Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Uniting Homeopathy and Chinese Medicine

Alternative medicine, especially Traditional Chinese Medicine, is a topic close to my heart, and I hope to one day expand on this post based on my experience, education, and meditation practice.

Homeopathy is essentially an alternative, holistic medical practice that treats the whole person, body, mind and spirit, by the administration of diluted or minute doses of specific homeopathic remedies that would, in healthy persons, produce symptoms similar to those that the patient is experiencing. Chinese Medicine is the general term to describe the numerous methods of healing used in Chinese culture for many thousands of years. Traditional Chinese medicine works to harmonize the body's five basic elements: fire, wood, earth, metal, and water. Both Homeopathy and Chinese Medicine work to correct internal imbalances, or imbalanced energy. They are both described as energetic medicine. Energetic medicine is the practice of treating ailments and promoting health by working with the energetic map, or energy pathways, of the body. A classic example of this is acupuncture from Chinese Medicine. Acupuncture works by inserting very fine needles into different energy points in the body. Through this, the practitioner can stimulate, disperse, and regulate the flow of chi, or vital energy, and restore a healthy energy balance. Both modalities treat the patient as a whole, exploring the mental, physical, and emotional aspects of a person’s history. By utilizing techniques from both homeopathy and Chinese medicine, patients may potentially receive a deeper energetic healing.

Combining treatments from homeopathy and Chinese medicine can offer relief for ailments with several layers. While acupuncture is commonly used to effectively treat a physical pain, homeopathy can treat a manifestation occurring in a deeper place. In fact, homeopathy prioritizes a person's mental and emotional state over the physical. The physical symptoms are later examined as a means to confirm the right remedy. Using physical symptoms alone can result in the wrong remedy. Many people might suffer from the same illness and share similar symptoms, but each individual is different, therefore, homeopathic remedies are selected based on more personal reflections. Acupuncture, when done skillfully, can produce an effect similar to homeopathy and can therefore be used synergistically.

Traditional Chinese Medicine uses herbal formulas and acupuncture to treat pain and blocked energy flows within the body, resulting in organ disharmony. Illness enters the body and acts on a superficial level, progressing deeper into the body, and manifesting illness physically. Herbal formulas are often modified throughout treatment to promote healing and attack the disease at the appropriate stage. Both forms of medicine address the fluctuating nature of illness and continually respond to it with the right treatments. Individuals with both deep emotional trauma and physical symptoms would be ideal candidates for implementing both homeopathic remedies and acupuncture. For example, the liver is well known in Chinese medicine to harbor emotions such as rage and unresolved anger. Using acupuncture techniques to focus on a liver point in conjunction with the homeopathic remedy Belladonna, the patient will receive emotional support and calming from the Belladonna, while the acupuncture can specifically target the effect of the remedy to the liver by using liver points, thus producing a deeper healing effect.

A separate similarity between Homeopathy and Chinese medicine is the observation and analyzing of the tongue and pulse. In Chinese medicine, tongue and pulse observations are used to help determine a person's underlying patterns. This helps the practitioner to choose the best treatment. In Homeopathy, tongue observation is used to confirm a remedy, while in TCM, it is a vital part of the overall diagnostic process.

Both practices also use dilution as an important part of formulating the right medicine, but for different reasons. In TCM, dilution allows for toxic substances to be taken without significant side effects. In homeopathy, however, dilution is used to increase the potency of the remedy.

The most beneficial and important similarity between both medical practices is the focus on the patient as a whole, physically, psychologically, and spiritually. Each person may respond differently to a medicine and require different, alternate therapies and combinations. One medicine does not treat all; however, both TCM and Homeopathy focus on treating the whole.

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