Some Western scientists (and the media) failed to get excited about the role of acupuncture in reducing the presence of certain molecules in the brains of people with fibromyalgia, and the reduction of fibromyalgia-related pain which followed. These folks preferred instead to get all excited about the biochemical possibilities which researchers would explore for creating the same effect with pharmaceuticals. I, on the other hand, got very excited to learn that acupuncture had an immediate and measurable effect on both brain and pain. To me, it was an example of how we are skirting on the edges of a natural convergence between Western science and acupuncture. I wrote a somewhat hot-headed post about this subject, which you can read here.

I probably shouldn’t have been so hot-headed. After all, the researchers plan to investigate drugs rather than the signal system of acupuncture reflects the dominant paradigm of western medicine–a deep and abiding love affair with pharmaceutical answers to biochemical problems. But in my mind–the mind of someone who navigates along the acupuncture meridians of the body with the attentiveness of a physically blind sculptor–their lack of enthusiasm pointed to a general malaise in western science–a sad lack of curiosity.   Albert Einstein reportedly once said,

I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.

The good news is that (the above-mentioned researchers aside) passionate curiosity is alive and well among other western scientists and practitioners of Chinese medicine. I’m not talking about the largely misguided attempts to reduce acupuncture or herbal medicine to technical protocols to treat western diagnoses, and verifications of these standardized protocols with randomized controlled trials. Such scientific inquiries are misguided because acupuncture and herbal medicine are not protocol-driven. The kind of curiosity I’m talking about is different. It’s more fundamental. The fundamental question is not how can Chinese medicine fit into the evidence-based protocols of Western medicine, but rather what don’t we understand about how people heal, and what can we learn in this regard from Chinese medicine?

I am not a scholar, or a scientist, just a passionately curious acupuncturist who has a decidedly intuitive appreciation for bridge-building. The reason I love Chinese medicine (because it’s all about making connections, understanding connections, and being in dialog with active processes) is the same reason I am attracted intellectually and spiritually to quantum physics and biological research about information transfer through connective tissue. But since I am not a scholar, and much of what I feel intuitively must be true I do not understand well enough to write about with any degree of authenticity, I won’t attempt to summarize this vast subject.   There are some great books out there which I am reading or rereading, all of which provide clues to the intelligence of healing, the brilliance of western science, the need for Western medicine to progress from it’s mechanistic, Newtonian practices and to embrace the new frontier where biological regulatory systems meet Quantum physics, acupuncture meridians, and the X-signal system talked about by a brilliant Japanese acupuncturist of the 20th Century, Yoshia Manaka.

Without further ado, here is my reading list. Enjoy.

Energy Medicine in Therapeutics and Human Performance, by James Oschman.

Chasing the Dragon’s Tail by Yoshio Manaka, MD with Kazuko Itaya and Stephen Birch.

The Extracellular Matrix and Ground Regulation: Basis for a Holistic Biological Medicine by Alfred Pischinger, Edited by Hartmut Heine.

If you dig into any of these books, please post a comment and let me know what you’re reading. If anyone is up for an on-line book club, we could all read a chunk and chew the fat together.