What do the ancient Chinese Taoist masters, ‘Ice
Man,’ the mummy recently discovered in a Tyrolean glacier, and many
skilled practitioners of modern holistic medicine all have in common?
An understanding of ‘Qi.’...
Tattoos found on the 5300-year-old ‘Ice man,’
exactly corresponded to the energy centers classified by ancient
Chinese as acupuncture points. Using piezoelectric and other scientific
techniques, these points have been identified as focal points
of electromagnetic energy having unique energetic properties.
This strongly suggests that the existence of ‘Qi’ (pronounced
‘chee’) energy and its circulation in the body has been known
in various cultures around the world for millennia. Yet, it is
only in the past few decades that the principles and practice
of Chinese Medicine have come to the attention of the general
Thousands of years ago, the ancient Chinese studied
and recorded the fundamental principles they observed in themselves
and in their universe. These qualities, including harmony and
the balance of opposites, the characteristics of weather and the
nature of energy that they called 'Qi', formed the core of their
philosophy and the basis for their medicine. Today, Chinese Medicine
is one of the world's great medical systems, used by a quarter
of the earth's population, and is rapidly being incorporated into
mainstream medicine in America.
According to Chinese Medicine, a smooth flow
and balance of energies in a person is necessary for optimum physical
and mental health. Disharmony resulting from such factors as injuries,
emotions or weather produces symptoms of illness. Balancing the
energy flowing through the organs and meridians restores harmony
and wellness. In addition, by keeping the body and mind 'in tune'
like a car, we can prevent many disease conditions.
In addition to balance and harmony, several other
principles form the foundation of Chinese Medical philosophy.
One concept more familiar to Americans is that of Yin and Yang,
the inter-relation of opposites. All phenomena are divided according
to their natures into these two opposing yet mutually creating
and controlling categories. Yin qualities include female, passive,
cold, dark and internal, and therefore a cold internal disease
process such as a stomachache. Yang qualities include male, active,
hot and external and would define a condition such as a hot, red
skin inflammation. In its farthest extreme each becomes the other.
As such, summer eventually returns to summer, and vice versa.
Neither category is totally pure yin or yang, as evidenced by
stars (yang, fire) seen in the black night sky, or the male hormones
present in a woman's body.
Another relatively well known principle is the
Five Elements, more accurately translated as the Five Phases,
as each category is in fact, transient and constantly in flux.
All universal phenomena can be divided into the qualities of wood,
fire, earth, metal and water. Wood, for example, includes the
spring season and new development, the color green, the eyes,
the Chinese 'organs' of the liver (yin) and gallbladder (yang),
and emotions of anger and frustration. As such, a woman experiencing
excesses of anger and frustration at work could develop a 'liver'
condition such as PMS, which could manifest in the spring.
While these ancient reference systems of Yin/Yang
and Five Elements are interesting in their own right for examining
and organizing the world around us, they are crucial in aiding
the practitioner of Chinese Medicine to develop an accurate diagnosis
and effective treatment of disease. As many health disorders involve
imbalances in our body energies, which may not be easily detected
by modern Western medical techniques, Chinese Medicine offers
a powerful complementary system for maintaining optimal health
For those of us concerned about our outward physical
appearance, and with easy access to quality Chinese medical treatment,
the good news is that it is absolutely unnecessary to tattoo the
locations of the acupuncture points on your skin, as was the case
with 'Ice Man'. The insertion of very thin stainless steel needles
by a highly trained and skilled acupuncturist will do the job
Jim Martin, Lic. Ac., Dipl.
Ac. (NCCAOM) is director of Columbia Acupuncture and practices
acupuncture and Chinese Medicine in Hillsboro, McMinnville and
Scappoose. He can be reached at 503-543-3196 or JMartin214@aol.co.