The Core Principles of Chinese Medicine

When confronted with the infinite complexity of the body, how should we respond to illness? Clear understanding and precision are the key to healing. My approach is to stay close to the core principles of Chinese medicine: 

  1. Protecting the body’s resources, which are freely available, but easily squandered.
  2. Nourishing organs and tissues.
  3. Energizing normal healing processes.
  4. Unblocking the pathways and networks on which healthy functions depend.
  5. Clearing harmful accumulations in the body (cold, heat, phlegm, dampness, etc.)

In the words of the Classic on Needling Therapy, “where there is excess, drain it. Deficiency, tonify.”

My tools are needles, herbs, moxa, food, and basic mind-body exercises (also cupping, gua sha, etc). Simple as they are, clarity and precision make them potent.

In the roughly 2000 years since the Classic was written, lots of tools, theories, and methods have appeared. They comprise all the different “styles” you may have heard about: 5 Element acupuncture, Japanese acupuncture, Tung Style, Balance Method, etc., etc. All are good, and I employ several. But they are only tools for implementing core principles, which predate even the Classics, insofar as they are rooted in the palpable reality of our bodies.