The concept of Qi (sometimes
spelled "Chi", pronounced "chee")
is a central concept in Tao teaching that lays the foundation of Chinese
Medical thought and acupuncture.
Qi is commonly interpreted as the vital
energy that gives life to all living matter. There is nothing comparable
in allopathic (conventional Western) medicine. While human physiology in
allopathic medicine is organized according to specialized function, Chinese
medicine is more concerned with the dynamics of the interrelationships,
especially the patterns of vital energy. Learn more about this topic...
Yin and Yang are counter poles; they are each other's opposite
in which life is searching for harmony and balance.
Health in this philosophy means balance between Yin and Yang.
Illness means that one of the two is too strong or too weak.
The theories of Yin and Yang and Five Elements that exist in dynamic
balance and are organized in the systems of cyclic autonomic regulation,
by its essence represent the Confucian ideology.
Within this philosophy, all aspects of the invisible and visible world exist
in mutual dependence. This view, in turn, explicates the teachings of "Yin-Yang"
and of the "5 phases of transformation".
Another basic concept of acupuncture is the teaching of the Five Phases of Transformation
(also known as the Five Elements, more common term and less accurate).
According to the Five Elements philosophy, everything, including energy,
passes through cycles. In nature, this can be seen in the four seasons and
in the body it is evidenced by the interactions between the main organs.
The Five Elements theory assumes relationships between Metal, Wood, Water,
Fire and Earth.
According to Chinese
medicine, the invisible Qi circulates along a system of conduits. They
form a complex network of main channels, minor capillaries and collaterals.
There are 14 main interconnected pathways called "meridians" through which this energy circulates,
and surface to about 400 acupuncture points. Each meridian is intimately connected with one
of the viscera of the body, and each
manifests its own characteristics and
bears the name of the organ related to it. For example, there's a Liver channel,
Heart channel etc.
The classical Eastern explanation is that channels of energy
or "Qi" run in regular patterns through the body and over its surface.
These channels, called meridians, are like rivers flowing through the body
to irrigate and nourish the tissues. An obstruction in the movement of these
energy "river" is like a dam that backs up, creating imbalance and pain.
Needling the acupuncture points can influence the meridians;
the acupuncture needles unblock the obstructions at the "dams", and reestablish
the regular flow through the meridians.
The points are selected to work synergistically to treat the
whole person, to treat the root (or cause) of a health problem along with a branch (or
the symptoms) of a health concern.
Topographically, the circuits of the flow of Qi and the order of the Regular
Channels repeat the same pattern (chest to hand - hand to face - face to foot
- foot to chest) four times before initiating another cycle.
In a more elaborate form it can be presented below.
The system of channels and collaterals constitutes:
- Fourteen Regular Channels
- Eight Extra Channels
- Fifteen Collaterals
- Twelve Divergent Channels
- Twelve Muscle Regions of the Regular Channels
- Twelve Cutaneous Regions of the Regular Channels
The 14 main meridians (channels), through which Qi circulates, emerge to the
skin surface at the precise locations called acupuncture points.
Local stimulation of different acupuncture points (needling, laser, electricity, etc) can influence
the activity of corresponding meridian in specific and predictable manner.
361 Points on the meridians described in the classical ancient Chinese medical manuscripts.
They are complimented by 171 Extra-Meridian Points with their specific features.
Over the last fifty years, 110 "New" Points and 142 Auricular Points discovered.
In ancient times, laboratory analyses and tests were not available and acupuncture
diagnosis relied mostly on observation. Observation of the skin, eyes, tongue,
pulse, etc. can tell a seasoned acupuncturist more than you can imagine.
Different schools emphasize different techniques. For example, Japanese acupuncturists
do not examine the tongue, but instead palpate the abdomen as part of a routine
exam and treatment.
The zang-fu theory explains
the physiological function, pathological changes, and mutual relationships
of internal organs. Zang and fu consist of the five zang and six fu organs.
In traditional Chinese medicine the zang and fu organs are not simply anatomical
substances, but more importantly represent the generalization of the physiology
and pathology of certain systems of the human body.
The basic syndromes of traditional Chinese medicine provide foundation for understanding
of the nature of disease; signify the location of pathological changes, the condition of
body resistance and pathogenic factors.
There are different methods for differentiating syndromes based on a variety of concepts:
"the eight principles"; the theory of zang-fu organs; the theory of six channels;
the theory of wei, qi, ying, and xue; the theory of the sanjiao; the theory of qi,
blood, and body fluids; according to etiology, etc.
Each of these methods has its characteristics and emphasis, while in clinical practice
they are interrelated and complement each other.