The Treatment of Disease with Traditional Chinese Medicine
Volumes 1 and 2 (a 3rd volume is now out)
Will Maclean Jane Lyttleton
University of Western Sydney Macarthur
The Clinical Handbooks of Internal Medicine are strongly recommended for any practitioner of Traditional Oriental Medicine. From their beautiful covers to the selection and presentation of the material , The Clinic Handbooks embrace the high standards that physicians strive for.
The books are organized into large sections by the organs (liver, heart etc.) and then within those divided by disease patterns (dizziness, hypochondriac pain etc…). Each of these patterns has a Chinese correlative which allows the authors to draw upon both modern sensibility and the rich traditions and wisdom of Chinese literature.
For example, lower back pain is discussed as “yao tong”. The chapter begins with insightful comments about the syndrome and then proceeds into zang-fu differentiation. Those familiar with Chinese language texts will appreciate the approach. There is just enough discussion to be helpful without assuming that the reader needs to be “taught” with unnecessary background about TCM.
For example, the Lung chapter includes: acute exterior disorders (with a discussion of Shang Han and Wen Bing), cough, epistaxis, haemoptysis, loss of voice, sinusitis, rhinitis, sore throat and tuberculosis. Included are appendixes on lung abscess and pediatric asthma. The Heart Chapter includes chest pain, palpitations, insomnia, somnolence, forgetfulness, and anxiety. Again, each of these subsections are broken down into zang-fu diagnosis and treatment.
Each of the sections has comments and treatments for both acupuncture and herbs which are then shown in modification depending on symptomology. The authors are generous in sharing their comments about clinical approaches and expectations as well as citing other practitioners for special formulas and ideas. For example, in discussing Urinary retention they offer some comments about Tui Na : “Ren 6, Ren 5, Ren 4, press from above toward the pubic bone. Be sure to have some implement to contain the urine as this technique may cause immediate release” and electro-acupuncture “St. 28, Sp 6, or Sp 9 with high frequency stimulation. St. 28 should be needled cautiously and superficially in those with very distended bladders.”
They also cross reference to (Western) biomedical diseases give their opinions as to the appropriateness of certain western treatments and the interaction between the two systems. Again, for the urinary retention, they write,
“…it should be remembered that complete retention of urine constitutes a medical emergency and catheterisation is necessary if other therapies fail” and “In cases with severe infection, especially that involving the kidney, antibiotics may be necessary to quickly cool Heat. Once the infection is controlled, treatment may be given to clear Damp.”
The section on Shen disturbance (heart issues) discusses Western anti-anxiety medication and is honest enough to compare their side effects to those of our heavy herbs used for the same disorders. For those of us who do not have our M.D. license yet, this information (closely resembling common sense) is invaluable in assessing our own limitations and insecurities as practitioners in different clinical situations. An interesting section talks about animal products, which ones are endangered and which are “farmed” for their medicinal purposes. Although it may not mean much to your vegetarian patients it may reassure those who are taking turtle shell or Chaun Shan Jia in their formulas.
Listen, I could go on and on about how good these books but it is late and I don’t get paid to write these reviews and I certainly don’t get paid by the word. If you read English and practice TCM then you owe it to yourself to buy these books. I did and I think that these will be two of the most valuable books in the library of any acupuncturist.
review by Douglas Eisenstark L.Ac.