Chinese medical science


Author : Eric Grey – information is generally applicable, but written from my perspective

Most people who live in the United States grow up learning things through a “biomedical” lens. This is a common term many people use to refer to the conventional medicine ordinarily practiced in major medical clinics and hospitals. This medicine is based on particular ways of looking at anatomy, physiology and pathology. When we think of the immune system, or the thymus, or the actions of caffeine on the nervous system – we are utilizing the framework laid down by biomedicine. It is comfortable, familiar, and has an impressive track record of enabling heroic medical interventions – such as the effective cure of Polio, or knitting your body back together after a major car accident.

Classical Chinese medicine does not share the same roots. It grew up in a different place, and was founded in a different time – more than 2000 years ago. While it shares some anatomical and pathological ideas with the science underlying biomedicine – most of its grounding is quite different. It has its own way of conceptualizing the human body and how it interacts with nature. For instance, in Chinese medicine the body is seen as fundamentally holistic – the whole of the unit is far more than might be guessed by looking at the individual parts. This makes Chinese medicine more likely to look at relationships, functional flows and interactions between the body and nature than biomedicine, which is somewhat more concerned with defining the parts with great specificity.

Some Chinese medicine practitioners, regardless of whether they were born in the US or elsewhere, have chosen to unite biomedicine and acupuncture in various ways. For instance, some practitioners don't do Chinese medicine diagnostics, but instead utilize blood tests and other conventional ways of establishing the cause of a patient's symptoms. They then prescribe acupuncture points and herbal formulas based on that information. I am not one of those practitioners, though I respect them very much.

I was taught to do things differently.

One of my main mentors, Heiner Fruehauf, believes that Chinese medicine as a modality grows best out of its own “soil” – or foundational conditions. The science beneath the modalities in Chinese medicine have their own logic, their own ways of rendering a treatable diagnosis, and work best when relying on one another. It's a SYSTEM of medicine that works best when it is allowed to thrive on its own right.

This doesn't mean, of course, that I completely ignore biomedical concepts – particularly when it comes to blood borne pathogens and other potential healthcare hazards. American Chinese medicine education includes plenty of information about biomedical anatomy, physiology, immunology & other standard fields of information. I also enjoy working alongside biomedical practitioners and enjoy good relationships with many doctors of various modalities. My goal is to help you find the right mix of modalities for your unique healthcare situation.

Despite our respect for biomedicine & reliance on it in particular areas, know that when you come to see a Watershed acupuncturist – you're going to get the genuine article. Classical Chinese medicine growing out of classical Chinese science. My focus on fully comprehending, researching and practicing the medicine I was trained to practice, I think, makes me a safer and more effective practitioner than I would be otherwise.

The proof of this is in the results you'll experience as my patient.

At Watershed, we believe that better educated people are happier and healthier. This is particularly true when it comes to being educated about health and medicine. You should know something about the medicines you put in your body, and the types of things that you allow medical practitioners do to you – whether they are biomedically oriented, Chinese medicine oriented, or something else. The more you know, the more you're able to participate actively in your treatment.

We hope this website can become a source of information for you as you investigate your healthcare options.

You've likely heard of a lot of the basics that make up the Chinese medicine view of the world. You'll find a list below.

This list is just a list at this point, but by the end of 2022, each of the words below will be a link to a blog article about the concept. So, eventually, you will find here a library of information that will help you understand Chinese medicine in a basic way. Whether you choose to see a Watershed practitioner or not, you will be able to make choices about your medical care in a more informed way. That's a win no matter what!

  • Cosmology and symbolism
  • As above, so below, or the holographic nature of reality
  • Holism
  • Root 本 and branch 標
  • Qi 氣
  • Blood 血 (not merely the biomedical red stuff – a larger concept)
  • Yin 陰 / Yang 陽
  • The twelve organ systems
    • Gallbladder 膽
    • Liver 肝
    • Lung 肺
    • Large Intestine 大腸
    • Stomach 胃
    • Spleen 脾
    • Heart 心
    • Small Intestine 小腸
    • Bladder 膀胱
    • Kidney 腎
    • Pericardium 心胞
    • Triple Burner 三焦
  • The acupuncture channel system 經絡
  • The six conformations
    • Taiyang 太陽
    • Yangming 陽明
    • Shaoyang 少陽
    • Taiyin 太陰
    • Shaoyin 少陰
    • Jueyin 厥陰
  • The five elements
    • Water 水
    • Wood 木
    • Fire 火
    • Earth 土
    • Metal 金
  • Pathogenic influences
    • Cold
    • Wind
    • Fire
    • Dampness
    • Wind
    • Dryness
  • Other pathological terms
    • Phlegm
    • Blood stasis
    • Various types of blockage
    • Deficiency
    • Excess
  • Interesting named diseases in Chinese medicine
    • Running piglet
    • Sudden turmoil
    • Fox & creeper disease



Written by Watershed Team