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The Chinese Traditional Medicine is quite interesting. It is good we go out of Africa to see how other people practise their herbal medicine. Chinese herbal medicine is an ancient system of health care in China and has been in practised for about 3,000 years ago. The earlier Chinese physicians are philosophers and their ways of viewing the world affected their medicine because to them, the human body is seen as a smaller version of the universe. They are seen more of an adviser. Their medicine is based on harmony with nature and balance with moderation and prevention. Chinese lifestyles have implications on people’s health, and the patients are advised to live a moderate and responsible life.
Like in Nigeria traditional medicine (read about Nigerian traditional medicine here), the Chinese medical system treats patients in a holistic manner. Symptoms are not treated but the environment and social circumstances of the patients are treated. A Chinese physician treats every patient differently. Two patients with the same complaints and symptoms are treated separately if they have different lifestyles, situations, biological and environmental constitutions.
According to them, life is a force that flows through the body and this force is being carried by an energy known as “Vital Life Energy” or “Vital Energy Force”. The vital energy (Qi) performs various functions in maintaining health. So, if there is any blockage in the channels or meridians through which these life force flows, there will be illness. Symptoms are as a result of the disrupted flow of the vital life force or deficiencies of the energy flow in the various organs. It is also believed that illness can occur if there are imbalances between these forces. Harmony between the two forces supports health. Human being is believed to be in a close relationship with the natural environment, so disease can also be caused as a result of deviation from the natural conditions of the environment which could be as a result of cold, wind, heat, dampness and so on. The opposing forces of negative energy are known as “Yin”.
Healing is been restored by releasing the imbalances by adjusting the circulation of the flow of the vital life force through various therapeutic means such as acupuncture, acupressure, remedial massage, breathing exercises. They also believe that evil spirits that move around at night upset the body’s vital life force, thus, causing illness. Too much eating, drinking or not eating at all or enough can also cause illness in Chinese medicine. Kitchen medicine is practiced in Chinese medicine. Moderation and balance are the key elements to health.
In China, five elements which are fire, water, earth, wood and metal are symbols that represent the categories of the world, stages of life, functioning of the body and how the body parts changes when diseased. These five symbols affect one another.
Metal: symbolizes autumn, dry weather, dusks, sadness and drying leaves. Metal represents the human lung which helps in respiration.
Fire: represent the summer period, open flame, flourishing activities, happiness, and growth. It is likened to the human heart, which promotes the warming of the whole body.
Earth: represent long summer, balance, nourishment, abundance, dampness and the spleen in the human body, which helps in the transformation and transportation of food.
Wood: signifies the spring, early growth, morning, childhood, anger, wind, new life and beginning of New Year. It represents the liver organ which enhances free flow of blood, energy and also cleanses the blood.
Water: signifies the winter, cold, night time, rest and new development. It represents the kidney that stores and regulate the body fluids.
The method of diagnosis in Chinese medicine is different from ours in Nigeria(read about Nigerian traditional medicine here). They diagnose using four methods; looking, asking, listening and Pulse taking. By looking, the physician observes the overall body and physical appearances. The external body’s parts such as the skin, hand, tongue, nails, face and the body movement are inspected. Questions are being asked from the patients, questions concerning information about the patient’s previous medical history, immediate condition are extracted by the physician in order to get to the root of the health problem. Listening methods entails careful listening to the patient’s response to questions. When this is going on, the practitioner takes note of the patient’s breathing, tone of voice, body sounds and other things that could be diagnosed through listening. The pulse of the patient is taken so as to know the patient’s heartbeat.
Types Of Chinese Traditional Medicine Practitioners
Chinese medicine also has its practitioners. They include the acupuncturists, herbalists, massagers or remedial massagers (Tui na). Healing is also done through meditation or Thai Chi. Acupuncture originated about 2,000 years ago but became popular about 50 years ago. It was mainly practiced in families and the techniques are transferred from generation to generation. There are about 600 acupoints in the body. During acupuncture exercise, tiny sterile needles are inserted at particular points in the body to unlock or correct the flow of energy. These needles are inserted and left in place for about 15 to 20 minutes and are hardly felt by the patients. The needles are manipulated in a pull and push movement but in today’s medicine, they are activated by pulse electrical stimulation. Acupuncture is used to cure pain, allergies, bacterial infections, constipation. Some patients may sleep off; feel relieved and happy after acupuncture.
Chinese herbalists use herbs which consist of both herbal and mineral ingredients to treat their patients. Different parts of plants such as leaves, stems, flowers and seeds are used for treatment. Herbal formulas are in form of capsules, tea bags, liquid and powdered forms. The herbs are meant to assist the body systems to fight diseases and to recover so that the patients can later stop taking and dependent on the drugs. The focus is to restore balance of energy, spirit and body to maintain health rather than treating a particular disease. Chinese herbal medicine also includes moxibustion and herbal dispensers who sell out herbs to the populace. Moxibustion is the slow burning of herbal special cones on specific acupoints on the body, which provide a penetrating relaxing heat.
Massage or acupressure is a deep finger pressure on the body. It focuses on the channels that help in the transport of energy and blood throughout the body which is used to promote the proper flow of the vital life energy. Breathing exercise, known as “Qi Gong” is a form of acupressure used to release stress and promote the smooth flow of the vital life force. Therapeutic exercise is aimed to achieve balance, maintain the optimum function of all organs and to protect population against different types of infections. Meditation is a mind and body practice that involves gentle dance-like movement with focus, relaxation and breathing. This medicine is based on the belief that one can use the mind to cure the body since there is a relationship between the mind and the body. Spiritual concentration through the mind is adopted to heal or wash out ailing parts.
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