Oriental Medicine is a comprehensive system of medicine that places equal emphasis on the maintenance of well-being, the prevention of illness, and the care of people when their health is compromised through injury, illness, or lifestyle.
Oriental Medicine dates back 2400 years and is the most prevalent form of medicine in the world, treating 25% of the world’s population.
It is comprised of four main branches:
- Herbal medicine
- Health benefiting exercises (Tai Chi, Qi Gong)
The benefits of this medicine have only recently been introduced to Western culture. Over its long history, Oriental Medicine continually evolved and adapted itself as Asian societies and the diseases they faced changed, making it as relevant today as it was centuries ago. Based on rich clinical experience, detailed methodology, and the interconnectedness of all things Oriental Medicine provides a comprehensive system of healthcare and maintenance.
The origin of Chinese Medicine is a blending of medicine from India (arrived with Buddhism) and Arabia (via the Silk Route) with the naturalist philosophy of harmony and balance in China, known as Daoism. Basing its theories of illness and treatment on climatic factors, dietary habits, and lifestyle, it is one of the few theoretical based traditional medical systems to produce thousands of writings and to remain in continuous use since 500 BCE. Its influence over the last two and a half millennia has been so great that every indigenous medical tradition in Asia draws it knowledge either completely, or in part, from China’s traditional medicine.
Because of its prevalence in countries such as Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Malaysia, it is now called Oriental Medicine in the West to cover the wide variety of influences within the medicine.
An underlying philosophy of interconnectedness guides the medicine. All aspects of a person including mind, body, spirit, emotions, and environment (climate, season, relationships) are seen as connected and influencing the state of health and well-being. This is summarized in Oriental Medicine and in Eastern culture as the concept of Yin and Yang. Yin and Yang are opposites (like hot and cold) that are in continuous flux with each other.
The goal of Oriental Medicine is to assist the person in thriving and maintaining balance. Illness and pain are viewed as imbalances that can be identified and treated using acupuncture, herbal medicine, bodywork, diet, and exercise. Due to the interconnectedness of all things, the active participation by the patient in the healing process is essential to achieving and maintaining health.
System of Diagnosis
A substantial body of knowledge, clinical experience, and medical theory guides the diagnosis and treatment of each patient. The individual constitution and the unique presentation of a disease in each person is an integral part of determining the diagnosis and treatment plan. In this way a group of people with the same disease (e.g. diabetes) do not receive the same treatments; they receive treatments unique to their situation. This is a powerful way of healing that takes in the whole picture.
Oriental medicine recognizes the interconnectedness of all things, and that the attainment of health is an ongoing process. In the body, as with everything in the world, there are ebbs and flows; these changes are part of the course of one’s life. Health involves the navigation of these changes; it is not about ignoring change or in reaching a finite, final destination. Oriental Medicine supports this journey and in its simplest form is about transformation.