|Year : 2019 | Volume
| Issue : 3 | Page : 118-122
Our insights into modern traditional Chinese medicine
Marc Mezard1, Hongmei Rao2
1 Sino-Franco-Vietnamese Institute of Oriental Traditional Medicine, Paris, France
2 International Centre, People's Medical Publishing House, Beijing, China
|Date of Web Publication||24-Sep-2019|
Dr. Marc Mezard
Sino-Franco-Vietnamese Institute of Oriental Traditional Medicine, Paris
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
This article will present the result of 35 years of studies andresearch initiated by two teachers: Professor Leung KokYuen (China) and Professor Truong Thin (Vietnam). This article will briefly introduce the systems of traditional Chinese medicine, such as Jing(精), Xue(血), Qi(气), Shen(神) and Jin Ye(津液) compared with various systems in modern medicine.
Keywords: Heaven-man-earth, modern traditional Chinese medicine, Qi(气), Shen(神)
|How to cite this article:|
Mezard M, Rao H. Our insights into modern traditional Chinese medicine. Chin Med Cult 2019;2:118-22
The subject I will present is the result of 35 years of studies and research initiated by my two teachers: Professor Leung Kok Yuen (China) and Professor Truong Thin (Vietnam) [Figure 1].
It was not until the 19th century that a French physician (Dr. Claude Bernard) [Figure 2] strongly insisted on the fact that “the microbe is nothing, the terrain is everything.” Acknowledging this leads us directly to the fundamental foundations of TCM.
What does the terrain represent in TCM? We must go back to a first law called: HEAVEN–MAN–EARTH: In fact, thanks to this law, the ancient Chinese identified the presence in our body of different systems; they had acknowledged that something from the environment, which entered through the nose, made it possible for man not to die; there was something that transformed “Heaven” (air, oxygen) into “Man”: they thus discovered the respiratory system (RS).
They also observed that women regularly gave birth to small “men,” so there was something, which transformed “Man” into “Man”: They thus discovered the genital system (urogenital).
They knew that, to live, one had to eat (meat, vegetables…) and drink, and that, certainly, there was the transformation of these nutriments inside the body: They discovered the digestive system.
We know well the essential role of these three systems. The reflections of the ancient Chinese did not stop there. The combination of the activities of these three systems allows for life and movement: they identified a fourth system: the articulo-muscular system.
China being an Empire was ruled by an Emperor, so the human body, too, had to have a leader: they thus recognized the role of the central and circulatory nervous system.
As the emperor could not take care of everything, he delegated his power to a Mandarin or prime minister. Similarly, there had to be such a function in man as well: They thus discovered the autonomic nervous system.
The discovery of these six systems allows us to understand the notion of “terrain.” They represent the six roots of a tree (which we will call the human tree of TCM). For the tree to be strong, to produce beautiful flowers and good fruits, the roots must be healthy; they must be taken care of by the gardener. The same is true for the physician who must take care of these six systems.
Now, the next question is: How does TCM call these six systems? The answer is quite simple.
The first root, which corresponds to the urogenital system (UGS), is called Jing(精): “kidney essence” in TCM, which I, in turn, call hormones in Modern Medicine.
The second root, which corresponds to the RS, is called (respiratory) Qi(气) and,, in Modern Medicine, respiratory energy.
The third root, which corresponds to the digestive system, is called Xue(血). I refer to it as digestive blood.
The fourth root, which corresponds to the articulomuscular system, is called QI (but Qi, which corresponds to the articulomuscular energy) or physical force.
The fifth root, which corresponds to the central and circulatory nervous system, is called Shen (神). I translate it as mental energy and circulatory energy.
The sixth root, corresponding to the autonomic nervous system, is called Jin Ye(津液). I refer to it as “organic fluids.”
We now have our systems, both in their Chinese Medicine version and in their Modern Medicine version. At this point, we must all agree that they are in no way in opposition. We must now open these systems and look into their composition.
For Modern Medicine, the UGS is complex because it is composed of several subsystems:
- Urinary system – Both kidneys, the urinary bladder, the ureters, the urethra
- Adrenal system – The two adrenal glands
- Bone system – The bones and bone marrow
- Cerebral system – Hypothalamus and pituitary gland.
TCM does see things in the same way, with the kidneys corresponding to the “water” kidney and the adrenal glands to the “fire” kidney. The bones are under the dependence of the “kidneys.” Being easily frightened or tenacious are indeed related to “Shen” but with the area of the brain related to the UGS.
To complete this, we must add that the Yin-Yang Law applies to each system. In the case of the UGS, it is subject to the two fundamental functions which are Yin (阴the inhibition or control function) and Yang (阳stimulation function); the actions of both allow for balance in the system; in case of imbalance, pathologies will appear.
I mentioned the word “revolution” and we have yet reached this point.
For TCM, the UGS is governed by two meridians called “kidney” and “bladder.”
I would like to point out that these two words do not represent the organs but only the two fundamental functions: “kidney” corresponds to the Yin (control) function of the UGS and “bladder” corresponds to the Yang (stimulation) function of the UGS.
Ancient texts speak of the 12 Zang-Fu, but ten are organs and two are functions. This is strange, as they should either all be organs or all be functions. In fact, they are all functions: Zang are Yin control functions and Fu are Yang stimulation functions.
Let us continue with the RS, which is composed of the upper and lower respiratory tracts, the lungs, the diaphragm, the rib cage, and the skin (it is well known in Modern Medicine that eczema can turn into asthma). Here again, both medicines agree. The RS is governed by two meridians called “lung” and “large intestine.” Again, this does not refer to organs but rather to functions: “lung” corresponds to the YIN function of the RS, whereas “large intestine” corresponds to the YANG function of the RS.
The composition of the digestive system is very important: mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, spleen, large intestine, and anus. This is very important, as we will see when we look into the next system. Here, we can see that the DS is not limited to “spleen–pancreas–stomach.”
The DS is governed by two meridians called “spleen–pancreas” and “stomach.” These are in reality the two fundamental functions: “spleen–pancreas” being the Yin (control) function of the DS and “stomach” being the Yang (stimulation) function of the DS.
The following system is my personal favorite as it is of a particularly great importance in the world we live in today.
The articulomuscular system is composed of smooth muscles, striated muscles, cerebellum, and sensory and motor nervous system. For TCM, the acupuncture meridian system (AMS) is governed by two meridians called “liver” and “gallbladder.” This in itself is problematic because, as we mentioned earlier, these two organs belong to the digestive system!!! In fact, these are the two fundamental functions which govern the AMS: “liver” being the Yin control function and “gallbladder” being the Yang stimulation function of the AMS.
I must mention here a quote from traditional texts, which states: “At night, the blood goes back into the liver.” We must be cautious as, here, “liver” does not refer to the organ but to the AMS, i.e., the muscles, which, in a state of relaxation at night, store the blood. The liver does not swell. On the other hand, in a state of contraction, of stress, the muscles become contracted and drive blood out into circulation; this will increase the quantity, therefore the pressure causing higher blood pressure and a risk of stroke (cerebrovascular accident).
That is why, nowadays, one of the causes of many simple or serious pathologies is indeed Gan Qi Yu Jie, as there is a difference between RS (where Qi can be normal or deficient [Qi Xu]) and AMS (where Qi can be either normal or blocked [Qi Zhi]). A well-known French expression (referring to “being furious”) states the condition of “Being green with anger”; this is definitely about the AMS, whereas in the case of hepatitis, the color is yellow (DS).
For the central and circulatory nervous system, the description of this system shows the extreme accuracy of the knowledge our Chinese elders had reached. Indeed, they had already understood and explained transportation of information in the human body by two distinct ways: via the neural pathway (neurohormones) and via the bloodstream (hormones).
Another interesting insight is with the notion of “Emperor Fire”: of course, this has no relation with the heart organ. I dissected hearts and never found a source of heat there. On the other hand, this source of heat exists: it is the thyroid gland, which belongs to the central nervous system (CNS) and provides this “fire” necessary for a proper functioning of the body: the metabolism.
The circulatory system is composed of the heart (organ), the arteries, veins, and capillaries. The CNS is composed of the brain, the thyroid, and the spinal cord. As with other systems, they are governed by two fundamental functions called “heart” and “small intestine,” but these are not about the organs which bear the same names. “Heart” is the YIN control function and “small intestine” is the YANG function of the CNS.
According to TCM, Xin Bao Luo And San Jiao are not really organs; they are of course functions, as are the other ten.
Modern Medicine talks about the autonomous, autonomic orautonomic nervous system, composed of the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems, which stimulate and control all systems, therefore all organs.
This is a very important system for the body to function well. The autonomic nervous system (ANS) is governed by two fundamental functions: “pericardium” (or “master of the heart”) is the YIN (control) function and “triple energizer” (San Jiao) the YANG (stimulation) function of the ANS.
In conclusion, I would like to point out the importance of distinguishing between the fundamental functions manifested by the 12 meridians and the organs manifested by the six general functions: wood–fire–earth–metal–water–source.
This now leads us to a new explanation of a great theory of TCM: The “5 Elements Law.” This law poses a problem for Modern Medicine if we stick to the classical terms.
Physiology is about the functioning of the body, so there are certainly different forms of functions. This is what the ancient Chinese had discovered with the 5 elements law: wood–fire–earth–metal–water. I must now come back to the notions of the Sheng (production) cycle and the Ko (control) cycle.
It was not until the 19th century that Dr. Claude Bernard discovered the principle of homeostasis, which is in fact the equivalent of the discovery of the two cycles of TCM: the Ko and Sheng cycles.
It is therefore necessary to adjust the presentation of these elements, which are inert, and replace them with functions:
Wood should be replaced by motor function: the heart moves, the stomach moves, the intestines move, and the bladder.
Fire should be replaced by thermal function: organs produce heat and can ignite.
Earth should be replaced by secretion (and excretion) function: all organs excrete or secrete something.
Metal should be replaced by absorption function: all organs absorb something (some systems more than others: DS: food–RS: air–UGS: renal reabsorption).
Water should be replaced by accumulation function: this function has nothing to do with water or fluids but rather with accumulating reserves in the body to protect it (from the cold for example [like animals before hibernation]).
There is a 6th general function: the source function (represented by the YUAN points on each meridian). In this regard, I would like to address the notion of ANTIQUE points. It so happens that on each of the 12 meridians are the 5 or 6 points of the 5 elements law: 66 points according to tradition and 72 points according to my research.
I will now address what seems to me to be the most important discovery of the 5 elements theory (for me, the six general functions theory).
In reality, the Sheng cycle is a two-way generating cycle (active in two directions) and the Ko cycle is a two-way controlling cycle [Figure 3]:
If we use this law together (or simultaneously) with that of Yin-Yang, we obtain a universal law from this theory.
- First case – A function (whichever one among the first 5) is increased
- Second case – A function (whichever one among the first 5) is decreased
- Third case – Specific situation for the SOURCE function.
First case – The increased function can have four possible effects:
Two Yang effects and two Yin effects.
It will stimulate the previous function and the next function but at the same time will control the remaining two functions [Figure 4].
From this, we can deduce that, whatever the pathology of the type “increased function,” the MAIN CAUSE of the disorder (or disease) will be the FUNCTION represented by the increased function located between two other increased functions.
Considering this, we know that by treating the cause, we will be able to directly treat the syndrome and the symptoms of the pathology.
Second case – The decreased function can have four possible effects:
Two Yang effects and two Yin effects.
It will not stimulate the previous function and the next function, but at the same time, it will not control the remaining two functions [Figure 5].
From this, we can deduce that, whatever the pathology of the type “decreased function,” the main cause of the disorder (or disease) will be the function represented by the decreased function located between two other decreased functions.
Considering this, we know that by treating the cause, we will be able to directly treat the syndrome and the symptoms of the pathology.
Third case – If there is a specific disruption in the source [Figure 6], in this case, the five functions are either all increased or all decreased.
To know the cause of a pathology (or of any disorder), we will simply need to determine the direction of the functions (arrows indicating an increased function or a decreased function). To do this, we will ask questions and also interpret the various symptoms presented by the patient.
- Cramps, spasms – Increased motor function
- Muscle weakness, bradycardia – Decreased motor function
- Hypothyroidism – Decreased thermal function
- Hyperthyroidism – Increased thermal function
- Diabetes – Decreased secretory function
- Polyuria – Increased secretory function
- Asthma, loss of appetite – Decreased absorption function
- Bulimia – Increased absorption function
- Fear of cold – Decreased accumulation function
- Weight increase – Increased accumulation function.
Each symptom can be precisely classified in relation to a general function.
To treat pathologies, we will simply need to use the corresponding antique point: if the cause is the motor function, we will use the wood point. If the cause is the thermal function, we will use the Fire point, etc., It is for this reason that each meridian has six antique points [Figure 7]:
Now there is one question you must ask yourself: which meridian should I choose?
There are several possibilities: either you can use the MU or SHU points, which will be selected in case of strong pains felt upon palpation or any sign (pain, heat, cold.) along the pathway of the meridian. In the absence of any signs, you will base your choice on the symptoms of the systems (cough: LU-LI/urinary disorders: KI-BL/hepatitis: SP-ST, etc.).
One last discovery: acupuncture points located on either the right side or left side of the human body do not have the same function. For example:
Point HT8-Shao Fu- fire point of Shou Shao Yin. on the left side, it is related to thyroxine, while the same point on the right side is related to morphine.
Point KI10-Yin Gu-water point of Zu Shao Yin. On the left side, it is related to cortisone, while on the right side, this same point is related to progesterone.
The same is true for all the antique points.
The reason for this derives from the LAW of YIN-YANG: 1 = 2 = 4.
Let me explain myself: A system is governed by two fundamental functions, Yin and Yang, which are manifested by two meridians.
For example, with the RS, “lung” and “large intestine” meridians are found on both arms. But in fact, there are four distinct manifestations and four branches:
“Yang of Yin” (the Yang branch of “lung”) is on the left arm, whereas “Yin of Yin” (the Yin branch of “lung”) is on the right arm.
Complementarily, the “large intestine” meridian will be on the right side for “Yang of Yang” and on the left side for “Yin of Yang” [Figure 8].
This precise understanding of acupuncture points allows us to better comprehend the close relationship between TCM (the 5 Elements) and endocrinology as developed by Modern Medicine.
I hope that this article may contribute to bringing you further confirmation of the extraordinary knowledge of TCM, and also that you will not have been too bothered by these new interpretations.
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Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
[Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4], [Figure 5], [Figure 6], [Figure 7], [Figure 8]