What is Oriental Medicine? The practice of Oriental Medicine includes not only acupuncture, but also herbal medicine, nutrition, Tui Na (a form of therapeutic massage), and Qi Gong (also known as breathing exercises). All of these methods share an equally long history of development, usage, and effectiveness in the maintenance of health, and the treatment of disease.

The most commonly known treatment method of Oriental Medicine in western cultures is acupuncture, the insertion of very fine needles into the body at specific locations in order to balance the flow of Qi. Although practiced "under-ground" by Chinese immigrants for many years, acupuncture was formally introduced to the United States in 1971, after President Nixon's visit to China when a reporter for the New York Times, James Reston, reported on his experiences with acupuncture. Since then, acupuncture has been one of the most popular and commonly used "alternative" therapies in America.

The philosophy of Oriental Medicine uses images and metaphors from nature to describe the processes of health and disease. Yin and Yang originally referred to the sunny and shady side of a mountain. The Five Elements (Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, and Wood), are another important paradigm of health and disease in Oriental Medicine. This system allows for a more detailed description of the cycles of nature and the interaction of different forces. For example, the Fire Element links together such diverse phenomenon as an erupting volcano, the soft glow of a candle flame, the emotions of love and joy, and the human heart. The Earth Element connects the soil that we grow our food in, and the digestive organs that assimilate the nutrients into our body. Oriental Medicine helps us to see that all the different things in our world are really just parts of the same whole.

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