Traditions, Paradigms and Perspectives: Chinese Medicine Treading a Path in the West Carl Williams 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 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’.
Acupuncture and Physiotherapists - A Personal View Val Hopwood 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.
Filling the Whole in Acupuncture. Part 1: What are we doing in the supplementation needle technique? Stephen Birch 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.
TCM in Germany - Views from Four Leading Practitioners Helmut Magel 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.
The Lived Body: Changing Conceptions of Embodiment and their Challenge to Modern Chinese Medicine Diane Dutton 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.
Towards A Systems View Of Medicine Sandra Hill 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.
TCM from China to the UK Shulan Tang In this article, BAcC member Shulan Tang sketches her career in TCM which began with her entry, at the age of 16, into the Nanjing TCM University, where she now holds a professorship. Shulan has been practising acupuncture and Chinese medicine in Manchester since 1991 and has lectured extensively in the UK and Europe. She writes about her experiences of practice in both China and the UK and gives her views on the development of TCM in both countries and the integration of Chinese medicine into the UK's National Health Service.
A Case Study: Treating Asthma Successfully Using Five Element Principles Zara Melyan This article describes the author's treatment of a 50-year-old male patient who had suffered from a severe form of asthma for 12 years. She suggests that in normal medical practice, case studies are based on a correct diagnosis which is then followed by a successful treatment. In this case, her initial diagnosis was not entirely spot on, and it took her a few treatments to come to the right conclusion. However, the case is, she argues, still of interest, not only because of its successful outcome, but also because it clearly illustrates how Five Element treatment works.