"Promote the flourishing of tradition by infusing it with new knowledge."
East Asian medicine includes various medical traditions originating in China around 200 AD that later spread to Korea, Japan, and other countries in the region. In all of these countries traditional medicine continues to be practised today alongside Western medicine. East Asian medicine encompasses various modalities of treatment. The most widely known of these are herbal medicine, acupuncture, massage and body focused therapies such as qigong and taiqiquan. East Asian medicine offers sophisticated understandings of the body, of emotional and mental functions and their interplay in health and disease.
Many core concepts in East Asian medicine - yin/yang 陰陽, the five phases 五行, qi 氣 - have a very long history. Other practices were developed only more recently. This is because like Western medicine East Asian medicine is a living tradition that constantly develops and grows. In fact, it is this flexibility that has ensured its survival and also effectiveness over the centuries. Unlike Western medicine, however, East Asian medicine locates effectiveness in the practitioner and not the medicine. The Song dynasty scholar Shen Kuo 沈括 (1131-1195) outlines what this entails:
“When the ancient physicians treated their patients, they became familiar with the cycles of yin and yang and of time … They discerned their patients’ age, body weight, social status, style of life, disposition, likes, feelings, and vigor. In accord with what was appropriate to these characteristics, and avoiding what was not, they chose among herbs, moxa, acupuncture, decoctions, and extracts. They straightened out old habits and manipulated patterns of emotions. Feeling their way, missing no opportunity and constantly adapting, in their reasoning there was not a hair-breadth’s gap. They would go on to regulate the patient’s dress, rationalize their diet, change their living habits, and follow the transformations of their emotions, sometimes treating them according to environmental factors, sometimes according to individual factors.”
In my own practice I, therefore, draw on various styles of East Asian medicine as well as Western medical knowledge in order to develop the most effective and suitable treatment for each individual patient.
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