In ancient China, a doctor was kept on retainer and if someone in the family got sick, they didn’t pay again until the family member recovered. Preventative medicine is a fairly recent development in the current conventional medical landscape, consisting mainly of tests and early exams. In TCM, prevention relates to treatments that effectively resolve an existing issue at the root, prevent a condition from developing further or at all.
Those treatments include: Acupuncture, herbal medicine, nutritional support, bodywork (TuiNa, GuaSha, Moxabustion), physical movement (TaiChi and QiGong), and meditation. Each treatment type touches an aspect of a human’s being; cultivating more awareness of the nature of living in the body and living in the environment around it.
The classical metaphor for the open system of open systems that is the body, is that of a microcosm within the macrocosm; a miniature landscape within a larger landscape. The treatments and practices in TCM are meant to heal the body through rebalancing the whole system of systems that comprise the body.
The process is transformative rather than a ‘magic bullet’ of instant resolution or covering over of symptoms. TCM treatment results often become apparent quickly, but the healing response takes time to work through layers of imbalance, pain, and illness to bring about lasting results. People learn to “live around” health problems, the body is excellent at creating homeostasis even in severe dysfunction. TCM treatment is prioritized around achieving the optimal state of balance in body/mind spirit to move you toward your most robust natural state of balance or ‘Zhong’ 中.
Achieving your “Zhong” 中
Bioelectric signaling systems help make the body and brain run and can be thought of and refer to ion potentials and currents occurring within or produced by living organisms. Chemical energy converts into electrical energy which potentiates a number of different biological processes like: cell function, metabolism, nerve impulses, muscular contraction. These bioelectric potentials vary in strength from one to several hundred millivolts. Bioelectrical current is a flow of ions (atoms or molecules carrying an electric charge), and differs from standard electricity which is a movement of electrons.
Acupuncture stimulates this signaling system in order to trigger the natural healing response in the body. Part of the definition of ‘Qi’ refers to this energetic dynamic. According to Chinese medicine, the Qi circulates throughout the meridian system, the ‘jing luo’, similarly to the way blood flows through veins and arteries. This energy flow can be disrupted by injury or disease creating pain or dysfunction in the organ system. Just as our emotional state and perception of stress can shift our parasympathetic nervous system and effect the function of the endocrine system, the Qi flow is changed as well. The Seven Emotions have been described in TCM texts as affecting our health and well-being millennia ago, as creative of forms of qi blockage and seeds of disease. When we gain control of our qi circulation through acupuncture and herbal medicine, better life-long health is the general result. The results of this medicine are time tested over generations of people in many cultures and countries.
A famous Chinese proverb encapsulates an explanation of the interdependent and intertransformative nature of the ‘mind/body’:
“I dao, Qi dao”
which translates to: “Where the mind goes, the Qi follows.”
To carry the idea behind that proverb to its intended end, “…where the Qi goes, the emotions follow; where the emotions go, thoughts follow, actions then follow thoughts; where the actions go, the body follows; where body goes, one’s character and health are the natural and abiding result.” – Lao Tzu