Traditional Chinese Medicine: A Literary Medicine

Acupuncture point LI 4
Acupuncture Point LI 4 helps to drain heat

Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese medicine is a comprehensive medical system with it own diagnosis and treatment.  The terminology and language is also unique.

Sometimes, acupuncture language may sound a little magical.  We may say that a headache is caused by liver qi stagnation in one person but in another person it may be from heat.

Similarly, anxiety can come from heart blood vacuity but it also can be related to heat irritating the heart.

It is very important that the language and theory is consistent throughout the acupuncture diagnosis and treatment.  In fact, if the wrong diagnosis is made, say heat instead of liver qi stagnation, the incorrect treatment will be used which will not work and in some cases can make the condition worse.

The imbalances are metaphors which describe the symptoms of your illness.

A Scholarly History

The causes and treatment of disease have been debated, discussed, and experimented with by clinicians and scholars throughout the more than 2500 years of Chinese medicine history.

They have evolved, as historian Paul Unschuld has written, into a system of medical correspondences. These debates still continue today about the best methods to approach and treat different diseases.

Health as Balance

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine view health as a state of balance in the body, as well as balance within the environment.

Some of the most common imbalances pertain to the body’s energy, or qi.  The qi can be too little, what we call qi vacuity, or it may not circulate as it should, called qi stagnation.

Other imbalances correspond to the environment.  Cold, heat, dryness, and wind can all cause diseases.

The Body Acupuncture

Acupuncture Channel Chart
Acupuncture Channel Map

Acupuncture visualizes the body as a complex interconnected web. Acupuncture channels traveling throughout the body, connecting the surface to the interior, the upper body with the lower body.

The body’s energy circulates freely.  If there is too little energy or if the energy gets stuck, imbalances occur.  A build up of any imbalance, heat, cold, stagnation, or others leads to developing into an illness.

To correct the imbalance, we use acupuncture points and treatment methods specific to your imbalance.

For example, a headache from liver qi stagnation, we could use the acupuncture points LI 4, Liver 3, and Liver 14.  But if it is from heat, we may choose Liver 2, Gallbladder 34, and San Jiao 5.

Joseph Alban, L.Ac.
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