Saturday, March 6, 2010

You're Missing Good Medicine

Today I'd like to guide you through
the four pillars of Chinese medicine.
Then over the course of this week,
I'll go into more detail regarding
each one, offering my perspective
in language I hope you will understand.


Before I do, I'm compelled first to broach
the subject of Chinese culture. Suffice
it to say that this culture, these people,
their language, their lifestyle--  
most everything in and around the word
"Chinese" is radically different than the
way we understand things in the West.  
  
Not only are there multitudes of words
and concepts in Chinese that have no
literal translation; but "Chinese" is comprised
of two different languages (Mandarin and
Cantonese) and two accepted standards for
translating them to English (Wade-Jiles and
PinYin). If you do any research on Chinese
culture (even to support what I am explaining
here), you will find the same name or concept
spelled five different ways, and each explanation
can be as different as red is to blue.

Most words in Chinese have four different
meanings, depending on the tone of the speaker
(like singing notes). Most phrases mean two or
three or four things at the same time because they
are morphed from old, old Chinese proverbs.
These points do not make Chinese weird.
They simply illustrate how different things can be.

Traditional Chinese Medicine is the most developed
and employed methodology of Asian origin. From
Thailand to Korea, Japan to Mongolia, TCM
is respected and utilized in the same way western
medicine is used in the west. The difference is,
here in the west, we don't amalgamate the two
schools the way they do in Asia.

In the clearest terms, Traditional Chinese Medicine is
the preventative maintenance required for good health.
In contrast, western medicine fixes it when it's broken.

The first and most recognizable of the "four branches"
is acupuncture. A highly-trained Chinese doctor
inserts five or more super-fine needles into amazingly
specific points in order to stimulate chi (western medicine
theorizes that the needles stimulate nerves and the release
of endorphins & hormones). Although is sounds freaky
to westerners, acupuncture is EXTREMELY RELAXING
and most people experience dramatic results. This practice
is also something you can learn and utilize for yourself,
believe it or not.

The second branch is Chinese herbs. Plants are indeed
the great alchemists of the planet, and there are special
herbs for most any ailment. Herbs are typically prescribed
by the acupuncturist; however, anyone can learn about
herbs and self-medicate.

The third branch is called Qi Gong (chee gung), and
can best be translated as "energy practice." A long distance
runner has to work up to long distances by practicing his
or her energy. Qi Gong is far more sophisticated and
developed than running, and includes stretching, postural
practice and powerful breathing techniques. You've
probably heard of Tai Chi, which is a Qi Gong. This branch
of TCM requires you to learn it and do it for yourself--
no one can do it for you.

Last comes Tui Na (twee-nah) massage. That sounds about
right, doesn't it ? Massage is good medicine. It heals the
body and rids it of toxins. It relaxes, soothes and nourishes
the muscles. Tui Na massage works the same points
as acupuncture and adds a chiropractic-type manipulation
to the treatment. You can also do this for yourself, but
isn't it nice to get a massage ?

The point of Traditional Chinese Medicine is to employ
all four branches in order to maintain good health.

Any questions ?

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