Categories
Acupuncture

Researching Attitudes Toward TCM • Brenda Le • Qi170

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In this conversation with Brenda Le we both explore how TCM is seen in our Western Chinese medicine world, and how doing this research opened her up to aspects of medicine and practice that she did not previously see.

Listen in to this conversation on inquiry, exploration and discovery.
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  • What drew Brenda to doing this research
  • The purpose that research serves
  • That is TCM?
  • How this research changed Brenda’s perspective
  • First look at the person, then attend to the illness (先看人,後看病)
  • Unruly medicine

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Follow an experienced practitioner. Their first-hand clinical insights are invaluable.


Sometimes, the best medicine can be a simple, home-cooked meal. A quiet moment in nature. Or a laugh shared with loved ones.

I believe wellness – and illness – are often related to dietary and lifestyle factors. As a dietitian and Chinese medicine practitioner, my goal is to help patients not only restore their health, but also maintain their health over time. Although I am very, very far from being a “superior physician” (上醫 shàng yī), I am inspired by the philosophy of treating disease before it arises (治未病 zhì wèi bìng).

I am learning that our medicine can be full of surprises. I started out thinking that Chinese medicine needed validation from scientific research – only to realize that this complex, dynamic system does not conform to linear or reductionist modes of reasoning. Now, I am exploring how to practice dietetics in a way that respects and celebrates the Chinese medicine worldview.

 
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Links and Resources

Read Brenda's research paper both for inspiration and to get a nuanced view of TCM.

And see what she's up to over on her website.

 

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Leave a comment on Qiological's Facebook page.

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Categories
Cultivation Herbal Medicine

Currents, Culture and Conversation Through Time • Volker Scheid • Qi129

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Many of us like to think we are connected with doctors throughout time, that we practice the same medicine in a continuous flow from the days of Huang Di down to this modern moment. It’s a lovely narrative. One that our patients often think about as well when they say “It’s been around 2000 years, there must be something to it.”

But as Volker Scheid, the guest of today’s conversation, points out “The way patients were even 40 years ago, the way they spoke and thought of their issues is already different from how it is now. Within this small time span the changes from cultural already influence the practice of medicine.” And yet even as this is true, we can find a way to have conversations with doctors across the span of time, culture and language.

Listen into this conversation on the yin and yang of diversity and heterogeneity in the practice of Chinese medicine.

 

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In This Conversation We Discuss:

  • It only takes one generation for things to change
  • We can’t fully understand the past, but we are able to have a conversation with it
  • Faith in and faithfulness to a tradition is not the same as fundamentalism
  • Importance of distinguishing between personal failure and failure of the medical model
  • Coronavirus is another opportunity to use and learn from our medicine
  • Impact of the social context on health and medicine
  • The transformation of legendary doctors through the dynasties
  • Holism is not found in ancient Chinese writings, it’s found in our interpretation of them
  • Meta practice and the husbanding of diversity
  • Considering the six conformations
  • Using diversity to become better practitioners
  • The deep influence of 理, li
  • Diversity is our strength; identity politics creates problems for us if we want to deepen our practice
  • It’s important to be able to distinguish between better and worse
  • The 六經, six conformations
  • Convergence in medicine and integrative medicine are not the same thing
  • The mind operates by having the 理 li stored in the 心 xin, the heart
  • Dimensions of meta-practice

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Qi flows through the body like tea from a tea pot. Always make sure not only that the spout is unblocked, but also the little hole in the lid. And, of course, that there is good quality tea in the pot itself to start with.


Volker Scheid, Ph.D, L.Ac

I grew up in rural Germany in a family engaged in the cultivation of medicinal herbs. Following an apprenticeship as a gardener I moved to England to study phytotherapy (Western herbal medicine) and Chinese medicine. Further studies led me to China, where I completed three years of postgraduate training at Beijing and Shanghai Universities of Chinese Medicine and also apprenticed with several nationally renowned physicians. I have also studied Kampo and other East Asian medical traditions. My clinical studies led to a deepening academic involvement with East Asian medicines, which I pursued at the University of Cambridge, the School of African and Oriental Studies (London), and the University of Westminster, where I was Professor of East Asian Medicines and Director of EASTmedicine (East Asian Sciences and Traditions in Medicine). I gained a deeper understanding of the history of East Asian medicines and understood, above all, that nothing exists outside history. Another way to put this is to say that there is no “authentic” Chinese or East Asian medicine out there preserved in ancient texts or oral transmissions or summed up in modern textbooks. Instead, it is always made anew by people in the here and now drawing on resources from the past but aligning them with others from the present. There is thus no “real” or “false” Chinese or East Asian medicines, though there are certainly better and worse ways of aligning past and present.

By nature, I am an intellectual who likes to think outside of the box. But I am also a hands-on person who wants to see concrete change. My parents taught me that the only life worth living is one that seeks to make the world a better place, whether or not one succeeds in doing so. I started travelling and exploring different cultures in my early teens and was incredibly lucky to grow up at a time when it was possible to do so safely without needing much money. I have also been lucky in that the right people, books and ideas seem to appear in my life just when I need them. In return, I am grateful that in Chinese medicine I have found a field of practice that allows me to draw all of these idiosyncratic interests and ambitions into a single pursuit, a pursuit furthermore that becomes ever more rewarding as time goes on – hopefully not only for myself but also for my patients and students.

A few years ago, without me searching him out, the seventeenth century physician, thinker and Buddhist monk Yu Chang 喻昌 (1585-1664) appeared in my life. Through him I discovered a fascinating period in the history of Chinese medicine that few of us (historians and practitioners alike) know much about: a period of great innovation, of challenging the past and imagining different futures, of aligning different intellectual and cultural traditions (Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism but also Western and Arab knowledge) in new and exciting ways. Most importantly, Yu Chang forced me to think through some of my own attachments and how to let go of them. Chinese medicine is full of surprises and a resource for so much more than herbal formulas or acupuncture techniques.

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Links and Resources

Here are a few of Volker's articles from the archive at University of Westminster.:

Volker is one of the authors of Formulas & Strategies, 2nd edition
He also authored:
Currents of Tradition in Chinese Medicine 1626-2006
Chinese Medicine in Contemporary China: Plurality and Synthesis

He also recommends Annemarie Mol's The Body Multiple: Ontology in Medical Practice and The logic of Care: Health and the Problem of Patient Choice

Join the discussion!
Leave a comment on Qiological's Facebook page.

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Categories
Qiologician Podcasts

Discovering What It Means to be a Doctor • Poney Chiang

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In our last conversation with Poney, we talked about the neurological view of acupuncture points. In this Part Two conversation we’re exploring what got Poney interested in medicine in the first place and how he ended up becoming an acupuncturist when his first interest was in herbs, philosophy and metaphysics.

 

In this conversation we talk about the deep structure of Chinese medicine, kung fu movies, the Yi Jing, feng shui and how life takes unexpected turns. Poney also shares how Chinese medicine allowed him to grow as a person and how it helped him do things he never thought would be doing.

Check out the first interview with Poney about the Neurological View of Acupuncture

 

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_text admin_label=”Discussion Points” _builder_version=”4.2.2″]In This Conversation We Discuss:

  • The influence of kung fu movies and what it meant to be a doctor
  • How our ignorance can come to light
  • Poney’s interest in metaphysics, feng shui and the yi jing
  • Doctor as polymath
  • Working as a feng shui consultant
  • Studying the Shang Han Lun and dermatology
  • The elegance of Kampo and biochemistry
  • Thoughts on how one can’t easily escape their destined path
  • Using feng shui and face reading as part of working in clinic
  • Non-rational ways of knowing
  • How language creates mental models
  • Considering the yi jing and ba zi
  • The Dao that can be spoken is not the true Dao
  • The wonderful things about Chinese medicine
  • Thoughts on 虛 xu and 實 shi

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My research with cadavers and MRI, together with translations of Chinese medical classics informs my view of acupuncture points from a neuroanatomical perspective. This understanding guides how I palpate points and the type of DeQi sensation I expect to obtain depending on the neuroanatomy associated with any point.   I love this medicine because neuroanatomy from Western Science and energetic anatomy from Chinese medicine, are in fact two sides of the same coin. I am grateful that this research and treatment method resonated with many of my colleagues and it has given me an opportunity to author a textbook and to travel the world as a continuing education teacher.  Aside from the sense of fulfilment when I am able to help people with health problems, what motivates me as a practitioner is that my research and teaching is helping to elevate our profession within the healthcare landscape. I am honoured to play a role in the advancement of Chinese medicine.

 

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Links and Resources:

Poney talked about the Joey Yapp and his Mastery Academy

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Categories
Cultivation

The Archetypes of Confucius and Carl Jung • Pia Giammasi • Qi120

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Archetypes are deep influences that all humans share. They give us a glimpse into the complicated landscape of our psyche. They can live in the light or influence from the dark. Carl Jung had a lot to say about our intrapsychic world, how these influences are shared across culture and time, and how they manifest in personal and societal behavior. And while they are separated by the distance of culture and thousands of years Confucius had a lot to say that rhymes with the Jungian ideas on Being, Doing, Thinking and Feeling.

Listen into this conversation with a translator of Buddhist texts who also has a background in Chinese medicine for a discussion on the similarities in outlook between these two great influencers and thinkers.

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In This Conversation We Discuss:

  • The first glimpse of a connection be Confucius and Jung
  • Archetypal images of being, doing, thinking and touching
  • Master Nan and Confucius lived in similar times
  • The problem with using simplified characters
  • The Yi Jing is the basis for so much Chinese thought
  • Understanding benevolence and the character Ren 仁
  • The energy of being
  • How do you entice people to be respectful and faithful?
  • The energy of doing
  • The power of thinking and learning
  • Learn as if what you already knew was inadequate and as if you might lose what you have already learned
  • Understanding through feeling

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The more you cultivate the ability to remain in a state of sustained, uninterrupted, relaxed, quiet observation enlivened by curiosity, the better you will be able to wield and grow your healing tools. The more you fall into jumping to conclusions, ignoring your gut feelings, observing through the lens of preconceived notions, the less information you actually glean from your patients and the less you will have access to your innate abilities.


Pia Giammasi
A yearning to access the deep wisdom of the East brought me to Asia in the mid-80’s and, due to its depth, I am still here in 2020 with much to learn yet. My first time living in Taipei, I was in a very small scooter accident which left me with a numb leg from the knee down. One acupuncture treatment and the numbness was gone. I was awed and also, being able to feel energy meridians, intuitively understood healing through energy manipulation. The circuitous path of my life has taken me in and out of monasteries, countries, occupations, healing modalities and understandings. If my life activities were a horizontal line graph, you would see layers of alternative healing (TCM, movement, sound, etc.), Buddhism (traditions, teachers, sutras…), Chinese culture (philosophies, the Way of Tea, I-Ching, martial arts, guchin and so on), translation, teaching, yoga, international NGO work, voice recording, and so forth, interactively influencing each other’s growth and progress.

My understanding of health, well-being and healing seems to be ever expanding. Once you have deeply seen/understood/accepted inter-being, the boundary between microcosm and macrocosm can be drawn at various levels of the time-space continuum. Healing—understood as bringing different elements back into balance—can also happen at the intersections of these micro and macro cosmoi. Therefore, plants, food, sounds, colors, life habits, relationship quality, habitual emotional states and thinking patterns, the place where you sleep, your pets, and so on ad infinitum can all be medicines or poisons so to speak. Once, before I had studied TCM, I had the opportunity to go for a walk along a forest path with a great Tibetan medicine doctor from Sikkim. As we were walking, he asked me, “Do you know these plants? These trees? To most people, they look like weeds, very ordinary and useless. But if you know them, they can all be medicine. Anything can be medicine if you know it well enough.”

King, Warrior, Magician, Lover by Robert Moore is the book that Pia talks about in this conversation.

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Categories
Acupuncture Cultivation

Qi Anatomy • Brenda Hood • Qi116

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The way we make sense of structure helps us to understand function. Drawing lines and divisions helps us to understand parts. But a keen understanding of the parts does not always help us to see the whole of the functioning of those parts.

The anatomy of qi gives us a kind of bi-ocular view of function and form. It helps us to understand a system, even as we are part of that system. And it invites our western minds, which have been cultivated on carving the world into pieces, to glimpse the unity of those parts.

Listen in to this conversation on qi anatomy, Daoism and the influences of pre and post heaven influences.

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In This Conversation We Discuss:

  • The elegance of channel interactions in Saam Acupuncture
  • Micro system don’t work on channel theory, they work on resonance
  • There are channels, but there are also “fields”
  • The rational mind does not see integration, it sees divisions
  • Non-rational is not the same irrational
  • Thoughts on the pulse
  • Blood is expansive, Qi is containing, using SP6 to expand the blood pulse
  • Cultivating the non-rational
  • Pre and Post Heaven micro-cosmic orbits
  • What set Brenda off on the path of Chinese medicine
  • The rift between academic and folk Chinese medicine
  • Qi anatomy
  • Daoist practices to reactivate pre-heaven influences in the body
  • Be careful not to take the opinions of experts as truth
  • Discovering the empty space between words
  • Staying present with the discomfort of having things not go the way you expect in clinic
  • The way the Classics speak to us in different ways as we deepen our experience

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Use acupressure and the pulse to determine if a particular acupuncture point will be useful in a given treatment.
For example: as the right pulse reflects Qi and the left pulse reflects Blood; determine if one side is:
1. Stronger than the other (in which case draining/dispersing is called for) or
2. One side is weaker than the other (in which case, tonification/supplementation is required)

If you finder that the left pulse is weaker than the right, start by using acupressure on SP 6; if it strengthens the left pulse, use a needle to tonify the point bilaterally.

If SP 6 doesn’t strengthen the pulse, check SP 10; if that doesn’t work, check Sea of Blood points in the following order, ST 37, ST 39, and UB 11.

Just balancing the pulse left and right can be a treatment in and of itself; patients find it extremely relaxing and usually fall asleep.


Brenda Hood Ph.D, L.Ac
I was born and raised in Peace River, Canada. Then wound up going to China to study Chinese medicine after I became disillusioned with a degree in psychology. I spent over twenty years there being completely enamored with the medicine and acquiring a few degrees. After returning to North America spent some years teaching Foundations of CM and other basic courses at NUNM. I’m back up in Canada now working on a foundations book to explain the energetic and philosophical bases of the medicine with an eye to using the classics and historical texts as my sources.

Clinically, I started out using the TCM system, but I couldn’t really get it to work like I thought it should. I stepped out of CM academia and spent a lot of time with “folk practitioners” and cultivators. There are a lot of hidden gems in China though living there and speaking/reading the language was definitely required. Through this, I discovered I could feel and sense the Qi in the channels and eventually began to get a sense of the Qi field of my patients. I learned to manipulate these with herbs and acupuncture to help my patients return to health. After returning to North America, I started taking courses in Japanese acupuncture, notably Kiiko Matsumoto style and further developed my diagnostics using the abdomen. I also began to explore sound healing and gemstone therapy all of which I now happily combine in clinic.

The study of CM is endless, it’s a puzzle I am determined to crack. My most recent course in CM (October of 2019) was with Qiological, Toby Daly and the Introduction to Sa’am Acupuncture course. Blew my mind and expanded my understanding of CM yet again. Yes!

For students of CM medicine, learn to understand the classic texts. Mostly, they don't say what you think they do. If possible, learn some written Chinese. Find some way to gain an understanding of the principles of abstraction and an opening into the abstract/integrative/creative mind. Once this opens up, it can re-integrate with the theories proposed by the rational mind and open up a whole new world of understanding. Cultivation, especially meditation and Chinese energy work — Tai Chi, Qigong — also support this way of thinking. Get out into nature and steep yourself in its presence. Nature and our mindful interaction with her was our first classroom. Most of all participate in your life and be happy. This is the medicine of the Heart whose medium is joy. When there is a quiet joy to what you are doing, it reveals a truth and integrity of being.

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Qiologician Podcasts

Slow Medicine: How Chinese Medicine Became Associated With the Treatment of Chronic Illness • Eric Karchmer

[et_pb_section fb_built=”1″ _builder_version=”3.22″ fb_built=”1″ bb_built=”1″ _i=”0″ _address=”0″][et_pb_row _builder_version=”3.25″ background_size=”initial” background_position=”top_left” background_repeat=”repeat” _i=”0″ _address=”0.0″][et_pb_column type=”4_4″ _builder_version=”3.0.47″ custom_padding=”|||” custom_padding__hover=”|||” _i=”0″ _address=”0.0.0″][et_pb_audio audio=”https://podcasts.captivate.fm/media/1cf5bc54-38c6-43a6-9ea5-fca7ca90ca13/how-chinese-medicine-became-the-slow-medicine-eric-karchmer.mp3″ title=”Slow Medicine: How Chinese Medicine Became Associated With the Treatment of Chronic Illness” artist_name=”Michael Max” album_name=”With Guest: Eric Karchmer” image_url=”https://backend.qiological.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/ting-square.jpg” _builder_version=”3.29.2″ background_color=”#87af90″ z_index_tablet=”500″ title_text_shadow_horizontal_length_tablet=”0px” title_text_shadow_vertical_length_tablet=”0px” title_text_shadow_blur_strength_tablet=”1px” caption_text_shadow_horizontal_length_tablet=”0px” caption_text_shadow_vertical_length_tablet=”0px” caption_text_shadow_blur_strength_tablet=”1px” box_shadow_horizontal_tablet=”0px” box_shadow_vertical_tablet=”0px” box_shadow_blur_tablet=”40px” box_shadow_spread_tablet=”0px” box_shadow_horizontal_image_tablet=”0px” box_shadow_vertical_image_tablet=”0px” box_shadow_blur_image_tablet=”40px” box_shadow_spread_image_tablet=”0px” text_shadow_horizontal_length_tablet=”0px” text_shadow_vertical_length_tablet=”0px” text_shadow_blur_strength_tablet=”1px” _i=”0″ _address=”0.0.0.0″][/et_pb_audio][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section][et_pb_section fb_built=”1″ _builder_version=”3.22″ fb_built=”1″ bb_built=”1″ _i=”1″ _address=”1″][et_pb_row column_structure=”2_3,1_3″ _builder_version=”3.25″ background_size=”initial” background_position=”top_left” background_repeat=”repeat” _i=”0″ _address=”1.0″][et_pb_column type=”2_3″ _builder_version=”3.0.47″ custom_padding=”|||” custom_padding__hover=”|||” _i=”0″ _address=”1.0.0″][et_pb_text admin_label=”About this episode” _builder_version=”3.29.2″ z_index_tablet=”500″ text_text_shadow_horizontal_length_tablet=”0px” text_text_shadow_vertical_length_tablet=”0px” text_text_shadow_blur_strength_tablet=”1px” link_text_shadow_horizontal_length_tablet=”0px” link_text_shadow_vertical_length_tablet=”0px” link_text_shadow_blur_strength_tablet=”1px” ul_text_shadow_horizontal_length_tablet=”0px” ul_text_shadow_vertical_length_tablet=”0px” ul_text_shadow_blur_strength_tablet=”1px” ol_text_shadow_horizontal_length_tablet=”0px” ol_text_shadow_vertical_length_tablet=”0px” ol_text_shadow_blur_strength_tablet=”1px” quote_text_shadow_horizontal_length_tablet=”0px” quote_text_shadow_vertical_length_tablet=”0px” quote_text_shadow_blur_strength_tablet=”1px” header_text_shadow_horizontal_length_tablet=”0px” header_text_shadow_vertical_length_tablet=”0px” header_text_shadow_blur_strength_tablet=”1px” header_2_text_shadow_horizontal_length_tablet=”0px” header_2_text_shadow_vertical_length_tablet=”0px” header_2_text_shadow_blur_strength_tablet=”1px” header_3_text_shadow_horizontal_length_tablet=”0px” header_3_text_shadow_vertical_length_tablet=”0px” header_3_text_shadow_blur_strength_tablet=”1px” header_4_text_shadow_horizontal_length_tablet=”0px” header_4_text_shadow_vertical_length_tablet=”0px” header_4_text_shadow_blur_strength_tablet=”1px” header_5_text_shadow_horizontal_length_tablet=”0px” header_5_text_shadow_vertical_length_tablet=”0px” header_5_text_shadow_blur_strength_tablet=”1px” header_6_text_shadow_horizontal_length_tablet=”0px” header_6_text_shadow_vertical_length_tablet=”0px” header_6_text_shadow_blur_strength_tablet=”1px” box_shadow_horizontal_tablet=”0px” box_shadow_vertical_tablet=”0px” box_shadow_blur_tablet=”40px” box_shadow_spread_tablet=”0px” _i=”0″ _address=”1.0.0.0″]

When I lived in China I’d often hear people there say “use western medicine for quick results, but use Chinese medicine for chronic conditions.” It was a bit confusing for me, as even as a student and new practitioner I’d see Chinese medicine be really helpful for more acute conditions. It made me wonder if the Chinese really understood Chinese medicine.

In this conversation we get some perspective on this issue. Listen into this discussion on how the clashing of cultures and China’s desire to “modernize” had an impact on the medicine we practice.

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In This Conversation We Discuss:

  • Introduction and discussion of modern medicine and Eric’s book
  • How Chinese medicine became famous for chronic conditions
  • In China you get a choice of using either Western or Chinese medicine
  • Chinese medicine doctors of the past
  • Meeting and interviewing famous doctors of the Republican era
  • What it was like to become a doctor and work in the Republican era
  • Western medicine in the Republican era
  • Losing old teachings
  • Memorization and its importance in Chinese medicine’s way of thinking
  • How we might be able to go about relearning the older ideas and methods
  • Extreme conditions produce brilliance

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I am a practitioner of Chinese medicine and a scholar of medical anthropology, researching the contemporary practice of Chinese medicine in China. I feel lucky to have these two fields of specialization that relate to each other in such interesting ways. From 1995 – 2000, I was a medical student at the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, where I earned a Bachelor’s of Medicine. This training was the foundation for my future clinical practice but it was also an incredibly rich ethnographic experience that has informed all of my academic research and writing.

I have also had two very formative research opportunities after my graduation from Beijing University of Chinese Medicine that have shaped me both as a researcher and scholar. In 2008-2009, I was funded by the American Council of Learned Societies to collect oral histories from senior doctors of Chinese medicine that had learned and practiced Chinese medicine during the Republican period (1911-1949). This project exposed me to the richness of medical practice in China in the early 20th century. I was fortunate to be able to continue my research into this period of Chinese history with a second grant from the Wellcome Trust to support a collaborative research project on the history of medicine in East Asia. This project allowed me to explore the fascinating clinical writings from this period.

I do not claim to have a particular clinical style. Instead, I have, for better or worse, incorporated different techniques from the many wonderful teachers I have encountered during my studies. Perhaps most important to my clinical practice, however, is my library. I have acquired a very good collection of Chinese medicine texts over the years that I always consult whenever I encounter a new problem in my clinic. I believe I have grown the most as a practitioner through this kind of clinically focused reading.

 

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Links and Resources:

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