Acupuncture, Herbal medicine, Tuina massage, Tai Qi (pronounced ‘chee’) exercise, Qi Gong energy meditation, and dietary therapy together are known as ‘Chinese Medicine’, or ‘Oriental Medicine’. Historians have physical evidence for Acupuncture and Herbal medicine dating to at least 4000 years ago, so they are indeed ‘time tested’. Practiced throughout China, and the world, as it was in ancient times, it is the primary system which a large segment of the world’s population uses for their health care.
Taking a different view of health, healing, and the body, where some types of medicine look at each part of the body separately, Chinese Medicine looks at the body as a whole. It is a holistic system of medicine that aims to restore our bodies' innate healing abilities. Over time, these innate healing abilities can become sluggish resulting in fatigue, pain, digestive complaints, and a whole host of other issues. But Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine, diet therapy, and exercise all help to reboot the body and get it working smoothly again.
At the heart of Chinese Medicine is the idea of subtle energy flow, what is called Qi, from day to night, from season to season, from menstrual cycle to menstrual cycle, from phase of life to phase of life. This flow is inevitable, and is ever changing. As we see this flow in nature, this same flow is manifested in our lives.
The ancient master Ye Tian Shi wrote: “The human body mirrors the natural world…” Thus, the idea of man/woman being inseparable from nature guides the workings of Chinese Medicine at its core. In one respect, as there are rivers in nature carrying water to moisten and nourish the land, our veins are rivers carrying blood to moisten and nourish our bodies. In another respect, as humidity creates a heaviness in the air, it can create a heaviness in our bodies. How many times patients tell me, ‘I know when a rainstorm is coming. My joints hurt more.’
So, we are not separate parts, eyes, heart, bowels, lungs, and psychology as some types of medicine see us. Rather, every part influences another in a constant flow, and the external world influences our inner world. This idea is what constitutes health for Chinese Medicine. Restoring health is not just fixing one part of the body, or mind, but seeing the symptom as part of a larger underlying imbalance, restoring balance to all the parts, and recognizing the interplay between the outer world and the internal world of our bodies.