The Reves Room was packed to its limits on Friday, November 6th, when Dr. Keith Bell, a doctor specializing in traditional Chinese medicine, came to give a lecture on the underlying theories behind Chinese medicine and acupuncture. Dr. Bell has spent over 20 years studying and practicing Chinese medicine, and even operates his own clinic specializing in Chinese medicine, Oriental Medicine Specialists in Richmond. Bell brought his full repertoire of knowledge before the fascinated crowd on Friday, giving everyone a better idea of Chinese medicine and how it works.
Dr. Bell took an interesting approach to this lecture by first discussing the specific treatment method of acupuncture, then expanding into other treatment methods, theories, and philosophies. This structure was to create a framework for the audience, as most of the Western world’s main exposure to Chinese medicine is through acupuncture. This way, everyone could start from the same page before jumping into the more complex and nuanced theories behind Chinese medicine. This structure was incredibly effective, especially considering the fact that a sizable number of audience members had actually received treatment through acupuncture before! Dr. Bell went on to explain how acupuncture works, by putting pressure on specific acupoints as a means of affecting the flow of Qi—a person’s fundamental life force—within the body.
Dr. Bell went on to discuss this concept of Qi in both a historical and scientific context. He stated that, during his time in South America, he learned that some indigenous medical practices involved putting pressure on the same acupoints as the ones in Chinese medicine. He also discussed how some beliefs and practices native to India, such as chakra meditation and yoga, are also aimed toward stimulating those points and working on the flow of Qi within the body. Seeing as these methods and philosophies developed independently throughout history across the world, it is clear that there must be some sort of biological basis for this. As it turns out, science may yet provide an explanation for Qi.
The recently-discovered organ known as the interstitium is a network of tissues that wraps around every organ system in the body. It was found, much to the excitement of specialists in Chinese medicine, that this organ experiences a flow of electrical impulses, which may yet be the biological explanation for Qi. Bell even stated that with acupuncture, the needles are oftentimes placed deep enough to touch the interstitium below the skin. Only time and research will tell for sure, but modern science may very well be on its way toward a deeper explanation behind Chinese medicine practices.
Finally, Dr. Bell discussed other treatment methods, and his general process with patients. He talked about herbal medications, and then went on to discuss how he assesses patients. His assessments follow the traditional Chinese method: Observing, Listening & Smelling, Asking, and Palpation. Each step gives the doctor a more holistic insight into the patient’s life and how to help them.
Dr. Bell closed out the lecture by providing resources for finding good, licensed Traditional Chinese Medicine Practices, and taking several questions from the audience. Overall, the lecture was an astounding success, and Dr. Bell provided the audience with a deeper understanding of traditional Chinese medical practices.