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Don F Gates
Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine
   

Grand Acupuncture Center
3931 Grand Ave, 2nd Floor
Oakland  CA 94610
510-428-9430

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All About Traditional Chinese Medicine
Some people simply glow with health. Their eyes shine and sparkle. Their hair is lustrous. Their skin is strong and clear. Ask these people and you're likely to hear that their energy level is consistent and their emotions even-keeled. They rarely get sick, and when they do, it doesn't last long. Other people are not so robust. They may catch colds easily and often or struggle to get through the day without their energy "crashing." Some don't sleep well at night, while others never seem to fully wake up. These people may have poor digestion, erratic emotions, and/or aches and pains that just won't go away. If this latter type of person goes to a western physician for help, they're likely to be put through a battery of examinations and may still be told there's "nothing wrong" with them. It may be implied that their ails are psychosomatic—in effect, that their problems are all in their head—or stranger still, they may be given a token pharmaceutical prescription as a placebo until a better diagnosis can be made. In western medicine, the health of the person who neither looks nor feels well may be considered, in quantifiable terms, equal to that of the person who looks and feels healthy. In this respect, practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) have a clear diagnostic advantage over their western counterparts.

To get a better idea of how this is so, please click on the links under the Chinese Medicine heading in the toolbar to the left. These will give you an overview of some basic TCM theory and other concepts to help you familiarize yourself with the terminology and processes of TCM treatments.

A Note on Terminology and Capitalization
Throughout this site, I use uppercase letters to differentiate the western, biomedical concepts of common terms (eg: blood, marrow, kidney function) from the TCM concepts (Blood, Marrow, Kidney Qi), which often do not precisely correlate with one another. For instance, the Chinese call the viscous red fluid that courses through our arteries and veins xue, which translates as "blood," though the TCM practitioner's understanding of what that means varies greatly from the western physician's. The two systems of medicine measure the quality and quantity of blood differently and recognize in it different purposes and characteristics.

For instance, in TCM the Blood returns to the Liver for storage while we sleep, where among other things it is said to "anchor the Hun" (ethereal soul). If the Blood is deficient or the Liver dysfunctional, the Hun will be rootless and we will have restless sleep, disturbing dreams, and difficulty making decisions and choosing direction in life. Western medicine recognizes no such attributes in its understanding of either the blood or the liver, let alone acknowledging the existence of a soul. To avoid confusion, I use lowercase letters ("blood") when I use a term in the sense of its common English usage and uppercase ("Blood") when referring to its concept as it relates to TCM theory.