Out of the Dust: The Origins of Chinese Medical Epistemology Warren M Cochran 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.
Acupuncture and Related Practices in Japan: Common Themes and General Diversity Stephen Birch This paper describes the situation of acupuncture, moxibustion and massage (Shiatsu) in modern day Japan.In a westernised industrial society a variety of socio-cultural, political, historical and economic factors have led to an astonishing diversity of acupuncture schools.All in all there are at least 15 schools of acupuncture, 20% traditionalists, 20% biomedicine based, the rest a mixture of the two.It is an interesting fact that 40% of the acupuncturists in Japan are blind, acupuncture being a preferred profession for the blind since the late 19th century, leading to a greater emphasis on sensory awareness.The paper explains why there is a great emphasis on pragmatic approaches, particular techniques of pulse and point location, abdominal palpation, the use of thinner needles, less depth of insertion, and a highly specialised use of moxibustion techniques.It argues that it would be a mistake to think of Japanese acupuncture as one school of thought.
Should the Government Fund Complementary Medicine? Dianne Stewart This paper examines various aspects of the value of and the access to CM from the perspective of the patient, the GP and the government regulators.It looks at a long catalogue of questions involving the efficacy of CM, the patient’s choice, cost effectiveness, etc., including 'Does the practitioner have an incentive to give too much treatment when paid per session and too little when salaried, and is there potential for abuse?'Terms like agency problem, consumer choice, equity and externality, commonly used by economists, appear throughout.The paper concludes with the question 'Does the government have a right to save on expenditure, given the fact that the UK spends about half on health compared to countries like Germany?' and argues that an NHS which incorporates CM gives better value for money. Read the whole article
Meditations on the Meridians Avi Magidoff According to the author, 'the meridian system is an invitation to meditate on the nature of our lives in human form.' The article examines the topography of the Jing Mai, their direction of flow, as well as the Chinese names of the points, in relation to the elements they relate to and the deeper meaning of many Chinese medicine concepts. The ideas are presented as mere possibilities of what the Han dynasty authors may truly have meant. To quote the author again: 'My own understanding of these ideas is influenced by who I am as a 20th century human with a Jewish and Buddhist background, and teachers who are a Taoist priest, a Japanese practitioner, and a French sinologist.'
Complementary Medicine Research: An Alternative to the Reductionist Approach Roisin Golding interviews Dr David St. George During this interview David St George develops a variety of theories and ideas that transcend the limitations of the currently accepted scientific view, which is based on 'atomic materialism' and which sees the building blocks of existence but not the creative forces, including consciousness, which may line them up like a 3-dimensional holographic structure and determine their functioning. The following is a paraphrased quote:An expanding force, originating in the big bang, is pulsating out of the sun, which is counteracted by gravity.Similarly, out of the earth, out of plants, out of every atom and molecule, out of every living being, come these expanding and contracting forces, which are orchestrated by what is called life force, biorhythms, qi or prana.David St George questions a scientific paradigm which is unwilling to discuss evidence that does not fit into the current belief system, reminiscent of the church elders refusing to look through Galileo’s telescope.
The Space Shared Between Patient and Acupuncturist Elisa Rossi This article sees itself as the starting point for a discussion about the aspects in its title.It starts out by examining what the classics (Ling Shu and Su Wen) had to say about the practitioner-patient relationship, their internal attitudes and the space in which they interact.It looks at the definition of a good acupuncturist, including the governing of Shen, the arrival of Qi and the observing of the patient’s reaction.It talks about the darker side of illness, when we are ignorant, or when the doctor is drawn into being ‘contaminated’ by the patient’s pain or suffering.It focuses on 'the concepts of transference and counter transference, the setting, therapeutic alliance, empathy and neutrality, contract and recovery,' and the avoidance of errors arising from the deeper dynamics of the relationship, which may cause anti-therapeutic responses.
Oriental Medicine Education in Australia Susanna Dowie The author reports on a visit to three representative colleges of Oriental Medicine (OM) in Australia,two university-based and one a large private degree status college, as part of a fact finding mission which could inform future plans in the UK for providing OM education, curriculum planning and government/state regulation.OM is well established in Australia, backed by state support and stringently supervised by the Environmental Health Department, based on appropriate legislation and clear guidelines for acupuncture and herbal medicine education. There seems to be agreement amongst college principals in Australia in favour of state registration, with domestic curricular guidelines being brought in line across the English speaking world, and courses aiming at 2,400 hours (750 hours spent on Western science, 750 on acupuncture or Chinese herbal medicine theory, 750 in clinical training and 250 in practitioner development).
Medicine as Signification: A Reply to Scheid & Bensky Mike Fitter This paper is a reply to an article by Volker Scheid and Dan Bensky entitled 'Medicine as Signification: Moving Towards Healing Power in the Chinese Medical Tradition' which was published in EJOM Vol. 2 No. 6. While it commends their article as an important contribution to the debate on the history and future of Chinese Medicine, it is critical of the simplification of setting the 'middle way' (Chinese medicine as intention or yi) against stereotypes such as the 'reductionist' biomedical paradigm or the 'romanticist' New Age model. The paper contends that there is good and bad medicine, and that the difference depends not so much on the conceptual foundation of the practice, but more on the practitioner and their relationship to their practice. It suggests that Chinese medicine practitioners could do well with marrying texts from the Neijing with modern day concepts such as the 'therapeutic encounter', the 'spirit of enquiry', 'presentational knowledge' and others, developed through epistemology, modern day psychotherapy and Western philosophy.
Pluralism or Plurality: More Reflections on 'Medicine as Signification' Volker Scheid and Dan Bensky This article is a reply to Mike Fitter’s comments (see above) on the authors' paper entitled 'Medicine as Signification' (published in EJOM Vol. 2 No. 6).The authors maintain that their original paper is an example of engaging the tradition on its own terms and that we must develop Chinese medicine 'by assimilating other elements into it rather than by assimilating elements from CM into other practices.' They advocate 'an unlimited pluralism of personal and professional syntheses.' Such syntheses, they argue, must be guided by valuing the heritage that has enabled the present practice. This is in contrast to the interests of the modern Chinese state, which, they argue, is fitting CM into the context of their own desired reality, out of which the currently dominant model of TCM seems to have evolved. Their position also contrasts with the trend among Western practitioners, with their almost universal refusal to learn Chinese, that one can possess elements of what the East has to offer, but does not have to engage with it on equal terms.