pain relief. She outlines the development of the educational frameworks which have enabled this process to the point where there are now nearly 6,000 UK physios who use some form of acupuncture. The tensions between physios and professional acupuncturists which arose during this process are mentioned. She argues, however, that it has been good not just for patients and for the physios themselves, but also, somewhat more controversially, for professional acupuncturists as well, because it has increased the respectability of the therapy and facilitated its inclusion in National Health Service provision.
TCM in Germany - Views from Four Leading Practitioners
Helmut Magel EJOM Vol. 6 No. 2 (2009)
This article – devised, compiled and edited in German by Helmut Magel and then translated and edited by EJOM’s Friedrich Staebler – presents the views of four of Germany’s leading TCM practitioners on issues relating to the context and current status of TCM in their country. All four practitioners belong to the AGTCM (Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Klassische Akupunktur und Traditionelle Chinesische Medizin – Association for Classical Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine), the German equivalent of the British Acupuncture Council. Representatives of the medical acupuncturists who were contacted and invited to express their views chose not to participate.
During the Han and Jin dynasty just about every scientific endeavour - from human sciences like politics, to subjects such as astronomy, geography and mathematics, as well as medicine - paid homage to the mythical emperor Huang Di, Yellow Lord of the Earth. This article asserts that by incorporating his name into the title of Huang Di Nei Jing (by 200 AD) he, and whatever it was he stood for, was placed as a cornerstone for acupuncture theory. Without the cornerstone, the architecture of Chinese medical theory so easily comes tumbling down. Are acupuncturists simply making half-built structures out of the rubble? There are so many different styles of acupuncture, all of them interesting but incomplete. So many architectural pieces are left lying, discarded because they simply don’t fit. Is it possible that a fully reconstructed acupuncture theory, one where all the main pieces: yin and yang; five elements; heaven, earth and man; the effect of climates etc, could converge on the corner stone of Huang Di? It is to this end that the meaning of Huang Di will be explored in this article.
Language Referencing in the Teaching of Chinese Medicine
Frances Turner EJOM Vol. 4 No. 5
This article - subtitled 'How Teachers’ Use of Language Reflects Their Perception of the Characteristics of Chinese Medicine' - is a summary of an MPhil research degree, completed by the author at ExeterUniversity in 2003.The study, which was based on interviews with 20 practitioners, teachers and authors of Chinese medicine, examined respondent approaches to the importance of language in the teaching of Chinese medicine, ranging from the view that it is practice which is important, not language, to the view that theory and practice, like language and understanding, are inextricably linked in a circular relationship, and that language is central to the preservation of Chinese medicine itself.The non-standardisation of the language of Chinese medicine in the West reflects a rich melting pot of different approaches to the discipline itself. The author considers that one of the most interesting findings of this study was that since our understanding of what we do is expressed in the language we use, our language use is a reflection of what we perceive Chinese medicine to be. Read the whole article.
Essential Aspects of the Japanese Healing Arts
Miki Shima EJOM Vol. 1 No. 4
Many schools of thought have flourished in Japan since Chinese medicine was introduced 1,200 years ago. Unique evolved practice includes abdominal diagnosis and treatment - toxins in the abdomen are declared the source of all human ills - and point location by direct palpation rather than by visual observation of anatomical structures. Rigorous practical application is superior to book learning. Read the whole article
Key Element in a Public Health Network: A Glimpse of Acupuncture in Cuba
Angela Llewellyn EJOM Vol. 5 No. 4
This article describes the integration of acupuncture as an important part of a public health system once dominated by conventional western medicine. Originally a product of economic necessity, this process has helped create a medical system in Cuba that achieves life expectancy and infant mortality levels comparable to those of the US at a fraction of the cost. It also discusses the training and philosophies of practitioners, and gives an overview of a unique and creative health system - one in which acupuncture enjoys high status.
In many primitive societies, shamans or witch doctors often performed the dual roles of healer and intermediary between the worlds of men and spirits. With the support of ethnographic evidence, similarities between acu-moxibustion and shamanic practices are presented to suggest a possible origin of acu-moxibustion in the occult. Shamanic motives based on sacred-pain, spirit-letting via fenestration and fumigation are theorised for acu-moxibustion. Possible contributions from Daoist mysticism to Chinese medicine are proposed, particularly in the nomenclature of points. Tracing the origins of Chinese medicine and acu-moxibustion from a shamanic perspective can provide a novel appreciation of these arts.
Notes on Chinese Medicine and Gender from a Historical Perspective
Professor Charlotte Furth and Sue Cochrane EJOM Vol. 5 No. 3
In this e-mail exchange with Sue Cochrane (TCM lecturer at the University of Western Sydney, Australia), the feminist historian Professor Furth (University of Southern California) helps pose some of the questions which, as practitioners, we should perhaps be considering when we treat women. She argues that in studying fuke/gynaecology, we need to know something about the history of Chinese medicine so that we are able to recognise how much of our therapeutic approach is based on ‘Chinese sexist values that have shaped understanding about healing.’
This article – drawn from the book Shen – Psychological Aspects of Chinese Medicine: the Classics & Contemporary Practice (currently in translation) – examines the various pathologies associated with emotional illness, paying particular attention to their links to fire. The concepts of constraint (yu) and stagnation (zhi) of qi, fire (huo), phlegm (tan), blood stasis (xueyu), empty fire and ‘restlessness and agitation’ (fanzao) are discussed with reference to classical Chinese texts by authorities such as Liu Wansu, Li Dongyuan and Zhu Danxi.
Qigong - The Original Root of Classical Chinese Medicine
Zhongxian Wu EJOM Vol. 4 No. 6
This article, structured in a question-and-answer style similar to that used in the Nei Jing, highlights the importance of daily qigong practice and the significance of the Three Treasures (san bao) – jing, qi and shen – and their refinement through qigong practice. Qigong as a therapeutic practice is discussed and its place at the very root of classical Chinese medicine is emphasised.
Polluted Bodies, Individual Responsibility and Personal Blame
Sylvia Schroer EJOM Vol. 4 No. 5
This article, derived from a larger project initiated by the author and Dr. Vivienne Lo of UCL’s Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine, focuses on contemporary practice in the European context in relation to the Chinese medical concept of xie (often translated as ‘evil’ but also implying the opposite of zheng or ‘upright’). The author suggests that modern TCM texts have played down or completed excluded the concept of xie,arguably through systematic attempts to scientise medicine and eliminate superstitious and feudal elements. In the study, 15 acupuncturists were interviewed, all but one of whom had some training in Worsley and/or Toyohari styles of practice – approaches which the researchers considered to be more relevant to the theme of xie. Two techniques taught by Worsley were found to be related to the xie concept:one taught as ‘internal/external devils’ and related to various states of emotional distress including ‘madness’ and depression; the otheremerged in a treatment known as ‘aggressive energy’, something external to be drained away. The author explores the practitioners’ approaches to xie and how they talk about it with patients. The study reveals how practitioners have adapted the moral concerns inherent in the concept of xie to the ecological debate that has increasingly taken centre stage since the 60s and 70s.
The Subtlety of the Image: The Importance of Metaphor in Chinese Medicine Concepts
Carl Williams and Diane Dutton EJOM Vol. 4 No. 5
Conceptual metaphor theory has indicated that thought is mostly metaphorical and largely unconscious. This has implications for the translation of Chinese medical texts. Western thinking and western science has employed mechanistic metaphors to describe health, illness and the body, whereas oriental thinking and science is grounded in a quite different organic, naturalistic view of the world. If the translator has a subtle sense of the metaphors and images behind the literature to be translated, this will result in the best form of translation. Mistranslation and misunderstanding occur when inappropriate cultural metaphors are unconsciously employed.
An Introduction to Keiraku Chiryo - Japanese Meridian Therapy
Stephen Birch EJOM Vol. 4 No. 5
The article describes the system of Japanese traditional acupuncture - Keiraku Chiryo or meridian therapy - which is a form of acupuncture that has been practised for over 60 years. When it was introduced into Europe in the 1950s it had been virtually unknown outside of Japan. In the last 15 years it has established a place for itself in the US, Australasia and Europe and is being taught in postgraduate workshops and training programmes in these places. The author has studied with a number of leading meridian therapists since 1988, principally with instructors of the Toyohari or ‘east Asian needle therapy’ school of meridian therapy, in particular Kodo Fukushima, Toshio Yanagishita, Akihiro Takai and Shozo Takahashi.In this article he explains the development, basic theories, diagnostic and treatment methods and patterns of meridian therapy.
Ancient Chinese medical texts do not in themselves form a complete, workable system of psychology. They restrict themselves to a discussion of certain aspects of psychology in the context of diagnosis and treatment of the qi. The author suggests that a broader picture of the ancient Chinese understanding of human psychology can be derived from a study of ancient Chinese literature, particularly the philosophical classics. He discusses a number of mainly Confucian concepts in order to sketch in some of the ‘background’ ideas about the psychological nature of man.
JR Worsley’s Legacy to the Practice of Acupuncture
Peter Mole EJOM Vol. 4 No. 4
JR Worsley’s death on June 2nd, 2003 has inspired several obituaries and tributes in the pages of EJOM and elsewhere. He was an inspiring teacher and a remarkable practitioner, but what did he teach? And how does the Five Element style he taught fit into Chinese medicine theory? This article attempts to give a brief outline of this approach for those who were not taught by him. This interpretation of his teaching is solely that of the author and should in no way be construed as any form of authorised synopsis of his teachings. In his article, the author affirms that JR Worsley’s ‘greatest gift to the acupuncture community was in his understanding and teaching of how to use acupuncture to treat people rather than illnesses.’
Traditional Chinese medicine has been playing an important role in the prevention and treatment of diseases all over the world. It is invaluable for anyone who learns Chinese medicine to also learn the history of Chinese medicine at the same time. This article is divided into four parts: introduction, institutes and societies, special topics, and journals and bibliographies. The purpose of this article is to collect useful and well-known websites and introduce them to interested people for their further study, using the www.
What is the Sanjiao, Triple Burner? An Exploration
Stephen Birch EJOM Vol. 4 No. 2
The sanjiao, triple burner, is an elusive yet important and central concept in traditional East Asian Medical (TEAM) and acupuncture theory. A number of modern authors have attempted to explain what it is, conjuring up a wide range of different and often contradictory ideas about it. The historical texts have also evidenced a wide range of different ideas about the triple burner. Perhaps such differences are best explained by Nathan Sivin: 'the authorities of any medical tradition, if we read those of different times side by side, contradict each other in many ways. The synthesis that makes a classical system possible reconciles these differences'. This article attempts to support such a synthetic reconciliation (if it is at all possible with the triple burner) through a brief examination of many of the functions and concepts ascribed to the triple burner entity.
The author reflects upon his own professional development and growth as an acupuncturist and how the practice of acupuncture affects not only patients but how the activity also has an influence upon the practitioner.
This is a reprint of the final chapter (Chapter 9) from Chinese Medicine in Contemporary China: Plurality and Synthesis, recently published by Duke University Press. The book examines the development and transformation of Chinese medicine over recent decades based on extensive fieldwork in Beijing and Shanghai. References within the text are to other chapters in the book, which also discusses at length the key concepts such as 'infrastructure', 'plurality', and 'synthesis' employed in the present text.
The Beginning of Acupuncture in China: When was Insertion Acupuncture Invented and Established?
Tomoyoshi Saito EJOM Vol. 4 No. 1
This article attempts to investigate the origin of acupuncture. It appears that there is no clear evidence that insertion acupuncture existed before the 4th century BC, and acupuncture technique had shifted from the use of instruments in bloodletting to the use of insertion acupuncture in the period from the 2nd to the 4th century BC. Moreover, the foundation for acupuncture was laid before 4th century BC with a treatment that exorcised evil wind, evil demons, and departed persons with the use of a medical instrument (Yu) that was used to make an incision in the patient’s skin and drain blood.
The Sculpting of Yi Shi: Alchemical Acupuncture and the Imagination of Dragons
Paul Hougham EJOM Vol. 4 No. 1
This article explores the nature of intention/intent (yi) in acupuncture traditions with reference to some of the classical discussions of intention and in relation to contemporary developments of acupuncture in the West. Its central thesis is that the intention of the practitioner is the principal 'active agent' of acupuncture and is cultivated through the development of the practitioner's senses as embodied in their qi field, this awareness being 'sensory intent' (yi shi). The qi field, with its various shapes, patterns and rhythms (unique to the individual practitioner), is also proposed as the primary diagnostic instrument in acupuncture, operating through the mechanics of resonance (gan ying).
The Influence of Pestilence on Medical Theory and Practice in Late Imperial China
Warren M Cochran EJOM Vol. 4 No. 1
Much has been written on the socio-economic and religio-philosophical impact of epidemic disease on the apparent frailty of human existence. However, medical historiography has not always addressed the issue of how changing disease patterns may have influenced therapeutic strategies. The theme of this article focuses on this aspect of medical history by considering how disease manifestations as perceived by physicians of Chinese medicine, have helped shape medical notions and determine therapeutic response.
Shonishin (children's needle therapy) is a style of acupuncture used on children that developed over 250 years ago in Japan [Yoneyama, Mori (1964)]. Recognising the fact that children do not like being needled, this therapy has developed specialised treatment techniques, many of which are non-invasive and thus not uncomfortable or frightening to the child. Specialised instruments have been developed for treating children, and great care has been taken in adapting the use of acupuncture and related techniques for the treatment of children. In this article the author briefly discusses some of these methods and presents a couple of cases to illustrate their application.
The Psychologising of Chinese Healing Practices in the United States
Linda L Barnes EJOM Vol. 3 No. 4
This article explores ways in which Chinese healing practices have undergone acculturation in the United States since the early 1970s. Reacting to what is perceived as biomedicine's focus on the physiological, those who describe themselves as favouring a holistic orientation often use the language of 'energy blockage' to explain illness, whether thought of as 'physical' 'emotional', or 'spiritual'. Acupuncture in particular has been appropriated as one modality with which to 'unblock' such conditions, leading to its being used by some practitioners in conjunction with more psychotherapeutic approaches which include valuing the verbalising of feelings. Some non-Chinese practitioners in the United States, returning to older Chinese texts to develop 'an American acupuncture' are reinserting diagnoses eliminated from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) by the People's Republic of China as 'superstition'. The assumption has been that many such diagnostic categories refer to psychologial or spiritual conditions, and therefore may be useful in those American contexts which favour this orientation. Among these categories are those drawn from traditions of demonology in Chinese medicine. What was once a religious category in China turns psychological in the American setting. At the same time, many who use these terms have, since the late 1960s, increasingly conflated the psychological and the religious, the latter being reframed as 'spiritual'. Thus, this indigenisation of Chinese practices is a complex synthesis which can be described as simultaneously medical, psychotherapeutic, and religious. Read the whole article
Medicine as Signification: Moving Towards Healing Power in the Chinese Medical Tradition
Volker Scheid and Dan Bensky EJOM Vol. 2 No. 6
A question to which we pretend we know the answer (for it is crucial to everything we do), yet which to the best of the authors' knowledge has never been addressed in a satisfactory manner by any proponent of Chinese medicine in the West is the question of what Chinese medicine actually is. In this article the authors provide an idiosyncratic response which, While neither complete nor based on the kind of comprehensive investigation which would indeed be necessary, reflects their current thinking. They believe that this response can act as a stimulus for future research, reflection and debate.
Give Me That Old Time Religion, It's Good Enough for Me
Peter Mole EJOM Vol. 2 No. 5
In this article, Peter Mole discusses the internal causes of disease and explains how he feels that they have been marginalised in TCM, which tends to focus on the external causes of disease. The article also addresses how the practitioner/patient dialogue can affect patients' expectations and experience of acupuncture treatment.
Consistency, Internal Coherence & Systematic Practice: Starting Points on the Road to Artistry in CM
Geoff Wadlow EJOM Vol. 1 No. 5
Geoff Wadlow, founding director of the London School of Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine, responds to an article in the previous edition (EJOM, Vol 1, No 4), called 'Home and Away' by Volker Scheid, who described his impressions during a year studying in Beijing. Mr Wadlow talks about his own visit to China and makes the point that 'diversity flows out of a common heritage...the spirit of which we can only glimpse at and fleetingly experience because we are not Chinese, born and bred in China.'
Korean oriental medicine is a natural medical science with theory and knowledge derived from an experience unique to Korean traditional living culture. It comprises treatment by acupuncture and herbal medicine based on orthodox medical theories.
As a medical anthropologist in China, the author paints a picture of Chinese medicine not necessarily visible from within the international training centres. He explores the changing nature of acupuncture in contemporary China and its relationship to western medical practice in that country. He then compares it with how Chinese medicine is presented in the west, often as a search for a systematic approach. His challenge to attempted integration calls for serious reflection.
Remodeling the Arsenal of Chinese Medicine: Shared Pasts, Alternative Futures
Volker Scheid EJOM Vol. 4 No. 3
This article, which first appeared in The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Volume 583, September 2002 (pp 136-159; copyright 2002 by The American Academy of Political and Social Science and reprinted by permission), examines the definition of Chinese medicine as being based on four key concepts: (theoretical) principles, treatment strategies, methods of treatment, and concrete medicinals including drugs or acupuncture. This definition of Chinese medicine was first explicated during the 1930s and has since become a standard adopted by the Chinese medicine community in China and the Chinese government. The origin of these concepts dates back much further, however, and physicians have used them to define their tradition at least since the late Song. This suggests that despite all outside change Chinese medicine can be thought of as being built around a stable core that constitutes, as it were, its very essence. The author sets out to deconstruct such a reading by showing that although the terms have remained the same, the meaning attributed to them and the manner in which they are integrated with each other have undergone significant change. He therefore cautions us to assume that Chinese medicine is a stable tradition and argues that the idea of stability stems precisely from a mode of discourse that allows for the continuity of key terms but does not hesitate to fundamentally manipulate their significance.
Out of the Dust: The Origins of Chinese Medical Epistemology
Warren M Cochran EJOM Vol. 3 No. 2
This paper traces the origins of the epistemological imperatives of Yin and Yang and Wu Xing (Five Phases), with particular reference to the Shang Bronze Age era of around 1500 BCE.It examines how the practices of divination and prognostication (i.e. reading turtle carapaces and water buffalo shoulder blades), perfected in that period, and their emphasis on seeing the world in terms of balanced opposition and finding an underlying harmony in all living things, became the direct antecedents of the above concepts, developed in their present form during the Han period which followed immediately after.The title ‘Out of the Dust’ reflects the fact that these ideas arose from and through the practice of pyromancy (divination by fire), as well as stemming from a proto-historical period of Chinese culture.
The Role of Standardised Textbooks and Learning Acumoxa in Contemporary China
Cinzia Scorzon EJOM Vol. 4 No. 2
This article is an extract from the author's MSc dissertation. It examines the function of standardised Chinese medicine (CM) textbooks in contemporary China. In her thesis, she investigates how standardised textbooks of acupuncture and moxibustion1 were initially written, introduced and used in the TCM universities in contemporary China. The first edition of these textbooks was compiled at the end of the 1950s; since then they have been used as course material in CM universities nationwide in the teaching of undergraduate courses on which written examinations are based. The textbooks are regularly revised and updated and the most recent sixth edition was introduced in the late 1990s. What is the role, however, that these contemporary textbooks play in learning CM?