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Development of Chinese Medicine

People often ask how the Chinese developed the understanding of the interrelationship of different parts of the body. Here is my theory: Observing that pressure on one spot of the body could elicit a sensation like tingling or warmth in another part lead them to understand that these different parts relate to each other via sensations called energy or qi (pronounced "chee"). Also, it was noticed that each point had specific effects on the body. Over time, they collected information on the effects of each point, and were able to use this knowledge in a predictable way. By methodical investigation, it was found that the pressure points could be grouped by their effects and by energy sensations. Subsequently, pathways emerged along the points. These are called meridians, which are channels along which energy flows in the body. Each meridian is associated with a specific organ. The connection between meridians and organs was observed in the process of disease and healing.

For example, when disease affected the stomach it would cause the stomach meridian to become blocked and tender. Doing acupressure on this meridian helped various stomach diseases. As understanding of energy grew, maps of the meridians (see illustration above) and their associated pressure points (and organs) were formulated.


Chinese medicine practitioners eventually discovered that acupuncture was a more effective way of stimulating these pressure points than acupressure, which is why each of the pressure spots became an acupuncture point. Acupuncture required less output of the practitioner’s energy, and the practitioner could stimulate many points at once. Also, one acupuncturist could treat many patients at the same time.

Further along in the development of Chinese medicine, theories of yin and yang, and of the five elements, were then created to help understand the complex interrelationships between the different organs.

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Understanding Chinese Medicine - Chinese Medicine Information and Theory - Santa Cruz, San Jose, Capitola, Monterey, Salinas, Watsonville