The history of acupuncture and Oriental medicine is a long and unique one, with its roots in antiquity. Some mystery surrounds the origins of this medicine, which is believed to be at least 2,500 years old. One of the most important and earliest known texts, called the Huangdi Neijing, is still relevant and studied today. Although the exact date of composition is unknown, it is believed to have been written around 200 B.C.
A significant fact about this particular medical text is that it represents a transition in the concept of health, illness, and the prevention of disease. The Huangdi Neijing focuses on lifestyle, diet, emotions, the environment, age and other factors, with less emphasis on medical problems resulting from invading entities such as demons or ghosts. Acupuncture and Oriental medicine relies on the treatment of an individual's body, mind, and spirit to help patients achieve greater health and longevity.
This holistic approach towards wellness is evident in the numerous volumes of medical literature found over the past hundreds of years. Sun Simiao, one of the great teachers born in the 6th century, wrote about how important it is for a physician to be mentally and physically healthy, as a prerequisite for treating patients. Specifically, he said that a practitioner must "first develop compassion" and also "make the effort to save every living creature." He also maintained high ethical standards and firmly believed that the desire to treat patients should never be overcome by the desire for financial rewards.
His legacy of good ethics and an emphasis on the concept of 'physician heal thyself,' helps to ensure that those who practice acupuncture and Chinese medicine bring the personal experience of good health directly to their patients. This is why the lifestyle choices and personal habits of great practitioners are particularly noteworthy if one strives for a long, healthy life. As a matter of fact, the Chinese government currently highlights the achievements of such notable physicians with the honor of what they term 'the Grand Masters of Chinese Medicine.'
The advice from these Grand Masters can be taken seriously, as many of them are octogenarians, with some even in their 90s. Dr. Guangxin Lu starts his day with massaging his ears and belly, to help promote good circulation throughout the body. In preparation for bedtime, he believes a foot bath at night will help one relax and promote a refreshing sleep. Dr. Zhizheng Lu also uses nightly foot baths to prepare himself for sleep. In the morning, his habit is to massage his face and eat a little ginger and brown sugar. He emphasizes that the combination of ginger and brown sugar is strictly for the morning time and not to be consumed in the evening.
Dr. Zhongying Zhou believes that keeping desires to a minimum is conducive to a healthy and happy life. His philosophy emphasizes the importance of tolerance and enduring the stresses of life without injuring one's health. Dr. Pieran Qui also recommends reining in one's desires in order to live a long and peaceful life. It is evident that these Grand Masters recognize both mental and physical fitness as equally important aspects for maintaining the health of an individual.
This is the beauty of acupuncture and Oriental medicine--physical and emotional issues are treated simultaneously. For example, imagine you have just relocated to another country, started a new job, and currently experience mild anxiety and heart palpitations. A consultation with your practitioner of acupuncture and Oriental medicine will be more than just a description of your physical symptoms, and may include questions about your feelings towards your new job and new country.
If you relocated with your family, their perspective on the move may be inquired about as well. Additionally, questions regarding the quality of your sleep, your digestive functions, and more, will be factored into your diagnosis and subsequent treatment. Perhaps the climate of your new home is much different than your previous home. The fact that you enjoyed cool weather but now live in a hot, dry climate, provides a meaningful bit of information.
Acupuncture and Oriental medicine offers more than just acupuncture therapy. Your practitioner can also advise you on diet and exercise to help you develop a more balanced lifestyle. It may be that certain irritating issues you have lived with for many years, have a solution. Perhaps those cramps you experience after eating are a result of improper eating habits. Lots of raw salad and ice-cold beverages may be the culprit.
According to the theory of acupuncture and Oriental medicine, too much cold or raw food interferes with digestion. You can think of it as a temporary 'freezing' of the digestive organs, which causes them to lose efficiency. Bloating, cramps, and possibly diarrhea may result. Simple solutions include drinking warm tea with meals and avoiding heavily iced beverages.
If you are interested in receiving treatment for medical issues and seek guidance to live a well-rounded, healthy life, consider making an appointment with your practitioner of acupuncture and Oriental medicine. Many patients enjoy their acupuncture treatments and report feeling calm and refreshed afterwards. If you follow the Grand Masters and incorporate the principles of this ancient medicine into your life, a path toward a long and healthy life could be yours to tread!
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About the Author: Vanessa Vogel Batt, L.Ac., MSTOM, studied at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, and practiced acupuncture and Oriental medicine in New York for several years. Vanessa enjoys traveling the world, and has published articles on acupuncture and Oriental medicine and related health topics for websites and publications in both the U.S. and abroad.