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Features & Articles in this issue

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Guest Editorial

Author: Peter Deadman

Like many of us, the arrival of the first lockdown meant I had more time on my hands, and one consequence of this was that I spent some of it on Facebook. I soon became aware of a rash of COVID/lockdown/ vaccination/mask scepticism that included a small minority of acupuncturists - alongside a mixed bag of alternative therapists, yogis, new-agers and of course diehard conspiracy theorists, including the libertarian far right.

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TCM and COVID-somnia: The Treatment of Sleeping Difficulties Due to the Coronavirus Pandemic

Author: Rob Helmer

Insomnia is one of the most common sequelae of COVID-19. Sleep difficulties are also being reported by people worldwide whose lives have been turned upside down by the fear and anxiety of living through the coronavirus pandemic and the social isolation resulting from government restrictions. These increases in insomnia have led neurologists who specialise in sleep disorders to coin the term ‘COVID-somnia’. This article explains the pathomechanism of COVID-somnia from the perspective of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). The diagnosis and pattern differentiation of insomnia are documented in order to help practitioners to treat this widespread pernicious problem.

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Twenty Years of Nèijīng Research: What Has Been Learned? Part 2. Nèijīng Nature-Based Medicine — Theoretical Principles

Author: Edward Neal

The Huángdì nèijīng is the primary source text for the entire profession of Chinese medicine. Despite this central importance, fully implementing a comprehensive clinical method based on its principles and theories has remained elusive. Because of this, the full potential of these principles and theories has remained underutilised in clinical practice, particularly in the West. Over the past twenty years, new approaches to classical text-based research have been developed using the techniques of classical text-based archaeology (see part 1 of this series of articles in issue 125 of the Journal of Chinese Medicine). This research methodology has led to the development of Nèijīng nature-based medicine, a comprehensive clinical practice based on the writings, principles and theories of the Huángdì nèijīng. In this article, I introduce basic principles of Nèijīng nature-based medicine. In a subsequent article in this series, I will introduce technical aspects of this practice.

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TCM Management of Side-Effects of COVID-19 Vaccination

Author: Stephen Lee

At the time of writing, the number of patients infected by COVID-19 and resulting deaths are still increasing worldwide, although the effectiveness of the available vaccines bodes well. However, side-effects of these vaccines have been reported, attracting expert and public attention. Although most of these side-effects are minor and transient, some can be more serious and long-term, and need medical intervention. According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) theory, most of these side-effects are the result of an invasion of external pathogenic wind-cold or toxic heat, exacerbated in some instances by underlying chronic illness or constitutional weakness. All of these factors need to be considered and treatment applied correctly in order to relieve symptoms and prevent long-term side-effects. This article describes the pathomechanism of vaccine side-effects and their treatment with TCM.

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Self-Cultivation: The Clinical Meta-Skill

Author: Toby Daly

The difficulty in practising Chinese medicine successfully has led innovative clinicians over the centuries to seek out self-cultivation practices to sustain their efforts. This article explores the self-cultivation traditions of Confucianism, Daoism and Buddhism via an exemplary clinician who engaged with each tradition. Finally, a recommendation is made for modern practitioners to take up or maintain their own practices of self-cultivation.

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Channel Palpation in the Treatment of Dermatological Disorders

Author: Liuzhong Ye

This article presents a diagnostic system that utilises channel palpation based on the author’s understanding of the Huang Di Nei Jing (Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classic), Shang Han Lun (Discussion of cold-induced disorders) and Nan Jing (Classic of Difficulties). It provides a practical approach to the diagnosis of clinical disorders and leads to precise and effective treatment. The article explains how channel palpation is applied in the diagnosis of dermatological disorders, in which symptoms, channel palpation findings, pattern differentiation and treatment are integrated in an organic unity. Several successful clinical cases are presented to illustrate the theory.

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An Introduction to the Chinese Medicine Concept of Yin Fire

Author: Shaun C.R. Ramsden

The concept of yin fire (陰火) has been discussed and debated throughout the history of Chinese medicine. This paper explores different interpretations of yin fire and looks for the common denominator that allows them to be grouped together. The article further discusses the treatment of yin fire in a clinical setting, as well as its relationship to the five phases and health cultivation.

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Polyvagal Theory through the Lens of Chinese Medicine

Author: Vanda Huang

According to polyvagal theory, the parasympathetic nervous system has two distinct branches: the ventral and dorsal branches of the vagus nerve. The dorsal vagal circuit triggers a shutdown defense system in response to trauma or chronic stress. This self-preservation mechanism can result in chronic symptoms of feeling isolated, hopeless and disconnected. From a Chinese medicine perspective, this cold, desolate emotional landscape closely correlates with signs of an imbalanced water element, or Kidney deficiency. This article explains polyvagal theory and how acupuncture and other Chinese medicine modalities can be utilised to treat a nervous system that has become stuck in survival mode.

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The Effect of Acupuncture at Weiguanxiashu (M-BW-12) on Glycaemic Control

Author: Joana Martins Coelho

This article is a summary of a study investigating the effect of acupuncture at the extra point Weiguanxiashu M-BW-12 in the control of blood sugar levels. The sample consisted of 15 healthy adults who underwent acupuncture interventions after consuming 200 millilitres of pear juice, one month apart; the control intervention consisted of sham acupuncture at Weiguanxiashu, whilst the experimental intervention involved verum needling at the same acupoint. Blood glucose levels were measured three times, at 0, 15 and 30 minutes after juice consumption. The results showed that blood glucose levels were significantly lower in the experimental group following treatment, suggesting that acupuncture at Weiguanxiashu may be effective in controlling blood glucose levels. The complete report of the study is available by contacting the author.

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The Importance of Formula Presentation in Clinical Treatment Based on Syndrome Differentiation

Author: Lim Shin Mun

In traditional Chinese medicine, formula presentation (方证) is the key to understanding how to apply herbal medicine, therefore its study should be emphasised. A formula presentation encompasses the understanding of the original line(s) that mention(s) the formula, the corresponding disease pattern, clinical symptoms and body constitution, as well the findings of abdominal examination. In particular, the study of the relationship between the original line(s) and clinical symptoms is the key to enhancing accuracy in the application of a formula and extending its clinical use. Paying attention to these details is a sure way to both enhance clinical efficacy and ensure safety.

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Book Reviews in this issue

  • Acupuncture for Brain – Treatment for Neurological and Psychological Disorders by Tianjun Wang