Lana Farson, M.S., L.Ac., Licensed Acupuncturist and Herbalist
What is Oriental Medicine?

Originating in Asia more than 3,000 years ago, Oriental Medicine, also known Asian or Eastern Medicine, is one of the oldest forms of healthcare. Over the centuries, Japan, China, and Korea have each made significant contributions to the field. It is widely practiced throughout Asia, Europe, Russia, and is increasing becoming part of integrative medical care in the United States.

Yin Yang symbolYin Yang symbolOriental Medicine springs from associative thinking, which focuses on patterns and relationships, finding connections between seemingly unrelated symptoms. On the other hand, medicine from the West follows linear thinking, which tends to focus on a more isolated step-by-step progression. Eastern Medicine aspires toward harmony, and looks to balance opposites within the body, sometimes referred to as yin and yang. It seeks harmony between the natural elements of earth, metal, water, wood and fire, recognizing - and actually relying on - a balance of these elements within the body and in our lives to bring about health and homeostasis.

The main modalities of Oriental Medicine include acupuncture, herbal medicine, moxibustion, cupping, gua sha massage, magnet therapy, plum-blossom hammer, breathing exercises (Qi Gong), and nutritional therapy.

 

The Five Elements
Yin Yang symbolIn order to understand the five elements and their importance for balance and health, first one must see how the elements relate to each other interdependently, in a cycle. In nature, when the earth element receives water, it becomes a source for growing wood (trees and plants) that can absorb the beneficial minerals or metal from the soil. Fire is an element of regeneration, burning and clearing excess foliage to make way for the cycle to begin anew.

Another way to understand the role of the five elements in healthcare is to look at the way in which each individual element provides a form of healing. For example:

Earth itself is used as medicine in the form of clay, such as betonite or montmorionite clay.

Water is used to moisten the membranes, organs and the supply of blood in the body. Aloe vera is example of a juicy, watery substance that acts as a moistening medicine for dry constipation and withered skin.

Wood is used as medicine, often in the form of barks and twigs, like the common medicinal spice cinnamon, taken from the botanical species Cinnamomum cassia.

All plants all contain beneficial minerals or metals, which have been absorbed from the ground through the roots of the herb. Just as Western Medicine has been known to use heavy minerals, such as Lithium to treat mental disease, Oriental Medicine recognizes the use of heavy minerals such as Magnetite (loadstone) which acts as a magnet to settle the spirit and help a person feel grounded.

Fire is used to create medicine, often in the form of cooked herbal liquids, or in the burning of herbs. One such herb is the botanical Artemisia argyi, a warming Asian incense used in a technique called moxibustion. In this technique, fire releases aromatic essential oils of the herb that can be absorbed by the skin and into the muscles for healing.

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What Conditions Does Oriental Medicine Treat?
Since Oriental medicine is a very general type of medicine, it can treat a wide array of symptoms. Conditions that can be treated range from muscle pain to infection to internal organ problems of various types (gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, respiratory, emotional, neurological, gynecological, genito-urinary and autoimmune conditions). See conditions treated below for a more thorough list of symptoms. Oriental medicine is considered to be a full-range medicine and can treat any age, including newborns, children, teens, adults, and elders.

Oriental medicine is a full medicine and can be used to treat a wide variety of issues. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and National Institutes of Health (NIH), acupuncture can treat the following conditions:

  • Ear, Nose and Throat Disorders
    Toothaches, earaches, sinusitis, rhinitis, laryngitis, jaw & face pain
  • Respiratory Disorders
    Cold & flu, bronchitis, asthma, allergies, emphysema
  • Musculo-skeletal disorders
    Tennis elbow, frozen shoulder, TMJ, sciatica, lower back pain, arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, fibromyalgia, neck or cervical pain, hip pain
  • Gastrointestional disorders
    Indigestion, diarrhea, constipation, ulcers, colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, nausea, food allergies
  • Cardiovascular Disorders
    Hypertension, high cholesterol, arteriosclerosis, angina pectoris
  • Genitourinary disorders
    Cystitis, incontinence, neurogenic bladder, prostatitis, prostatic hypertrophy
  • Gynecological Disorders
    Menstrual irregularity, endometriosis, PMS, infertility, menopause syndrome
  • Emotional and Neurological Disorders
    Depression, anxiety, insomnia, headache, migrane, dizziness, trigeminal neuralgia, intercostal neuralgia, post-stroke paralysis, tinnitus, stress-related disorders
  • Detoxification from Addictive Substances
    Drugs, alcohol, cocaine, cigarettes, caffeine, sugar
  • Weight Control
  • Prevention of Disease

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