This article examines the connection between Traditional Chinese Medicine’s concept of external Wind and Western Medicine’s concept of inflammatory immune response, looking for parallels or correspondence between them. It makes the claim that there is a fair degree of correspondence between these two concepts in several respects though not in others. It also addresses the broader contexts in which these concepts are rooted by examining the Chinese concepts of the wei qi defensive system and Wind in general; and also Western Medicine’s view of the immune system and the functions and scope of the inflammatory response.
Engaging Vitality: An Approach to More Effective Engagement with Qi
Engaging Vitality: An Approach to More Effective Engagement with Qi Dan Bensky and Charles Chace
EJOM Vol. 9 No. 1 (2018)
This article describes an approach to qi palpation based on osteopathy called Engaging Vitality. The central premise of Engaging Vitality work is that if the concept of qi is to be taken seriously then it should be palpable. In osteopathy the process of appreciating the human body is known as listening, a term that combines a sensibility of critical evaluation with mindful and empathetic attunement. The Engaging Vitality approach employs a repertoire of palpatory techniques drawn from osteopathy to help acupuncturists listen to the qi more effectively, to set their own preconceptions aside and simply respond to what the qi is trying to tell them.
Shén versus Shen: Spirit versus Body? Dissolving the Dichotomy of Acupuncture Therapeutics
Shén versus Shēn: Spirit versus Body? Dissolving the Dichotomy of Acupuncture Therapeutics Teja Jaensch and Suzanne Cochrane
EJOM Vol. 8 No. 5 (2017)
Chinese medicine finds itself, as it always has, amongst the flux of ideas, theory and ideology. It is from this flux that the physicians of Chinese medicine must determine their practice. As observers and participants in the varied conversations regarding the true value of Chinese medicine, a continual division presents itself; that between spirit and body. What follows is an analysis and critique of this dichotomy, with the hope that the principle of shén-spirit and shēn-body guides us forwards on the path of Chinese medical efficacy and professionalisation.
Traumatic Stress: Management of Physical and Psychological Trauma with Acupuncture
Traumatic Stress: Management of Physical and Psychological Trauma with Acupuncture Hamid Montakab
EJOM Vol. 8 No. 6 (2017)
Traumatic stress or shock reaction is a psychological condition arising in response to a terrifying or traumatic event which induces an acute and strong emotional response, which may develop into a condition known as ‘PTSD’ (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). The acute traumatic stress is defined by a ‘dissociative’ condition, with reduced perception and awareness, even coma. Later there will be a total or partial amnesia concerning the traumatic event. This article shows how this condition can be understood through an analysis of the Chinese medicine model of the psyche, and the way in which the functions of the Sinew Channels, the luo-Connecting Vessels and the Eight Extraordinary Meridians are modified by trauma, and how they can be used in treatment. Case histories clarify and illustrate this approach.
Read the whole article
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.
A New Understanding of the Brain and its Clinical Application
A New Understanding of the Brain and its Clinical Application Tianjun Wang
EJOM Vol. 8 No. 2 (2015)
The Brain in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is traditionally one of the six extraordinary organs, but there exists very little guidance to its relevance in clinical practice. In the development of TCM theories, what constitutes the governor of shen is an important area for exploration. Brain is viewed as another governor of shen, and is most important in the regulation of shen. It houses yuan shen, which has two main meanings, spirit and yuan jing (yuan essence), which is the original material of shen. Yuan jing is the basis of other materials, and of the zang fu organs. The clinical application of a new understanding of Brain is to value the role of Brain particularly in acupuncture, including the affiliated meridian of Brain, the Governor Vessel (GV) or du mai, and to focus on the application of du mai points in the treatment of Brain related diseases, such as emotional conditions and original jing and shen related diseases. Keywords: Brain, traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture, yuan shen, du mai.
Understanding Cocaine Addiction According to Chinese Medicine Theory
Attilio D'Alberto EJOM Vol. 8 No. 1 (2015)
Introduction: Cocaine is the most commonly used illicit stimulant drug in Europe. Auricular acupuncture has been used as a form of treatment for drug addiction since the early 1970s.
Discussion: Cocaine addiction affects all the solid (zang, yin) organs: Lung, Liver, Heart, Spleen and Kidney, causing a complete zang fu disharmony. Within cocaine addiction theory, these five patterns can be grouped into two cycles: the first cycle involves the Lung, Heart and Spleen. The second cycle involves the Lung, Kidney and Liver.
Spirit aspect: Cocaine addiction is rooted in artificially inflating the po for it to dominate over the Heart. This creates a false generation in the Lung, which temporary increases the mother- son relationship between the Lung and Kidney. An addict is reminded of the empty high by the zhi and relayed across the mind by the yi.
Treatment strategies: The NADA protocol is a 'cookbook' strategy and acupuncture points located on the body should be used as well. Conclusions: The use of Chinese medicine therapy can decrease the number of patients being admitted to hospital with drug related illnesses, benefit society in reduced crime rates and benefit the addicts themselves.
Conceptualisation of External Pathogens in Chinese Medicine
Amber Moore EJOM Vol. 7 No. 4 (2013)
Questions often arise concerning our understanding of disease and in particular, the terminology we use. Indeed, in relation to the body, we may consider that there is no true external or internal state. In this article, the author will look at how Chinese medicine (CM) conceptualises pathogens, how this might contrast with concepts from Western thinking, and what this might mean for CM as a whole, and perhaps other ways of thinking. Finally, she will begin to explore the question of whether this inquiry might support the CM view of the body and health, or vice versa, and what the implications of this might be – for how we view the world, how we live, and how we practise.
For two years the authors worked in a specialised centre at Pistoia in Tuscany, under the scientific direction of Dr Giampaolo La Malfa, psychiatrist and neurologist, head of the Psychiatry Unit in the Careggi University Hospital (Florence), professor at the School of Specialization in Psychiatry, Florence University, founding member and president of the Società Italiana per lo Studio del Ritardo Mentale (SIRM), and board member of the European Association of Mental Health in Mental Retardation. This collaboration is ongoing. A number of indications can be drawn from this experience. Practical results: prompt diagnosis, regular therapy (at least once a week), parental involvement. Implications for research: verification of the therapy’s incidence on general metabolic equilibrium and on the metabolism of minerals; testing of hormonal release in states of anxiety from stress not dominated by the adaptive phase.
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.
Traditional Needling Techniques as Practical Constructions from Reading Historical Descriptions
Stephen Birch EJOM Vol. 7 No. 3 (2013)
The author describes the Toyohari supplementation needle technique from the perspective of the practitioner using the language that describes for him/her what is happening. After describing the needle technique, he then cites relevant passages from the historical literature, especially the Su Wen, Ling Shu and Nan Jing, upon which the details of the needling technique are based. Thus he shows how almost every component of the technique from choosing and starting to look for the acupoint to the removal of the needle from the point can be traced to historical passages in these seminal texts. This is possible because the very nature of knowledge in these historical textual traditions is practice based. The kind of practical interpretations described here are examples of how a ‘traditional’ system of practice can be constructed bit-by-bit through the interplay of historical texts, interpretations, practical applications and observed clinical effects..
Phlegm Misting-Disturbing the Orifices and Mitral Valve Prolapse
Leon Hammer EJOM Vol. 7 No. 3 (2013)
The author's initial appreciation of the role of the heart, in this instance the valves of the heart, in mental-emotional illness occurred in medical school, since in biomedicine at that time the prolapse of the mitral valve was associated with panic attacks and phobias. It was, therefore, a simple cognitive step from that information to identifying other aspects of Heart function, the orifices in Chinese medicine, with psychological conditions. The emphasis which his teacher - the internationally acknowledged master Dr John H.F. Shen, with whom he worked over a period of 27 years - placed on the relationship of the heart valves and vessels to mental-emotional issues reinforced that initial connection with the concept and clinical reality of ‘Phlegm misting the orifices.’ This article outlines the aetiology, physio-pathology, pathogenesis and clinical consequences of phlegm misting the orifices, and alludes to clinical tools for its diagnosis and treatment, illustrated by two case studies.
Reinventing the Wheel: A Top Down Perspective on The Five Elements, Part 2
Lonny Jarrett EJOM Vol. 7 No. 3 (2013)
In the first part of this article (published in EJOM Vol 7., No. 2) the author discussed the Five-Element model from the absolute perspective of spirit as consciousness. Here he examines the cultural forces at play that deny the absolute dimensions of self to glean an understanding of how Chinese medicine, and spiritual practices in general, have been compromised by the failure of postmodernity to recognize hierarchy. He considers this within the context of the Five-Element (5E) system in order to illuminate a significant distortion and cause of stagnation in our culture of healing. This distortion results from the overextension of the pluralistic perspective, and the conflation of it with relativism, to such a degree that it has led to a virtual inability of the last several generations to recognize hierarchy, constituting a condition he terms ‘Hierarchy Deficit Syndrome’ (HDS). The denial of hierarchy is one of the most significant manifestations of the postmodern ego. The physician’s failure to recognize an absolute dimension to his/her experience is constraining the emergence of integral medicine and serving as an anti-evolutionary force in culture. In short, the author argues, it is potentiating illness.
Reinventing the Wheel: A Top Down Perspective on The Five Elements, Part 1
Lonny Jarrett EJOM Vol. 7 No. 2 (2012)
The author elaborates the Five-Element model as an archetypical representation of the relationship between the one and the many, examining the implications of the model for the individual, culture, and cosmos. Additionally he examines the five elements as a basis for understanding the relationship between the absolute and the relative, spirit and psychology, simplicity and complexity, and the virtues of autonomy and communion. This discussion occurs in the context of transcending the culturally conditioned pluralistic, relativistic, and humanistic psychological model that has prevailed in the West for the last 50 years.
Chinese Medicine a Ilula, Tanzania: An Experience in Learning
Elisa Rossi EJOM Vol. 7 No. 2 (2012)
A fascinating account of a Chinese medicine training course given by the author and a colleague, Giovanni Giambalvo Dal Ben, to a group of health workers in rural Tanzania, on behalf of Agopuntura Senza Frontiere (Acupuncture Without Borders). In a journal-style report, the author shows how the group, who knew nothing of Chinese medicine and who had very limited experience of studying, got to recognise the basic pathological patterns without any previous knowledge of wu xing, jing luo, zang fu. In her view, it was deeply reassuring that Chinese medicine is so close to reality that a theoretical model is not strictly necessary to be able to use it, at least in the first steps of the learning process.
This article discusses the origin of Blood and its relationship with qi and jing, it works out the signs and symptoms of Blood deficiency and outlines the three main syndromes, Liver Blood, Heart Blood and Spleen Blood deficiency. The main part of the article focuses on Liver Blood in gynaecology and its relationship with Liver qi (yang aspect), Liver Blood (yin aspect) and Liver qi stagnation. It examines the various patterns originating from or being associated with Liver Blood deficiency. The article finishes with a short summary of suggested acupuncture points in the treatment of the main syndromes, Liver Blood, Heart Blood and Spleen Blood deficiency, as well as deficiency of tian gui in gynaecology. Read the whole article
Insomnia:- Blood Vacuity and the Extraordinary Vessels: A Case Study
Hamid Montakab EJOM Vol. 7 No. 1 (2012)
In this article, the author presents a case study of a 45-year-old woman who has suffered with insomnia for four years. He first presents an analysis of this case from the perspectives of TCM pattern differentiation, Blood and shen, and wei qi, and then provides a fascinating analysis based on the Extraordinary Vessels, in particular the yin wei mai and yin qiao mai which, he suggests, act as inner synchronizers, controlling the length and depth of sleep time. The successful treatment of this patient with acupuncture is then detailed with explanatory comments.
This article begins with a brief account of dreams as seen from the perspectives of Chinese medicine, Jungian psychotherapy and Gestalt therapy. The author then presents an account of how she has come to look at and use dreams as a part of acupuncture treatment, both as an aid in diagnosis and also to help shift the discussion in the treatment room “from being purely about physical symptoms to being about the evolution of the individual.” The author uses several case studies to illustrate this. Some of the stories emphasize the dream as an aid to the practitioner in diagnosis and treatment; others emphasize the dream as a tool to discuss the patient’s inner process.
It is the aim of this article to outline the classical understanding of Blood physiology, and the resurrection of its correct physiological function through the formula science of the Shang Han Lun (Treatise on Cold Damage), as understood in the Tian-Zeng lineage of Shang Han Lun practice. The article will explore the close relationship of the tai yang and jue yin conformations to Blood physiology, and as a result will demonstrate why the formula gui zhi tang serves as the core functional Blood tonic, expanding on this concept to demonstrate different aspects of Blood physiology and pathology through various modifications of this formula. The author hopes that this will inspire readers to consider the functional aspects of Blood physiology and pathology in greater depth and to broaden their understanding of the application of classical formulas from that which is currently understood in standard Chinese medical practice.
Abdominal Acupuncture:- The Sacred Turtle and the Ba Gua: Case Studies
Tuvla Scott EJOM Vol. 7 No. 1 (2012)
Abdominal Acupuncture (AA) is a microsystem based on the Abdominal Meridian System (AMS), with Ren 8 shen que at its centre, which forms the fundamental regulating system of the human body. Abdominal Acupuncture is based on the ancient sacred turtle luo shu theory which is the foundation of the ba gua and presents two different maps. One map accurately places the human body and a second map places the ba gua in the abdominal area. This article gives an insight to the source of AA theory and presents 3 cases which were treated with AA using the different ‘turtle maps.’
The Influence of Neo-Confucianism on The Concept of Shen in Chinese Medicine
Giovanni Maciocia EJOM Vol. 6 No. 5 (2010-11)
In this article, the author explores first the nature and teachings of Confucianism and Neo-Confucianism and then how these influenced Chinese medicine and especially the concept of shen and the emotions. He refers primarily to the Nei Jing since this text had a profound influence on all subsequent doctors of Chinese medicine and especially on the concept of shen. However, if the Nei Jing was written around 100 BC, how could it be influenced so much by Confucianism which did not become the dominant ideology until the Song dynasty (960-1279)? The reason is that the edition of the Nei Jing we have was actually written by Wang Bing in 762 AD (Tang dynasty); furthermore, according to Unschuld, the Nei Jing was revised three times during the Song dynasty (in 1057) by imperial committees. It is important to note that the Song dynasty represented the triumph of Neo-Confucianism when this philosophy became established as the official state philosophy. The author suggests that it is quite ironic that we in the West often criticise the ‘systematization’ of Chinese medicine by the modern Communist regime while, in fact, it was during the Song dynasty under the Neo-Confucian influence that the Nei Jing was edited by imperial committees! Confucianism is discussed at length because, in the opinion of the author, this philosophy has the strongest influence on Chinese medicine, particularly with regard to its view of the shen and the emotions.
With the dramatic increase in the number of prescriptions for the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) class of antidepressant drugs over the last two decades, it seems as if we are in the midst of a ‘depression epidemic’. Without denying the reality of the extreme suffering experienced by patients with a depressive disorder, the author argues that in many instances the diagnosis of depression is not a valid one. Pointing to the weaknesses in both the contemporary psychiatric paradigm and in contemporary TCM perspectives, he argues for a complete overhaul of the way in which depression is diagnosed and treated as well as the ways in which clinical outcomes are assessed. He calls for a restriction in the use of SSRIs because of their dubious risk-to-benefit ratio and for TCM treatment he proposes four major syndrome-patterns for patients with depressed mood, based on the core pathodynamics of this condition.
Chinese Medicine as Body Oriented Psychotherapy: An Eastern-Western Synthesis
Josef Viktor Müller EJOM Vol. 6 No. 5 (2010-11)
Chinese medicine in this article is understood as medicine that bases itself on the classics like Nei Jing, Dao De Jing and Yi Jing. These are not regarded as historical antecedents of contemporary TCM but as containing timeless essence (jing) that has to be translated into contemporary time specific usage. The pathway system will be highlighted as a map for finding our way back home to ourselves. By using the qi of the meridians as hyphens between psyche and soma (body and soul) we can foster the development of new qualities through the challenge of disease.
The Seven Types of Stress - Transforming Evils into Virtue: How to Treat Internal Factors of Disease
Yair Maimon EJOM Vol. 6 No. 5 (2010-11)
According to Western medicine stress is a response to danger. This response creates numerous changes in the body as a result of the activation of the hypothalamic-pituitaryadrenal (HPA) system. There is a release of hormones such as gluco-corticoids, primarily cortisol, and of neurotransmitters, such as catecholamines (dopamine, nor-epinephrine and epinephrine). These changes manifest themselves in the form of different symptoms. These symptoms will be discussed in relation to their pathology and analyzed according to the emotional response to stressors, as understood in Chinese medicine.
Towards an Integrated Traditional Chinese and Western Medical System – Ménière’s Disease
Tony Reid EJOM Vol. 6 No. 4
The potential benefits of an integrated Western and traditional Chinese medical system, while enormous, are likely to be hampered unless a critical evidence-based approach is taken to the evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of both systems. The best available evidence in many instances is quite poor – on both sides. The evidence of traditional usage (particularly in TCM) is an undervalued resource that, for better or worse, will remain our best guide for many years to come. This paper discusses several key issues centred on how to make best use of this resource and develop a more sharply focused clinical arm of TCM.
Influenza A (H1N1) (‘Swine Flu’) and the Four Levels
Giovanni Maciocia EJOM Vol. 6 No. 3 (2009)
The ‘Four Levels’ term refers to the four levels of depth in the development of fevers from acute infectious diseases. It is a brilliant theory of Chinese medicine that was developed during the early Qing dynasty by Ye Tian Shi in his book ‘A Study of Warm Diseases’ (Wen Bing Xue, 1746). In my opinion, the theory of the Four Levels provides the key to an understanding of acute, febrile, infectious diseases. This article will highlight the application of the theory of the Four Levels to the diagnosis and treatment of H1N1 influenza (‘swine flu’). Read the whole article
Filling the Whole in Acupuncture Part 2: What are we Doing in the Supplementation Needle Technique?
Stephen Birch EJOM Vol. 6 No. 3 (2009)
In the first part of this paper (published in EJOM Vol 6 No 2) the author discussed the purposes, traditional explanations and possible mechanisms of the supplementation needle technique and began to model what might be happening when we apply it. He highlighted local and global qi circulatory effects triggered by the act of needling, and also the effects arising out of the interaction between the person needling and the person being needled. In this concluding part of the paper, he proposes various scientific perspectives and models that could explain the same observed effects of the needling and their various interactional effects, including mental interactional effects. Finally he briefly discusses the implications of this for understanding acupuncture practice.
Tom Williams and Ann Hutchison EJOM Vol. 6 No. 3 (2009)
This paper will reflect upon the place of Chinese medicine in building an integral view of healthcare and how it can contribute to that process in a clear and coherent manner. The paper takes a look at the subtleties of ming men and how this can lead us to a much more functionally useful understanding of how our life journey can directly begin to manifest the disharmonies that Chinese medicine understands. By marrying these insights from Chinese medicine with the work of Caroline Myss on archetypal patterns and contextualising this against Wilber’s All Quadrants All Levels (AQAL) model, it will be shown that we have a much richer and integral understanding of pathology and how to address it. The theory will be illustrated with a detailed case study.
Traditions, Paradigms and Perspectives: Chinese Medicine Treading a Path in the West
Carl Williams EJOM Vol. 6 No. 2 (2009)
Chinese medicine and acupuncture have made considerable progress in the West and seem to be becoming more acceptable as complementary and alternative therapies. Without care and caution it is conceivable that these might be absorbed into western medical approaches and styles of thinking with the attendant danger of losing sight of what was important about the ancient Chinese philosophy that produced them in the first place. These kinds of issues mark the way for acupuncture in the West in the 21st century and are briefly explored here in relation to a range of conceptual frameworks drawn from the philosophy of science, psychology and social studies of science which highlight where and how these issues might arise. Read the whole article
Reinterpreting Qi in the 21st Century
David Mayor EJOM Vol. 6 No. 2 (2009)
Chinese medicine is pluralistic and qi itself is likewise dynamic and multidimensional. Our understanding of qi and the ‘body-mind’ it enlivens is partly based in felt bodily experience, especially of the breath, and warmth. This is very different from the ‘structural corpus’, the body as conceived and analysed in thought. All thinking has been construed as based in a limited number of metaphors. One in particular, the ‘core metaphor’ of qi flow in health and its disturbance in illness, is not unique to Chinese medicine but has parallels in many cultures and is used to underpin most forms of complementary therapy. A short history is presented of western reinterpretations of this metaphor, showing how these have changed with the current worldview. The importance of maintaining the metaphor in the face of a rationalising and reductive approach to acupuncture is emphasised. However, both ‘subtle’ and ‘gross’ anatomy have their place: ‘Throughout the universe, there is no qi without li, nor li without qi.’
Filling the Whole in Acupuncture Part 1: What are we Doing in the Supplementation Needle Technique?
Stephen Birch EJOM Vol. 6 No. 2 (2009)
The author contends that traditional forms of acupuncture practice have been hardly, if at all, investigated in the West. While many clinical and scientific studies of acupuncture have been conducted, these almost never involve the traditional practice methods of acupuncture with their clinical observations and theories of practice. In this article - the first of two papers on the subject - he attempts to bridge the gap between traditional practices and their historical sources and theories, and more modern perspectives with their methods of investigation. He discusses the purposes and possible mechanisms of the supplementation needle technique and models what might be happening when we apply it. Effects triggered by the needling itself, focusing especially on local and global qi circulatory effects and traditional explanations of these, are highlighted, as are the effects arising out of the interaction of the person needling and the person being needled, looking in particular at global changes in the vitality of the patient and the role of the mind of the practitioner. Various possible scientific perspectives are described, especially involving electromagnetic phenomena that could explain the effects of the needling and various interactional effects. Implications of this for understanding acupuncture practice are briefly discussed.
The Lived Body: Changing Conceptions of Embodiment and their Challenge to Modern Chinese Medicine
Diane Dutton EJOM Vol. 6 No. 2 (2009)
The increasingly widespread practice of acupuncture in the West, as well as interest in eastern forms of self-cultivation such as qi gong, provoke debates about the legitimate interpretation of concepts which have their roots in ancient eastern traditions. Modern western approaches to health have often assumed that the experience of illness is universal across cultures and time periods and that the body can be accurately observed, discretely measured and faithfully mapped by objective means. However, evidence from the historical practice of Chinese medicine, as well as studies of pre-modern western accounts of illness experiences, emphasise the fluidity and intangibility of subjective bodily experience. This paper examines some of the ways in which these earlier explanatory frameworks challenge modern conceptions of the body and explores the possible implications for the practice of acupuncture today.
This article was written in response to the lecture given by Dr Jan van der Greef at Westminster University on 16 March 2009, ‘Systems Biology: the Unifying Bridge between Western and Chinese Medicine’.Systems biology understands the body as a self-regulating, self-replicating system, constantly in exchange and dialogue with its environment. Each part exists in a delicate balance with every other part. Our cells communicate one with the other. The nervous system resonates with the immune system. Messages are transmitted through the blood stream by hormones that in turn affect our emotions; our hormones affect our moods, our moods affect our immunity. Interconnectivity, interdependence, the mapping of patterns of relationships are the stuff of systems thinking. The same ideas are at the basis of Chinese medicine, but they have often been disregarded, put to one side, swept under the carpet, in order to gain respectability and fit in with the models of old paradigm reductionist science. As practitioners of Chinese medicine, the author suggests that it may be time for us to embrace this new science, to make use of its vocabulary and methodology, and to bring an awareness, which began for some of us in the 1970s, into the 21st century.
An increasing number of women undergoing in vitro fertilisation (IVF) are seeking to use acupuncture as a result of its growing reputation for increasing the chances of conception when used as an adjunctive therapy. Those of us involved in this work may feel a sense of joy and satisfaction at being able to assist someone through such a fundamentally life changing experience. At the same time, many practitioners express discomfort with the nature of the medicine involved and feel their role is mostly limited to one of supporting the patient’s health through a physically and emotionally sapping drug regime. Acupuncturists can feel torn between the desire to help the person become pregnant and the desire to distance themselves from a medical practice they see as harmful. This article aims to examine and expose some of the ways in which our humanity is undermined by over reliance on IVF technology to correct infertility. It is hoped that by confronting the difficult ethical problems created by IVF medicine, our profession may recognise its unique capacity to provide a comprehensive fertility treatment for women and will seek to do this at a greater distance from today’s IVF clinics.
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.
Epistemological Orientations to Acupuncture Practice
Barry Nester EJOM Vol. 6 No. 1 (2008)
This paper explores some ‘epistemological orientations to practice’ that can be drawn upon by academics and practitioners involved in Chinese medicine to understand acupuncture knowledge and professional practice. Using the theoretical framework of Anne Mosey (1992) that she used to examine the health professions, it is argued that the four epistemological orientations to practice identified by Mosey can be reflected upon to better understand acupuncture practice and the acupuncture profession. This analysis helps to understand the reasons for some of the developments of the acupuncture profession, and helps to clarify the underlying assumptions and premises for the diverse opinions on the best way forward for the development of acupuncture knowledge, practice and research.
Cells, Fibres and Fluid: An Explanation for the Homeostatic Effects of Acupuncture Channels and Qi?
Darren Chandler EJOM Vol. 6 No. 1 (2008)
This article proposes that acupuncture points and channels correlate to collagen fibres in fascia (Stecco, 2004, Ho, 1997). Fascia is one continuous structure that envelopes and invests all the structures in the body. If you were to dissolve all other tissues and organs leaving just the fascia you would see a ghostly outline of the individual. The author reports on the intracellular and extracellular effects of the stretching of collagen fibres induced by acupuncture needling. He suggests that these neurophysiological effects provide insight into the mechanisms behind not only acupuncture but also tui na and qi gong.
Intention: Embodying the Moment, Transforming Disease
Lee Moden EJOM Vol. 6 No. 1 (2008)
Sun Simiao once said: ‘Medicine is yi. Those who are proficient at using yi are good doctors.’ Zhao Xuemin said: ‘Medicine is yi. It is not as good to use medicinals as it is to use yi…’ (Scheid and Bensky, 1998). This article grew out of a passion to explore the root of statements such as these, from an interest in the inner orientation of the practitioner and from the subtle, dynamic interactions between patient and practitioner. It also arose from a belief that from understanding the wisdom of the ancient guiding principles contained within the Chinese medical classics, we may find significant relevance of that wisdom in contemporary practice. It is only by exploring (both cognitively and experientially) these concepts for ourselves that we might avoid dismissing potentially rich information that offers the possibility of deepening our understanding and informing and transforming our practice.
The Emotion of the Earth Phase: An Examination of English Translations and the Classic Texts
Andrew Prescott EJOM Vol. 6 No. 1 (2008)
An examination of the emotions in Chinese medicine, their Chinese characters and a discussion of the differences between the normative terms for the emotions as found in various texts, especially the use of the term ‘sympathy’ for the emotion of earth (soil) by some European writers as compared with the more common term ‘(over)-thinking’.
In this paper some understandings of the nature of acupuncture knowledge are explored in relation to contemporary models of knowledge. It is argued that the contemporary acupuncture practitioner now utilises several types of knowledge, including propositional knowledge, non-propositional knowledge, and personal knowledge. In the discipline of acupuncture, knowledge has developed in the past through a variety of ways. The paths to acupuncture knowledge include the study of classical Chinese texts, authority and tradition, apprenticeship, trial and error, personal experience, and reflection on clinical practice. Acupuncture knowledge can be further developed through the use of both traditional methods and by the appropriation and use of research methods from other disciplines.
There seems to be a general consensus within the acupuncture and Chinese herbal community that research is a necessary process to establish our professional status. It may be regarded as a ‘good’ thing, a bold venture to bring Chinese medicine into the cosy confines of evidence based medicine; or perhaps more cynically ‘a necessary twenty-first century evil’ that we need to grit our teeth and get on with. This is an account of the author's foray into the research world to explore the role of Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) in the treatment of endometriosis. He set off on his journey dressed in a shiny suit of optimistic positivist fervour. Now several years down the line he feels more like Don Quixote lining up his intellectual lance and charging heroically towards the next windmill on the horizon. This then is the story of how a naive would-be knight lost his armour, encountered the dark forces of bureaucracy, and depending upon your point of view either grew up or went quietly nuts. Read the whole article
Nan Jing Difficulty One: Pulse Diagnosis and the Use of the Right Distal Position
William R. Morris
EJOM Vol. 5 No. 6
This article expands upon pulse diagnostic ideas discussed in Chapter One of the Nan Jing. The global view of the right distal position that is presented in Chapter One can be explored from the perspective of other chapters within the Nan Jing as well as from perspectives generated from contemporary practice. Nan Jing Chapter One discusses the use of the right distal position as a method of diagnosing the conditions for the whole person. The right distal pulse position is said to be the meeting place of all the vessels and is the source of all vessel movements from within the ‘Great Abyss’ or the ‘Big Source’ (Lu 9 tai yuan). This investigation explores four applications of Chapter One, based on pulse qualities and depths, and the finger rolling and organ clock methods.
Exploring the Mechanics of Acupuncture: Bioelectromagnetism of the Human Body
Daniel J. Windridge & Harriet Lansdown EJOM Vol. 5 No. 5
This article gives an outline of a BSc (Hons) dissertation submitted as part of the BSc (Hons) Traditional Chinese Medicine (Acupuncture) degree programme at the University of Salford in April 2003. The purpose of this quantitative study (Part One) was to measure the skin resistance and thus conductivity of a given set of the Influential points. The aim was to determine any differences in the conductive properties according to the gender of participants involved. Vacancies were a set sample of 30, which involved stratified criterion non-random sampling. Quantitative comparative descriptive was the method design used. The results of readings were compared and were shown to support the yin and yang theory used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). The outcome of Part One established that yang acupoints had the highest conductance compared to yin acupoints. Also it was found that the conductivity of all the yang acupoints measured from the male participants were significantly greater when compared with results obtained from the females.
Shen-Zhi Theory: Analysis of the Signs and Symptoms of Mental Disorder
Qu Lifang and Mary Garvey EJOM Vol. 5 No. 2
The Huangdi Neijing (Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon) contains numerous references to ‘spirits’ that are said to reside within the body. The term ‘shen-zhi’ means ‘spirit-mind’ and telescopes the five spirits (shen, hun, po, yi, zhi) of early Chinese medical theorising. Shen-zhi theory explains the principles for understanding Chinese medicine’s perspective on human consciousness. The theory describes how each of the wu shen (five spirits) govern certain aspects of mentality and are closely related to sensory faculties, body tissues, visceral systems, and physiological substances according to the wu xing (five phase) framework of correspondence and relationship. Spirit activities thereby provide the human organism with its distinctive array of mental and sensory abilities including intelligence, insight, focused attention and memory. Shen-zhi theory is derived from key sections of the Neijing that define the nature of the wu shen, their physiological activities and relationships. When these resources and relationships are disrupted a variety of common or more serious disorders may result. We discuss some of these, and a number of specific disorders that have a particular connection with the five spirits and shen-zhi theory. Broadly speaking, they are ‘mind’ or ‘mental’ disorders. Analysis of their signs and symptoms illustrates the theory and clarifies its diagnostic relevance for modern clinicians. Read the whole 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.
Western Psychotherapy: An Introductory Overview - Whither the Yin and the Yang?
Kevin Baker EJOM Vol. 2 No. 5
Baker describes the development of modern Western psychotherapy, and Core Process Psychotherapy (CPP), which integrates eastern spiritual traditions with psychotherapy. From this psycho-spiritual perspective, patterns within one's life situations, as well as deeper existential issues including impermanence, insubstantiality and the truth of suffering are explored. The qualities of the therapist are also discussed.
When treating patients with pain, it is important to at least try to understand what pain is. This first article in a series on chronic pain covers some general aspects of pain and its taxonomy, in particular the differences between acute and chronic pain, and between nociceptive and neurogenic pain. The next article will explore the psychology of pain, and in particular the relationships between pain, anxiety and depression. A follow-up article will be devoted to some of the thorny issues of pain measurement. The references given should be useful as a starting point for anyone embarking on their own exploration of the literature on chronic pain. Read the whole article
The Clinical Application of Five Phase Theory in the Practice of Herbal Medicine
Professor Wu Boping EJOM Vol. 1 No. 5
Professor Wu Boping, head of the research library at the Beijing Academy of TCM discusses the engendering and restraining (sheng and ke) relationship among the five phases and gives his recommended herbal formulae in cases where 'disharmonious relationships' occur. He cites four case histories: dizziness, cough and dyspnoea, abdominal pain, and palpitations. Translated by Chao Baixiao. 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
The Psyche in Chinese Medicine
Giovanni Maciocia EJOM Vol. 1 No. 1
In discussing the nature of the psyche in Chinese medicine, the author proposes the translation of shen as ‘mind’ and the complex of the five mental-spiritual aspects as ‘spirit.’ The nature and function of each aspect is discussed in detail, as is their inter-relationship and interaction. Read the whole article
Spirits, Ghosts and Chinese Medicine
Poney Chiang EJOM Vol. 5 No. 4
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.
Acupuncture Research and Practice: Some Philosophical Considerations
Allen Parrott EJOM Vol. 5 No. 3
The aim of this article is to set out some of the ways in which the basic philosophical assumptions about knowledge and reality that underpin mainstream scientific thinking, and therefore most current research, can be challenged, and to explore the relevance of such challenges to acupuncture research and practice. The author argues that randomised and double-blind clinical trials may be useful in certain contexts, but they no longer need be esteemed as the ‘gold standard’ to which all serious enquiry should aspire. For most healthcare research, a different ‘lens’ is desirable, for practical and ethical as well as for theoretical or more purely philosophical reasons.
Individualising Treatments in a Group Setting by Combining Micro-Acupuncture Systems
Oran Kivity EJOM Vol. 5 No. 3
This article outlines a method of delivering individualised diagnosis and treatments in group settings. It has been used to treat addictions and general health problems in the UK and, more recently, on the Acupuncture Sans Frontières project in Sri Lanka. The method combines the ECIWO protocol (a 12-point micro-acupuncture system based on the second metacarpal which was developed in China by Dr Zhang Ying Qing) with minimal auricular acupuncture. The author discusses auricular therapy as used in detoxification settings, and elaborates on the genesis and principles of the ECIWO system. He outlines the influence of Japanese acupuncture styles in the development of his approach combining these two systems and concludes with an explanation of how to apply the resulting simple and flexible protocol in clinics.
The catalyst for this article was a Problem Back Masterclass for physiotherapists held at Highgrove under the auspices of the Prince of Wales. The article describes the author’s personal experience of chronic back pain and the inspirational influence of the maverick Australian physio, Sarah Keys. The ability of the spine, given the right condition, to heal itself of even the most recalcitrant problems is highlighted. Pointing to acupuncture’s ability to provide simple, safe and highly effective treatment for back pain, the author concludes by affirming that: ‘We have much to learn from western medicine, but western medicine has much to learn from us. This is what real integration is all about.’
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.’
Classical Five-Element Acupuncture: The Teachings of J R Worsley
Neil R Gumenick in collaboration with J B Worsley EJOM Vol. 5 No. 2
This article outlines the teachings of J R Worsley and clarifies the basic premise behind Classical Five-Element Acupuncture – the Causative Factor – which sets it apart from other systems of acupuncture. Accurate diagnosis and treatment of the Causative Factor is the key to Classical Five-Element Acupuncture, which recognises that the health of each unique individual’s body, mind and spirit must be taken into account to fully understand and treat the cause of illness. The article includes a critique of two recent variations of what J R Worsley taught, namely ‘constitutional’ five-element acupuncture, and the concept of the ‘guardian element’. It also exposes what it calls the myth of ‘elemental types’. The importance of the practitioner’s internal state and sensory awareness are highlighted and the use of moxibustion, and the concepts of tonification and sedation are discussed.
Patients’ Explanatory Models of Acupuncture: How and Why do They Think it Works?
Sylvia Schroer EJOM Vol. 5 No. 1
This article reports on a small study to investigate how patients explained the workings of acupuncture in the light of their own experience of treatment. 15 patients of different ages and from socio-economic backgrounds were interviewed and issues such as reasons for having treatment, the effects of treatment, and the importance of the therapeutic relationship were discussed to reveal the explanatory models which they used to describe their experiences. One of the findings of the study was that patients’ narratives shifted during the course of treatment from mechanical theories or physical explanations of illness towards theories of equilibrium, of mind-body harmony, and ethical theories, with treatment seen as a cleansing process. The study found that also found that patients themselves, through their experience of treatment, are moving away from a narrow definition of acupuncture as a treatment for the relief of pain or physical symptoms towards a much broader conceptualisation for its therapeutic potential in the context of their lives.
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.
Five Element Acupuncture in the Land of the Great Khaan
Richard Graham EJOM Vol. 4 No. 6
This article gives an account of the author’s experience as a volunteer with Health Volunteers Overseas at the Shastin hospital in Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia. He spent 4 weeks working with the medical team in the hospital’s rehabilitation centre treating musculoskeletal conditions, neurological problems (especially those associated with stroke), physiological diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, congenital deformities and growth problems, and mental and emotional problems such as depression and anxiety. As a practitioner and teacher of Five Element acupuncture, the author’s pulse reading and treatment strategies intrigued his new colleagues, with concepts such as entry and exit blocks, Aggressive Energy and Possession being totally new to them. Most of the patients given Five Element acupuncture appeared to show improvement, with the most noticeable improvements coming from patients who had recently (within 6 months) suffered stroke.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This article argues that if we wish to treat at the level of the Soul, in other words metaphysically, both practitioner and patient must consciously be aware and involved in the process. We cannot just assume that our treatments are working on the level of the Soul because we are using herbs, or for that matter acupuncture. Similarly, ‘medical acupuncture’ proves that it is perfectly possible to use acupuncture on a purely physical level. Working at the level of the Soul is, of course, not for all patients, or even for all practitioners. Nor should it be. But many patients wish to go beyond merely getting rid of obvious signs of illness, and seek treatments that help them towards a fuller, richer life. For these people, true health is not defined merely as an absence of disease, but as a life of fulfilment, meaning and purpose. Chinese medicine has the potential to help them towards this fuller model of health.
This article gives an outline of an MSc dissertation submitted to the Northern College of Acupuncture and University of Wales in May 2002. The dissertation investigated common ground and differences between the theories of Chinese medicine and Wilhelm Reich (1897–1957). Reich was an Austrian psychoanalyst who studied biological energy functions. Many previously undocumented parallels and differences were found between the theories. A double blind, placebo-controlled experimental study (N=72) was also reported. The experimental study investigated whether effects are produced when a device reported to collect life-energy by Reich’s theory, is attached via a connecting wire to an acupuncture point. Reich describes this life-energy as Orgone. The concept of Orgone is similar in its definition to that of qi. The study found an objective effect by Orgone on the acupuncture process (P<0.03).
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.’
Stephen Birch, Peter Deadman and Felicity Moir EJOM Vol. 4 No. 4
This is an extract of the keynote debate, which took place at the British Acupuncture Council’s Conference in October 2004, which was chaired by Mike O’Farrell, Chief Executive Officer Executive Officer of the BAcC. The three keynote speakers were Stephen Birch who has co-authored seven books on acupuncture and regularly contributes to the debate on the use of scientific methods in the integration of Traditional East Asian Medicine (TEAM) in the West, Peter Deadman who is Publisher and Editor of the Journal of Chinese Medicine and co-authored the major acupuncture textbook a manual of acupuncture, and Felicity Moir who is a Course Leader and Principal Lecturer at the University of Westminster, School of Integrated Health. Questions or comments follow the introductory views of the keynote speakers, together with the responses of the speakers. Read the whole article
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.
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.
Claude Larre and Elisabeth Rochat de la Vallée EJOM Vol. 4 No. 1
An excerpt from Essence Spirit Blood and Qi, published by Monkey Press in 1999. The book is an edited transcript of a seminar by Claude Larre and Elisabeth Rochat de la Vallée. This excerpt covers Jing Essence, and examines the character of Jing as well as the different aspects of Jing essence. Read the whole article
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).
An obituary of Claude Larre 1919-2001, describing how finally he knew the tree of Chinese medicine, and how he kept mindful of the Chinese-ness, the subtlety, the constant return to the root, to understand not just what they thought, but how they thought, not just what they wrote but how they wrote. Claude Larre's life and family are described, giving a fully-rounded description of this compassionate, generous-spirited man.
Nei Guan: The Inner Gaze - Reflective Practice in Acupuncture Traditions
Richard Blackwell and Paul Hougham EJOM Vol. 3 No. 5
The authors review aspects of what has been termed ‘reflective practice’ and go on to identify its themes within acupuncture traditions. They cite hua (transformation) as our point of origin for education, medicine and spiritual practice; they examine the nature of engaged awareness and the path of the heart; they explore the concept of reflection itself and its role at the core of Daoist alchemy; they develop the notion of acupuncture traditions forming a body of knowledge rather than mere intellectual knowing, and explore the challenges inherent in working from somatic knowledge. They conclude by revisiting reflective practice in the light of Scheid and Bensky’s work on yi - signification, or intent - (published in EJOM Vol. 2 No. 6; Winter 1998/99), and argue for a wide interpretation of reflective practice within acupuncture traditions that honours their roots and diversity and embraces bodywork and the cultivation of inner stillness as much as it does intellectual knowledge. Read the whole article
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
The Virtual Centre: Reflections on Mark Seem's BodyMind Energetics
William Weinstein EJOM Vol. 3 No. 4
This article examines the nature of the integration of 'body' and 'mind' in Seem's BodyMind Energetics, comparing cultural assumptions of Chinese and western medicines. The ideas of writers such as Groddeck, Deutch and Alexander are discussed. The Chinese categories of the three Heaters are analysed with, reference to psychosomatics, in an attempt to bridge cultural notions of body and mind.
The author introduces his article: All medicine is philosophical in nature. Even modern medicine is based on our modern-day understanding of life as a biochemical, possibly mechanical, process. Chinese medicine is also based upon certain philosophical understanding cloaked in cultural terms appropriate to its time and geography. If we get caught in the language used we might use sight of the essence of the medicine: its view of the human process. When we look deeper, past the cultural differences, we can find the core statements and realise their relevance to our lives along.
Creative Interchange: Reflections on 'Medicine as Signification'
Wainwright Churchill EJOM Vol. 3 No. 3
This article reflects on themes presented in Volker Scheid and Dan Bensky’s article ‘Medicine as Signification’ (published in EJOM Vol. 2 No. 6) and the subsequent exchange between these authors and Mike Fitter (in EJOM Vol. 3 No. 2). Wainwright Churchill gives a critical assessment of the three possible approaches to research into Chinese medicine and other complementary and alternative medicines, and their different outcomes. Warning that traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) faces effective colonialisation by biomedicine, he contrasts the 'meditative thought' which characterises TCM and which allows for holism and flexibility, with what he calls the ‘calculative thought’ which informs biomedicine and which is essentially reductionist and mechanistic. He argues that Mike Fitter’s proposal for a ‘world medicine’, while making a great deal of sense at the level of the individual, is an unrealisable and even a dangerous ideal in that it inadvertently extends an invitation to biomedicine to increase its dominion by appropriating the diverse medical systems of the world.