Acupuncture and holistic concepts of healing.
by Joska Ramelow
As is often the case with step changing events in a person’s life, my acquaintance with Acupuncture began over three decades ago with a personal experience, which almost happened by accident. It had the potential to eventually open up new vistas in my understanding of biology and the questions of health and disease. The sequence of events began with what initially looked like a minor irritation but persistently grew to become a chronic problem within the immune system. The beneficial effects of acupuncture took root after a period of poor health that constantly threw up infections, predominantly during the winter period. Acupuncture instantly made a discernible difference. With hindsight, it acted like a bell that kept ringing ever louder as I digested the new observations inside myself.
Having just left a job that required a professional understanding of western medicine, I realized that my condition exhibited ‘non-responsive-to-antibiotics’ symptoms and had also saddled me with an intellectual problem. How, in god’s name, did this acupuncture work I asked, scratching my head for answers? I really wondered how I could have gotten so much better without the aid of biomedical intervention and after repeated courses of antibiotics.
I enjoyed a new level of health but found it very hard to explain logically what had caused the positive changes for the better. I guess a paradigmatic shift was in the making. I will explain this with a simple example further along in this piece. With my interest profoundly stimulated I developed a deeper interest in the wider picture of this ‘exotic’ system of healing. It was challenging in as much as that it takes one far beyond the somewhat limiting horizon of our conventional medical system which resorts to ‘curative’ measures when we as practitioners of Chinese, or Oriental medicine, speak of ‘re-balancing’ or ‘healing’ as the ultimate goal.
So how does this healing actually work?
On one hand there is the theory of meridians, energy lines, that traverse the body along the course of the limbs and across the head and trunk. They are supposed to travel just underneath the surface of the skin where they distribute the Qi-energy or vitality. At the same time they are also absorbing energy from sunlight and other ambient sources. Then, there are hundreds of special points dotted along these lines that all serve different functions within the performance spectrum of local functions such as the mobility of joints, contraction of muscles, or keeping the body warm. At some point in their course they move deeper into the system and ultimately wrap around their respective organs, after which they are named. This is the interface at which processed energies are released into the system and likewise received from the network of channel points. The whole system is supposed to be understood like an irrigation system known from farmlands, where the constant amounts of precious water are feeding the system. However, as mentioned, the human energy system is alive in both directions and this is where the analogy of water to energy finds it’s own limits.
As with water one cannot infinitely expand the supply but one can re-stimulate under performing functions, or replenish exhausted areas. On the other hand, one can reduce exuberant energy surges that threaten to ‘bubble’ over and overwhelm parts of the system to the detriment of other vital parts and functions lacking that energy. Within the human body it is probably closer to the mark to think of acoustic wave patterns or resonant fields. In this respect a lot of modern research is undertaken and names like Nikola Tesla, or the English electro-engineer Christopher Dunn come to mind as there is a crossover between electricity, light and acoustic phenomena as they are also present in the Cheops Pyramid.
So we have a link to a very ancient understanding of princips of physics that are perceived as exotic today. There are also healing devices that deal with resonance frequency fields. Acupuncture uses the bodies own individual resonant spectrum and that of the ambient field spectra. I have exchanged views with acupuncturists who would not treat during thunder storms for instance.
A spotlight on the mysterious energy known as ‘Qi’ and it’s manifestation in a living body
For the assessment of these individual situations there are theories that deal with the interaction of what is known as the ‘five elements’. These describe qualities of energy such as fire, water and wood for instance, and with it goes an understanding of energy density patterns. The next level of functions would look at transformations as energies are taken in and processed or conditioned by different organ systems according to their basic elemental character. Thus the whole system operates between very physical and dense expressions of life and it’s more ethereal aspects of seemingly non-physical such as emotions, feelings and cerebral work. We now know that all this is also based on neuro-chemistry, but that works best the better the density of the system is left behind or gets transformed.
We see it manifested in works of a high artistic or philosophical nature, where it’s creators have managed to achieve a high degree of non-attachment from states of heavy density. This two way system offers a whole range of strategies for re-balancing the entire system. The question why are treatments so effective would be akin to asking the same question of why using a light switch? We use electricity for a myriad of jobs in our every day life and often forget the question ‘how come’ a television screen is working, a coffee machine is bubbling away, banks of lights illuminating Piccadilly circus, and the underground trains running along it’s tracks. Without our man made energy called electricity, none of this would be happening. This is the same scenario for our bodies, every single function, whether conscious or unconscious, whether voluntary or involuntary, is regulated by this energy the Chinese call Qi or Chi .
Qi is the energy that is understood to manifest on all the different density levels on the body. It manifests very lightly and assumes ever denser states of manifestations, the most solid of which would be the bones of the skeleton. Other cultures gave it other names such as ‘Prana’ in India, or the proponents of the vitalist concept of the world accept it as ‘fluidum’, ‘magnetic force’, ‘ether or Vis-vitals’. All this describes the power from source and the acupuntcure points are the switches with which this power can be reached into and directed. Since all physical work of our tissues depends on this energy we, as practitioners, are simply working the electrical circuitry of a building, i.e. the temple, our bodies.
The example of a cold
As the season is nearly upon us again it is appropriate to look at colds. We are typically looking at the tissues of the respiratory apparatus. The Chinese speak of the lung meridian system and could actually be talking about swollen sinuses at the same time. This might be a little confusing at the beginning, but it reflects the vitalist, holistic concept which places the solid organs at the centre of the concentric rings that describes many related functions and structures in their periphery too. Thus they have a far wider reach then is laid out according to a western reductionist understanding. The lungs in this case, would be the seat and centre of the major functions of the respiratory apparatus.
A list of some of the functions the lungs are responsible for:
expelled. Cleans Qi here includes the Oxygen that is imparted into the red blood corpuscles
and makes all out tissues work.
The lungs regulate the the passageways of fluids. This is due to it’s influence on the blood and it’s dominion of Qi as both functions guarantee that the 70% of water a hu
The lungs dominate Qi, (Prana, Vis-vitals), clean Qi is absorbed and used up Qi is
man body is made up of is well regulated and irrigates all parts.
The lungs dominate skin and hair. This affects the entire surface of the body and thus rough, dry and irritated skin or dull appearance of hair could point to a problem with the lung system. The lungs, due to regulating the water passages is also in charge of the opening and closing of the pores of the skin to let out sweat.
The lungs open into the nose which includes the bronchial tract and all the sinus cavities. The air is as we know pre cleaned of dust particles by the action of the sinuses with its sticky mucous lining and the brush border of the bronchial tract for instance.
Faced with a cold one can now see what a wide angle of possibilities could be affected. Looking at the functions of dominating the life force, we can say that the lung seem to have lost their power to defend the body. One of the functions of the lung is to disperse the ‘defensive Qi’ into all parts of the body, which clearly denotes an active relationship to the immune system. When a cold has struck it is often felt as a state as feeling ‘below par’ or being depleted. This lack of energy in turn does not operate all defensive mechanisms in optimal fashion. This is why ‘a cold’ in Chinese terms could also injure the stomach or parts of our muscular system with corresponding symptoms. In conventional clinical thinking people often speak of viral infections or they caught ‘some bug’. Viruses and bacteria are often present when a cold is at work, but they are also present at any other state of feeling on ‘top of things’. So there must be more to it than just having ‘caught a bug of someone else’. Often antibiotics were given for viral infections and thus over prescribed in a vast number of cases. Antibiotics are only effective with bacteria. We are now faced with a situation where the WHO is concerned about their lasting reliability and effectiveness for the future of clinical practise on the whole.
Unfortunately, the bacteria tend to get stronger as they are being attacked through one or a variety of mechanisms known. Here a little glance sideways into the state of play with antibiotics and it’s problems of today:
The Guardian wrote on April 30, 2014:
Antibiotics are losing effectiveness in every country, says WHO
World Health Organisation warns of ‘devastating’ consequences and says once-beaten diseases could re-emerge
‘Antibiotics are losing their power to fight infections in every country in the world, according to new data from the World Health Organisation – a situation that could have “devastating” consequences for public health. It raises the possibility that once-beaten diseases will re-emerge as global killers.’
and from the same article
“We know that the pathogens are everywhere. They were here before humanity,” Dr Carmen Pessoa Da Silva, team lead on antimicrobial resistance at the WHO, told the Guardian. “It is not a problem of a single country or single region. It is a problem that belongs to the entire planet. This is important. No single country even with the best possible policies in place can address this issue alone. We need all countries to get together and discuss and put in practice possible solutions.”
Studies have been conducted long ago and more recently that conclusively showed that certain combinations of essential oils for aromatic plants performed much better than standard antibiotics. But this has never really been pursued by governments and the pharmaceutical industry, since no patents can be taken out for these substances.
Essential Oils and Future Antibiotics: New Weapons against Emerging Superbugs
’Nicholas A Boire, Stefan Riedel and Nicole M Parrish
The Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland,
‘Since antiquity, essential oils and their constituents have been used to treat a large number of human illnesses. Today, essential oils are used in alternative and holistic medicine for similar purposes and administered orally, topically or via aromatherapy. A growing number of scientific investigators have begun the process of elucidating the specific mechanism(s) of action of essential oils and components. Since antibiotic resistance is currently outpacing research and development to find new drugs, humanity is facing a return to the ‘pre-antibiotic era’. Perhaps the remedies of the past combined with scientific study may provide the antibiotics of tomorrow.’
Faced with a future of superbugs developing and spreading the use of antibiotics will be severely limited in the not so distant future.
An everyday practical challenge, or how does Acupuncture deal with a cold ?
The conventional view of a cold could be described as an invasion of microbial pathogens that have to be disarmed and stopped from replicating or interfering with respiratory functions. The Chinese view would go along with this assertion to a certain degree, but when looking at an external invasion, it looks at the dynamics of the ambient conditions such as external cold, wind or damp, that have impressed themselves on the body.
This characterisation would immediately suggest the solutions if correctly determined. Interestingly enough when using acupuncture the defensive force is supported to act more effective during the first pahse of an attack. One would typically have a runny nose, stiff neck , nurse a headache and feell a gret depletion of energy. The body is doing it’s bit naturally by raising the temperatures to burn out and stop the advance of any microbial activity that threatens the balance of the system. However, during the centuries the Chinese doctors have developed a six layered system that can exactly pinpoint and determine where the cold has opened up it’s main point of attack. The elegance of this system lies in the fact that it does not exclude any laboratory or microscopic findings to show any microbial activity, should this be of importance. It acts inclusive which shows it’s holistic outlook. Indeed it includes preventive measures and there is a whole rafter of nutritional and other means of actually preparing the body for the cold season as to avoid falling victim to depleting incidents like colds and flus. The traditional approach makes good use of fresh ginger which is grated and put into a bath to prepare the body for winter and thus increase vital resistance .
Today we can use essential oils for this purpose. The herbal branch of Chinese medicine happily uses a vast number of aromatic plants that come into play during colds. So, no wonder the researchers are looking at essential oils today to combat antibiotic drug resistance. Dr. Valnet and Dr. Penoel both eminent Physicians in the field of aromatherapy refer to combinations of essential oils such as cinnamon, thyme and oregano in combination to kill of most known bacteria, detrimental to man’s health. The highly volatile oils are basically formed from intense reactions between sunlight and aromatic plants. In this manner they store a high degree of electrically charged photons which resonate strongly with biological systems.
Thus, they possess a very high affinity to our meridian system, which the German Professor F.A. Popp investigated as channels that were transporting photons of sunlight and storing it deep in the vital organs of our bodies for further use. He observed the meridian lines as electron channels inside the connective tissue beneath the surface of the body. In this way modern optical, acoustic and electrical physics revela more and more about these myseterious energy lines an their potential.
This is why acupuncture, cupping, acupressure, hot compresses, aromatic baths, and such techniques are all very effective when it comes to dealing with cold diseases.
Colds can become more complicated after a while. Sometimes we may hear a friend say that when the symptoms of a cold had hung around for too long they had to consult a medcial professional to receive some antibiotics to ‘clear’ the problem. However, we could not be further from the actual way to heal it. We may have a curative effect for a little while. But as the Japanese Researcher Dr. Suzuki already established during the 1970’s, a system treated with antibiotics for a specific bacteria becomes a hundred times more susceptible to that specific strain of bacteria. This is, therefore, not the best option when the body has already lingered in a state of malaise a great deal. The aromatic compounds in essential oils, for example, may kill off the microbes in various ways, but they leave the symbiotic microbes of our guts intact. Here are very natural synergisms at work, in contrast to the work of antibiotics.
In Chinese terms it is thought that the lungs are extremely competent in dealing with a cold, but when it has hung around for too long the lungs are left depleted and they need building up again. This is the state when a cough does not settle after Christmas, since the defensive mechanism of the immune system has already worked very hard to get us thus far through winter. The best advice in my experience is to consult with an experienced practitioner to deal with the situation since they know very well how to recover a system from depletion. In western medicine this part is typically entirelyleft to nature. In Chinese medicine nature is being understood to a degree that goes beyon mere curative measures, to stop another type of chronic problem taking root.
This is why the Chinese often speak of ‘balancing the body’ again. Recovering it’s centre, and thus extending enough help to make the body help itself again, is the winning strategy at this point. All other external measures that want to kill off and control microbial activity would only prolong the agony. Unfortunately, this knowledge is nowadays not very wide spread in our contemporary society and in the light of the modern drugs losing more and more of it’s overwhelming power, we need to look for credible alternatives that hold the key to a more effective outlook for when we have a point of crisis in our health. Acupuncture with it’s thosudan year history and experience stands as one of the very powerful tools in the arsenal of holistic medicine to this end.