Oriental medicine is a comprehensive medical system that dates back over 2,000 years. The umbrella of Oriental medicine includes Traditional Chinese Medicine, Classical Chinese Medicine, Japanese Acupuncture and Herbalism, Korean Acupuncture, plus other Asian medical traditions. It is a complex system, with it’s own medical theories, diagnostics, and therapies. Oriental medicine is flourishing world wide, alive with new research, development and practitioners in over one hundred countries.
What is the theory behind Oriental Medicine?
At the core of Oriental medical theory is the understanding that we are intimately connected to our environment. Thus, extremes of nature such as dryness, cold, heat, and dampness can affect our internal environment and cause health problems. What does that mean, you ask? Here is an example. It can be foggy out here on the Central Coast. On an overcast morning do you get a headache? Not a piercing one, but a dull headache that feels like a band around your head? If so, you having a hard time acclimating to the damp climate and having symptoms.
Strong emotions such as sadness, anxiety, and stress can also contribute to disease. A good example of this is loosing your appetite when you are under a great deal of stress, or get into an argument at the dinner table. Western medicine is just starting to recognize the connection between emotional states and certain health issues such as heart disease. Other causes of illness include trauma, inadequate nutrition and lack of exercise.
What Diagnostic Methods of Oriental Medicine?
Traditional methods of diagnosis are: Asking, Observing and Palpating.Through mastery of these diagnostic techniques a Chinese medical practitioner can detect disharmonies and root causes of diseases. I combine traditional diagnostic tools with conventional and cutting edge lab tests to provide my patients with their complete health profile.
Asking: An Oriental medical practitioner asks questions detailing all aspects of life. These questions will cover topics such as:
- Thirst and sweating patterns
- Eating habits
- Reproductive function
- Emotional tendencies
- Quality, frequency and duration of pain
- Digestive system function
- Renal system function
- Sleep patterns
Observing: As a practitioner asks questions, she observes a patient closely:
- Facial color, body language, tone and intensity of voice all give clues to a patient’s underlying patterns and disharmonies.
- Careful observation of the tongue is one of the most informative and important Oriental medical diagnostic procedures.
- The tongue is innervated by meridians, which closely connect it to the organ systems.
- The tongue’s color and coating reflect the state of the whole body’s energy level, blood, and digestive function.
- Areas of the tongue represent specific regions of the body. For example, the heart and lungs are represented on the tip, the spleen and stomach in the middle portion, the kidneys in the back, and the liver and gallbladder on the sides of the tongue.
- Pulse diagnosis entails feeling the pulse in three different places on each wrist. Each pulse position represents a different organ system.
- Chinese classic texts describe 28 possible pulses that each position could have!
- Abdominal diagnosis dates back over 2,000 years. It has been perfected by current Japanese practitioner, Kiiko Matsumoto, Dr. Rozenn’s teacher.
- Pulse and abdominal diagnosis yield information on how the organs systems are relating to each other.
The Modalities of Oriental Medicine:
There are many modalities and therapeutic methods available to Oriental medical practitioners such as acupuncture, moxabustion, cupping and herbal prescriptions.
- Acupuncture is the most well known of these tools.
- Moxabustion (heat therapy) is not as well known in the West, but it is just as important as acupuncture. The Chinese word for acupuncture is more accurately translated as acu-moxa. For hundreds of years acupuncture and moxabustion have been used together in clinical practice to prevent and treat illness. Moxabustion consists of gently warming acupuncture points with moxa (dried mugwort). It is used to improve digestion, ease muscle pain, promote soft tissue healing, and stop excessive menstrual bleeding. In Chinese studies moxabustion has been shown to stop bleeding, heal injuries and turn a fetus.
- Cupping consists of placing a vacuum-sealed cup on the skin in order to improve local circulation. The vacuum seal is created through briefly placing a lit cotton ball into the jar until the oxygen is extinguished and then quickly attaching the jar to the skin. Cupping is usually performed on the back to relieve muscle pain. It can also be done on the abdomen for stomach pain, nausea or diarrhea. Cupping is used on the chest as well to treat acute asthma or coughing attacks. Cupping’s sister modality, Gua Sha (scraping) is used for areas where cups can not get a good vacuum seal, such as around the neck.
- Herbology has a very long history in China. The effects of herbs alone and in combination with one another have been studied for generations. In fact, there are over 400 individual herbs listed in the Chinese Materia Medica and thousands of formulas. Current research has given us extensive information about the chemical constituents of individual herbs and herbal formulas, in addition to important data regarding drug-herb interactions. Ancient and newly devised formulas comprised of herbs that are anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, fertility promoting and immune stimulating, are available to treat a wide variety of conditions.