Learning Chinese Medicine

Back to school last weekend in San Francisco to study the ancient Chinese medical writings with internationally renowned scholars, Elizabeth Rochat and Ken Rose for a post-graduate program called “Teaching From the Roots.” This weekend we cultivated the qi of knowledge. Future classes promise more in depth study of the acupuncture-moxibustion classics.

We are studying the ancient texts to expand our knowledge of the way acupuncture was practiced two thousand years ago by exploring the Classical Literature of Chinese medicine.

While attending, I have met people who are experts in fields of knowledge that I know very little about. I have been studying the ancient Chinese medical classics since the late 70’s, now I can discuss these writings with others who have interest in their teachings. We are trying to understand how the ancient masters practiced, especially areas of our medicine not much taught these days.

Since the time in ’69 when I first read the Dao De Jing, I have learned to read and write many Chinese characters. Years ago I studied the Chinese characters to help me understand the names of the acupuncture points. Chinese medical terms and concepts are often translated using many different English words. Knowing the symbolism inherent in Chinese characters gives me a better understanding of what that term means.

Discussions are in depth and cover much material new to me. I know a little bit, my fellow teachers know a little also—even the course instructors admit to a deficiency of knowledge that designing and teaching this class will help them gain. So Dear Reader, if you are practicing medicine, alternative or orthodox, and are interested in understanding what ancient Chinese teachers had to say about Chinese medicine, this is the class to join. New people are still joining.


Natural Healing

I am reviewing my interviews and teaching videos taken over the last thirty years.

Here are two interviews, one old and one new.

The earliest video, an interview by Rosemary Broccoli in 1986.

Michael Turk answers Rosemary Broccoli’s first question, “Michael, how was it you became interested in Oriental medicine?” More of the interview will be posted soon.

Recently, I was interviewed while demonstrating Moxa-Pressure, a technique I developed to quickly relieve many types of pain.

The following videos of classes are being reviewed for short lessons to publish.

  • I taught three workshops on Acupressure for Headaches, Points for Pain, and Using Chinese Herbs in 1989.
  • In 2006, I demonstrated prenatal massage and taught acupressure massage at the Pacific Symposium.
  • My favorite video in 2007 was a class on the Origin of Chinese Symbolism.

As I publish these videos I will give background information.

Post your questions about health and healing using ancient Asian healing arts.

Feel Your Qi and Relieve Pain

Published in the Lotus Guide. Chico, CA. January 2012

Today qi is commonly referred to as energy, yet qi is a mystery to modern science. In Chinese philosophy, qi is a subtle substance that pervades space; in Chinese medicine, qi is a physical sensation described as the feeling of something strange moving in the body experienced by patients who receive acupuncture or moxibustion.

Scientists and scholars may disagree about the existence of qi, but traditional Chinese medical dictionaries all agree the sensation of qi felt during acupuncture indicates a successful response to insertion. Some scholars discuss the question: Is qi matter or energy? And is that even the question?

What is qi? Is it matter, energy, spirit, or something else? And how will knowing what it is help explain the concept of qi? Sometimes authors look to the Greek words pneuma or psyche. Pneuma is a name for “air inside the body” and psyche is a term for ‘spirit’ used to distinguish between “living and non-living things.” When qi, an eastern concept, is compared to western concepts such as ether, energy, or spirit, these different concepts cannot be substituted for the true meaning of qi in Chinese philosophy.

I will use the Chinese pinyin spelling ‘qi’, rather than try to find a good English word to translate the term qi.

To get a better idea of the term qi, examine its use in the well known 5th century BCE humorous story from the Liezi that tells about a man from the state of Qi (same sound, different tone and character) who was worried the heavens might collapse and fall into pieces depriving him of food and sleep.

A friend consoled him with, “Heaven is only an accumulation of qi; that same qi is everywhere. Why then do you worry about a collapse of heaven?”

The man said, “If it’s true that heaven is an accumulation of qi, why don’t the sun, moon, and stars fall down to earth?”

His friend replied, “Those bright lights are only shining masses of condensed qi. Even if they did fall they wouldn’t hurt anybody.”

The man continues to question and his friend continues to give answers until a sage declares, “What does it matter? One cannot know when the end will come. Why then worry if the world will be destroyed or not?”

Here qi seems to be a subtle substance found everywhere. This is not the complex theory of qi found in traditional Chinese medicine. A fundamental theory of ancient medicine is the theory of that many types of qi form a complex interacting system found everywhere in the human being.

The next author Xun Zi (312-230 BCE) makes a distinction between qi and life, two agents of change. He then explains the role qi plays in the lives of people and the power people have in controlling the qi in their lives.

Xun discusses the concepts of qi, life, awareness, and judgment stating all can change the world. The subtle qi of water and fire changes things but has no life; furthermore, some living things have awareness but only people possess judgment. Therefore people have qi, life, awareness, and judgment. Judgment is the power to distinguish and influence change.

All ideas and theories are in the head, but the experience of qi is in the body. Patients receiving the traditional Chinese method of acupuncture experience qi regularly. Though the sensation can be uncomfortable, it is a favorable sign. Patients say qi sensations feel like they are radiating, tingly, achy, heavy, and various other sensations. The qi sensation changes with the diagnosis and how the needle is inserted.

Erica D. says, “Sometimes it feels like a small energy bomb shooting sensations like beams toward distant parts of the body.”


Acumoxa for Pain Relief

Published in the Lotus Guide. Chico, CA. July 2011

Acumoxa Treatments: Pain Relief Without Needles

Acumoxa quickly reduces chronic pain by soothing acupuncture points with heat, rather than stimulating with needles

What Is Acumoxa?

Acumoxa is a method of treating disease developed by ancient Chinese doctors along with acupuncture and acupressure therapy. Moxibustion is the therapeutic use of heat to treat pain and weakness. The herbs called moxa come from a number of plants; they are processed for easy burning. About 300 years ago, acumoxa became popular with the invention of the moxa stick, called the “grand ultimate divine needle” or “magic needle.” The needle-shaped stick of moxa is held over the acupoints without touching the skin. Applying and removing the heat as needed is easier to teach and use without injuring tissue. Magic needle moxa therapy–noninvasive, nonscarring, and nonblistering–is most effective in relieving muscle pain and arthritis. Acumoxa is not a cure-all some health problems are relieved entirely, while others cannot be helped at all. From China, its popularity has spread to Korea and Japan, where it is a favored method of self-care. Today many smokeless methods of heating acupoints are available.

Acumoxa Today

Chronic pain has become an epidemic that is disabling millions of Americans. New ways to treat pain have not slowed the increase in the number of people suffering. Americans are now turning to ancient Asian methods for self-help methods such as acupuncture and acupressure massage. Acupressure and acumoxa provide many of the benefits of acupuncture–especially pain relief–without using needles.

A History of Healing

Time-tested moxa has been relieving pain and curing disease since the Stone Age. A survey of 33 premodern acupuncture texts–published over a 2,000 year period–reveals a cluster of health complaints for which moxibustion is beneficial; myofascial pain, infectious diseases, inflammatory disorders, and female problems.

Conditions Benefited

Myofascial disorders: Arthritis, tendonitis, low back, and sciatica

Infectious diseases; Bacterial dysentery, hepatitis, chronic bronchitis, and UTI

Inflammatory disorders: Bronchial asthma, simple goiter, diabetes, indigestion, acute mastitis, and hemorrhoids Recuperative: Stroke, adrenal depletion, incontinence, prolapsed anus or uterus

OB/GYN: Irregular menstruation, dysmenorrhea, abnormal bleeding, and leucorrhoea