The following post is an article I wrote for the July/August 2013 Edition of the Colne Engaine Parish Magazine:
Chinese Medicine Comes to Colne Engaine
After spending the winter in Scotland, I’m very pleased to have returned to Colne Engaine, the village in which I grew up, and to be re-opening the doors to my acupuncture clinic. As there seems to be a degree of mystery and misunderstanding surrounding acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, I thought I would present a brief introduction to my fellow villagers and try to share a little of why, to me at least, it is such an interesting and valuable system.
Chinese Medicine is rooted in Daoism. Don’t let the ‘ism’ mislead you, Daoism isn’t so much of a religion as a philosophy. It offers simple, practical principles to help promote a happy, healthy and harmonious existence that can be embraced by anybody. Indeed, the Trappist monk, Thomas Merton, was fascinated by Daoism and produced an excellent translation of a key Daoist text, ‘The Way of Chuang Tzu’.
Central to Daoism is the notion that human beings exist as part of nature. So, by living in accordance with natural cycles, we can promote good health and wellbeing, while, conversely, ignoring our connection to the natural world invites disharmony and illness. Much of Daoist wisdom is simply common sense that will be self-evident to older generations. For example, Daoism recommends living according to the seasons, being more active in spring/summer, and more restful in autumn/winter. On an evolutionary timescale, we are not as far removed from the rest of the animal kingdom as we may think, so following the examples of animals, which reduce activity and store their energy during the winter, is biologically beneficial for us too.
Daoism also recognises that there are daily cycles that we should pay attention to; in the morning, when the warmth of the sun is building, we should be more active, engaging in physical work or exercise. While in the evening, as the sun’s warmth diminishes, we should be more restful, avoiding exertion and sweating (so no gym workouts or jogging at this time).
The Daoists discovered that when someone has gone too far out of balance, acupuncture and other Chinese medical therapies such as moxibustion (more about this another time) can be used to restore health and wellbeing. Rather than trying to simply eradicate symptoms, treating disease as an enemy to be conquered, Chinese Medicine’s approach is to work with the root cause behind the apparent symptoms, re-establishing equilibrium to help bring about full resolution of the condition. It is this focus on restoring harmony and homeostasis that makes Chinese Medicine able to effectively treat such a wide range of conditions. A review by the World Health Organisation lists 91 diseases, symptoms or conditions where acupuncture has been demonstrated to have a therapeutic effect†.
I hope that this brief introduction has been of interest. If any readers would like to know more, please do get in touch.
†WHO. (2003) Acupuncture: review and analysis of reports on controlled clinical trials. 1–87. http://apps.who.int/medicinedocs/en/d/Js4926e/