Why is one ill? In Chinese medicine health is seen as a dynamic equilibrium, an adaptable flexible state which is able to adjust to the many internal and external conditions of life. A state of health is inseparably linked to ideas of flow, balance and exchange.
This ancient Chinese symbol in which the dark and light continually circulate and which give rise to each other illustrates the ever-changing and shifting balance of Yin/Yang, the dynamic pair of opposites that underlie all life - night and day, action and rest, in-breath and out-breath, taking in and giving out on any level. From this central idea of ever-changing balance evolve the detailed theories of Chinese medicine, how disease arises and how health can be maintained. Imbalance or illness is seen as arising from a complex combination of factors which can be divided into broad categories, all of which will be assessed by the acupuncturist when dealing with the presenting complaint:
Hereditary Constitution: Family traits and tendencies, the genetic inheritance which to a certain extend determines the limits of one's health.
State of mind/emotions: An important habitual factor - stress, worry, anxiety, fear, resentment, anger, grief, etc. all have their specific action and consequent effect on the body.
Diet: The poor quality and low nutritive value of today's food is a very important cause of disease. Most commercial food available is highly refined (and therefore of reduced nutritive value) and contains all sorts of chemicals like artificial flavouring, colouring, preservatives, etc. Irregular eating and the state of mind while eating, e.g. tense, hurried, are also important factors that can lead to illness.
External Conditions: Exposure to cold, wind, heat, damp or dryness or an inability to adapt to sudden weather changes
Trauma: Not only physical accidents and injuries but also deep-seated psychological/emotional traumas
Drugs: This includes not only excessive tea or coffee, tobacco, alcohol, recreational drugs, hard drugs, but also most medicinal drugs with their unpleasant and unwelcome side effects. Drug therapy in general clashes with acupuncture treatment but this can be started while under medication. As treatment progresses, medicines can usually be reduced.