Foundations of Traditional Chinese Medicine

by Jim Russo

In order for qigong to be functional, one has to be able to observe the quality of one's physical state, ideally through the lens of traditional Chinese medicine. For example, this includes looking at the body through a yin / yang filter or through a five element theory filter.

I find it very valuable to have a basic understanding of these things as a practitioner of the internal arts, because it allows me to more readily suggest exercises and to observe changes those exercises are having on my students. For example: someone I worked with who had stagnation present in their tongue found immediate relief after doing the lion shakes his head and tail posture from the eight pieces of brocade. The student, after a standard 8 repetitions on each side, saw his tongue go from dark purple to bubblegum pink. I have always endeavored to have a deeper understanding of the concepts of traditional Chinese medicine so I can better utilize all of my qigong exercises, especially because some are organ-specific and so highly effective.

I've used this knowledge to observe when someone needs serious medical attention as well as to help fine tune my own training and exercises. In doing this, I strongly believe one can make their qigong no longer a hobby, but a functional alternative to healing. For 25 years I've been helping students and friends with this knowledge and observing its effects or lack thereof and it has led to some unique knowledge on how to use qigong in practical situations.

There are of course many sources of information online these days. So much that it can be difficult to find a quality source of information in between all the sales pitches. I have found AcuPro Academy to be a great source of information on traditional Chinese medicine. I'm not affiliated with them directly, but I do consider it to be an excellent site and wanted to share some of their work here. This is a selection of articles that cover some of the most fundamental basics of TCM.

If you really want to dig deep, there is an old medical text from over two thousand years ago called the Huang Di Nei Jing Su Wen (黄帝内经 素問), usually translated as the Inner Canon of the Yellow Emperor. There are several translations; here is a good one at Amazon you can purchase for a reasonable price: The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Medicine: A New Translation of the Neijing Suwen with Commentary. It is essentially the basis for all Chinese medicine for the past two millennia and a great addition to your bookshelf if you are eager to learn more about the roots of these arts.

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