Daoism - The Philosophy of Traditional Chinese Medicine

(2017-05-28 06:51:59) 下一个
Daoism - The Philosophy of Traditional Chinese Medicine


  Frank Li  June 16 2013 in Canada



Nowadays, for many diseases of human suffering, Modern Western Medicine (WM) has showed helpless. It seems to have reached dead end. People have to seek the help from available alternatives. In which process, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been increasingly welcomed globally due to it has diversified effective choice in both treatment method and natural medicine.


The achievement of TCM should attribute to its Philosophical approach –  Taoism, an ancient Philosophy that has been guiding the devplopmemnt of TCM for thousands of years.


The motivation of the topic is from the sad report - <After Long Scientific Search, Still No Cure for AIDS>that published on NYtimes in May 9, 2010 .


Writer wrote pessimistically: “Despite decades of effort, no magic bullet for AIDS has been invented.” “The obstacles are huge. The virus mutates as fast in a day as a flu virus does in a year, but can also lie dormant indefinitely.” “Since no one has ever been cured, there is no natural defense to mimic. And, since it attacks the CD4 cells that are the “fire alarms” of the immune system, vaccines that stimulate immunity may just give it more targets.” “Even in wealthy countries, it can only be controlled; antiretroviral cocktails keep it from replicating. Patients are not cured, but may survive into old age.”


Some people may say that AIDS is a special case, ok, then, let us look at common diseases?


Communicable diseases: Recent years, some pathogenic-bacteria were named as super-bug because they can develop resistance to the existing class of antibiotics in short time after drugs putting in use. New antibiotic research is facing challenging in the competing against the their mutation. More time and spending are needed for antibiotic updating. So that many super drug-makers have abandoned the research in antibiotics. Simultaneity some drugs was withdrawn from market because of serious negative effect. It will cause no effective antibiotics to fight with infectious diseases.


In the United States, deadly mystery superbugs kills soldiers and causes to amputate limbs among troops wounded in Iraq, because no antibiotics were effective for the infections, even for a slight wound.


Non-communicable diseases: Also became increasingly severe due to have no ideal drugs. Such as mental disorder, cancer, hypertension, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, and so on.


There was a simply tragedy of modern medicine? Sep. 13, 2007, Canadian Cancer Society has launched a large, multi-year and transcontinental study to try to find a way to help those hundreds of thousands of men diagnosed with prostate cancer every year, by trying a watch-and-wait approach that was only watching without any treatment. They hoped that Surveillance Therapy against radical treatment would resolve one of the thorniest dilemmas in prostate cancer care, which is current therapy of chemo and radiation will cause cancer degenerated faster.



As the way in no way, people have started to seek help from traditional medical approaches as alternatives. As an important one among them, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), with independent comprehensive theory, diversified therapeutic approaches, vast-choice of natural medicines, and satisfactory curative effects, is gaining more and more attention and application world widely.


I think that well understanding of its philosophy -  Taoism may help people to easily understand TCM, to enjoy TCM and thereby to be able to enjoy more happier life. Therefore, there is necessary to introduce about it.


To this end, I translated and edited following from the articles in Mandarin. Because that contents are collated and combined together from many articles, they are not the original any more, also, theoe articles saved on my computer hard drive for a long time, the original links has been failure, so I could not point out the source references.


TCM has been developing under the guidance of Taoism that is a Philosophy similar to Holism. It is one of the important ancient philosophies of China, which has been deeply influencing China, East and South Asia.  


Taoism  consists of two parts - philosophy and religion. Here I talk about philosophy only.


The core of the Daoism is Dao. “It refers to a power that envelopes, surrounds and flows through all things, living and non-living. The Dao regulates natural processes and nourishes balance in the universe.” It dialectically views that everything is in the unity of opposites universally. It embodies the harmony of the opposites.


Dao is symbolized by the Tai-Ji Diagramin which the Yin and Yang were coined to represent the two opposites.    



                                Tai Ji  Diagram 


In Tai Ji Diagramthe outermost circle is called as Taiji, which indicates that every thing universally is metaplasia from vitality and movement in cycling endlessly. The black fish represents the Yin, but its eyes are white that means yang, white fish represents Yang, but its eyes are black that means Yin. The whole symbol means that Yin doesn't leave Yang, and Yang doesn't leave Yin. They are opposites of each other with contradiction and reunification. Each is understood to be an integral part of the others. If one grows bigger, other one will be smaller.


Yin often represents the negative, the female, dark, evil, cold, Earth, etc. Yang represents the positive, the male, light, good, hot, Heaven, etc. “There would be no love without hate, no light without dark, no male without female. When patients got fever they would feel cold rather than hot.”


The main task of Dao is to make Yin and Yang keep in the state of harmonious balance.


Daoism views the universe as a system of the unity of oppositesYin and Yangdialectically, which is composed of many components - subsystem with own feature of unity of opposites. The components are all in the state of dynamic balance through continuous self-regulation. This primitive philosophical view generated thousands of years ago is well coinciding with the modern science. For example


In micro perspective, as small as atom, extranuclear electrons cloud with the nucleus are both in the state of attraction and repulsion, the electronics rotating around the nucleus in dynamic equilibrium. They are in the state unity of opposites. Atoms are the components to compose of natural materials.


In macro perspective, the planets with the sun of solar system, and solar system with other galaxies are all in the continuously rotating in the state of self-regulation by attraction and repulsion of each other. They are also in the state of dynamic equilibrium of unity of opposites.  


Daoism embodies that hunan body itself, human and nature, human and society, human and spirit is all unified whole with interacted each other.


Man and nature is a unified whole. Human beings are the product of nature developed to a certain stage. Nature exist the necessary condition for human survival. The motion and changes of the natural world are bound to affect human.

People and society is a unified whole, and many social factors may be directly or indirectly influence on human psychology, physiology and pathology.


Human spirit and the body is a unified whole. Mental activity is the advanced activities of human. Physical is the foundation of spirit, and the spirit is the product of physical. In turn, mental activity can significantly impact on the physical.


Daoism is contrary with Reductionism. It is similar with Holism. Suppose that Reductionism focuses on a specific grass on the Himalayas, and then the Daoism is not only focusing on the entire grass, but also concerning those would affect the growth of grass, such as, destructive pests, the greenhouse effect and the reduction of glacier cover, etc.


TCM believes that human body is a unified whole, which is composed of tissues and organs that performs different functions, and they are organic links between each other. The components of constitute the human body are indivisible in the morphological structure, coordinated in the physiological function, interrelated in the metabolism and mutually affected in the pathological changes.


Under the guidance of Daoism, human life is being taken as one of such a component of unity of opposites. It believes that human body is an organic whole that all components are closely interacted. A well-balanced human bodies will form an effective self-defence system that can handle the most of pathogenic agents. The diseases could happen only if there are some unbalanced parts in a human body. So. the treatments do not directly target to kill pathogenic but to bring back the natural balance. It achieves the purpose by natural therapeutic approaches, such as, natural drugs, acupuncture and physical exercises, etc.


TCM considers the interactions of various existing factors' from all components including the social and psychological factors with an over thousands years’ belief that the therapy is three-tenth in medication, seven-tenth in psychotherapy.


Compared with Western medicine, TCM was believed as most primitive, most unscientific, and most unreliable. However, many modern researches have inadvertently proven the outstanding of TCM. Its holistic perspective with emphasizing the decisive role of psychological factors on the development of diseases is most rational and scientific. Such as:


Henry K. Beecher’s The Powerful Placebo (1955), George Engel’s Biopsychosocial model (1977), the crossing disciplines research proved that Stress Causes Everything (2008), Ohio State University’s Socially active environment can cause cancer tumors to shrink and even disappear (2010) and British Man with 'Locked-in' syndrome makes amazing recovery by his strong will for survival (2010), etc.


Those findings clearly indicated that, for most diseases, negative psychological plays inducement effect and positive psychological has therapeutic effect. On this point, TCM is much admirable. In thousand years ago, TCM practitioners have found the similar fact that diseases treatment is seven-tenths in psychotherapy and only three-tenths in medication. Suppose we take the placebo effect as a kind of psychotherapy, then the proportion of seven-tenths in psychotherapy is close to the modern scientific statistics from the double-blind clinical trials, which was “placebos are effective in 50 or 60 percent of subjects with certain conditions.” And “some researchers maintain that there is not adequate evidence from studies to prove that the new (antipsychotic) drugs are more effective than placebos.”


The emergence of system biology is showing that Western medicine is starting to step toward the Holistic way with enlarging the scope of medical analysis. Essentially says, it was that Western medicine is from philosophical root turning its heads toward the ancient holistic medical approach of TCM after its hitting on the wall.


TCM has developed unique methods in diseases diagnosis and treatment by natural ways, such as Pulse diagnosis, Tongue diagnosis, Acupuncture, Massage, especially a large number choice of natural drugs. According to the statistic of national investigation of mainland China in the 80's of 20th century, there are 11,146 plants, 1581 animals and 80 minerals as medicinal using. The <Dictionary of Traditional Chinese Medicine Prescription> selected nearly 100 thousands of experience-based formulas from prescriptions of TCM retrospectively since there are written records in the history of China, which covering almost all known diseases.


Thanks the scientists of China, they have made many useful modern researches on Chinese drugs by emulating the methods of western medicine, and to have had those experience-based formulas updated and produced great many OCT drugs in the forms of convenient for using. Such as, injections and sugar covered tablets with the labels of providing treated-ranges, precautions and dosages.


The medicinal materials (natural drugs) used in TCM are all from nature. Modern studies from the level of molecular, protein and gene found those natural drugs containing a wide range of bioactive constituents. Some of them have therapeutic effect that is similar to that of synthetic ones in killing the pathogenic agents directly, and some of them have nutritional effect that is similar to that of orthomolecular medicine. For ill-debilitated patients, nutrition is even more important than that of drugs. I think that this is the unique advantages of natural drugs, and also it is the unique advantages of TCM under the correct guidance of Daoism.


Modern researches revealed that some of Chinese drugs can improve human immunity, such as, boosting the weight gains of immune organs, increasing the number and activity of the phagocytes, NK cells and so on. Therefore, in subjective viewing, TCM is to regulate the physical balance, but in objective practicing, the process of the regulations plays a role of improving the immune function, then the pathogenic agents to be killed by enhanced immune system.


Although, in TCM there are no concepts of modern immunology, such as, immune organs or immune cells, the experience-based formulas were never to have considered on immunity, however, some of preparations by those formulas are playing the therapeutic role through enhancing human immunity. More significant is that when the physical balance of patient is restored, the most of uncomfortable symptoms of patient would be largely improved, such as, poor appetite, angst and insomnia, patient would feel much better not only in physical but also in psychological. Indeed, the physical improvement also plays the role of psychotherapy. The recovery of the diseases can certainly be accelerated.


The compound prescription is unique therapeutic method of TCM, which is to put many different natural drugs together as one dose. Studies have proved that drugs in compound using are able to generate synergy effect of multiplying the positive effect of each other. The findings revealed the mystery that preparations by experience-based formulas of TCM are more effective on some specific diseases and provided clear guidance for selecting effective natural drugs aiming on specific pathogenic.


This is the reason that, in my hand, Chinese natural drugs seem to have gained magic in treating some thorny diseases, such as, Schizophrenia, fat liquefaction of incision and so on. Chinese drugs will be a powerful therapeutic approach on the diseases both communicable and non-communicable, which not satisfied by the treatment of synthetic drugs. Clearly, Chinese medicine is promising resource in developing new therapeutic approaches both drugs and therapies. Also it has huge market potential.


However, since that TCM is accumulation of the experiences from medical practices started in thousands years ago, there are no concepts and terms of modern anatomy and biology. The medical descriptions of TCM are using the terms and the principle of its philosophy - Daoism, such as, Yin & Yang, and cold & Hot. The diagnosis and the treatment of diseases are from this philosophical perspective to regulate the balance of the unity of opposites. 


As the same way, Chinese drugs are sorted and used to restore the physical balance of human body rather than focusing on any ill organ or pathogenic. It is very different with that of Western Medicine (WM) in only focusing on the specific ill organ or pathogenic. Therefore, it can not be easily understood according to the way of WM. 


Above, I have mentioned the report - <After Long Scientific Search, Still No Cure for AIDS>: “Despite decades of effort, no magic bullet for AIDS has been invented.” It has indicated the plight that of Reductionism and WM is facing, then how about the Daoism and TCM?


 I have found some articles and reproduced on my Blog:Advantages of TCM in the Treatment of AIDS〉,〈NATURAL THERAPIES FOR HIV/AIDS,Reviewing the history of TCM therapy for AIDS in Africa. They present us a feasible potential for AIDS’ treatment with natural medicine under Holistic way, which is from the talent of ancient people of China.


From increasingly unfolded superiority of Traditional Chinese Medicine, we may feel the immortal vitality of Daoism - the ancient philosophy originated in China.


The archaeological researchs showed that Taoism is closely related with the culture of Shang Denersty, an ancient Dynasty that exists from 1600 BC to 1046 BC in China. Comparison with the world's remaining philosophies, no matter from the time of produces, or the breadth of applications that meet the facts of both ideological and natural, Daoism is outstanding with universal value.


Now, you may be convinced that, the reason that Modern Western Medicine seems to have reached dead end caused by improper philosophical guidance. The way out is to update medical philosophies.

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