Let’s be honest – many of us don’t want to go to the doctor anymore.
In fact, I know entire sides of my family that won’t even go to a “western” doctor in case of an emergency.
And not only is it a little bit sad, it’s scary.I mean, why wouldn’t you go to the doctor – especially if it’s an emergency?
In the west, we’ve become accustomed to five minute doctor visits, being handed a script, and then being sent away, all the time wondering if we were ever heard. Even good doctors know the system is broken – but sick people are going elsewhere.
And this is opening up a massive new window for the coming revolution.
That revolution is Chinese medicine.
“But Isn’t Chinese Medicine all Hocus Pocus?”
I know I know, Chinese medicine?
Isn’t that about hippies wearing wizard’s robes, spirits, demons, and tiger penis prescriptions?
Chinese medicine developed, in one sense, exactly how every other medicine in the world developed – from sick and dying people.
There’s a saying that medicine is a battlefield art – that it was “developed” so people wouldn’t die.
Chinese medicine didn’t develop to help rich, mostly white women deal with getting a spa treatment.
It came out of the tradition of physicians like Zhang Zhong Jing, where over 2/3 of the people in his extended family died in less than ten years, (around 130 people) from an influenza of the time.
Patients weren’t come in saying, “Doc, I haven’t pooped in two days, can you help?”
Here’s why I see Chinese medicine as the thing that will make a grand entrance over the coming years – and help people, on every level – where their current doctor may not be.
#1. Its Training is Geared to Look at YOU – The Person – Not Your Illness.
One of the most frustrating aspects of going through the modern medical grinder of a system is one thing: the feeling that you’re being treated more like a machine than a person.
I never understood the modern medical system.
Anyone that has consulted a sleep-deprived friend knows that after a few minutes, the reason for their temporary insomnia is most likely a lot different from someone else’s.
It could be that they just went through a divorce, it could be that they’re overworking, it could be that they’re looking into bright screens too late, or it could be poor sleep habits.
So why is it that when we go to the doctor, the conversation often sounds like this?
Doc: What’s up?
Patient: I can’t sleep.
Doc: Why not?
Patient: I don’t know.
Doc: Ok, while you’re working on that, take these pills.
Patient: Okay… but don’t you want to try to figure out what’s going on behind it?
Doc: Just deal with this, my two minutes are up.
The sad truth is that even good doctors (and “alternative” doctors) will do the same.
It’s just as easy to mass-prescribe melatonin or valerian root across the board for insomnia, which is still a western, biomedical approach to illness.
#2. Chinese Medicine Can Treat Things Your Doctor Will Think You Are Crazy for.
One of the most frustrating aspects of seeing a doctor is when your symptoms don’t fully match the picture.
A year ago, I checked myself into the emergency room with heart palpitations, prolonged insomnia, an electric static feeling in my chest, and numbess in my arm with nausea. I drove myself directly to the ER, had an EKG, blood work, and my electrolytes tested.
Naturally, everything showed up as normal, which I expected, since I had been eating right and exercising for over ten years at the time. By the end of the visit, the doctor’s advice was this:
Just take it easy.
Did I have a panic attack? Some kind of heart attack? Was it anxiety? I left with even fewer answers, and no treatment or advice to manage it.
The symptoms persisted for several months after, at which point I was going to be referred to a cardiologist and for psychiatric evaluation!
At this point, when I visited a Chinese medicine practitioner, I was surprised to find that the symptoms I had very closely matched a picture of a condition he was familiar with. Within ten days, most of my symptoms were gone, and in a month, everything resolved itself.
The reality is that Chinese medicine works on levels that are so subtle – particularly the pre-clinical levels – that other forms of modern medicine aren’t well equipped for. If you have a heart problem, and yet it’s not verifiable in your blood or EKG readings, then it effectively doesn’t exist in modern medicine and it must be psychological.
3. Chinese Medicine Resets Everything – Physical, Mental, Emotional.
Again, an incredibly frustrating experience anyone with a chronic illness has had: being misdiagnosed a dozen times.
When I was “diagnosed” with IBS at 22, after seeing half a dozen doctors, nutritionists, dieticians, and then a G.I. specialist, guess what the G.I. doc concluded?
“You must be a little stressed. Let’s do a colonoscopy!”
In our three minute conversation, he essentially told me that I was stressed (I wasn’t) and that stress was the primary trigger of my “condition” (It wasn’t).
But it brings up a good point – many illnesses, especially chronic ones – have an emotional or psychological component at some point. Maybe entire conditions are psychological or emotional in nature.
Sometimes, it’s hard to tell what’s causing what – is the patient really bloated, or are they just so used to abdominal discomfort that they think they are? The ultimate problem comes when the doctor doesn’t trust what the patient is saying.
What happens if your doctor thinks your stomach ache is emotional? He or she sends you to a shrink, or maybe anti-anxiety medication.
Regardless, Chinese medicine works on all levels – it treats the emotional as part of the physical, and the physical as part of the emotional, and all the layers in-between.
4. It Also Treats the Emotional – Including Stored Trauma – With Results Often Immediately.
One of the most difficult aspects of treating trauma is how it repeatedly stores itself, sneaks in the back door, and lurks in the subconscious.
An interesting field of research is how trauma actually gets stored in the body, often talked about as “somatic memory.”
Naturally, as something that’s partially stored in the body, trauma often can’t be accessed just by doing journaling exercises to “exorcise the demons.”
One of the first times I had acupuncture with a skilled practitioner, I experienced something that was incredibly unusual.
After I had been on the table for about ten minutes with acupuncture needles in me, I was suddenly overcome by a strange desire to laugh.
It wasn’t as simple as just feeling like I had to laugh.
It was that convulsive laughter you’d get when you’re supposed to be quiet in church as a kid, but you’re bored, and trying to make your sibling laugh.
You can’t laugh, so the laughter energy builds up so strong that you feel like you’re going to pop supressing it.
So I let it rip.
I died laughing on the table there, head to toe, gutteral laughter, that kept going for almost twenty minutes in waves.
At the end, I had tears streaming down my face from the convulsions, felt exhausted and relieved, and almost instantly fell asleep for the remainder of the treatment. How – or why – this works, I still don’t know. But there’s a saying in Chinese medicine about what might happen when you get treated:
They [the patient] often laugh, cry, or fall asleep.
5. It’s Based on a Sound Philosophy of Longevity.
One of the core foundational texts of Chinese medicine still used today is called the Huangdi Neijing (黃帝內經).
The Neijing is one of the core texts describing foundational principles of medicine, and longevity.
In the first chapter of the Neijing, there’s a dialogue between the Yellow Emperor and the court physician, Qibo, about how (and why) people don’t live to 100 as they should.
…上古之人，春秋皆度百歲，而動作不衰；今時之人，年半百而動作皆衰者，時世異耶，人將失之耶… I have heard that the people of former times, lived through all the years (the spring and autumns), and lived beyond 100 years of age, without fail and weakening. However the people of today, are half that age and are already weak and feeble…[why is this?]
歧伯對曰： 上古之人，其知道者，法於陰陽，和於術數，食飲有節，起居有常，不妄作勞，故能形與神俱，而盡終其天年，度百歲乃去。今時之人不然也，以酒為漿，以妄為常，醉以入房，以欲竭其精，以耗散其真，不知持滿，不時御神，務快其心，逆於生樂，起居無節，故半百而衰也… The ancient people, because of their knowing the Dao (the way of the Dao), they lived according to Yin and Yang, they regulated and balanced eating and drinking, they kept their daily routines regular, did not overwork themselves… as a result they did not exhaust their allotted lifespan, and surpassed 100 years of age…
One of the thing that awes me the most about Chinese medicine is that the classics show people how to live to a ripe, old, age, healthy at every stage of the game. In modern medicine, there aren’t too many classical medical texts saying, “this is how you live a long and healthy life.”
Isn’t that a bit crazy?
Modern medicine is broken into books on pathology, conditions, diagnosis, and treatment. But where is the core philosophy on living a long, healthy life? Do you know any physicians who can say, “this is our bible of longevity and health?”
I sure don’t.
*Note on translations. All translations from the original Chinese are my own unless otherwise stated.
6. The Physicians Are Raised With a Code of “Personal Cultivation.”
One of the biggest questions in modern medicine is the question of ethics. Medicine is unfortunately a business in the United States, which colors many of the decisions made by hospitals, pharmaceutical companies (“medicine providers”), and sometimes the individual physicians themselves.
There’s also the conflict of the individual physicians themselves getting the kickbacks from companies, although my personal opinion is that most physicians are good people stuck in a broken system.
One 2013 study suggested that – From Pfizer pharmaceuticals alone – 142,600 health professionals received some kind of compensation.
Overall, for that year, the documented numbers were approximately 1,044,200 – yes one million health professionals, plus some.
As a result – patients themselves are less trusting than ever before. Does the doctor really care, or is she just shilling out some pharmaceutical drug on me because she gets a kickback?
Patients are starting to genuinely question the ethics of the very people helping them when they are sick – which is a dangerous position to be in. If you can’t even trust the healer that is supposed to help you, how are you supposed to actually show up for treatment and get better?
7. There is Nothing Like it On The Planet.
Sun Simiao, pictured above, was a physician that lived 500-600 years after Christ, and yet, not only did he live to be over a hundred years old, he was incredible sophisticated in his knowledge of medicine.
For example, as Dr. Dharmananda of Portland, OR mentions more biographical details:
Sun Simiao is credited with recognizing that goiter occurred in mountainous regions and could be cured by prescribing both seaweeds (which contain iodine) and thyroid glands (which contain thyroid hormone) from deer and sheep. He successfully treated night blindness with livers from oxen and sheep, which contain vitamin A, and treated beriberi (leg edema due to vitamin B1 deficiency) by using unpolished rice (the outer layer of rice and other grains are rich in B vitamins), based on Buddhist practices from India.
Sun was also said to have recognized diabetes by using ants to detect sugar in a patient’s urine.
Many of Sun’s writings predated the discovery of insulin by a thousand years.
These are not the writings of a woo-woo, hippie, energy healer – they are the writings of one of the great physicians in history who merely looked at illness, health, and longevity in a very different lens from modern medicine.
It’s in this vein that Chinese medicine can provide insight and understanding that, thus far, I have never seen in any tradition of medicine.
Images: free digital photos.net