Monday, October 6, 2008

Acupuncture And Famous Five Elements

Acupuncture is a healing technique developed by the Chinese who believed that the mind and the body of a person are one complete unit and a sickness cannot be treated in isolation. In fact, Chinese medicine has based the technique of acupuncture on five basic concepts. These are described briefly below:


Yin and Yang are two opposites in nature. Both continuously flow in and out of each other and play an important role in the treatment of acupuncture. For instance:

Heat and Cold:
The acupuncturist must learn about the heat and cold in the body of a person. If a person feels too hot then his yang is too strong and he will be subjected to urinary problems, constipation and fever etc. If he feels cold then his yin is too strong, which means he will be subject to diarrhoea, a pale face and pale tongue

Dry and Wet:
When a patient has a dry cough or dry skin or any symptom of dryness in the body then there is too much of yang in the body. When there is too much of sweating, running nose, frequent urination then there is too much of ying. Thus the acupuncturist can understand the basic nature of the disease by categorizing it as predominantly Yang or Yin

It is when yin starts to dominate that yang suffers and vice versa. So it is up to the acupuncturist to bring the yang and the yin to a desirable balance.

The five elements of fire, wood, earth and water form an essential concept of Acupuncture. It is believed that these five elements make our whole physical and mental system. Any change or imbalance in our body can be related to a change in one of the five elements.

'Qi' means energy and is the most basic concept over which acupuncture is based. When the flow of energy is disturbed imbalances of various kinds occur, making one prone to diseases. Thus, an acupuncturist first studies the Qi of a person. He studies the path of the energy, its nature, the changes in it and its rhythm and balance before embarking on a course of action.

The 12 Meridians are the pathways of the Qi or energy. Each path is linked to some organ. The organs in acupuncture are not known by their name, location or the basic structure but by their functions. Imbalances in these meridians lead to different ailments and problems. Each meridian is linked to a particular organ that can be treated by treating the different points on that meridian. The liver, heart, spleen, lungs are amongst the 12 meridians.

The Points in acupuncture are those pin points on the 12 meridians which when touched upon or treated, affect the whole meridian thus increasing the Qi and also treating the problem. There are a number of points on each meridian and a good acupuncturist is able to identify the right points that have to be touched so as to cure the disease.

So the next time your acupuncturist talks of the yin and yang or the meridians, don't look foxed! An understanding of these elements will help you grasp the intricacies of this ancient science.

A Brief History of Herbs and Herbalism

What is an herb? You could agree with the modern definition that states an herb is any part of the plant that is useful for healing, food or dye. However, the horticultural definition, which is the more common definition that was used hundreds of years ago, is the non woody part of a plant such as leaves, fruit and the soft green stems. For thousands of years, herbs have been used as scents, food, flavorings, medicines and disinfectants.

Herbalism is the practice and study of the uses of plants. How far back in our past does herbalism exist? There are sources that suggest the Stone Age. A 60,000-year-old burial site in Iraq contained evidence of eight different medicinal plants. Every continent seems to have their own practice of how to use herbs.

Ayurveda originated in ancient India. It is from the words Ayus meaning 'life' and Veda meaning 'knowledge'. This form of herbalism dates back about 5000 years with a detailed history, which I will cover in a future article. Ayurveda is still practiced today and uses herbs, breathing, meditation and diet for ever all wellness. It is based on rebalancing and maintaining the five elements of the body?earth, water, air, fire and ether.

Chinese herbalism was founded by ancient spiritual leaders roughly 3500 years ago. Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs states, it 'is widely acclaimed as one of the most complete and effective herbal traditions today'. Chinese herbalism is practiced in conjunction with acupuncture, massage, diet an Tai Chi--the art of movement and breathing.

Egyptian medical history was rejected by many cultures because it was thought to be a violation of humanity. This line of thought came from the fact that the Egyptians were the first to perform surgeries and to study the human body. From there study of the human body, they were able to discover and perfect the art of embalming the dead with herbs and spices. Where would we be today if they hadn?t committed such ?horrendous? acts?

Folk medicine seems to remain somewhat a mystery. I believe this is due to having a combination of so many different influences. We can see an assortment of inputs from the Native Americans, Mexican, African, European and Caribbean. Is there any wonder why it may difficult to target a specific origin? However, it does appear that the base of our folk medicine does originate from European Western Herbalism.

Native American Indian medicine continues to be practiced in America today. There are many tribes and the herbal practices of each tribe could be listed, but it does appear that they all agree on most of the uses of herbs.

There are other types of herbalism such as those practiced in Ancient Greece, the Aborigines, as well as the Hawaiians. I hope this brief little history has gotten you interested and ready for more of similar articles relating to the use of herbs and the different types of herbalism.