Add as bookmark

A User's Guide To Chinese Medicine

by Neil Kingham

listed in chinese oriental medicine

[Image: A User's Guide To Chinese Medicine]

The author has taken on a mighty challenge: compressing all five branches of Chinese medicine into a book that is much less than 200 pages in length!

Has he succeeded? Read on... 

To be fair, Neil has thoughtfully prefaced his book on Chinese medicine with the title A Users Guide... and we are left in no doubt about whom this book is targeted at when we read in the author's introduction that his writing of the book is a response to his own clinic users' need for a guide book. So, this is very much a book for those currently having, or perhaps considering having, some kind of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) treatment. And for this group of readers he has definitely succeeded in producing a well written, well thought out manual of clinical practice.

Now, despite the author's assertion that introductory books on clinical TCM are simply not out there, and I can think of at least half a dozen, what sets this book apart from its competitors is the style of writing, which is thankfully short on Chinese esoterics and long on western rationality. Although split into five sections, the majority of this book is composed of the first three sections i.e. Introducing Chinese Medicine, Diagnosing Energetic Imbalance and Treatment of Current Conditions.

To begin with, in the first of the three major sections of the book, several paragraphs are all that Neil requires to sum up the origins of TCM, before introducing the concept of energetic medicine. Then follows a comparing and contrasting of TCM and western medicine, with a special emphasis on these two very different medical paradigms that lead ultimately to a very different approach vis-à-vis the patient-practitioner relationship.

Chapter 1 ends with an acknowledgement that although TCM is but one school of Chinese medicine, it is the most popular type of Chinese medicine in the west. Also, by the end of this chapter the style and the shape of the content to come in further chapters becomes apparent. The reader is expecting that the complex concepts of TCM e.g. energetic imbalance, diagnostic techniques and disease patterns of TCM will each be explained in a few paragraphs. This skeletal approach to informing the (potential) user about TCM works perfectly, and by creating a fictional case study the reader is able to identify with the processes of diagnosis and treatment arrived at by the practitioner.

Of particular interest to the reader new to TCM will be the chapter on the organs; their functions and their multi-dimensional nature are an intriguing contrast to the conventionally held views of western medical practitioners. And here they are presented with a clarity that will resonate with anyone who has an open, rational mind. As well as the usual tables of correspondences for internal organs, and a description of organ functions, there are practical 'tips' for strengthening some of the internal organs. A pity, really, that Neil has not tabulated all 12 of the main human organs in this chapter (Chapter 7), in order for the reader to obtain a complete picture on this important aspect of Chinese medicine.

Chapter 8 brings the reader to the Treatment section of the book, which begins with some useful tips and advice on choosing a practitioner and then moves on to the five different treatment modalities employed in Chinese medicine.

In chapter 9 the reader is introduced to currently the most popular form of Chinese medicine treatment in the west, i.e. Acupuncture, and in the same chapter is also introduced to Tui Na Massage. A shame really that each of the five branches of Chinese medicine do not deserve their own chapter in this book.

It is at this point in the book when the reader will probably become aware of the limitations of low end self-publishing. There are no charts in this book, no photo images, no diagrams, no symbols and no colours. This situation severely limits access to the practice of Chinese medicine and leaves a lot to the imagination of the reader from here on in!

A picture is worth a thousand words is an old saying and it is never more true in describing the human energetic body, its energy channels and the acupuncture points along these meridians of energy. However, this aside, the author provides some useful information on acupoint selection in the treatment process, needle protocol, different styles and different types of traditional acupuncture in this chapter.

Even so, the redeeming factor of this book is its focus on the user experience, as demonstrated in the closing sections on receiving acupuncture and receiving Tui Na massage. This is indeed a valuable resource for those undertaking or contemplating a course of Chinese medicine treatment.

Nutrition and herbalism, two out of the five branches of Chinese medicine, form the next chapter of Neil's book, and whilst necessarily limited in content, the reader comes away with a new regard for the food they eat. The section on general guidelines is 'must know' information for anyone wishing to use diet and nutrition to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Chinese herbalism is in decline in the west, much of that due to recent EU law changes on herbal preparations, and this branch of Chinese medicine receives the least attention (2 pages) in the book.

The fifth branch of Chinese medicine - Tai Chi and Chi Kung - fares little better, being covered in four pages. Without images, this branch was always going to suffer from underexposure, but once again the user experience is glimpsed in the well written explanation of clinical uses for Tai Chi and Chi Kung.

A description of such supplementary treatments as moxa, cupping and scraping (gua sha) complete the section on treatments and leave the reader/user well prepared for all Chinese medicine treatment modalities. A couple of pages on what to expect after receiving treatment leads the reader onto 'step 3' of the author's '3 steps to radiant health' system.

Step 1 of this system was 'diagnosing energetic imbalance'; Step 2 was 'treat current conditions' and now Step 3 is 'cultivate radiant health', with the reader/user encouraged to a) maintain health gains, b) prevent future illness, and c) continually improve health and wellbeing by regularly attending monthly treatment sessions. A case study underlines the value of this approach to the treatment and prevention of energetic imbalances that can lead to disease and disharmony.

Because of its self-limiting publishing format, I would hesitate in recommending this book to Tai Chi or Chi Kung students, to complementary or mainstream health practitioners, or other interested parties who would like to understand more about the practice of Chinese medicine.

All in all, this is a book that I would be happy to recommend to my own clients and to potential clients who seek more information on what they are experiencing or about to experience in clinical practice.

This book is a manual on Chinese medicine that is an ideal introduction for the western user of Chinese medicine.

Available from Neil Kingham and Amazon

Michael James Edmondson
Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
£9.37 / $16.19

top of the page