The validity of qi as a subject of study in the West

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The respectability of qi as a subject of study began with the opening of China proper to the West. The younger generation in the United States today does

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not realize that from 1.949 to 1973 the United States and most of the Western world pretended that the Chinese government, representing a billion Chinese on the mainland, did not exist. They gave recognition and political association for all the Chinese people to the exiled national government on the island of Taiwan, at that time often referred to as "Free China."

The mainland, in its forced isolation from the West, withdrew into itself. Left to its own resources, folk medicine of all types was often all the mainland had to offer the masses. Chinese hospitals began to use and apply scientific principle of investigation to acupuncture, herbal remedies, and other traditional therapies. It is ironic that without mainland China's isolation, acupuncture and other traditional therapies might have become extinct. When it later opened, it was the Chinese advancements in acupuncture that intrigued the West. Once witnessed, what surgeon would not be fascinated with a brain-tumor removal accompanied by acupuncture anathesia where the patient was able to remain conscious and speak with the doctors during the procedure?

Diplomatic ties were extended to the mainland government about the same time that researchers such as Dr. David Bressler at the University of California at Los Angeles supervised the operation of a pain-control clinic. There he researched the efficacy of acupuncture and postulated explanations of qi. Other milestones in exploring the validity of acupuncture, qi, and traditional Chinese medicine since Bressler's work include the work of Robert Becker, who was able to chart the field surrounding an acupuncture point and brought respectability to the investigation of traditional Chinese medicine and qi. Dr. Becker reported his findings:

ELECTRICAL CONDUCTIVITY MAPS OF SKIN AT ACUPUNCTURE POINTS

From Dr. Robert Becker's The Body Electric.

ELECTRICAL CONDUCTIVITY MAPS OF SKIN AT ACUPUNCTURE POINTS

From Dr. Robert Becker's The Body Electric.

Our readings also indicated that the meridians were [emphasis his] conducting current, and its polarity, matching the input side of the two-way system we'd charted in amphibians and showed a flow into the central nervous system. Each point was positive compared to its environs, and each one had a field surrounding it, with its own characteristic shape. We even found a fifteen-minute rhythm in the current strength at the points, superimposed on the circadian rhythm we'd found a decade earlier in the overall DC system. It was obvious by then that at least the major parts of the acupuncture charts had, as the jargon goes, "an objective basis in reality.35

More recently a Harvard professor of medicine, Dr. David Eisenberg, published Encounters with Qi: Exploring Chinese Medicine in 19 8 5.36 A PBS television special followed.37

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