One of the significant differences between Chinese medicine and Western medicine is the premise of wholism vs. reductionism.
In holisitic medicine, one is concerned with wholeness and complete systems, aiming to increase health, resilience, and radiance. Its focus rests on what is right about the individual being and the principle that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Reductionism shifts its attention to isolating, separating, and then identifying and attacking what is wrong. The focus is on the dissection and analysis of parts, with a basis that there are innate flaws.
An example of this can be seen in looking at two viewpoints of the immune system:
- Theory that focuses on germs and microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, etc.) places its emphasis on the pathogen. The bug and it's impact on the body is seen as primary.
- The holistic emphasis starts with the terrain of the body, the host state. It shifts the focus to the body (tissue) environment, and the understanding that pathogens are only able to invade when the terrain has become vulnerable (from malnutrition, stress, trauma, etc.).
Acupuncture and herbs are tools to do just this: support the vitality and balance of an individual's landscape and the integrity of the body terrain.
The bedrock of supporting the body in this way is of course the things we do every day: good nutrition, adequate sleep, regular movement, etc.
"Mosquitoes seek the stagnant water, but do not cause the water to become stagnant." - Rudolph Virchow