Chinese Medicine — Natural Medicine

Chinese medicine is a more than two thousand year old system of natural medicine. The ancient Chinese honored the Tao, the wisdom of the natural universe, and thought it embodied guidance for human conduct, to ensure health and longevity, as well as right relationship with other humans and the vast cosmos. Through a detailed lens of numerology, the I Ching, they studied the cycles of the seasons, linking five essential elements found on earth to each season, and attributing each with a color, odor, flavor and emotion. As the seasons progress through the year, expressing the natural cycle of our planet, so they model the life cycles of humans and all creatures (macrocosm/microcosm) and can instruct us how best to conduct our activities. For example, the colder shorter days of winter suggest more quiescent indoor activity, more rest and sleep, so as to replenish energy stores for the reopening of the year in spring. By synchronizing our lives to be in accordance with nature, we may expect to attain optimum health and well being.

Chinese medicine is a conservative approach to healthcare. We believe that through proper nutrition, herbs and gentle, non-invasive therapies, moderate exercise and lifestyle, as well as proper rest, we may reduce the overall burden upon our bodyminds, liberating our energy so that we may come into greater health and vitality.

The Naturopathic Oath

The tenets of the naturopathic oath—pledged by students and doctors of naturopathic medicine—are applicable to ancient Chinese medicine systems as well:
  • First, do no harm
  • Recognize the healing power of nature
  • Find and eliminate the cause of poor health
  • Teach health
  • Honor the whole person
  • Prevent disease
In a sense we may think of Chinese medicine as an ancestor of naturopathic medicine.

The Concept of Qi

Medical thought in the west considers the physiologic interplay of fluids and energies within the human body, the coursing of blood and lymph, firing of muscular contractions, hormonal secretion and neurological impulse conduction. Add to these substances the concept of an unseen charge, a fine, etheric current of essential vitality, which flows in concert with the other body fluids and impulses to help maintain perpetual velocity and balance. This etheric momentum is known in Chinese medical thought as "qi" (pronounced "chee").

In perfect dynamic harmony, the qi, blood and body fluids in our bodies should flow without impediment and at the correct rate and consistency. Stress we encounter in daily life tends to disturb the momentum, which in time leads to pain and dysfunction. We call this disturbance "qi and blood stagnation". The goal of acupuncture and other Chinese medicine modalities is to restore the normal flow, moving us towards balance and improved health.

Since earliest times, Chinese medical philosophy has viewed human beings in a holistic sense, affirming that we dwell simultaneously in physical, mental, emotional and spiritual realms. When we talk about balance or dysfunction, flow or stagnation of qi, we may think inclusively of all of these realms of experience, as any or all may be impacted. Chinese medicine can be a meaningful therapy for each and all realms of human experience.