THE WEB THAT HAS NO WEAVER / by Caitlin Murray

MEDICINE EAST AND WEST

"Not only the names of diseases, not only the grouping of systems were not the same; but the fundamental perceptual codes that were applied to patient's bodies, the field of objects which observation addressed itself, the surfaces and depths traversed by the doctor's gaze, the whole system of orientation of his gaze also varied." (Michel Foucault, The Birth of the Clinic, 1973)

Western medicine is concerned mainly with isolable disease categories or agents of disease, which it zeroes in on, isolates, and tries to change, control or destroy / The Western physician starts with a symptom, then searches for the underlying mechanism -  a precise cause for a specific disease / ANALYTICAL / Chinese medicine, on the other hand, forms a "pattern of disharmony" / describes a situation of imbalance / To Western medicine, understanding an illness means uncovering a distinct entity that is separate from the patient's being; to Chinese medicine, understanding means perceiving the relationships between all patient's signs and symptoms

NOT LESS LOGICAL - LESS ANALYTICAL

THE LOGIC  / THAT A PART CAN BE UNDERSTOOD ONLY IN RELATION TO ITS WHOLE

Yin-Yang theory explains relationships, patterns and change

Yin: the shady side of a slope / cold rest responsiveness passivity darkness interiority downwardness inwardness decrease

Yang: the sunny side of a slope / brightness heat stimulation movement activity excitement vigor light exteriority upwardness outwardness increase

5 PRINCIPLES: All things have a Yin aspect and a Yang Aspect / Any Yin or Yang aspect can be further divided into Yin and Yang / Yin and Yang mutually create each other / Yin and Yang control each other / Yin and Yang transform into each other

Being and non-being produce each other;
Difficult and easy complete each other;
Long and short contrast each other;
High and low distinguish each other;
Sound and voice harmonize each other;
Front and back follow each other.

(Lao Tzu, Tao-te Ching)

Yang cannot exist in extreme relation to Yin without some transformation occurring.

In order to contract,
     It is necessary first to expand.
In order to weaken,
     It is necessary first to strengthen.

In order to destroy,
     It is necessary first to promote.
In order to grasp,
     It is necessary first to give.

and

People hate to be orphaned, the lonely ones, and
     the unworthy.

And yet kings and lords call themselves by these
     names.
Therefore it is often the case that things gain
     by losing and lose by gaining.
 

(Lao Tzu, Tao-te Ching)

The idea of causation, central to Western thinking, is almost entirely absent / the Chinese view of causation: "Conceptions are not subsumed under one another but placed side by side in a pattern, and things influence one another not by acts of mechanical causation, but by a kind of 'inductance'...the key-word in Chinese thought is Order and above all Pattern...Things behave in particular ways not necessarily because of prior actions or impulsions of other things, but because their position in the ever-moving cyclical universe was such that they were endowed with intrinsic natures which made that behavior inevitable for them...They were thus parts in existential dependence upon the whole world-organism" / Taoism lacks a creator / In the Chinese view, the truth of things is immanent; in the Western, truth is transcendent / the Huang-di Nei-jing (Inner Classic of the Yellow Emperor) - compiled by unknown authors between 300 and 100 BCE

THE FUNDAMENTAL SUBSTANCES

Chinese medicine rarely looks further than the patient himself / the essential ideas include axioms and formulas, modes of perception and definitions of function / THE BODILY LANDSCAPE

QI

Energy at the point of materializing / (To Chinese thought, however, such discussion of what a concept means in itself - a discussion that the Western mind expects in any systematic exposition - is completely foreign)

All of the Qi in the body is referred to in general terms as Normal or Upright (zheng-qi) - three sources for Normal Qi : Original or Prenatal, Grain Qi (the digestion of foods), Natural Air Qi (extracted by the Lung from the air we breathe) / all three intermingle / there is "no place that does not have it, and no place it does not penetrate"

FUNCTIONS: Qi is the source of all movement in the body / Qi protects the body / Qi is the source of harmonious transformation of the body / Qi governs retention of the body's Substances and Organs / Qi warms the body

(functions apparent in the types)

TYPES: Organ Qi (every organ has its own Qi), Meridian Qi (the channels or pathways through which Qi flows), Nutritive Qi (associated with the Blood, moves with the Blood), Protective Qi (resisting and combating External Pernicious Influences, Qi of the Chest or Ancestral Qi (aid and regulate the rhythmic movement of the heartbeat and respiration)

DISHARMONIES OF THE Qi: 1. Deficient Qi [Collapsed Qi (can no longer hold organs in place)] 2. Stagnant Qi (normal movement of the Qi is impaired) [Rebellious Qi (Qi going in the wrong direction)]

BLOOD

Circulating throughout the body, nourishing, maintaining and to some extent moistening its various parts / a Yin substance / originates through the transformation of food / the Heart, Liver and Spleen have special relationships with the Blood  - the heart rules the blood, the liver regulates the quiescent Blood. the spleen keeps the blood within the blood vessels

DISHARMONIES OF THE BLOOD: Deficient Blood (insufficient nourishment of the Blood), Congealed Blood (obstructed, not flowing smoothly)

JING

The substance that underlies all organic life / the source of organic change / supportive and nutritive - the basis of reproduction and development

ORIGINS: Prenatal Jing (each persons is unique and will determine his or her particular growth - the quantity and quality of the Prenatal Jing is fixed as birth and together with the Original Qi, determines an individual's basic makeup and constitution) / Postnatal Jing (derived from the purified parts of ingested food - adds vitality to the Prenatal Jing) / together they comprise the overall Jing of the body

FUNCTIONS: An individual development is accompanied by corresponding changes in his or her Jing / the material that imbues an organism with the possibility of development from conception to death / the slow movement of organic change / An individual's Qi and Jing are mutually dependent - Qi emerges out of Jing, since prenatal Jing is the root of life - Qi helps transform food into Postnatal Jing, thereby maintaining and expanding that life (Jing is Yin and Qi is Yang)

SHEN

Best translated as spirit - a substance unique to human life / If Jing is the source of life, and Qi is the ability to activate and move, then Shen is the vitality behind Jing and Qi in the human body / the force of the human personality - the ability to think, discriminate and choose appropriately / each parent contributes to the creation of the offspring's Shen, yet the Shen is continuously and materially nourished after birth / has a material aspect, has no importance to medicine independent of the body  / the capacity of the mind to form ideas and the desire of the personality to live life

FLUIDS

bodily fluids other than blood - sweat, saliva, gastric juices and urine / the function of the fluids is to moisten and partly to nourish the hair, skin, membranes, orifices, flesh, muscles, inner organs, joints, brain, marrow and bones