Chinese Medicine Basics: Ancient Medicine For a Modern World
In the last 20 years, holistic heath and functional medicine have exploded in popularity as more and more people look for natural remedies without side effects. One such approach has an impressive history of over two thousand years. Chinese medicine works with our bodies natural intelligence to alleviate symptoms and treat the root causes of many health problems.
Classical Chinese medical texts from around 200 B.C. write about health as a poetic interconnection of all things. While it may sound esoteric, ancient Chinese medical theory states that all sickness arises from an imbalance of Qi in the body. By understanding the body in a functional way, Chinese medicine takes a holistic approach and restores health.
Qi (sometimes written Chi and pronounced like “chee”) is the smallest functional unit in any environment, in living creatures, and in the organs. This vital energy is the foundation of all living things. You breathe and eat to get more Qi, you digest your food using Qi, and you rest to preserve Qi. It provides life-force to all metabolic functions, it helps keep us warm, it can help us fight off infections by providing our immune Qi, and it spreads nourishment to all of our cells. Without Qi, life doesn’t exist.
When something throws off our innate intelligence to stay well, we experience symptoms. In the most simple terms, when we get sick, our Qi is out of right relationship. For example, sometimes the circulation is blocked and Qi can accumulate too much in one area. Sometimes the natural direction is disrupted and Qi moves up instead of down. With nausea, for example, Chinese medicine call this symptom “counterflow Qi” or literally Qi flowing in the wrong direction. In this case, the stomach energy flows up instead of down and makes us feel nauseous or vomit.
More than 400 acupoints all over the body relieve symptoms and restore normal function to our body. The ancient Chinese who discovered and described these points were more interested in function and how the points influence the body overall than the anatomical structure of the point. While there is not a direct western medical translation to acupoint, some acupoints correspond to nerve centers, have been shown to balance hormones, reduce inflammation, and regulate the nervous system.
By stimulating these points with Acupuncture (needles) or Acupressure (non-invasive), we can stimulate our body’s ability to regulate itself. These points give our body signals to change something. When we repeat the signal by stimulating the points, symptoms are relieved. Numerous well-designed studies have shown these points to be effective.
Many of these points can be used safely at home. By applying acupressure with a finger, pen cap, or via an acupressure wristband, you can easily relieve unpleasant symptoms, such as nausea, on your own. You just have to know where to press!
Proper location is key to the effectiveness of acupoints. To find the point used for Nausea, called Nei Guan or PC-6, use three of your fingers and place them on the opposite wrist above the crease. The point is located between the two tendons. Press here for at least 5 minutes several times a day or as needed. Acupressure wristbands like @SeaBands are a great way to apply constant pressure to these points.
While Chinese medicine has its roots in ancient theory, its effectiveness brings welcomed relief to millions of people across the globe every day. Have you tried Chinese Medicine?
Dr. Mary Claire Dilks is a licensed Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine with over 15 years of clinical experience. Her practice @EmergingEnergy is located in Providence, RI.
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