Science, Logic and Classical Chinese Medical Thinking

Systems of logic are frameworks to make sense of the world. Newtonian mechanics is one system of logic, codifying ideas of linear relationship, simple causation, predictability and reductionism. This is a valuable system still in use today. Quantum Physics largely replaced it after Albert Einstein brought some different ideas in around the turn of the 20th century, acknowledging that interrelationship, complexity and unpredictability exist.

Chinese Medicine and Conventional Medicine are similar in that they work on the body, but they have very different systems of logic. Unfortunately, the failings of conventional medicine are Newtonian: they don’t look at inter-relationships, but instead look at single linear relationships. For example, if you have pain, we give you pain medications that block certain receptors so that you don’t feel the pain anymore. This is a mechanical approach to the body which can be very powerful but has serious drawbacks.

Chinese Medicine and Quantum Mechanics have systems of logic that take into account holism and interrelationship. You’ve probably heard the example from Physics of a butterfly flapping its wings causing a hurricane on the other side of the planet. In Chinese Medicine, we not only take emotions into account, we can correlate emotions to certain internal functions, for example, Lung problems are often correlated with grief. A symptom like grief in Chinese Medicine does not point to dysfunction directly, but to a dysfunction in relationships. For example, grief could indicate a problem with the Heart because Joy from the Heart, which should normally balance grief, is lacking.

Furthermore, when you talk to a neurologist and a immunologist, they each are unlikely to have the same view as the other because their theory is linear and doesn’t take into account the complexity of the body. The neurologist will talk about the nervous system, while the immunologist is going to talk about the thymus, white blood cells and antibodies. Chinese Medicine assumes from the beginning that every function and dysfunction has an effect on other functions and that you can’t treat one part of the body without considering the whole.

Amongst those with Multiple Sclerosis, who experienced a variety of symptoms before getting that single diagnosis of auto-immune demyelination? In conventional medicine, symptoms often don’t correlate with the final diagnosis, but in Chinese Medicine they do. In the early stages of MS, Chinese Medicine could have diagnosed and treated correctly without knowing that MS was the underlying problem.