Handbook of Culture, Therapy, and Healing

By Uwe P. Gielen; Jefferson M. Fish et al. | Go to book overview

12

Indigenous Chinese Healing:
Theories and Methods

Ting Lei
The City University of New York

Ching-Tse Lee
The City University of New York

Cecilia Askeroth
St. Francis College, New York

The first author wishes to dedicate this chapter to Professor Kuo-shu Yang in honor of his contribution to the indigenization of Chinese social sciences. He also wishes to thank Profs. Bridie Andrews and Ellen LaForge for their valuable help.

Indigenous Chinese healing (ICH) is a time-tested tradition that has endured for 3000 years. It is also a human-honored medical modality that is not based on generalizations from in vitro experimentation as is conventional biomedicine. Instead, as other approaches involved in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), ICH is derived from one billion people's folk-friendly experiences of in vivo applications (Benson, 1996; Kaptchuk, 2002; Jonas & Levin, 1999).

Generally speaking, ICH includes three major modalities, namely, acupuncture/moxibustion, qigong (vital energy work), and herbal medicine. Acupuncture and qigong are unique to Chinese culture, whereas herbal medicine has been developed in other cultures as well. Although traditional healers in other cultures employ herbs as the major modality, Chinese healers commonly use herbs in conjunction with other modalities in order to complement the treatment effect produced by acupuncture/moxibustion or qigong. This complementary approach reflects Chinese people's dialectical reasoning. This means that medical modalities based on different mechanisms (e.g., the biophysical mechanisms that acupuncture/moxibustion is based on, the electrophysiological mechanisms that qigong is based on, and the biochemical mechanisms that herbal medicine is based on) can be synthesized into a therapeutic approach to certain disorders. Another reflection of Chinese people's dialectical thinking regarding indigenous healing can be seen in the convergence on the same theoretical foundation of these three healing modalities despite their methodological divergence. This theoretical foundation in terms of philosophy of life, premises of health, and purpose of treatment serves as the common thesis for the three antithetical modalities, and it is briefly introduced later. 1 After that introduc-

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1
A more comprehensive description can be found in The web that has no weaver: Understanding Chinese medicine (Kaptchuck, 1983).

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