47. The Principles of TCM. 13. Regulating qi to treat the mind
In Huangdi Neijing, the principle of acupuncture is called, in a word, Regulating qi to treat the mind(調氣治神). It means controlling the energy and healing the gods. The character for rice (米) is included in the word qi (氣), which implies directionality in all directions. In other words, the energy that flows constantly in all directions is most harmonious and active when it is in its natural state, but if something unnatural or artificial is involved, problems will inevitably arise and disease will occur. The purpose of acupuncture is to correct the unnatural flow and relax the mind. The reason why you must check the pulse before acupuncture is because the flow of energy and blood can be measured through the pulse.
With the advancement of science, modern medicine explains that the mechanism of acupuncture is to stimulate the neuroendocrine system to secrete hormones, which are natural healing substances in the human body, such as endorphins and serotonin, thereby reducing pain and promoting natural treatment. I agree with this explanation, but I see it as a limitation of the mechanical Western way of thinking. In Oriental medicine, each acupuncture point or internal organ is believed to have its own god. It is believed that there is a god with anger in the liver, joy in the heart, sadness in the lungs, anxiety in the spleen, and fear in the kidneys. The saying that only when the mind is at ease does the body become healthy, and that all diseases come from the mind, is based on the fact that only when the gods of the five organs and six organs are at ease can one become healthy.
When I see a patient’s decades-old migraine headache disappearing in an instant with a few needles and the patient’s bright smile, I realize again how simple and accurate the expression ‘Regulating qi to treat the mind’ is.
Dr. Jin-man Kim, director of Peace Oriental Clinic