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The healing effects of touch in ancient chinese culture

Lien 1 James D. James David Adams, Jr. Abstract Chinese and Chumash traditional medical approaches are similar in terms of disease causation, use of acupuncture or healing touch, plants, spiritual and philosophical approaches. This article provides a brief comparison and discussion of Chinese and Chumash traditional medical practices. A table of 66 plants is presented along with Chinese and Chumash uses of each plant.

These uses are compared and contrasted. The doctors who use these plants require training in how to identify the plants, prepare the medicines and use the medicines appropriately. Chinese and American Indian therapy can also depend on healing touch that is used to ease pain and cure diseases. Both approaches to medicine are very practical, depend on the plants that are at hand and share some of the same elements of philosophy.

The purpose of this writing is to put American Indian Chumash healing into a context that will make it more approachable to Scientists. Chumash people believe that all life first started on Santa Cruz Island, a channel island off the coast of Ventura, California 1. Chumash people have the religious right to continue these beliefs. There is scientific evidence that people came from Asia to the American continent at several times in the distant past.

  • When the herb is burned, the box warms up;
  • It helps provide a direction for the design and synthesis of new drugs;
  • As part of this theory, scholars suggest that the burning of moxa preceded acupuncture and that the needles were later added to support and help it;
  • Separate from and, in evolutionary terms, more ancient than the nervous system, these currents work through the so-called cytoskeleton, a complex net of connective tissue that is a continuous and dynamic molecular webwork.

Although the times of the various crossings remain a subject of the healing effects of touch in ancient chinese culture and debate, it is clear that humans have been in the Americas for tens of thousands of years 23. These people brought with them tools, spiritual and medical knowledge, which could account for certain similarities between East-Asian Chinese and American Indian health observances and practices.

Chinese medicine is an array of ideas and practices that were developed in China, or adapted from abroad, over the past 3000 years or more 4—6. This historical dating does not necessary imply that the Chinese did not have an oral tradition of health and safety practices prior to this. It only means that there are no known historical records prior to that date. Due to the predominately unwritten nature of American Indian medicine, the historical dating of some traditions, such as the medical practices of the Chumash people of the southern coast of California, has been difficult for Scientists.

Some anthropologists claim to find elements of Spanish or other European traditions in Chumash medical practices 1. Nonetheless, given that traditional narratives are passed down, usually from a person's grandparents, with the expressed understanding that they will be maintained unchanged, it is probably accurate to assume that much of the current medicinal knowledge of the Chumash and other American Indians is of ancient origin.

There has been some speculation that Chinese may have visited California in 1423 and had a direct influence on California Indians before the arrival of Europeans. However, at least one historian claims that a Chinese visit to California was unlikely 7.

If Chinese did visit California, they had little impact, since no legends of such a visit exist among California Indians. It is, however, very likely that Polynesians visited California and other parts of the west coast of the American continent. Hawaiians brought poppies, cotton and sweet potatoes from America to Hawaii prior to the arrival of Europeans, and left Hawaiian banana plants in Mexico 8.

Polynesians may have taught Chumash people how to make plank canoes 1500 years ago 9. Chinese contact with Polynesians is a possibility 7 and may be an indirect way that Chinese could have influenced Chumash people.

The Chinese tradition is that the Chinese ancestors used plants as medicines since the beginning of human existence. The Chumash tradition is similar that plants have always been used as medicines. It may be an innate nature of humans to use plants as medicines.

Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Clearly, all human ancestors, all over the world, have evolved over the past several million years using plants as medicines. If the plants had not worked as medicines, humans would no longer exist.

Yin and Yang—Sun and Sky Coyote The core frame of reference in Chinese medical practice is a combination of two key pattern categorization schemas 4: The Yin—Yang model emanates from ancient Chinese metaphysics that views ontogenesis in the philosophical sense of the term as the product of a wavering between an inhibiting and an activating force, called Yin and Yang, and symbolized by a broken - - and a solid — line, respectively.

Binary qualities, such as cold and hot, female and male, heaven and earth, find their respective counterparts in the Yin—Yang model. This universal inhibiting-activating model can be applied to any domain of knowledge, including modern natural sciences and chemistry 10.

This internal state is conceptualized using the five-element theory 1112.

  • Qi can become excessive through outside influences such as too much heat or cold or through inside patterns such as too much emotion or stimulation;
  • The most important contribution they can make to modern bio-science is to open the understanding of the body as an energetic system and of the importance of conscious life-style choices, mental and ethical attitudes, simple but regular movement, and inner visions of body and self;
  • Several advanced commonly used herbs;
  • Contemporary Chinese needles tend to be longer and thicker than those used in Korea and Japan, where they are as thin as a hair and come in a plastic tube for safe- keeping and easy insertion.

In this model, certain diseases are caused by excessive blood, lymph and Qi stagnation that leads to what is known as heat inflammation. Qi is life energy and flows in the body as described subsequently.

The flow of Qi may be increased by increased flow of lymph or blood, or decreased by decreased flow of blood or lymph. Other diseases are caused by a Qi, lymph or blood deficiency known as cold, such as the common cold. Treatments consist of restoring the lost internal balance and returning the patient to the normal elemental state. There are many definitions of Qi in Chinese philosophy 4. However, for the practice of medicine, it is useful to describe Qi as the source of life and to recognize that it belongs to the body.

Qi flows everywhere and is rooted in empty space. Qi can be described as life energy and is carried by channels throughout the body 11. Yin and Yang come from Qi 4. Qi is required to harmonize Yin and Yang 4.

A Comparison of Chinese and American Indian (Chumash) Medicine

The five elements contain a pair of Yin and Yang, which are water and fire. However, the five elements are described as coming from Yin and Yang 4. Other vital aspects of Chinese diagnosis are the patient history and pulse 11. Several pulses are recognized and are used to assess the perfusion of Yang and Qi to various organs.

The pulse may be described in several terms such as thin, deep, slippery, thready, slow and rapid. The pulse is used to assess the flow of Qi, blood and lymph throughout the organs. Other diagnostic techniques for assessing the flow of Yang and Qi include the appearance of the tongue and swollen areas of the body.

The Relationship between Traditional Chinese Medicine and Modern Medicine

The appearance of the tongue is very important and may be described in many different ways such as pale, red, white greasy fur, thick yellow fur and thin white fur. Swollen areas such as lymph nodes, cysts, breasts and pimples indicate areas of local obstruction of the flow of blood, lymph, milk or Qi.

Although the treatment of a specific disease might be similar from one patient to another, there is considerable individualization.

For instance, is a patient's fever caused by exposure to too much exopathic wind heat, or a reaction to too much exposure to exopathic wind cold? There is also considerable variation in the use of plants between doctors and between regions in China 13. Phytotherapy is one of the means to reestablish the balance between elements. A patient with a disease caused by cold is treated with a plant that augments heat.

A hot treatment may have adrenergic properties, which are manifested by an increased blood perfusion and heart rate. A cold treatment, on the contrary, may have cholinergic properties and can shunt the blood to vital organs, produce a pale complexion and slow the heart rate.

  • In a critical moment of China—America rapprochement, Reston, after being shaken up in a detour set off by Kissinger, had an appendectomy and was in considerable discomfort in Beijing;
  • How do the needle and the muscle interact?
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This is a combinatorial and dualistic philosophy, similar to the Chinese medical philosophy. If the Sun wins, the year will be hot and dry, food and medicine will be scarce and many people will die.

Ancient Chinese medicine and mechanistic evidence of acupuncture physiology

If Sky Coyote wins, the year will be cool and wet, food and medicine will be abundant and people will survive. The Sun is hot, dry and unforgiving to humans.

Sky Coyote is beneficial to humans, and is seen in the sky as the North Star. Knowing the position of Sky Coyote in the sky helps prevent people from becoming lost. However, Sky Coyote cannot always be trusted. He is a trickster according to legends and can sometimes cause floods and other problems. The Chumash use ceremony and prayer to encourage the balance between the Sun and Sky Coyote each year.

If the proper balance is achieved, health can be maintained. The Chumash tradition is to bathe everyday in cold water before the sun rises. However, heat is used as a remedy for disease 10. Sweat lodges are heated with fire and steam to treat sickness, especially colds, flus and pulmonary infections. Hot springs are used as baths to treat pain and illness, especially arthritis. Other heating mechanisms are also used. Plant therapy is not considered to be hot or cold. Chumash diagnosis is very direct.

The appearance of the patient's eyes, tongue, face and affected areas can be used in diagnosis. This is to help patients tell the truth. Breathing keeps the body fluids moving. The purpose of medical treatment is to restore balance to the patient, since balance is health. A sprain resulting from too much heavy lifting may be treated with rest and casting the area with Scirpus acutus tule.

A cold from swimming in cold ocean water may be treated by heat treatments in the sweat lodge 1. Acupuncture—Healing Touch Acupuncture consists of inserting one or more needles into the healing effects of touch in ancient chinese culture points on the body surface for therapeutic purposes. This practice is generally believed to have originated in China, since sharpened stones and bones that date from about 8000 years ago have been interpreted as instruments for acupuncture treatment 14—17.

The earliest reference to therapeutic needling is dated 90 BC 2122. These channels and points are not related to nerves, blood vessels or other anatomical features, although recent anatomical research indicates that acupuncture channels follow fascia lines. Chinese believe that these meridians are energy lines that allow the flow of Qi in the body.

Some experts believe that acupuncture evolved from blood letting 2324. There are several methods and schools of thought regarding point selection: These points have been clinically derived over the past several 100 years. Acupressure, the application of pressure to points, has also been used in China as a means of relieving pain and treating diseases.

It is clear that acupuncture can increase the release of endogenous pain relieving ligands in the body, such as enkephalins and endorphins 25. Acupuncture also relieves inflammation by decreasing cytokine expression 26.