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Traditional Chinese medicine: Concept of Chi, efficacy etc.

Discussion in 'Alternative Therapies' started by Jenny, Jun 27, 2014.

  1. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    Why do you say that the pain relieving effects of acupuncture cannot be explain by the fact acupuncture causes endorphin release? Endorphins are potent pain relievers.
  2. manna

    manna Senior Member

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    yes but it doesn't explain why acupuncture releases endorphins. it does, i agree, but why? its not explainable in western terms, as i see it.
  3. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    The point being made is that when it comes to mysterious medical powers, the human capacity to con, fabricate and trick knows no bounds. And the author of your book on Tibet is a hotel manager — hardly an expert on medical matters, and moreover, hardly an expert on the sort of magic tricks that some healers are apt to perform in order to make their patients think that they have some mysterious medical abilities.
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  4. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    Not explainable in Western terms?

    How about the fact that the skin will readily induce the release of endorphins under a variety of triggers.

    For example, soft caresses of the skin release endorphins — this is part of the reason why we feel good when our partners caress our skin.

    Endorphins are also release when a sharp pain is inflicted on the skin. This may explain why you have certain people who enjoy pain being inflicted during sex; for example by being gently whipped.

    Endorphins are released when there is a cut in the skin. This incidentally is thought to be the reason why people self harm (cut their skin): they may be doing this in order to raise their endorphin levels.

    It does not require a great leap of the imagination to see that most likely, as the acupuncture needle pierces the skin, this results in a release of endorphins.


    However, as far as I am aware, the long term pain relief (lasting a week or so) obtained through acupuncture is not yet understood.
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2014
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  5. manna

    manna Senior Member

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    its also possible that endorphins are released because a block in chi has been removed. that, to me, would indicate an entirely different action to any you've suggested and, like i said, not explainable in western terms.
  6. manna

    manna Senior Member

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    i have an electro-acupuncture device that finds the points using sound and measuring electrical skin resistance. it only makes a noise when it hits a charted point. then you treat with a miniscule current. one millimetre left or right and the treatment does nothing, you won't even feel the current. on the point, where there is resistance, you do feel the current. without even using the machine to treat it clearly shows, using the beeper, that certain points on the skin have more electrical resistance and that these correspond exactly to the charts of acupuncture meridians.

    even nice guidlines for the nhs has acupuncture as scientifically proven for lower back pain and migraine, at very least. its available in my local hospital and at my mothers gp surgery. i read yesterday, though don't ask for a link, that half of gp's think its a viable form of treatment. the annecdotal evidence alone would be staggering.
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  7. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    No, the idea of chi being blocked is has no empirical basis. The flow of chi in the body has never been observed or measured, let alone any blockage in chi being observed or measured. Chi has no more factual basis than the ancient Greek medical concepts of the flow of the four temperaments (sanguine, choleric, melancholic, phlegmatic) in the body causing disease.

    Western medicine has long since moved on from those Greek four temperament ideas of disease, and embraced empirical science. In doing so, Western medicine has conquered and eliminated dozens of terrible diseases. Eastern medicine by contrast has not been able to achieve this. It has never conquered any disease.
    IreneF likes this.
  8. manna

    manna Senior Member

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    yes but i don't need empirical basis. does mecfs have an empirical basis? annecdotal will do me. plenty of people say they have observed chi just not the ones you would listen to, doesn't make them wrong.

    is that the same western medicine that causes over 100,000 idiopathic deaths a year in the states. over 200,000 if you factor in unnecessary surgical interventions that ended in death. this is without adding on patient administered meds that resulted in death. and the same eastern medicine that cured bad my asthma of 8 years? the black death has gone never to return. western medicine had nowt to do with that. 1 in 4 with asthma, 1 in 50 autistic, 1 in 3 cancer. theres a good reason eastern healing is gaining interest.

    which have you tried or studied Hip? i'm guessing you've had a bad experience?
    CFS_for_19_years likes this.
  9. PennyIA

    PennyIA Senior Member

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    Endorphins are potent pain relievers, but they don't remove pain for months on end after a single dose (at least that's not how it worked for me when I could earn them on my own with physical exertion). This goes above and beyond a short-term pain reliever.
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2014
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  10. CFS_for_19_years

    CFS_for_19_years Senior Member

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    Explain this - darn those irresponsible journalists (Bill Moyers) at PBS and that shady-looking guy in the park - hang on for the full six minutes if you have the tolerance and/or patience:



    I have seen tricks on Youtube, but with Bill Moyers standing in front of the old guy at 2:30, he'd have to be in on the trick too. I doubt if he'd put his journalistic credentials on the line in order to make a point. Let's discredit Bill Moyers and PBS while we're at it. How do you explain what happens in the video?
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2014
  11. manna

    manna Senior Member

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    this is a well known youtube vid purporting to demonstrate chi power



    i think he lights a light emitting diode with his chi, or appears to.
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  12. zzz

    zzz

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    As a Tibetan Buddhist for the last 40 years, I can tell you that Lobsang Rampa's books were known to be fakes from the time they were published, at least among Tibetan Buddhists. I never even bothered looking at them.

    The stories about Tibetan medicine, however, are just straightforward stories of Tibetan medicine being practiced properly. As for Dr. Herbert Benson, who narrated the video I posted, here's the main text from his Wikipedia entry.
    This information can be verified in many places, starting with the links posted in the Wikipedia article. Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital are the premier medical school and hospital in Boston, respectively (and among the best in the country), and they would not associate themselves with a quack, or someone of dubious reputation.
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2014
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  13. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    I agree. Endorphins may not explain how acupuncture can achieve pain relief lasting over many weeks. However, if you just give up looking for the scientific explanation of this longer term pain relief, then you will never get to the bottom of it.

    To explain it by chi is to give up looking for the cause.

    Explaining it by chi is analogous to saying that fatal car crashes are God's will.

    This attitude to car crashes is often found in countries like India. In India, they say it's God's will, and that is the end of it. Whereas in the West, we will look for the material causes of the car accident, whether it might be poor road layout, poor road markings or signage, bad nighttime lighting, lack of seat belts, drunken drivers, poor training of drivers, etc, etc. In the West, having made the effort to uncover these contributing material causes of accidents, we then try to address them, in order as much as possible to prevent further accidents. But in India, traditionally at least, they don't look for material causes, but just say its God's will. It's the lazy approach, really.

    So when you say chi explains acupuncture, its the same lazy approach. It stops you from finding the real explanation.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2014
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  14. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    Plenty of people have observed their gurus levitating off the ground in India, seemingly with no physical support, and they believe that their guru possesses some supernormal power of levitation. Are these people correct? Does their guru have supernormal powers? Or are they they just easily hoodwinked by trickery?

    These demonstrations of chi are no more than parlor tricks.

    I have practiced and studied a lot of Eastern spiritual techniques, and for many years these were a very important part of my spiritual life. I have never had any bad experiences from these spiritual practices. I never really tried out much in the way of Eastern healing practices, but some mind practices that I did regularly, such as chi gong or yoga, do I think have general health promoting effects. I was a big fan of Eastern spiritual concepts, and enjoyed contemplating these concepts, including chi. And whereas I find Eastern concepts and practices very profound when it comes to spiritual insight, when it comes to biology and medicine, I don't believe these concepts have much explanatory value.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2014
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  15. zzz

    zzz

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    This is opinion stated as fact, with no supporting evidence. Just as you would want others to show proof of the existence of chi, I think that it is only reasonable that you show proof that the demonstrations you cite are parlor tricks. Otherwise, you could make your statement much more reasonable by prefacing your statement with "In my opinion".
    Chi gong obviously deals with the use of chi; if you told your chi gong master that chi does not exist, do you think he would agree with you? Explaining what chi is is certainly difficult, but so is providing a comprehensive explanation of what consciousness is. The problem comes down to the fact that both are outside the bounds of Western science, which deals solely with matter and energy (where "energy" is used in the classical sense).

    While yoga is not described in terms of chi, its principles are described in terms of the Sanskrit word prana, which has a similar meaning. In the West, people often just refer to "energy", which is fine as long as you realize that this is not the same energy as referred to by physics. Is it just a coincidence that both of these practices, which rely on what are sometimes called "subtle energies", have been found by many practitioners to confer benefits that regular exercise does not?
  16. IreneF

    IreneF Senior Member

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    Chinese studies of acupuncture are known to be uniformly positive, so I wouldn't put too much faith in a study that hasn't been rigorously replicated. Most of its effectiveness seems to be for pain, a condition that is impossible to measure and subject to placebo effects. Which is not necessarily bad, but if I ever break another bone I'd prefer a morphine needle to an acupuncture needle.

    If traditional medicine is so great, why has Western medicine superseded it? The population of Europe is much healthier than that of China.

    One reason that well-respected Western hospitals offer "complementary" medicine is that people want it and are willing to pay for it. Some of them also offer "executive care" for people who can pay for it. Hospitals have a bottom line, too.
    Hip likes this.
  17. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    No, I saw a documentary explaining exactly how these chi demonstrations are faked. I'll see if I can find the documentary online.

    I don't think it's difficult to explain as a philosophical concept. I understood it the first time I read about it.

    Hameroff published a scientific paper in which he outlined how quantum phenomena may provide a basis for vitalism (as mentioned earlier, vitalism is the Western analogue of the concept of chi). This paper is: Hameroff S. Quantum vitalism. Advances: The journal of Mind-Body Health 1997; 13(4):13-22. I glanced at this paper years ago, but I cannot remember any details. But it does show that chi or vitalism, if it does exist (and this is a big if), may be amenable to science.


    Note that my argument is not that chi / vitalism does not exist; whether such a concept of chi / vitalism exists or not remains to be proven.

    But I am doubtful whether it would be directly involved in human health and disease, very doubtful that it is involved in acupuncture, and I know for sure that those chi demonstrations by martial artists are fakes — I've seen how they do it.

    Similarly, I also think the concepts of "wind," "damp" and "heat" found in Chinese herbalism as the basis for explaining diseases are complete garbage, just as the European idea of disease being caused by an imbalance in the four temperaments of sanguine, choleric, melancholic and phlegmatic are garbage. Of course, it's nice to look at the history of medical thought, and appreciate these antiquated concepts from that historical perspective; but I don't think there is any profound medical knowledge in that Chinese herbalist theory.

    That's not to say that Chinese and Indian herbs don't have medicinal value. They do have medicinal benefits, and this has been amply demonstrated by studies. As is well known, Dr John Chia has had success treating ME/CFS patients with oxymatrine, an extract of Sophora flavescens root, a plant that is from traditional Chinese medicine.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2014
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  18. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    I could't find the original documentary I saw, but here is one video that shows how a "non-believer" is not affected by the master's so-called chi. Chi only affects those students who believe in it, and who have been conditioned by the master. What these masters do is employ hypnotic techniques on their students, which makes them subconsciously submit to the master, as described in this video. If you have ever witnessed a stage hypnotist taking full command over the people he has hypnotically conditioned, you will know how powerful hypnotism can be.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2014
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  19. manna

    manna Senior Member

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    in this section, "alternative", im only interested in discussing with people who feel the efficacy, of chi etc, is already established, i.e. how can get the best out of it rather than whether it even exists or not. thats not to say that i wouldn't try to answer some general questions etc, but for the most.

    im also aware of the human stun gun debunking. the man, and the notion of no touch knockout, is a joke to most discerning tai chi practitioners. erle, than man i posted earler, had a challenge laid down for anyone who felt they could do it, none came forward. i could go on but id rather not.
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2014
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  20. zzz

    zzz

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    In particle physics (which is intimately entwined with quantum mechanics), electrons and quarks, the two main component particles of matter, have a nonzero amount of spin. The reason the word "spin" is used is that these particles have an angular momentum, just like any other body that spins. But with electrons and quarks, this angular momentum is intrinsic; the particles don't actually spin. Nevertheless, the word "spin" is used. If these particles actually spun, since the have a spin of 1/2, this means that they would have to go through a rotation of 720° to return to their original orientation. Now this (like much of quantum mechanics) makes no sense at all, and is why the term "spin" has a completely different meaning in quantum mechanics than what we're used to.

    Similarly, quarks, which make up all elementary particles except electrons and the Higgs boson, come in six flavors. Needless to say, you cannot taste them. The six flavors are up, down, strange, charm, top, and bottom. These names are not quite meaningless, but they certainly don't mean what we usually associate with these terms. The top and bottom quarks originally had the alternate names of "truth" and "beauty" (the initial letters are the same), but this turned out to be a little much even for the physicists. Quarks are bound together by gluons, which despite their name, are not elementary particles of glue. Quarks and gluons also have colors: red, green, and blue, as well as their opposites. For this reason, the theory that describes the interaction of quarks and gluons is known as quantum chromodynamics (QCD).

    Yet none of these names correspond to what we associate them with in our ordinary experience; for example, quarks and gluons don't have any color at all in the sense that we know color. Physicists just needed names for things that had never been described before, and so they picked these.

    Similarly, the names used in Chinese medicine for various organ systems and condition may be the same words that we associate with ordinary phenomena, but that is not how they are used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Similar to quantum physics, the developers of this system had no words to describe the phenomena they were studying, so they used ordinary words that conveyed some of the meaning. But "wind" in Chinese (and Tibetan) medicine in no way corresponds to any wind that we would normally experience.

    I've mentioned my friend who is currently being treated in Asia. One of the diagnoses she has consistently received is "cold kidneys". Now to a Westerner, this sounds patently ridiculous. Her kidneys are the same temperature as the rest of her body, and her doctors know that. "Cold" here means something very different from its standard meaning, and it is not easy to put into other words. Furthermore, in TCM, "kidneys" do not just refer to the organs we know as kidneys, but to a whole organ system that includes both kidneys as a single unit, as well as the ears, the sense of hearing, and the control of the bones, teeth, nervous system, hair on the head, hair on the reproductive organs, neurological tissue and the brain. So "cold kidneys" is a rather complex condition that has very little to do with the words used to name it.

    Meanwhile, she's being treated for cold kidneys (among other things) and getting better, while I'm not.
    Please note a crucial difference here. The European disease model fell out of favor when a better model was found. The Chinese quickly adapted the parts of Western medicine that were not covered by TCM, but TCM and its underlying theory did not fall out of favor because they were still found to be quite useful.

    The best way to do this is to find a qualified practitioner who has strong control over his or her own chi. Such people are natural healers, and their treatments will generally be more effective than those from practitioners who do not have the same skill in manipulating chi. When I lived in Boston, I had an excellent acupuncturist from China. When I asked him how to find a good acupuncturist for my father in Florida, he told me that the best acupuncturists were the ones who had trained in China for many years. In my experience, I have found this to be true.

    Similarly, herbal medicines are traditionally used alongside acupuncture in the treatment of conditions. So finding someone who has trained in China for many years in both acupuncture and the use of herbal medicines (and practices both) would be ideal.

    On a personal level, meditation is a practice that helps develop one's own chi; one of the ways this manifests is that meditation is very good for stabilizing the mind. If one has the interest in it, a full spiritual practice is even more powerful than meditation alone. Neither of these will cure ME, of course, but they can help somewhat, and they certainly make it a lot easier to deal with the illness.
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