Western Kentucky University

Alternative Medicine

Alternative Medicine:


What is Tai Chi Chuan?

Tai Chi Chuan is a complete health and martial art exercise combining slow movements, powerful punches and kicks and steady, rhythmic, deep breathing. It utilizes the deep focused breathing and calm mindedness found in Qi Gong and the powerful force and combat techniques found in Kung Fu. Deep breathing and calm mindedness are considered more Yin. Powerful force and combat techniques are considered more Yang. Yin (dark aspect) and Yang (light aspect) are represented in the Tai Chi, or the Great Ultimate, symbol. Tai Chi Chuan exercise forms flow between Yin and Yang in all movements and stances. Hence, Tai Chi Chuan provides complete health maintenance exercise and martial art training.

There are several distinct forms of Tai Chi Chuan which are most commonly considered developments from Shaolin Wudang Kung Fu, as transformed by the Taosist priest Zheng San Feng in 1247 CE after watching a fight between a snake and a crane. On the Wudang Taoist spiritual mountain, the slow, graceful, fluidic movements inspired Zheng to modify his Shaoling Kung Fu into a softer style of martial arts, then known as Wudang 32-form Long Fist Kung Fu. This form was taught to and adapted by many subsequent Masters and now compose the basic four family forms of Tai Chi Chuan, plus Tai Chi Chuan Weapons. These forms are, in order of development, according to popular theory, from oldest to most recent: Chen-style (17th century), Yang-style (early 19th century), Wu-style (late 19th century), and Sun-style (early 20th century). Some debate exists if Chen-style originated from Shaolin Kung Fu, or developed independently. Also, writings from the Tang Dynasty (618-906) note Xu Xuan Ping, a hermit, and Taoist priest Li Dao Zi independently practiced a 37-movement exercises called "Long Fistâ". While many honorific legends abound as to the origins of Tai Chi Chuan, the four forms listed above share similar health preserving and martial application techniques.

What is Aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy uses oils gathered from flowers and trees to evoke a healing response through the sense of smell. Our nose inhales the various properties of these plant oils (called essential oils) and links these smells to a memory or an experience. Our sense of smell is directly connected to the brain and our brains can register as many as ten thousand different odors and fragrances. This allows for unlimited opportunities for healing through aromatherapy.

Over the ages, many cultures employed aromatherapy. Ancient Chinese, Egyptians, Greeks and Romans used oils as cures for disease and general perfumes. Many notable historical figures depended on plant oils for assistance in healthcare, spiritual practice, and studies in chemistry and medicine, especially from Medieval times to the present. The modern scientist, René-Maurice Gattefossé, first coined the term "aromatherapy" after a laboratory explosion in 1928. Instinctually, he cooled his badly burned arm in the nearest liquid" which just happened to be a large container of lavender essential oil. His arm healed quickly and without scar.

From dramatic wound healing to stress relief, the natural oils found in plants, trees and flowers can offer great respite from our too-busy lives, and allow us to practice much-valued skills of self-care.

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a healthcare modality used for over 5000 years in, mostly, Asian countries until mid-1960 when the practice was adopted in the US, UK and parts of Europe. Today, acupuncture uses sterile, single-use, stainless steel needles finer than a human hair to penetrate the skin's surface to the depths of 1 to 10 millimeters at specific locations in the body where Qi collects. Qi is the source of life for each individual and is sometimes considered similar to breath, air, or energy. Acupuncture needles manipulate Qi to cause dispersal (for conditions such as pain or fever) or tonification (for conditions of weakness or collapse.) Acupuncturists also use other tools, such as glass fire cups, gua sha spoons, seven-star needles and moxibustion, to treat various conditions and diseases as needed. Proven over several millennia, acupuncture can, and does, heal.

Can acupuncture help me?

Acupuncture helps millions of people around the world each year. You can benefit from this 5000 year-old medical technique. Whether you suffer with allergies or complications from an auto accident, acupuncture can help balance your immune system, relieve your pain and restore your health. Even if you generally feel healthy, acupuncture can be a welcome respite from a stressful workweek. Think of acupuncture like a holiday for your Qi.

Does it hurt?

No. Acupuncture uses very thin, filiform needles inserted a few millimeters into the skin. All needles are single-use, sterile needles, and many are coated with Teflon or similar coating to make insertion smoother. At most, some people feel a small, brief pinch while the needle is being inserted which goes away immediately. Once the needle is in place, people often report different sensations either around the needle or in other areas of the body. These sensations may be warmth or coolness, tingling, heaviness or a floating feeling. It is common for people to fall asleep during the treatment.

Look for a teacher using Tai Chi Network
The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy
Offers nice, brief answers to many common questions, such as "Is it only good for pain?�
Good website geared toward public & practitioner interests.
Another good website with plenty of FAQ's for those learning about acupuncture.


 Last Modified 7/22/13