People say things like “I like Acupuncture/Oriental Medicine because of its ancient wisdom.” But that doesn’t tell the full story of why acupuncture works, and “medical xenophobes” enjoy using that against us practitioners of Acupuncture/Oriental Medicine (AOM).
Well, acupuncture is weird.
But I say this endearingly and relatively to the consciousness of our society. Why would I say this? Because everything we knew (or thought we knew) about medicine as applied to our current[*] knowledge of anatomy & physiology has been flipped upside down by the simple mere existence and efficacy of AOM.
I mean come on, you’re supposed to believe that I’m going to stick pins in you, and that’s supposed to help treat your cold or pain or anxiety or womens health conditions?
It’s very odd.
What makes it even more strange is the manner in which we learn AOM. We learn about how the spleen and stomach are associated with the “earth element,” and that putting needles in certain areas of the body will “tonify earth.”
Totes weird as heck.
And to anyone in this hemisphere who hears about this, from laymen to brain surgeon, will see this and respond sarcastically, “sounds legit, lulz.” And so they dismiss AOM as a whole and they mock the whole idea of “Ancient Wisdom.”
But what they don’t know is that this is all just code. Historical code.
If you look historically, the theories of AOM were part of an evolutionary process of a medical knowledge base (originating in the area that we now as “China”) that started a really, really long time ago. The entire planet’s knowledge of human anatomy, physiology, and overall science (and even communication for that matter) were all still in their developmental stages. But even as our civilizations and scientific knowledge advanced, AOM still held on to the very technical jargon it started with, mainly because along with its evolution, it’s medical theories have been tested, debated, and retested over and over again for thousands of years till now, and the theories still held true. But how?
To put it as simply as possible, every aspect of our nervous/endocrine systems regulate “pretty much” everything in our bodies (well, everything important at least), including its constant pursuit of homeostasis, in other words, healing and adapting. So if the body is in pain, diseased, or is suffering from anxiety, then you’d need to stimulate the nervous/endocrine systems to initiate a therapeutic response to help achieve its homeostasis. And that’s what acupuncture does.
This was true in 200BCE, and it’s still true today. The ancients used their highly developed understanding of nature to describe the human body in analogical and metaphorical technical terms, which we practitioners still use today to maintain the consistency and integrity of the medicine that we practice.
So when I say things like “Tonify the Earth,” or “Stomach and Spleen Qi,” it’s historical code for normalizing certain digestive functions, or the digestive system as a whole. You see, a few thousand years ago people looked towards natural phenomena to help explain how the body works, because in Taoist thought (where this medicine’s philosophy is from), the human body is a microcosm of mother nature. So when they associated “Earth” with the digestive system, what they were really looking at was how the earth/land/soil was the place of nourishment for all of the plant life which were then used to nourish animals and humans as a part of the natural cycle of mother nature’s existence. And that’s what the digestive system does, it’s in charge of processing our food to nourish us for our own survival.
That’s just one example, but see how that reasoning works?
How do we know what acupuncture point does what? We’ve learned it from the countless practitioners who’ve tested the theory, debated, re-tested, and documented it since at least 200BCE when the first textbook came out. But I’m sure you know that you’d probably need at least another 200-1000 years prior to 200BCE in order to come up with the sufficient knowledge to write a pretty important medical book that is still to this day the foremost text in AOM theory.
It’s called the “Huang Di Nei Jing,” or “The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine.”
It’s also considered a Taoist text, by the way.
That’s my long-winded explanation on why I cringe when someone says “I like acupuncture because of its ancient wisdom.” Even though it’s true, it doesn’t quite tell the full story because it’s a long story, and a very scientific one.
[*] I say “current” because everything we know about anatomy and physiology is, although widely accepted by both Eastern and Western practitioners, still just theory. Meaning, our knowledge is ever-changing.