Words, and what they mean, are popular topics of discussion among practitioners of Chinese Medicine today.  We use technical terms (Qi, Blood, Yin, Yang, etc.) that arose in a different geographical, cultural and historical era, and we apply those same terms to patients who live here, now.  There are many different schools of thought among acupuncturists today about what the terms mean, and whether using the terms in adherence to original intent is more or less relevant to the goal of treating patients effectively with acupuncture today.

Often the terminology we use in diagnosis informs our treatment strategies.  When that is the case, the meaning of our terminology will have a profound impact on our actions, and therefore, arguably on the outcomes for our clients.  There are some outstanding approaches to treatment strategy however that are less concerned with terminology and more responsive to information gained through the fingertips–via palpation of the abdomen, the meridians, and the points.

I have been practicing for about 10 years now, and while I’ve had many inquisitive clients, none of them have wanted to invest much time in understanding the technical terminology that we acupuncturists spent hundreds of hours closely scrutinizing in spleen-weakening 3-4-year-long study binges.  I’ve had some clients go on to acupuncture school, but even they didn’t want the whole course of study condensed into their treatment hour.  They much preferred to relax on the table and feel the magic of the needles.  Good for them.

So I have come to believe that technical terms are enjoyable topics of conversation among acupuncture geeks but not generally useful in the treatment room.  I don’t hide the technical terms from my patients, but neither do I emphasize them.

Nonetheless the attention to words and their meanings tickles me and I’ve come up with a line of inquiry that requires no special technical training to appreciate.  And this is it:

What is the difference, if any, between health and wellness? Are they synonyms or do they represent separate, unique concepts?