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Traditional Chinese Medicine, a Different Philosophy


When I studied Aromatherapy from  the viewpoint of Traditional Chinese Medicine which was a big emphasis in the course I did, I struggled with the different philosophy and if I am honest I still do at times. Organs that don’t have a physical existence in the body, meridians along which energy flows and so much else.

And yet it works! In its own way it is even scientific though not in a Western sense. TCM is based on what works and various Chinese writers collected the body of evidence together and over centuries came up with theories to explain the evidence. More recently many writers have refined the theories and got rid of the more fanciful ideas such the many animal organ based remedies.

The dilemma I have when working with my clients is constantly how much to translate things  into Westerm medical terms? The notions of Heat and Cold are obvious when some conditions are looked at such as an inflamed joint that feels hot to touch. But the same terms are applied to emotions, hot and cold anger for instance. There I see no way to directly compare the two systems and having trained as a nurse from t he Western point of view, it is too much ingrained in my thinking to just give it up.

In the last example given I will use oils that I have been taught help move blocked Qi or energy. I will also use oils that are cooling or warming according to the type of anger, also taking into account any physical symptoms I have been told about. I am currently re-reading one of the text books from my course written by someone who studied in China and went through similar struggles over the different philosophy. In some senses, I guess it doesn’t matter that the way I work sometimes is nonsense according to Western science if it works. However I will always be trying to find a correlation and a Western scientific explanation for why things work. Sometimes, there is one I can find. I suspect there will always be one but often itwill be beyond my understanding.

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