8 Principles

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These '8 Principles' are the basic categories acupuncturists traditionally use to decide how to treat a disease:

Excess (Full)
Deficiency (Empty)
External (Exterior)
Internal (Interior)

  • Should we try to strengthen your 'system' (because of 'deficiency' or 'Emptiness') or release excess energy that is causing you pain ('Fullness')? 
  • Where is your disease? On the 'inside' (internal) or the 'outside' (external)? 
  • Should your treatment be warming or be cooling?
  • How to diagnose the balance between your Yin and Yang and promote harmony between them?

The Western Medicine Approach

Western medicine usually analyses disease by subjecting it to minute scientific study. Medical laboratories have formidable scientific techniques and instruments to examine and test diseased conditions.

From these test results or from his experience and considerable knowledge your doctor knows whether the disease is due to a pathogen - a bug - or to a breakdown or malfunction of your system.

He can then send you a prescription or recommend treatment. If successful, your pain ceases and your body returns to health.

For many, the trouble is that orthodox medication and treatment often cause further problems, or ultimately weaken your system, making you dependent on more treatment.

The Chinese Medicine Approach

Chinese medicine also aims to return your body to health with the absence of pain. Compared to modern medicine, its techniques are, on the face of it, rudimentary.

Indeed, some of what they do might have been part of what doctors in the West did in the past, though in part long since abandoned.

#51665253 © photoestelar

For example, pulse-taking to elicit not just speed but your pulse quality; taking full cognizance of your skin discoloration, not just where the pain or problem is but of your face and demeanour; hearing not just the words spoken but the sound of your speaking voice; smelling you (Yes! Sorry!) and knowing what different odours might mean.

The Western medicine way of doing laboratory investigations to confirm a diagnosis or supply information leading to treatment can take time.

Much faster than that, indeed sometimes within a minute or two, practitioners of Chinese medicine can often decide where your disease is coming from and importantly, how serious it is and how to treat it to get you back to balance. This is what the 8 Principles do.

Use the wrong technique and you can make it worse.

Unfortunately, modern medicine often uses methods that clear symptoms but do the wrong thing for the energy of the body.

For example, cooling when according to Chinese medicine, there is already Cold in it.

Modern medicine is extremely good at clearing Heat, for example when there is an invasion of External Heat (ie when you have caught a bug and are suffering from a fever).

However, it doesn’t go on to strengthen the system which would be the automatic next step in Chinese medicine. Also, it overlooks the potential harm done to the system by the medication.

The vital thing, in Chinese medicine, is not to harm the system: not to weaken the inner life force, called the 'Upright Qi'. This Upright Qi is a bit like your system's immune force, but goes further.

Not only does your Upright Qi include your immune system, it includes all the ways your body can go on to repair itself. Even if that Upright Qi's battle with the invading pathogen - the bug - is causing painful symptoms for you, it is absolutely critical not to weaken it.

If you weaken it, then you weaken your ability to fight the bug and get well quickly. This might lead to prolonged low-level symptoms.

Depending on circumstances these might be a runny nose, slight cough, snoring, low spirits, craving for sweet food and continuing tiredness even long after the bug or pain has gone. (Find out more about this at Suppression.)

In other words, your condition has become chronic. You'll try endless types of self-medication, vitamin pills, anti-catarrh herbs. You'll become the bane of your doctor's life!

Why? You weakened your Upright Qi with medication at a critical moment when it was fighting to get its health back.

8 Principles for Good Treatment

In Chinese medicine, if your Upright Qi is strong your acupuncturist, using these 8 Principles as his guide, will want first to direct all efforts at clearing the bug, the external invading cause of the condition.

If he tries to strengthen your Upright Qi before the bug has gone, he may increase your pain and discomfort, as your immune system fights harder. Unfortunately, in effect, he may also increase the strength of the bug.

Worse, by forcing the Upright Qi to fight even harder, he may exhaust it. Doctors might really benefit from this simple 8 Principles knowledge.

For example, it might stop them confusing a weak condition caused by poor health, with an infection caused by a bug.

In the weak condition case, they'd avoid giving antibiotics because knowledge of the 8 Principles would warn them that the medication would only cause harm in the long term.

Find an Acupuncturist!

If you live in the Edinburgh area of Scotland, where the author of this site (and of the books described below) works, click on Edinburgh Acupuncturist.

If you live elsewhere, click on BAcC.

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Jonathan Clogstoun-Willmott Books

Please note! The Kindle editions are less easy to read! Although the paper editions cost more, they are much easier to read and to refer back and forth to the contents and index. 

Here are some of the books Jonathan has written:

Qi Stagnation - Signs of Stress

Yin Deficiency - Burnout and Exhaustion

Yang Deficiency - Get Your Fire Burning Again!

Western Astrology and Chinese Medicine

3000 years of Chinese being stressed, and at last, here's a book showing how all that experience can help you!

By the author of this website, it explains in simple English how to use stress to improve and enhance your life.

For the Latest Reviews of 'Qi Stagnation', click here!

NB You can also order 'Qi Stagnation - Signs of Stress' from your bookseller.

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