If you are just accustomed to medicine practiced as the Western, you are most likely to find the Chinese way of analyzing ailments with regard to the body being invaded by heat, wind or other elements extremely weird. Nevertheless, you ought to bear in mind that this method of diagnosing diseases is meant to have a less literal explanation of the physical problems experienced by the patient (however, it may prove to be very precise at times) or how a therapy works compared to the indication of the type of therapy which should be administered, as diagnosis and healing are related intimately. For instance, while inserting a needle into a precise point to drive out wind from the body, an acupuncturist does not anticipate the occurrence of a draft of air like air being let loose from a balloon punctured by someone. However, what the acupuncturist actually looks forward to is that once he has analyzed that the particular ailment is attributable to wind, he will make use of the specific points that help to get rid of the wind from the body and allow him to alleviate the patient's medical condition.

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It may be noted that according to the Western tradition of medicine, a solitary diagnosis does not inevitably denote that the patient can only be treated using one type of therapy. For instance, take the case of a woman who has been enduring unusually intense menstrual periods. In this case, the physician may cure her using hormone tablets or by making use of a 'scrape' of the patient's uterus. On the other hand, if a patient is found to be struggling with depression, the physician may opt for antidepressant medications (available in tablet form), psychotherapy or electroconvulsive therapy. If the physician wants to treat this patient using medicines, he has the freedom to decide on a drug from a wide gamut of drugs that function dissimilarly, but help to cure the condition. However, while using acupuncture to heal a patient, the treatment is actually very definite. In case a patient has been suffering from a malady that has been diagnosed to be caused by heat invasion, the therapy involves getting the patient rid of the surplus heat with a view to make up for any resulting discrepancy of yin and yang, as well as to reinstate the normal flow of Chi.

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Similarly, if a patient is suffering from an injury attributable to any hindrance to the regular movement of Chi - for instance, an individual having a sprained ankle; and if it is detected that obstruction of or stagnant blood is responsible for the pain, the treatment will aim at getting rid of the blockage or dispersing the blood. Looking at it logically, one may possibly find such approach to treatment as unscientific, especially when you learn that descriptions like these have been applied for over 2,000 years. Moreover, as such diagnosis by an expert and the subsequent treatment of the patient is able to yield amazingly helpful results; that fact that such diagnosis is expressed in a strange terminology, which does not have any significance to the contemporary Western medicine, is really inconsequential.

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The concepts of energy and Ying-Yang

In Chinese, energy is known as 'Chi' and is represented by a symbol that portrays steam moving up the cover of a pot placed on fire. In effect, the steam in the symbol actually denotes the energy or the force of the stream. Like the instance of the 'falling apple' in the case of Newton, we perceive the effect (the cover of the pot being lifted), but not the energy responsible for the consequence. Irrespective of whether Newton's gravity or the Chi in Chinese medicine, this energy exists, but is not visible. The Chinese are of the view that robust health is a condition where energy is in a balanced state inside our body. Hence, they consider the tissues as well as the structures of the body to be basically linked to the energy that activates them. On the surface, there appears to be a resemblance to the concept of medicine in the West, which states that chemical as well as neurological stimuli sustain the actions of an organ and these neurological as well as chemical impulses are nothing but energy.

However, there are a few dissimilarities in the Chinese and Western perceptions regarding energy. The Chinese not only consider energy to be the major power that maintains the various processes of the human body, but also as the most important element of every type of physical activities. In addition, according to the Chinese, this energy differs in quantitatively as well as qualitatively demonstrating the opposite forms of yin energy and yang energy.

In its fundamental and interchangeable condition - in the form of a latent instead of active force - energy is expressed as Tao, the only original as well as the entire experiences. In fact, Tao is represented in everything by means of a vibrant interaction between the two polar or opposite energies - the yin and yang. The action of these polar forces is opposed, but still harmonizing. According to Nei Ching, the entire universe is basically a fluctuation between the forces called yin and yang as well as their alterations.

It is worth mentioning here that the Chinese do not believe in the existence of an absolute yin or absolute yang. They think that each of these forces is in existence in relation to one another and their relativity as well as inseparability is represented by including a small part of one inside the other in the Chinese yin-yang pictogram. In fact, one cannot be present without the other. Such a synergetic relation between yin and yang as well as the active tension of their contact forms the foundation of the concept as well as manifestation of Chinese religion, philosophy, art, literature and also their medicine.

For many people, yin and yang may denote a negative and positive pole respectively, within a dynamic flow of current. While each force is individual and different in manifestation, both these forces belong to the same flow. In fact, this current or flow itself cannot exist in the absence of the two polar forces that are its integral constituents. Drawing conclusions from this concept, the Chinese believe the yin to be feminine, while yang as masculine. They consider yin to be cold, obscure, passive, and something that is profound or concealed; while yang is believed to be heat, light, something that is dynamic and on the exterior. While they relate the earth and the moon with yin, yang is related to the sky and the sun. Similarly, water is believed to be yin, whereas fire is considered to be yang. Such a polarity exists in everything, including people's mind-set, individual traits, even foods and etc. The Chinese also believe that the yin and yang are also changing and interacting continuously at the same time, because either of these two forces cannot exist without the other. As far as medicine is concerned, such interaction forms the foundation of the energy spreading through as well as stimulating the body. In addition, any kind of disparity in the comparative levels of yin and yang force is considered to be the basic cause for the entire biological science.

It is important to note that the vibrant force of energy moves continuously in our body through the meridians. The circulation of this energy is essential for survival or existence of life. In itself energy remains stable, but its manifestation differs. Using a simple demonstration, the Chinese demonstrate this phenomenon, which is termed as 'changing sameness'. Take the instance of a vertical plank. It has a top as well as a bottom; and when this plank is overturned, the top becomes the bottom and the other way around. While the plank itself does not change, the names of its different parts change as per their position compared to the center. In addition, the attributes of these sides also differ as per their comparative positions. This is because the top of the plank possesses more energy potential compared to the bottom owing to the force that has been produced by changing the sides of the plank. Similarly, the vigour of our body remains the same, but does exhibit dissimilar features depending on the manner in which we use our body as well as the alterations it experiences.

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