Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine: Ancient Wisdom For A Modern World
Paradoxically, Traditional Chinese and Oriental Medicine, the oldest standardized medicine, is becoming the world’s fastest growing medical discipline. Insurance companies say that it is the number one alternative medicine modality asked to be covered by patients nationwide. So what is Oriental medicine and why is this ancient healing science growing so rapidly in popularity? The exact age of Oriental medicine is unknown, though best estimates say that one of the foundations of Oriental medicine, herbology, started approximately 4700 years ago. Ancient people’s time was spent on basic survival: hunting, locating and preparing plants for food and building shelters. Eventually, they’d have sampled most of the local plants in their search for food. Over time, an oral record evolved that identified those plants that made good food, those that were useful for building, those that had an effect on illness, and those that were poisonous. Through trial and error, a primitive form of herbal medicine and dietary therapy took shape in China.
Ancient people, and modern alike, have experienced a variety of injuries during their lives. Instinctually, man tends to rub or press on the affected or injured area. This traditional therapy gradually evolved into a system of therapeutic manipulation, or massage. People discovered that pressing on certain points on the body had wide-ranging effects. They began to use pieces of sharpened bone, stone, or strong wood to enhance the sensation. Acupuncture had begun. As tradition was passed down from generation to generation, medicine in China came standardized under the Emperor. Physicians were recruited by the ruling family to act as personal caregivers and doctors. Incorporated primarily were the practices of herbology and nutritional counseling, acupuncture and Tui-Na, or Chinese massage. In fact, if royalty were left sick and suffering from illness, physicians would often lose their lives as a result. There was a huge incentive, therefore, to keep patients at optimal health and free from disease. Traditional Chinese Medicine was born.
To understand the philosophy of Oriental medicine would take more time than is allowed in a single article, but if it can be refined down to three basic principles, it is these: first, the body is the primary and most efficient healer; second, all disease is a result of imbalances, or lack of “homeostasis”; third, that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” The greatest physicians prevent disease, they don’t simply treat it. The West has concluded that an absence of disease is equatable to being healthy; this is not true. Being healthy doesn’t simply mean that one is free from disease, but rather, being healthy is the ability to withstand disease and the ability to experience life to its fullest. The human body inherently knows best how to keep the systems and functions of the body working optimally, however during disease, it requires help; enter Chinese medicine. It helps to assist the body to heal and rejuvenate naturally, and without the use of substances that can do more harm than good. The chance of being injured or harmed by Chinese medicine is negligible.
The key reason that keeps people from trying Chinese medicine is the “weird” factor, or the supposed “voodoo” mentality of some who are in the West, especially from medical doctors. While there are some practitioners who take the amazing benefits and near miraculous results from Chinese medicine too far into the “weirdness” category, the vast majority of practitioners are using techniques grounded in tradition and science. Once people learn about the context in which Chinese and Oriental Medicine evolved, and they understand how the ancient Chinese viewed the world and therefore the human body and medicine, they see in this tradition is a vast amount of wisdom on health and treatment of disease. In fact, my mantra is “Combining Ancient Wisdom with Modern Science.” This explains how the majority of Chinese Medicine is being used in the mainstream.
The World Health Organization conducted a 20 year study that concluded in 2003 and found that acupuncture was an effective and safe form of medical treatment. It stated, in terms of pain, This publication reviews selected studies on controlled clinical trials. Some of these studies have provided incontrovertible scientific evidence that acupuncture is more successful than placebo treatments in certain conditions. For example, the proportion of chronic pain relieved by acupuncture is generally in the range 55-85%, which compares favourably with that of potent drugs (morphine helps in 70% of cases) and far outweighs the placebo effect (30-35%) (1-3). In addition, the mechanisms of acupuncture analgesia have been studied extensively since the late 1970s, revealing the role of neural and humoral factors.
The World Health Organization also listed close to one hundred other illnesses that can be treated with Chinese Medicine and as more research is being continually funded, more hospitals, clinics and Western medicine practices are implementing Chinese medicine in order to utilize its strong, positive and side-effect free treatments. Chinese and Oriental Medicine is not a panacea. No medical modality could claim that, but it is, however, a crucial tool in the fight for continued health and against disease. I believe as the benefits of Oriental medicine are increasingly recognized in America, that more and more patients are turning to natural and integrated approaches for their health and treatment of disease. Bringing close to 4000 years of Oriental medical history to bear upon the vast and complex world of modern medical pathologies will be a vital tool in the fight against illness and the preservation of health.
Chinese medicine is a pain-free, natural medicine that is virtually side-effect free and has a history of over 4000 years. Come find out how Oriental medicine can aid you in achieving optimal health, enjoyment of life, prevention of disease, and treatment of illness!