In The Beginning...Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
An Ancient Medicine in Modern Times
Let's start at the beginning. Some say Chinese Medicne has been around for 3000 years, others say 5000 years. Then there are archeologists who have discovered skeletal bones depicting acupuncture channels dating back 26,000 years. Let's agree that the beginning was several thousand years ago!
Chinese Medicine is an "umbrella" under which several modalities fall:
- Herbal Medicine (which is the oldest and most sophisticated herbal system in the world)
- Qi Gong
- Tui Na or Massage (with or without tools)
I will explain each of these modalities in future posts.
The origin of Chinese medicine has an interesting story in that the Chinese believe acupuncture began during the Stone Age when stone knives or sharp edged tools were used to puncture and drain abscesses and correct chronic afflictions.
The Chinese character "Bi" represents a disease of pain, and the Chinese character "Bian" means 'the use of a sharp edged stone to treat disease'. Thus, acupuncture is used to treat painful problems.
Another Chinese character or word is "Qi", or "Chi", or "Ki", which all mean energy or life force. In the West we might say, molecular or particle energy. If you've ever taken a Yoga class, they refer to "Prana" which is Qi. It matters that we understand that everything is energy. It doesn't matter as much what we call it.
The purpose behind Chinese Medicine is to create harmony in your body. To cultivate harmony between your body and your environment. Your environment, in this context, is the air you breath, the food you eat, the relationships you have, and even the work you do.
A healthy body has a good flow of Qi inside and out. Any time there is pain in a body, it means the circulation of Qi is disrupted. This is what Chinese Medicine seeks to balance in a person.
When asking about acupuncture, people always want to know, "Does it hurt?!" Fortunately, we've advanced from the Stone Ages, and I'm happy to tell you that the implements used today are thin, sterilized, smooth, medical needles, that are virtually painless. You can see how small they are compared to a paper clip!
The purpose of stimulating an acupuncture point is to correct and harmonize the flow of energy in a person. This also regulates the flow of blood, oxygen, lymph, and nerve conduction. This is how pain is changed for the better using the Chinese Medical modality of Acupuncture.
When I think about how long Chinese Medicine has traveled through time, I feel awe-inspired. Not only because I am biased, but because if there wasn't something powerful in this medicine, it would never have stood the test of time.
In addition, there were numerous dynasties throughout Chinese history that sought to destroy the development of this medicine over the years. Plenty was destroyed, but plenty was also protected, hidden until safe, and then given back to the people when the time was right.
I am grateful to live during a time where many people now have access to this medicine. Where minds are opening from East to West recognizing that we must take care of our Qi if we are to have a healthy life.
Our life is only as good as our Qi is healthy.