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Traditional Chinese medicine: Concept of Chi, efficacy etc.

manna

Senior Member
Messages
392
Told the story to the acupuncturist and got told (not that I believed her at the time) that the gall bladder (gone or not) chi lines are still causing the feedback of pain. And that she could treat it (not that I believed her at the time).

First treatment, pain was gone for two weeks. Had a second treatment two weeks later, and I'm still back-pain free after four months.

Just because we don't understand it doesn't mean that there isn't something that it does. And I cannot explain it away by talking about endorphins.

I met a woman on another mecfs forum who'd had her gall bladder removed. The chinese meridian clock has the gall bladder's high/repair phase at 11p.m.-1a.m. I guessed she would probably be quite hyper at this time and after checking her post history (chinese medicine geek!), nigh on half of all her posts were at that time. Many times like that their system has shown me how accurate it can be. I said to her at the time that, energetically speaking (meridian line), she still kinda has a gall bladder and it can still be treated, in a way...it may have worked for her like it did for you.
 

Hip

Senior Member
Messages
17,910
And I cannot explain it away by talking about endorphins.

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.
 

manna

Senior Member
Messages
392
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.

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.
 

Hip

Senior Member
Messages
17,910
Whilst that is a truly fascinating story, literally the only connection is Tibet.

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.
 

Hip

Senior Member
Messages
17,910
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.

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.
 
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manna

Senior Member
Messages
392
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 parters 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.

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.
 

manna

Senior Member
Messages
392
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.
 

Hip

Senior Member
Messages
17,910
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.

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.
 

manna

Senior Member
Messages
392
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.

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.

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.

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?
 

PennyIA

Senior Member
Messages
728
Location
Iowa
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.

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.
 
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CFS_for_19_years

Hoarder of biscuits
Messages
2,396
Location
USA
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?
 
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manna

Senior Member
Messages
392
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.
 

zzz

Senior Member
Messages
675
Location
Oregon
I wonder if that book is anything like the famous book called The Third Eye. The Third Eye was a highly influential book, written by a Tibetan monk named Lobsang Rampa.

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.
Benson is Mind Body Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Director Emeritus of the Benson-Henry Institute (BHI) at Massachusetts General Hospital. He is the author or co-author of more than 200 scientific publications and 11 books. More than five million copies of his books have been printed in many languages.
Benson is a pioneer in mind/body medicine, one of the first Western physicians to bring spirituality and healing into medicine. In his 35+ year career, he has defined the relaxation response and continues to lead teaching and research into its efficacy in counteracting the harmful effects of stress. The recipient of numerous national and international awards, Dr. Benson lectures widely about mind/body medicine and the BHI's work. His expertise is frequently sought by national and international news media, and he appears in scores of newspapers, magazines, and television programs each year. Dr. Benson's research extends from the laboratory to the clinic to Asian field expeditions. His work serves as a bridge between medicine and religion, East and West, mind and body, and belief and science.
Benson participated in a dialogue that was held at Harvard in March 1991, as part of a conversation between scientists and Buddhists initiated by 14th Dalaï Lama, organized by the Mind and Life Institute. Book Review: MindScience

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.
 
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Hip

Senior Member
Messages
17,910
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.

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.
 
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Hip

Senior Member
Messages
17,910
plenty of people say they have observed chi just not the ones you would listen to, doesn't make them wrong.

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.

which have you tried or studied Hip? i'm guessing you've had a bad experience?

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.
 
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zzz

Senior Member
Messages
675
Location
Oregon
These demonstrations of chi are no more than parlor tricks.

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".
I never really tied out much in the way of Eastern healing practices, but some mind practices I did regularly, such as chi gong or yoga, do I think have general health promoting effects.

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?
 

IreneF

Senior Member
Messages
1,552
Location
San Francisco
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

Senior Member
Messages
17,910
This is opinion stated as fact, with no supporting evidence.

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

Explaining what chi is is certainly difficult.

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

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).

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.
 
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Hip

Senior Member
Messages
17,910
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.
 
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manna

Senior Member
Messages
392
trickery?

These demonstrations of chi are no more than parlor tricks.

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.
 
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