Bù tōng zè tòng, tòng zé bù tōng
Bù tōng zè tòng, tòng zé bù tōng (不通這痛, 痛則不通) is a commonly used phrase in Chinese medicine which means that if there is no free flow there is pain; if there is free flow there is no pain. An acupuncturist is often looking for where and why there is a lack of free flow, and then aiming to restore it. This can be done with acupuncture and moxibustion (zhēn jiǔ 针灸), massage (tuī ná 推拿), cupping (bá guàn 拔罐), scraping (guā shā 刮痧), energy work (qì gōng 氣功), or other forms of movement such as tài jí 太极. It is not uncommon for an acupuncture treatment to involve several of these modalities. For example, a treatment may begin with massage to warm the acupuncture channels and promote a free flow of Qì and Blood, then once stagnation in free flow begins to clear the acupuncture needles will be inserted to continue moving Qì and Blood, and the treatment will conclude with cupping or scraping to move even more stagnation, thereby restoring free flow so there is no pain. There is another phrase regarding pain in Chinese medicine, and that is bù róng zé tòng (不榮則痛), meaning that when things do not flourish there is pain. This means that when the vital substances of Qì, Blood, Yīn, and Yáng are not abundant then areas of the body lacking nourishment will present as pain, often felt as a diffuse ache. Areas of malnourishment also lack a free flow; think of a dried up river bed. In this case, simply restoring free flow is not the answer as the rivers need to be filled first so that they can start to flow. In this case herbal medicine, acupuncture, and moxibustion may be used to nourish those vital substances to nourish the body and restore free flow throughout the acupuncture channels.
In health and happiness,
Painting: Sage Floating on Lotus Leaf, Unidentified Artist, Ming (1368–1644) or Qing (1644–1911) dynasty
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