Classical Chinese Medicine – An Introduction2022-09-07T09:35:35-07:00

Classical Chinese Medicine

Classical Chinese MedicineClassical Chinese Medicine invites you to explore the essence of East Asian medicine from a perspective that goes far beyond the institutionalized phenomenon presently known as “TCM” (Traditional Chinese Medicine).

Since the 1970s, the TCM process of packaging the multi-faceted roots of Chinese medicine into the sterile confines of a highly standardized model has been eagerly absorbed by educational institutions in Europe and America, and is rapidly becoming the dominant face of Oriental medicine today.

While TCM represents the recent marriage between local Chinese resources with the methodology of scientific materialism, Classical Chinese Medicine (CCM) remains firmly committed to its ancient roots. CCM is a science in its own right, embedded in the mytho-poetic mode of observing and describing nature, which linked the spheres of macro- and microcosm in ancient China and became preserved in a set of works honoured as “the classics.” The primary distinguishing feature of CCM is thus its way of thinking—why and when and how does one chose to apply a therapeutic modality, rather than insisting that the use of acupuncture and herbs alone defines a practitioner of the traditional art of Chinese medicine. CCM does not advocate a blind adherence to things past, but embraces the classical spirit of utilizing time-honoured modes of holistic thought in an ever changing space-time environment.

The materials presented in this section seek to foster awareness about the multi-dimensional depth of Chinese medicine, as well as the political mechanisms that seek to homogenize, standardize, and effectively limit these time-honored resources in the TCM model. The intention of these articles is to inspire a reevaluation of the direction and the fundamental convictions that we set for ourselves, both as providers and recipients of Oriental medicine. Otherwise, the natural beauty and profundity of Chinese medicine and other ancient medical traditions may quietly fade away, and we may become thoroughly entrapped in the spiritless mechanisms of state agencies, insurance companies, and most of all, our modern mind that has been conditioned to fancy a linear and uniform approach to all aspects of knowledge.

As the materials document, this crisis of Chinese medicine has recently elicited the call for a renaissance of classical values by a group of international scholar physicians. At the heart of this call is the credo that first-rate clinical results and true integration between ancient and modern medical traditions can only be achieved if the philosophical foundations of this medicine are transmitted in their original depth and complexity, and if the diagnostic and therapeutic modalities of Chinese medicine are respected and transmitted as a science in its own right.

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In Memoriam: Prof. Deng Zhongjia 1943-2022


It is with great sadness that I inform you of Prof. Deng Zhongjia’s passing on February 26, 2022. Prof. Deng’s prolific work and academic philosophy was perhaps the most important influence on the process of founding the College of Classical Chinese Medicine at NUNM thirty years ago.

Born into a family of professors in Shanghai, he contracted an optic nerve inflammation as a teenager and soon thereafter was declared blind. With the help of acupuncture, Chinese herbs and Qigong he was able to miraculously recover his eyesight, an event that inspired him to pursue Chinese medicine as a career.

Chinese Medicine In Crisis: Science, Politics, and the Making of “TCM”


This article is based on the conviction that the traditional art of Oriental medicine is dying—both in mainland China, home of the mother trunk of the field, and consequently overseas where branches of the tree are trying to grow. It may be an anachronistic piece, written at a time when TCM administrators around the world are celebrating major advances in the field, such as increasing numbers of students, practitioners, patients, colleges, universities, and hospitals, which all appear to reflect a booming state of Oriental medicine.

On the Relationship Between Medicine and Philosophy

BY ZHANG XICHUN (1860-1933)

Zhang Xichun (1860-1933) is one of China's great scholar-physicians. He is primarily remembered for his prominent role in spearheading the early movement of Chinese-Western medicine integration during the first three decades of this century. The depth of his knowledge and the broad range of his activities, moreover, distinguish him as one of the last of the classical cast of renaissance physicians.

Excerpts from Sikao Zhongyi (Contemplating Chinese Medicine)


It is imperative that we ask the following questions: Does the Chinese medicine we see today, that we know of today, reflect what Chinese medicine truly is? Does the level of competence of doctors working in various Chinese medicine institutions today reflect the actual potential of Chinese medicine? And just what is this potential? Where do the apexes of Chinese medicine lie? Were they attained in ancient times or in recent times?

Preface to ‘Chinese Medicine: Philosophical Views on the Profession’


How dramatically time has passed for the profession of Chinese medicine! On one hand, we have the glories of the past and the prospects of the future, while on the other we have the sobering reality of the present. The field of Chinese medicine is currently undergoing a relentless assault by the technological culture of Western science, casting it into alternating states of pain and exhilaration. In the process of modernization we may have managed to dress up our field in contemporary attire, but what a heavy price we had to pay: the constant pain and discomfort as we see ourselves violate the foundational tenets of Chinese medicine every day, and most importantly, as we witness the vanishing of its soul, its spirit.

Proposing a Renaissance of Chinese Medicine


The latter half of the 19th century up and through the 20th century has been a time of great political, economic, cultural, and scientific transformation in China. Chinese Medicine, as a shining gem of traditional science and culture has undergone many assaults, which has led to the field sinking into a sort of quagmire, and it has had to fight bitterly for its own survival. This course of events has come to be called the “Hundred Years of Perplexity.” In the last twenty years, through serious contemplation and reflection on its causes we have become more and more clear how the course of history has chained the study of Chinese Medicine to these complex shackles.

Cultivating the Flow: A Concept Of Evolutive Well-Being that Integrates the Classic Traditions and Quantum Science


Approaching the end of the 20th century, we are confronted with a number of fundamental issues regarding the quality, if not the general purpose, of human existence. One of them is the gradual demise of the Western-scientific health care system, which has fostered a revival of the age-old discussion about the nature of health, illness, and well-being. In the process of developing alternative approaches to healing, holistic medical discourse has consistently emphasized the “diseased” quality of illness and its therapeutic implications, i.e. the consequent restoration and maintenance of “ease.” However, definitions of the ease state often fail to go much beyond the biochemical aspects of well-being, and thus end up being classified according to the same parameters they were trying to overcome.

Letter to the Editor Regarding Feng Shui


A letter to the NCCAOM regarding the notion that feng shui should be included in Oriental Medicine curricula. "Both the term and the concept of Feng Shui appear frequently in classical Chinese texts that traditionally were considered to have an intimate relationship to the practice of medicine. Feng (wind) stands for movement and thus the dispersing influences in nature, while Shui (water) symbolizes the palpable aspects of reality and thus the congealing effects in nature. Feng Shui, therefore, is the familiar concept of movement and stillness, matter and non-matter, and qi and blood applied specifically to the realm of the earth. "

Holistic Science Bibliography


Heiner Fruehauf shares an eclectic bibliography of sources that bridge the gap between modern empirical science, quantum physics, Eastern mystical knowledge of the body, and biological systems science and the body. From Fritjof Capra's Tao of Physics and Joseph Needham's work, to David Bohm's work and Michael Talbot's The Holographic Universe, there are a variety of volumes in this list of citations which serve for a strong foundation for understanding the holographic nature of Chinese medicine.

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