About Traditional Chinese Medicine
Traditional Chinese Medicine is not some sort of new-fangled fad. It is based upon 5,000 years of knowledge, research and teachings. It is the oldest, continuous line of medicine in the world
Traditional Chinese Medicine views the human body in a unique way. Following are the major principles and theories which govern this ancient, authentic medical system. When you acquire this deeper understanding, you will be able to apply its theories, techniques and tools to your own healing and you will have more control over your own health.
Traditional Chinese Medicine Believes...
everyone is born with self-healing ability
destructive energy patterns like cancer can be interrupted and broken
the body has the ability to regenerate its immune system
the best cure is prevention
the human body is an organic whole
the human body has an inseparable connection with the natural world and the universe as a whole
Traditional Chinese medicine theory states that as long as the body's two major operating systems work in harmony, both within themselves and with each other, good health will be maintained and disease avoided. These two critical systems are the meridian network and the five major organs. Together, they encompass the Western concept of the immune system.
Yin and Yang
TCM believes everything is composed of two complementary energies. These two energies are called yin and yang. They are never separate; one cannot exist without the other. This intertwined relationship is reflected in the classic yin/yang symbol. Wherever you divide the circle, the two sections always contain both energies. They are indivisible. The theory contains no absolutes. The designation of something as yin or yang is always relative to, or in comparison with, some other thing. For example, the sun and daytime are considered to be yang in relation to the moon and the night. But within daytime, early morning is yin compared with noon; and within the night, the full moon is yang compared with the darkness of the sky. Even in yang, yin energy will be found; in yin, there is still yang energy. This is universal law at its simplest and deepest. Ideally, these energies should always remain in harmony, not, as many people think, in balance. The words balance and harmony are sometimes used interchangeably, but they are different. Balance is merely the first step towards harmony. Two things can be balanced; they can have equal weight in a scale and still be separate. Harmony means that they are not just equal, but blended into a seamless whole.
The true foundation of TCM is Qi, which is loosely translated as vital energy. Qi is an animating force of the universe. Although Western science does not yet have a framework for measuring Qi, it is not merely a theoretical construct; it is an actual force, like gravity or magnetism. Through proper training, people can develop the sensitivity to feel the flow of Qi.
In the human body, Qi flows through meridians, or energy pathways. Twelve major meridians run through the body, and it is over this network that Qi travels through the body and that the body's various organs send messages to one another. For this reason, keeping the meridians clear is imperative for the body's self-regulating actions to occur.
Often, however, the Qi that is supposed to hum through these meridians becomes blocked. When this happens, Qi can stagnate, leading to minor ailments, such as aches, digestive problems, insomnia, and fatigue. It's analogous to a traffic jam: since the streets are backed up, it takes longer for information and energy to travel from one point to another, so the whole body becomes sluggish.
Meridians, or channels, are invisible pathways through which Qi flows that form an energy network that connects all parts of the body, and the body to the universe. TCM understands that our body has twelve major meridians. Each one is related to a specific Organ System. The meridian network links meridians with each other and connects all body structures - skin, tendons, bone, internal organs, cells, atoms. TCM also understands that meridians connect the interior with exterior and the upper body with the lower body. This interlinked, animating network through which Qi flows freely makes the body an organic whole.
The meridian network is like a system of highways, roads and streets that links major cities. The highways (meridians) and the cities (organs) make up an entire energy map (the body). It is through this system of roadways that energy (Qi) runs. For example, if a city's internal streets are blocked with traffic, eventually this situation will cause a problem with the highways leading into this city. If the traffic condition worsens, even the cities linked by the major highways will experience a problem. Or, two cities may be fine and traffic may be flowing smoothly within their areas. Yet, if there is an accident and traffic builds up on one of the roads linking the cities, eventually one or both of these cities will find themselves affected by traffic congestion. This analogy offers a way to understand how blockages in meridians can cause problems in organs.
Meridians form a powerful information system within which each Organ also forms its own data system. In addition to transmitting Qi, meridians also transmit actual information to and among the Organ Systems. It is through the meridians and the flow of Qi that the various parts of the body communicate with each other faster than the speed of light. Interestingly, meridians are also sensitive to time and place. They reflect and respond to the changing energy of the seasons, the time of day and the climate of a particular place. TCM understands that when the meridian system functions well, the body (including its mind, spirit and emotions) is healthy and maintains homeostasis - a dynamic condition of internal harmony where yin and yang energies operate seamlessly.
The ancient medical text Nei Jing states: "The function of the channel (meridian) is to transport the Qi and blood and circulate yin and yang to nourish the body." Because meridians respond to and carry stimulation as well as transmit information, they have the ability to bring healing energy to local, as well as distant, parts of the body. This can create physiological and other changes as Qi circulates. It is this function that makes acupuncture and acupressure work: at specific points along the meridian, the flow of Qi can be enhanced or modified either with needles or with the pressure of the finger or the hands. The energy practice of Qigong, with its postures and movements, also affects the flow of Qi.
The energy pathways and the Organ Systems they link provide TCM with a framework for identifying the root cause of health problems and the diagnoses to heal them. Meridians work by regulating the energy functions of the body and keeping it in harmony. If a dysfunction occurs, acupuncture or other therapy can stimulate the relevant meridian(s) to help bring an affected Organ back into balance. If Qi stagnates for too long in any meridian, it can become blocked and eventually turn into matter - setting the stage for conditions that can create a physical mass. Dysfunctional meridians can also become susceptible to external pathogenic factors that can migrate to Organs along the route of the affected meridian.
TCM Meridian Theory states: "As long as Qi flows freely through the meridians and the Organs work in harmony, the body can avoid disease."
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