Glossary of Terms
Acupuncture Points: The specific areas along the pathway of the meridian channels. These points are stimulated in several different ways. Yoga postures, movements, visualizations, acupuncture needles, acupressure-massage, warming with herbs, among other methods can alter the polarity within the meridian and its corresponding organ.
Chinese Medicine: A system of treatment based in Taoist philosophy originating in China over 3000 years ago, and related to Japanese, Tibetan, and other regional medicines. It treats imbalances in the body via acupuncture, herbal remedies, massage, lifestyle changes of diet and exercise, and qi gong.
Chinese Herbal Medicine: Chinese herbal medicine, which can be used alone or in conjunction with acupuncture, is the most popular mode of treatment in China for gynecology and many other internal medicine disorders. There are approximately 400 pharmacologically active plants and minerals commonly used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM); formulations are customized to address each patient’s distinct condition. Individual herbs are rarely prescribed in TCM. Instead, herbs are prescribed together and each one is chosen for its unique function as well as its interaction with other herbs in the formula. The synergy of combining 5-20 herbs has a balancing and harmonizing effect, which enables practitioners to treat a person’s whole body constitution more completely.
Cold: This type of influence causes pain, of a fixed location, quite intense, and its tell-tale sign is that cold temperature makes it worse while application of heat makes it better.
Complementary Medicine: A large and very diverse category of knowledge, consisting of all of the medicines in the world outside of Conventional Medicine.
Conventional Medicine: What is commonly thought of as the dominant form of medicine in Western societies, practiced by doctors and nurses, in clinics and hospitals, with drugs and surgery as the main tools of the trade. It often, though not always, relies on high (material) technology to help diagnose and treat illness.
Damp: Like the dampness in nature, dampness in the body is heavy, dull, lingering. Damp weather makes it worse, dryness improves it. It tends to affect the lower part of the body because it is sinking in nature but it does cause foggy thinking. Certain foods can help drain dampness.
Eight Pillars of Traditional Medicine: Breathing, Nutrition, Exercise, Body manipulation/massage, Acupuncture, Herbology, Astrological implications, Feng Shui (environmental adjustments) each are seen as major.
Essence: Stored in the kidneys and primarily inherited from our parents, Essence provides the driving force to support and sustain us from birth to death. We have a limited supply, but we do fortify this to some extent with the food we eat, providing it is food with vitality and that our bodies are healthy enough to fully transform this food.
Five Elements: Health can be described in terms of the balance of Five Elements, which are: Earth, Wood, Fire, Metal, Water
Heart: The heart not only pumps the blood, but also stores the spirit/shen (specifically the heart blood). In Chinese medicine, this is largely a function of mind and consciousness, although intellectual activity is mainly governed by the spleen.
Heat: Red, hot to touch, burning nature characterizes this influence. Application of heat worsens this kind of pain or symptom while cold improves it.
Integrative Medicine: A form of health care where modern Western is combined with other approaches and systems of treatment and healing, such as naturopathy, Chinese Medicine, massage therapy, osteopathy, energy medicine, herbal medicine. These can be combined with the practice of one practitioner, or in the work of several practitioners, each collaborating to help a single patient.
Kidney: The kidneys are responsible for human reproduction, growth and development, and maturation. Recall this largely has to do with the essence explained above. The kidneys keep the bones healthy. It also helps, with the spleen to keep water metabolizing correctly.
Liver: The liver nourishes the sinews (tendons, ligaments): It sends them an abundant supply of qi and blood. The liver also stores any surplus of blood, and is also responsible for “coursing and discharging” of qi and blood in the entire body.
Meridians: Also called Channels or vessels. According to TCM theory, Qi circulates in the body along 12 major energy pathways called meridians, each of which links to specific internal organs and organ systems. When there is physical injury, mental stress, or emotional conflict, the natural healthy flow of Qi is impeded within the meridian system over time. On each meridian there are specific points that function to re-establish the correct flow of energy. Acupuncture is the method of inserting thin, sterile needles into these points in order to stimulate and balance the body’s energy to restore health.
Moxibustion: Moxibustion (also called “moxa”) is the method of burning an herb called mugwort, Artemesia vulgaris , over different acupoints and regions of the body. The warming effect of moxa is used to promote blood circulation as well as to stimulate a nourishing, tonifying response in various organ systems.
Pain: “Where there is freeflow there is no pain and where there is no freeflow there is pain” (Ancient Chinese adage). The freeflow here pertains to qi, and, as an extension, also pertains blood. When there is a dull aching distending or vague pain there exists a stagnation of qi; and when there is a sharp fixed boring type pain there exists stagnation of blood. Pain that involves simultaneous types of sensations involve both qi and blood stagnation.
Qi: (pronounced “chee”) In the context of health, Qi is the life force that supports our existence; Qi is our energy-vitality. Qi keeps us warm, energetic, digesting, metabolizing, repairing, protecting and growing; “When Qi assembles, there is life, and when Qi is dispersed there is death.” (Chuang Zi.) According to TCM theory, Qi circulates in the body along 12 major energy pathways called meridians, each of which links to specific internal organs and organ systems. Food and air combine and are processed through digestion and respiration to produce Qi and vitalize us. Qi can be stored/ cultivated, just as it can be wasted depending on the congruence of lifestyle and our unique body type. The Qi in our bodies is influenced by and connected to the life force present in all the elements around us; our environment, the food we eat, and the air we breathe. In this way, Qi acts as a conduit that connects and interweaves all that exists in the universe.
Qi Gong: “Energy Work or Energy Cultivation.” Techniques used to strengthen and circulate the Qi. Such exercises are often done in repetition to clear various forms of Qi stagnation allowing energy to circulate without friction and allowing energy to be better assimilated from food and air. Taoist Yoga is a form of Qi Gong. Qi Gong is also commonly seen written in the earlier Romanization as “Ch’I Kung.”
Spleen: It is the qi or vitality of the spleen that is responsible for the transformation of food and drink into qi and blood. The spleen also vitalizes the flesh and muscles, and the four limbs. The spleen does not function well in a damp environment, both internal and external. Ironically, when not functioning properly “the spleen is the source of all dampness” (in the body).
Taoists: Here referring to a practitioner the art-science-health disciplines founded by years of observation, practice and cultivation. Taoism is historically divided into two overall groupings. The first, as just stated, is one of philosophy into the overall flow and cycling of the natural principles. The Taoist Yoga demonstrated in this video reflects this approach. The second grouping, arising later in Chinese history is that of religious Taoism. This branch of Taoism has religious ritual and implications.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM): Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a system of medicine that includes acupuncture, herbology, moxibustion, massage, exercise and diet. It views optimal health as a state of balance and harmony of the body, mind and spirit. During its clinical use for over 2000 years, TCM has developed into a complete medical system that may diagnose, treat and prevent an extremely diverse range of conditions. TCM is a natural means of restoring health and preventing future illness by changing the flow of the body’s energy system. This energy source – referred to as Qi (pronounced “chee”) – is the life force that supports our existence; it keeps the blood circulating, warms the body and fights disease. It is Qi that distinguishes living creatures from inanimate ones. As with many ancient cultures, the Chinese feel an intimate connection with the earth and do not see themselves as separate from their surroundings. This belief is so strongly embedded in their culture that the foundation of Chinese Medicine is rooted in what is called the Five Elements System. TCM uses this system to explain how the primary powers of nature – Water, Wood, Fire, Earth and Metal – ebb and flow within human beings.
Wind: Like nature wind in the body has a moving characteristic. Symptoms that come and go, travel from joint to joint have a wind type of influence. Wind can combine with any other pathological influence mentioned above.
Yin and Yang: The concept of yin and yang are central to the foundation of TCM philosophy. They represent the balance between opposing forces and the natural ebb and flow of this balance in ourselves and the world around us. The night (yin) can only become so dark before shifting to daylight (yang) and the sunshine of morning. An example of this in our bodies is a woman’s menstrual cycle; the time of yin (estrogen) reaches its maximum and then transforms to yang (progesterone) as she ovulates. The cycles of yin and yang flow through all aspects of the universe and it is the balance of these forces that create and sustain optimal health, vitality and well-being. Too much water (yin) will put out the fire (yang), just as an excess of fire (yang) will evaporate water (yin).