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A COMPARISON OF TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE AND AYURVEDA

These Eastern philosophies can be summed up with a brief comparison of the two from Tao and Dharma: Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda , by Robert Svoboda and Arnie Lade. Both Ayurveda and Chinese medicine are ancient living systems of medicine, in fact, they are the oldest continually practiced and recorded in the world. Both Indian and Chinese cultures recognize that living in harmony with nature and human society is a prerequisite for health. Both traditions agree that human beings have inherently unique physical and psychological characteristics, which arise from predisposed heredity and karmic factors, developing according to the conditioning received from one's social milieu. In Ayurveda, people are differentiated by the Three Doshas, while in Chinese medicine the theories of Yin-Yang and the Five Elements provide the basis for understanding a person's constitution and susceptibility to illness.

Both philosophies agree that disease can arise within the body or from exterior influences. Chinese medicine states that interior disorders arise primarily from a disturbance within the seven emotions, and secondarily from the organs. Ayurveda views the "allurement" of the mind by sense objects and its "willfulness" in gratifying these desires as the main cause of all disease, since improper gratification disturbs the digestive fire (agni). Almost all diseases in Ayurveda are traceable to weakness of the digestive fire.

One common feature of both systems is the belief in the essential life force, called Prana by the Indians and Qi by the Chinese. Both have similar ideas on the nature, transportation, origin and importance of this vital energy. Both systems use the natural sensory skills of the physician to interpret the patient's symptoms, with striking similarities in diagnostic techniques, such as palpation of the pulse, tongue diagnosis, visual inspection, listening and questioning.

Both affirm that emotions have specific sites of resonance within the body, corresponding to various organs. Both assign the same imbalanced effects from the same emotion. For example, anger relates to the liver and gallbladder. From the Chinese perspective, imbalanced emotions cause directional changes in the flow of Qi, thus deranging it. Imbalanced emotions negatively influence the organs and/or related structures, according to their Five-Element resonance. In Ayurveda, imbalanced emotions disturb the corresponding Dosha, but the manifestation of the imbalance may appear anywhere in the body, depending on a variety of other factors.

The current worldwide explosion of interest in botanical medicine and acupuncture has increased enthusiasm for research into both of these Asian philosophies of medicine. Synergizing the overall characteristics of both disciplines would lead to the development of a truly holistic science of energetic medicine in the future.

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