|Copyright Edward Acupuncture Clinic 2006
A selection of articles about Oriental medicine by
Edward Obaidey. Originally published in the Japan
Oriental Medicine: Treating the patient, not the
My doctor looked up from the test results he held in
his hands and beamed at me. "You are cured," he
After three months of countless and colorful tests,
potions and pills, my malaria was cured. I was slow to
respond. "By the way," he said, "how do you feel"?
Not cured was how I felt. The night sweats, the
weight loss, the bouts if sleepiness that knocked me
flat without warning - the symptoms which brought
me to this highly recommended English doctor's clinic
- were still disrupting my life. Not to worry, he said,
the symptoms would continue for perhaps as long as
two years but then tail off.
I thanked this good doctor and left, not unhappy, but
acutely aware as to how far this form of medicine (at
least at that time and place) could take me.
Five days later, when I received his bill (adding insult
to illness) I remembered the invitation of a friend to
come to her clinic for acupuncture treatment.
The acupuncture worked. Within a couple of months
the nightly sweats had fallen off to once or twice a
week, I was feeling stronger, putting on weight. I felt
The changes were so profound that my initial
scepticism gave way to a desire to know more. I
decided to study Oriental medicine. Twelve years
later I am still studying (the learning of natural
phenomena never ends). Now qualified as a
practitioner, I hope to share some of my enthusiasm
for this vast subject with you in this and ensuing
Oriental medicine, or as it is sometimes called,
Chinese medicine, has, over a period of around 2,000
years, developed and spread all over South and
Eastern Asia, changing slightly according to each
country's indigenous influences. It is therefore no
longer purely Chinese any more than Western
allopathic medicine is Greek.
In Japan, for instance, Oriental medicine has a history
of 1,500 years and has features unique to this
country, where it has been developed to an
Oriental medicine is a generic term covering a range
of practices including massage, acupuncture,
moxibustion, herbalism, shamanistic elements and
various martial and meditative exercises such as tai
chi and qigong.
The recorded history of Oriental medicine goes back
at least 2,000 years to ancient China where the bible
of Oriental medicine known as "The Yellow Emperor's
Internal Classic" was put together. The basic and
enduring tenet of Oriental medicine expressed in this
text is that sickness or disease does not occur unless
an individual experiences a deficiency or kyo of some
kind. The patient is assumed to be the key element in
the disease and hence the recovery process.
The old saying "There is no disease, only diseased
people" lies at the heart of Oriental therapies.
Whatever the problem, it tends to express itself in
slightly different ways depending on the individual.
In the Oriental model, the patient's susceptibility to
disease is detected by monitoring the body's system
of ki, generally described as the vital energy that
flows through the human body as well as other living
things, that is regulated when found to be out of
balance. This system includes a network of pathways
known as keiraku, through which ki unceasingly
moves, connecting the internal components of the
body with the surface.
Abnormalities occurring on these pathways, such as
pain, pressure and changes on skin tone, give
information about the components connected with
keiraku that indicate any physical change internally.
A physician looks at the patient's body for changes in
color, dampness and temperature, and takes the
patient's pulse in a variety of places and ways to
gain information about the patient's condition.
Interestingly enough, when symptoms are present
and treatment is carried out, say, for the flu, the
keiraku are still monitored even after the obvious
symptoms have subsided.
The reason for this is that if, after the treatment, the
keiraku abnormality does not disappear, the there is
a very good chance that the problem will recur. The
disease, even dormant, is detectable via the keiraku,
and with an early warning a resurgence can be
So seriously was this concept taken in ancient China
that it is said doctors received payment only while
their patients remained healthy. Payment stopped if
the patient fell ill. This system of staying healthy was
integrated into people's everyday lives.
This is not such an abstract idea; most people can be
made to be aware of small changes in themselves
and will notice that a number of irregularities will
show up before sickness appears. Typical among
these are sluggishness, sleep disorders, changes in
general muscle tension or skin changes.
Tuning into these things doesn't mean becoming
hypochondriac, but does mean getting used to the
concept of the disease-health dynamic as a basic
continuum of life. Symptoms of disease, identified
early, signal the need to prevent further problems.
Disease is nothing special, not a thing to be feared
but rather to be acted upon. The freedom from fear
of disease that this approach alllows lets people
relax and liberates tremendous energy.
One of the main purposes of Oriental medicine is not
just to treat but to educate. Good treatment is an
educational process that slowly but surely arms a
person with the basic internal elements necessary