Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The dangers facing traditional Chinese medicine

I am preparing what I want to say about five element acupuncture on my visit to China, and am finding the process surprisingly challenging. After years of talking about my love for what I do, how exactly do I want to convey this love to a new audience, and an audience, above all, whose understanding of the elements is so very deep-rooted that I hesitate to think that I have anything new to add to what they already know?

And then today, to help me in my search for the right words, I came across a fascinating video of a Chinese master of traditional medicine discussing the problems he sees confronting it today, and this gave me the lead I needed. He talked about the “standardization process” to which it is being subjected in China, and which, he says, is leading to a “thinning out of the depth of Chinese medicine.” The evocative phrase “thinning out” resonated with me, and goes right to the heart of what I think is happening not only in China but throughout the world; it has undergone a process of etiolation. This is a lovely word I have often longed to use, and which leapt to my mind as such words do as I write. The dictionary defines it as “making plants pale by excluding light” and “giving a sickly hue”. I think this is a vivid and true description of how I view the dangers facing traditional Chinese medicine everywhere, including in its birth-place, China, and which threaten to drain it of much of its vitality.

So off I fly next week to add what I hope is my own little bit of bright colour and light to what is taught over there!

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