Moxibustion in Ancient Korea
I translated prologue of the book written by Dr Huh, an ancient Korean doctor in the 1600s. His treatments were based on Neijing. His mind as a practitioner can be felt.
Neijing says, “The deficiency of qi underlies the intrusion of evil qi.” Why is this? People in general develop diseases since wei qi and ying qi cannot circulate in the body properly, which results from penetration of wind, cold, heat and damp into channels and collaterals by taking advantage of deficiency or weakness in the body. The deficiency or weakness in the body arises from their failure to regulate their meals and overindulgence in sexual activity and alcohol drinks. The treatment method is only to differentiate the part, and regulate qi and blood by reinforcing the deficiency and reducing the excess with acupuncture and moxibustion.
When part of the body is observed, abundance of blue represents pain, and abundance of black represents wind bi. Abundance of white indicates cold, and yellow red is heat. Wind, damp, cold and heat are expressed as colors in our body. Abundance of cold shrinks sinews and causes pain in the bones. Abundance of heat relaxes sinews and causes weak bones. Aversion to cold and cold feeling in the body indicates cold. Despite aversion to cold, when the body feels hot, it indicates heat.
Besides, cold does not cause pain in the head, while heat does not cause pain in the abdomen. In general, when pain moves around and changes frequently, it is wind. When pain stays at one place and the skin becomes red and runs fever, it is the sign of suppuration. When the skin becomes swollen without itching or pain, it is phlegm. When the head and eyes feel dizzy and dim, it indicates the combination of phlegm with wind. When phlegm enters heart orifice, mind becomes misty and speaking lacks in coherence. Disharmony between spleen and stomach leads to inability to drink and eat. Wind strike hinders speaking. Coma due to phlegm obstruction (痰厥) involves headache and vomiting.
All pain, itching and sore generally belong to heart, and all wind and dizziness belong to liver. All dampness and swelling belong to spleen, and all coughing and wheezing belong to lung. All pain in sinew and bone belongs to kidney. All joints belong to gallbladder. These are the general outline of the medicine, a shortcut to examining diseases, and the critical secrets that I have used in my practice.
The veins (脈絡) never stop circulating and running in the body. Therefore, the meridian connects yin and yang, and nourishes the body. It starts at middle jiao and runs towards hand taiyin and hand yangming, from hand yangming to foot yangming and foot taiyin, from foot taiyin to hand shaoyin and hand taiyang, from hand taiyang to foot taiyang and foot shaoyin, from foot shaoyin to hand jueyin and hand shaoyang, from hand shaoyang to foot shaoyang and foot jueyin, from foot jueyin back to hand taiyin. Qi always circulates twenty five times in the daytime and twenty five times at night with the dawn as the starting point in consistence with loosoo (漏水) and baekgak(百刻). Its circulation in the daytime and at night starts again where it ends, in accordance with the rule of Heaven. It circulates in sinews, bones, skins, and the tissue between the skin and the flesh, just as water runs in the valley. Water would not be able to run through if it were obstructed. When the obstacle is removed, water can run through. Examining the symptoms of the disease, responding to frequent changes, and removing obstacles for circulation can be learned from King Yu (禹) who opened the river and guided water out of it. This is how diseases can be defeated.
Neijing says, “Medicine (醫) is thought (意). If you are not flexible and do not know of changes, it is not possible to discuss diseases. When discussion of diseases is not possible, how can we expect to treat diseases? Make sure of recognizing it in your heart, performing it with your hands, and managing your thought with some changes. Following the meridian, treat yang when the disease is in yin aspect, treat yin when the disease is in yang aspect, treat the right side when the disease is in the left side, and treat the left side when the disease is in the right side. Acupuncture and moxibustion are sure to produce good effect.
According to Neijing, the rule can be given out to people, but the skill cannot. Speaking of yin and yang, the back is yang, and the front is yin. The outside is yang, and the inside is yin. For women, they are opposite. The back is yin, and the front is yang. The outside is yin, and the inside is yang.
When diseases are treated, make sure of examining jing-well, ying-spring, shu-stream, jing-river, and he-sea of the relevant meridian, and front-mu, yuan-source, influential points of the organs (zang and fu). After examining arterial pulses (動脈) and prompting qi by rubbing and twisting, move yang first and then yin, and use the technique of reinforcing or reducing, which is a acupuncture needle being directed towards the meridian or against the meridian. Then, effectiveness will follow as sound responds.
The reinforcing method is, when five fen (分) is inserted, to insert two fen first, a moment later insert another two fen, and then another moment later insert one fen. Then pull out the needle when the patient inhales, and close the hole immediately to protect the true qi (眞氣).
The reducing method is, when five fen (分) is inserted, insert five fen first, a moment later pull out two fen, another moment later pull out another two fen, and then pull out the needle completely when the patient exhales, which will pull out evil qi. Putting the needle against the meridian is the reducing method as well.
Moxibustion also has the rule of reinforcing and reducing. The reinforcing method is to wait for moxa fire to reach the skin and extinguish itself. The reducing method is to extinguish it before moxa fire reaches the skin. The method of using hands has been clear enough since the ancient times, but later generations do not understand the idea. They rely more on measurements in locating points, and they do not know that arterial pulses (動脈) respond to hands. They do not select important points for the disease, and they needle many meridians without thought. They end up letting the true qi (眞氣) leak out of the body without treating the root of the disease. This is what ancient people said, “how could you expect to catch a rabbit if you spread the net wide in the yard?”
I was not smart, and I worked at a clinic due to the diseases of my parents when I was young. I made great efforts and was able to open my eyes for medicine. I am worried that the correct rule may not be passed down to others. I edited what I saw and heard, and wrote the importance of examining diseases. I also discussed the transformation of diseases, made clear the technique of reinforcing and reducing, and corrected the wrong point locations. I also wrote some miscellaneous things, recorded the important points I had tried myself along with the suitable medicine for diseases, and combined them into one book. I dare not compare my book against the books of the ancient people, but I find it unbearable to throw away what I have learned with great difficulty in my whole life. I hope that people who read the book will add their idea and help end sufferings.
Huh, Im (許任) wrote.
Translated by Dr Kihyon Sohn