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 Traditional Chinese Medicine: Chinese Medicine: How It Works 

"My rash was red and itchy all over both legs. In the night I'd scratch and drive myself mad. I tried regular doctors and homeopathy-I tried everything. After six visits it was pretty much clear. then I tried to quit smoking. It's been a year-and-a half since my last treatment and the rash hasn't come back, and I haven't smoked either"--Helena Muscal, age 22

Practitioners assess a person's health by feeling the pulsations at each wrist and by observing the color and form of the face, tongue, and body. This information is interpreted in the context of a patient's present and past complaints, work and living habits, physical environment, family health history, and emotional life.

For example, if Max has red eyes, a yellow coating on his tongue, and a bounding pulse, this indicates Heat and congested Qi. He may be complaining of stomach pain, migraine, nausea, fever, or bronchitis. If Emma has pale lips, brittle hair, a thin pulse, and dry tongue, this suggests deficiency of Blood and Moisture, which undermines the function of the Liver, Heart, and Spleen. Her complaints may be that she feels tense, anxious, and irritable, has been unable to conceive, and has trouble with chronic fatigue, depression, or insomnia. Diagnosis is a way of understanding a problem within the categories of Chinese medicine.

The goal of treatment is to adjust and harmonize Yin and Yang-wet and dry, cold and heat, inner and outer, body and mind. This is achieved by regulating the Qi, Moisture, and Blood in the Organ Networks: weak organs are tonified, congested channels are opened, excess is dispersed, tightness is softened, agitation is calmed, heat is cooled, cold is warmed, dryness is moistened, and dampness is drained.

Treatment may incorporate acupuncture, herbal remedies, diet, exercise, and massage. Duration of treatment depends on the nature of the complaint, its severity, and how long it has been present. Acupuncture is scheduled as often an three times a week or as little as twice a month. Response varies. some need only a few sessions while others need sustained care to reverse entrenched patterns established over time. As symptoms improve, fewer visits are required, individual progress being the yardstick.

"For three years I had no energy, no stamina. I had been diagnosed as both having the AIDS and Epstein-Barr viruses. With walking I got short of breath and felt pain in my chest. In the beginning, acupuncture made me feel spaced out and tired. After two months I felt more energetic, my digestion improved, and I wasn't short of breath. After eight months of treatment combined with herbal tonics daily, I regained my strength and returned to work and a more normal life-style. It's been six months since my last treatment but I won't hesitate to rely on acupuncture if I start feeling sick again."--Frank Bell, age 31

Acupuncture is based on the assumption that Qi courses through the body just as streams and rivers ebb and flow across the surface of the earth. Every Organ Network has a corresponding set of channels. The acupuncture points are located in small depressions int the skin called "men" or "gates" where the channels come closest to the surface. In ancient times, when cities were fortified by walls, gates were opened to recieve sustenance and closed to keep harm away. With acupuncture, the gates of the body are opened and closed to adjust circulation in the channels and expel noxious influences from them.

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 About The Author
Harriet Beinfield LAcHarriet Beinfield, L.Ac. and Efrem Korngold, L.Ac., O.M.D. have pioneered the practice of Chinese medicine in America for the last 28 years as educators, writers, and practitioners. They are the co-authors of the......more
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