"Jin-Mai" system from the perspective of western medicine

Prof. N. Nickolaev - M.D., Ph.D.
Latvia

Acupuncture is the earliest form of Chinese medical treatment. It is also the form most respected in the West. In the monumental "Science and Civilization in China" Prof. Joseph Needham of Cambridge University discusses several books on acupuncture. He further mentions a Frenchman who studied acupuncture in China in 1901. According to Needham, his return to France 30 years later to promote the technique brought acupuncture to Europe...

Not only have many doctors begun to study acupuncture, but over the last 30 years some countries, including the US, Germany, France and others have gradually established acupuncture training courses and colleges. In addition, the WHO has made acupuncture one of its research foci, carrying out research on techniques, translating classics, setting international standards for the classification of Acu-points and holding global academic conferences...

The problem is that Chinese medicine's theoretical underpinnings are relatively abstract. This makes it difficult to understand for students of Western medicine, who are used to the concrete nature of anatomy and physiology. And this is especially true of the meridian system, which is their biggest "headache"...

What is the meridian system'? China's earliest medical text, "The Yellow Emperor's Canon of Internal Medicine" says at its outset that the meridian system is the most fundamental system of the body. The "Jin-Mai" are the vertical meridians (channels) through the body. There are 12 regular channels in addition to a horizontal network which runs throughout the body connecting the "Jin-Mai". These horizontal collaterals are the communication system between the external and internal engaging the wholistic and close interdependence in the Universe.

1n the "Yellow Emperor's Canon of Internal Medicine", it is stated that the meridian system transports the blood and "Chi" and nutrition, communicating with the organs and functional systems of the body. If there is a problem with the body, the treatment is administered "via meridianum" to restore the balance in the organism. Chinese acupuncture and herbal medicine both treat the meridians and additional organs first. All the effective acupuncture points are distributed along the meridians.

The body as a microcosm.

How do Westerners understand this system? Joseph Needham explained the meridian system in the section "Acupuncture History and Theory" in his "Science and Civilization in China". According to Needham it is a kind of emanation from the capillaries, a great insight of the ancient Chinese, apparently derived from the observation of the arteries, veins and nerves. Modern books on acupuncture, whether written by Chinese or Westerners, lay a chart of the meridian system on top of a modern anatomical illustration for contrasting purposes...

But Needham also pointed out that the ancient Chinese conception of physiolo8y differs from the modern one in that it envisages two parallel systems, the existence of one of which (for the blood) can be demonstrated by anatomists, while the second (for Qi) cannot...

The circulatory system for blood was viewed as a hydraulic system containing rivers, tributaries, channels, resewoirs and lakes. However, the channels and collaterals of the meridian system are invisible. Needham describes them as being like an underside of a city existing in the dermis rather than the epidermis. Collaterals, too, are not limited to those, which connect the regular meridians, but also include "grandson" collaterals which branch off of the regular channels and disappear into the surface structure of the body. Needham says that it is this that creates the impression of abstractness and makes the system difficult to understand...

Points and paths of low resistance.

Modern science has already confirmed that every living being contains electrical charges within its body. The human body is not different. Modern physiology shows us that although these charges are very small, we can nonetheless measure their strength and distribution. In fact, a number of modern medical devices, including the electrocardiogram, electroencephalogram, electromyogram and nuclear magnetic resonance imaging, all rely on the distribution of electromagnetic charges vi the body in order to function.

In the West, it was a German, Dr. R.Voll, who was the first to systematically record the electrical energy of the human body. Volt used an electrical probe to measure electrical resistance at points all over the body. He discovered that there were numerous locations which gave unusual reading, that is, which had lower electrical resistance, and that the distribution of these points delineated several fixed routes...

At the same time as Voll was carrying out his research, a Japanese doctor named Nakatani was using an electrical device to test patients. Nakatani also discovered numerous points of low electrical resistance which he connected into pathways. The electrical pathways these two men discovered are in almost complete accord with the meridians of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Moreover, the points of low electrical resistance exactly correspond to the acupuncture points of Traditional Medicine...

Most modern explanations of the meridian system go at it from the perspective of the body's physiological structure, dividing it into a system for the circulation of blood, and another for the circulation of "vital energy" (Qt). But there are some scholars who take a different approach, tackling the problem from the perspective of physics, They have found a great deal of evidence to support their view, and in doing so have pulled Chinese and Western Medicine closer together, perhaps even giving them a basis for the integration during the next Millennium...


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