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What are the Basic Principals of Oriental Medicine? - Part One


New patients and new health care consumers I meet often say to me, “Gina - tell me more” about the basic principles underlying “Oriental Medicine.” This is a frequently asked question in both my practice, as well as, in my daily life when I meet people and explain the medicine I practice.


My column today focuses on the Basic Principals of Oriental Medicine.



The “Self-Healing Mechanism of the Body:

Central to the concepts behind Chinese Medicine (Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Medicine, etc.) is the idea of the body as a  “self-healing” mechanism.


That is, as living beings, we are all naturally full of vitality and are continually, and quite unconsciously, being rebalanced and regenerated from within everyday. This is not difficult to understand. For instance, cuts heal ‘on their own’; women have the creative power to develop and produce children ‘on their own’, and the children in turn grow and develop from babies to toddlers, young children to teenagers, teenagers to adults – all ‘on their own’.


In a similar way, food is broken down, transformed and separated into useful parts that are absorbed by the body and useless parts that are evacuated – all automatically, without any conscious or outside influence. In other words, there is a great source – and resource – within the body that continually maintains order, working ceaselessly for our benefit and health.


Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine sees the body as a self-rectifying dynamic whole, a network of interrelating and interacting energies. The even distribution and flow of these interrelating and interacting enerfies maintains health, but any interruption, depletion or stagnation leads to disease.


"Chinese Medicine", also referred to as "Oriental Medicine", is a compete system of medicine which seeks to aid these natural processes, helping the body to correct itself by nourishing and or realigning or redirecting the “energy” or “Qi” (pronounced ‘chee’).



The basic principals of Oriental Medicine are founded in the concepts of Qi and in the duality of the Yin & Yang principles.


Qi exists in various forms in & around us, as a version of energy or a manifestation of matter.   In its least substantial and more energized state, it is considered more "yang" in nature.  In its more substantial and least energized state, it is considered more "yin" in nature. The concept of yin and yang is probably the single most important and distinctive theory of Chinese/Oriental Medicine. It could be said that all Chinese medical physiology, pathology and treatment can, eventually, be reduced to the yin-yang theory.


The concept of yin-yang is extremely simple, yet, very profound.  Yin and yang represent opposite, yet, are complimentary qualities that are interdependent and mutually engendering. Yin and yang are convenient labels used to describe how things function in relation to each other and to the universe. They are used to explain the continuous process of natural change.  Yin and yang, contain within themselves the possibility of opposition and change.  All things in nature have two facets: a yin aspect and a yang aspect.


The character of ‘Yin’ originally meant “the shady side of the slope”. It is associated with such qualities as cold, the winter season, rest, passivity, darkness, nightime, interior, downwards, inwardness, decrease, satiation, tranquility,  quiescence, bodily fluids and the female gender.


The original meaning of ‘Yang’ was “the sunny side of the slope”. Yang is associated with qualities such as heat, the summer season, stimulation, movement, activity, excitement, vigor, light, exterior, upwardness, outwardness, metabolism, increase and the male gender. Yang is associated with arousal, beginning and dynamic potential. 


Within Yin, there is the seed of Yang and within Yang there is the seed of Yin. Thus, one cannot exist without the other and although yin and yang can be distinguished, they cannot be separated. They depend on each other for definition and distinction.  Yin-Yang theory is well illustrated by the traditional Chinese Taoist symbol of Yin and yang. The circle representing the whole is divided into Yin (black) and Yang (white). The small circles of opposite shading illustrates that within the yin there is yang and vice versa. The dynamic curve dividing them indicates that yin and yang are continuously merging.  Thus, Yin and Yang create each other, control each other, and transform into each other. 


Tune in next time for “part two” of “The basic Principles of Oriental Medicine” where we will be discussing the concept of “Qi”!



For more information on the Healing Traditions Oriental Medicine and to discuss your personal situation and needs, please call me today at 303-997-9414 or email me at gina@healing-traditions.com or visit me online at www.healing-traditions.com.

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