So for this blog I want to discuss a topic that I feel isn’t talked about enough, and is one that I try to educate my patients about. “Preventive Medicine” is something that we should all really consider using more of, and is something that Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) have provided for thousands of years.
A quote from the Nei Jing (an ancient Chinese medical text that forms much of the basis of TCM) truly outlines the importance that was placed on Preventive Medicine through China in ancient times, and is proof that Acupuncture and TCM have long valued Preventive Medicine above treating present illness.
“The sages of antiquity did not treat those who were already sick, but those who were not sick… When a disease has already broken out and is only then treated, would that not be just as late as to wait for thirst before digging a well, or to wait to go into battle before casting weapons?”
In following this, the ancient Emperors of China would appoint themselves a Chinese Doctor as their personal physician. The physician’s job was to treat the Emperor on a regular basis, not to rid them of illness, but to maintain good health and keep illness away. This position came with much pride for the selected physician, but also had it’s pressures. You see if the therapist was able to maintain the Emperor’s good health and keep them free of illness, they would be greatly rewarded. However, if the Emperor was to fall ill, it could mean that the therapist would be executed. So for this highly regarded physician, keeping the Emperor in good health was truly a matter of life and death.
As I said at the start, this is a method of medical care that does not get talked about enough. When one looks at Western society these days, it is not hard to see why this is the case. Imagine if a majority of the population was to take Preventive Medicine into their lives, illness would drop and so would the business related to treating illness. You see Western Medicine in its current structure can only thrive if there are sick patients to cure. It is only in very recent times that Western Medicine has really started to look more into the causes of diseases as well as how to relieve the symptoms. But they have only come to the tip of the iceberg.
In TCM, there is a huge emphasis placed on how ones illness came about. When performing a treatment, those qualified in TCM will not only use therapeutic techniques for relieving the presenting signs and symptoms, but also for the cause of your presenting illness. You see TCM takes into account that each person is not just a physical entity, but rather made up of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects. Therefore we acknowledge that a person’s illness can be caused by any one of these entities.
For example, if two patients were to present to my clinic both complaining of back pain, it is very possible that they will receive different treatments due to different causes. For one it may be high stress that in turn causes the body’s energy and blood flow to stagnate (not flowing smoothly) which in turn can cause pain in the affected area. The other patient may be of older age and their body’s energy may be very low, not nourishing the muscles of the affected area and thus causing pain. Even the type of pain felt may be different, with the first patient having pain of a sharp-stabbing nature, and the second being more of a dull-aching nature. In these cases, the symptomatic Acupuncture points used may very well be quite similar for both patients, but the points used to treat the underlying cause would be very different. If both were given a treatment that is suited to the second patient (low vital energy), only they would benefit from it, and the other patient’s back pain may even become worse.
By conducting an in depth examination, a TCM practitioner is able to see not only what may be the cause of a disease, but also where a person’s Qi may be unbalanced causing vulnerabilities in their health that have not yet surfaced. This way we are able to address these areas in Preventive treatments in order to help you maintain good health and assist in preventing illness. When you think about it, TCM has been around for a lot longer than the medical tests used today when diagnosing a patient’s illness. Because of this, therapists in ancient times were forced to develop a number of other methods to detect disease. It is through this long history devoted to refining methods of analysis that TCM practitioners are able to pick up on subtle changes and imbalances within the body early on. This makes it possible for us to help restore your body’s balance and health before you even become “symptomatic”. This way disease won’t be as capable to hide and manifest, becoming chronic (long term) and possibly even a lot more serious.
Preventive Medicine is at first a step-by-step process. The first step for most people is having an initial consultation with a TCM practitioner to address current problems and also discover possible vulnerabilities. The initial examination consists of asking a series of questions, as well as using the more traditional methods of look, listen and feel. These relate to things like looking at a persons complexion, looking at the tongue, listening to the voice, feeling the pulse, etc. Tongue and pulse analysis play a large part in the initial TCM examination, as they tell us about the state of a persons Qi (vital energy) running through each of the Acupuncture meridians (channels) in your body.
A treatment plan is then put together in order to address the patient’s presenting illness as well as their underlying cause of disease. The number and consistency of treatments will vary from person to person, as this will depend and the current condition, how long you have had the condition, and the overall state of your Qi. Once the body is rebalanced and good health achieved, it is then that Preventive Medicine becomes the main focus, and this is where those of you who are already in a healthy state would begin. Quite often this will simply mean regular visits about once a month, or even just once at the change of each season to keep the body balanced and in good health. Sometimes things like a change of lifestyle between treatments will alter the Qi in your body and may therefore cause some subtle changes in your health. At this time it would also be beneficial to make a booking and address these changes before they are able to manifest and become more severe.
So if you would prefer to live life without the constant hassles of recurrent illness and the continued band-aid style treatments that usually come with them, why not give Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine a go. If you are looking for an Acupuncturist to start this journey with, I am always taking new patients with whom I can pass on the knowledge that I have gained from my training and practice in Australia and overseas. Simply click here to make an appointment.
If you are unable to make it to the clinic (too far away, in another state or even country, etc) and are going to source out a local Acupuncturist, I recommend looking at their qualifications. Make sure they have done the full 4 year degree and haven’t just done a short course, which can be as little as one or two half days. You can easily check this by seeing which association they are a part of, as most Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine associations will only cover those who have the full qualifications (an example is the Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association that I am a member of).
I hope this blog has been informative and opened your minds a bit more to the importance of Preventive Medicine in today’s society. Just think how much better your life could be if you were healthy more often.