Philosophy of TCM



boy by west lake


The fundamental philosophy is that health is inherent in our form – nevertheless illness and dis-ease can come for a variety of reasons – both externally and internally caused.

Modern (not necessarily ‘Western’) medicine works well enough for acute situations and managing some chronic disorders, and we’re all glad it’s around. Yet sometimes its effect is well, heavy-handed. Like dialing a telephone with a hammer…at times anyway.

Chinese medicine posits, and experientially demonstrates, the existence of deeper and patterned energetic pathways that underly our physical form. These patterns take the shape of ‘meridians’, and through the gentle stimulation of acupuncture the body will ‘remember’ the way it flowed. When we were younger, the body could more easily remember, and ‘pop’ back into the flow – the kinks were quickly resolved. This, by the way, is an important reason not to ‘overtreat’ children – a push in the right direction is often enough.

Even in the most entrenched conditions, there is the possibility to find the open space behind the knots that are perceived as pain, rigidity, and ultimately frustration. In China we would go through the in-patient department doing very simple points on all the patients in their beds – kind of like watering the plants, I thought – it just perked them all up. Someone should do a study….


herb room – TCM hospital Hangzhou, China


And as for the Chinese Herbs (and their relationship to the use of Diet as a daily event in stabilizing health)….. This is a profound science, much more book-study and learning is required in China to be an herbalist than an acupuncturist. We learn to see the human form as fundamentally a ‘blood producer’. That the truth we can count on is that we digest – and the product of the quality of our blood profoundly impacts whether we have healthy physiology, or are in a situation where the imbalance gets to the point where we have a ‘disease’ that is hardened into a name and shows up on lab tests.

Healthy physiology is akin to a steaming and distillation process. And it best operates by taking into account the cyclic nature of things – the course of the day, the activities we have, the relationships we have – the seasons our our lives and the actual seasons too.

Whether through receiving treatments or through self-education, Chinese medicine is a truly wonderful and remarkable way of discovering the balance in the body that can seem to be ‘lost’. What is real is never lost, can be found ordinary appreciation – breathing, eating, moving.

Force is the long path. To some people these days, some surgical techniques and drug therapy of modern medicine is beginning to seem more like ‘voodoo’ in its distant relationship from the patient and its ability to do great harm without foreknowledge. Chinese medicine, though it has well treated epidemic diseases in its long history, is a safer and more conservative path for day-to-day medicine and health enhancement. With its long history, it’s really not ‘alternative’.

The unbroken tradition of Chinese medicine fills libraries – and yet on the basics are very clear. What we ingest is important, avoiding excess is important, family and friends are important. And put into modern words – Love, acceptance, forgiveness are important. And most of all trusting Nature and ourselves- because we ARE Nature – is key.