The blog you are about to read was an assignment in a communications class I recently taught at the Virginia University of Integrative Medicine (VUIM). Students were asked to answer two questions: (1) "Where do you see Oriental Medicine in the future?" and (2) "How will you be a part of it?" This is one of the blogs we decided to publish. Please enjoy and remember to leave a comment below! Great job, Joshua!
Written By Joshua Ralls
(Master's of Acupuncture Student at VUIM)
Happening, even today, is the eradication of culture and history around the world. Schools no longer teach medical history, other than in a single, short lecture. We are taught that the practices, and even thought processes, that brought us the knowledge of the healing properties of plants and minerals is mad talk of shamans and drug-induced practices. Now, it is replaced with scientific studies of compounds which have properties to alter or prevent an illness. We do not find the importance of the history behind it to be worth knowing, or even delving into more to see if we could find even more uses that are beyond our knowledge now. This is something that cannot happen within Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
I believe in the integration of Eastern and Western medical approaches, but I do not believe in blending them because this will lead to much of its eradication.
It’s understandable that in a “modern” age, where everyone is accustomed to prescription bottles and white-lab coat doctors, to have an ignorance toward alternative medicine. This is due to the loss of the history that is behind what made our medicine today. With so many people wanting to get acupuncture, possibly because nothing else has worked, Western doctors are now studying the applications and uses of Acupuncture and TCM. One such organization, the NIH, is doing just this on specific Acupuncture points. This, though, takes away many of the uses that these points have had for so long. For example, arthritis in Eastern medicine, would be called many things, one being dampness within the joints, due to an array of reasons. This would lead acupuncturists to use points that are known to transform dampness and treat the root of the issue that allows for the dampness to accumulate. The NIH did a study of how acupuncture can help with arthritis as the glucocorticoids in the body increase after needles have been inserted. This can be great for the person that is needing the evidence backed by the Western Medical community to help wrap their mind around how it works, but this should not be where it ends. This should be the gateway for the patient to see that it does work and can work on many other levels that modern science cannot explain, such as the use of elemental imbalances in the body.
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In TCM, there are Five Elements: Earth, Water, Wood, Fire, and Metal. Each of these rule over an action and property within the body and corresponds to the twelve organ systems of the body in TCM. One of the oldest schools of thought in China is the Five Elements School, which focuses on the elemental imbalances within the body, as well as from the environment, and how to bring the body back to homeostasis. At one time, this was something almost everyone knew about to some extent, but now it is a mystery to many students due to school curriculums. Many schools, from what I have seen from the one I attend and have visited, have taken this practice out, due to the belief that it falls around the “mysticism” of ancient thought processes that do not hold a place in modern medicine. This will soon lead historical practices and the various modalities of TCM to die out, thus becoming another part of its history, lost and unused.
The need to keep the different modalities of TCM, such as the Five Elements of Eastern medicine, is important to the aspect of what acupuncture and TCM are. Where my education has lacked in such subjects, I supplement with my own studies and conversations with other students and acupuncturists. I cannot allow it to be information that only nourishes me, but also something that I fight to keep alive. I believe in the integration of Eastern and Western medical approaches, but I do not believe in blending them because this will lead to much of its eradication. Especially since Western medicine was brought to them only a little over a hundred years ago. Through my own work I will continue to keep this ancient knowledge alive, as to prevent it from becoming another part of a “foreign” culture to die.
Joshua Ralls is a licensed Massage Therapist and Esthetician and a Certified Herbalist and Reiki practitioner. He seeks ways to blend Western and alternative approaches to his work. His love for healing has now lead him to study Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine.
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inspirational ideas on healthy living through eastern medicine, optimism, and possibility through empowerment.