With a history of over 5,000 years, Chinese Medicine is a highly organized system to health and prevention. Recently, there has been a growing interest and acceptance of Chinese Medicine. Since November 1997, the National Institute of Health (NIH), issued a statement recommending Acupuncture (a discipline of Chinese Medicine) as an effective form of treatment, with less side effects than many conventional therapies. In this article we will answer some frequent asked questions about Chinese Medicine and Chinese herbs.
How does Chinese Medicine compare to Conventional Medicine?
Conventional Medicine views the body in parts and treats symptoms within isolated parts of the body. Chinese Medicine views the body holistically, as a microcosm or entity. With consideration to the interrelation of each part of the body, its diagnosis surveys the whole body and treats the ailment. To give an analogy, think of each part of the body as a team member. Once a ailment is identified, Conventional Medicine concentrates and treats one team member. This individualized treatment may cause disharmony in the team. On the other hand, Chinese Medicine focuses on the whole team to resolve the problem. This teamwork approach harmonizes the team to work in unity.
Moreover, Chinese Medicine1s approach differs from conventional medicine because it concentrates on treating the underlying conditions of a ailment to balance the body; rather than targeting an isolated part of the body and directly treating the symptoms. For instance, in conventional medicine, we often hear about the search for the magic bullet to cure a disease. The magic bullet implies a fast and aggressive eradication of a disease on one part of the body. For Chinese Medicine, the magic bullet does not target only one part of the body, rather it examines the whole body, to locate and resolve the underlying conditions, thereby treating the ailment.
How does Chinese Medicine approach health?
Conventional Medicine1s approach to health is a direct treatment of symptoms and diseases. Indeed, we are all taught to go to our doctor when we are sick, not when we are healthy. On the other hand, the emphasis of Chinese Medicine is on prevention, as well as treatment of ailments. Chinese take herbs and cook with herbs when they are healthy to maintain their health, as well as visit their doctor when they have minor ailments. Chinese believe that minor ailments must be treated at the onset, to prevent the development of a more serious disease. For example, most of us do not consider a spraining ankle serious enough to warrant a visit to our doctor. However, Chinese Medicine treats a sprain seriously because that sprain has the potential to result into rheumatoid arthritis in the future.
What are the basic principles of Chinese Medicine?
The basis of Chinese Medicine is the balance of Yin and Yang. Yin and Yang are polar opposites, like night and day and are co-dependent, i.e., Yin is necessary for Yang to exist, and vice versa. Optimal health is dependent on the balance of Yin and Yang. Where there is an imbalance, ailments arise.
Another key principle in Chinese Medicine is the concept Chi (pronounced chee). Chi is best defined as metabolic or vital energy, i.e., an energy force that animates life and allows us to breath. Chi is the energy that pumps the oxygen through our blood, and flows through the veins. The proper flow of Chi is important for good health. When there is a defici