Building Blocks in Chinese Medicine
In Chinese medicine syndromes are usually the building blocks used to explain disease.
These building blocks sometimes use the same words as in Western medicine but they nearly always mean something else, although there may be a connection.
For instance, the Kidney (capital K) energy includes the physical kidney (small k) organs. However, the Kidney’s sphere is greater than the kidney’s. Also, the Kidney’s actions are described differently to those of the kidney.
Like the building blocks used by the Romans to build Segovia’s famous aqueduct in the picture above, syndromes are put together in different ways to explain modern forms of ill-health and disease.
These Building Blocks include (but these aren’t the syndromes – which use these building blocks)
- Yin and Yang,
- Pathogenic factors like Heat, Damp and Cold,
- Zang-fu Energy Organs,
- something called the Three Heater,
- different kinds of Qi, including defensive or Wei Qi,
- the depth – in terms of the four levels being the Defensive, Qi, Nutritive and Blood levels – where your body is ‘holding’ or resisting an invading force
- the 5 Elements (Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water) described in the Five elements acupuncture system
- (although not actually syndromes) the acupuncture channels
- and this list is by no means all of them!
If you despair of making sense of it, well! That’s why I write this site.
Initially it was for my patients but now others find it useful too.
However, it has turned into a larger project than originally intended and pages covering all the different kinds of building blocks take time to produce. So please have patience.
If there is a syndrome you would like me to explain which you do not find here, write to me: it could become next on my list.
Equally, I am adding Western-named diseases so that they can be explained in terms of these Chinese building blocks.
Classical Acupuncture treats Syndromes, not Western-named ‘diseases’
When you see an acupuncturist trained in classical Chinese medicine, you may be expecting him or her to use a specific set of acupuncture points to treat your Western named disease such as
But he won’t! First he’ll diagnose you in terms of one of these building blocks – and then he’ll decide on the appropriate treatment for the building block(s) concerned.
Because the syndromes are different for every individual and disease recognised in Western medicine, two patients could have the same treatment in terms of acupuncture points for what seem to be different ‘Western’ diseases.
Equally, the same Western ‘disease’ in two patients could have quite different treatments.
It is very much a shorthand for an acupuncturist to say he can treat a Western disease, because Chinese medicine and acupuncture have evolved over 3000 years to treat syndromes.
Still … an increasing number of Western named disease conditions are now recognised as being successfully treatable with acupuncture, such as back-pain.
Syndromes used in Chinese Medicine
Here’s a list of some of these building block syndromes in Chinese medicine that are covered by this site.
Click on some of them and you may find a description of a condition, part of which you are familiar with. That may be because people often have more than one syndrome at a time.
Want to read even more on this? Click on our page ‘Syndrome‘!
Return from Syndromes to Home page.