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Patterns of Disharmony
By Peter Games, L. Ac.

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Acupuncture Treatment in Boise - Gua Sha CoinThe difference between a disease and a pattern of disharmony is best illustrated by an example. Let’s look at three patients who have a stomach ulcer, or peptic ulcer disease. One patient experiences sharp stomach pain that is worse after emotional distress, especially anger. Also, this patient experiences a lot of sour belching. Another patient experiences minor, persistent stomach discomfort when hungry but the pain is relieved with eating and the pain is also relieved with touch (pressure) and with the application of a hot water bottle. A third patient experiences a burning stomach pain with no relief after eating, a dry mouth, heartburn, and the pain is worse with touch (pressure) and with the application of heat. These three patients all have the same disease, a peptic ulcer, and they may all receive the same treatment by a western physician. However, they are treated very differently with acupuncture and Chinese herbs because their patterns of disharmony are all very different. The patients have different signs and symptoms, they experience different qualities of pain, and their pain responds differently to various stimuli. The patients are presenting different clinical landscapes.

Therefore, the acupuncture points selected for each of the three patients will be different. The Chinese herbs prescribed to each patient will be different. Dietary recommendations offered to each patient will be different. So, as you see, there are not specific acupuncture points that treat all ulcers. Instead, an acupuncturist must determine which aAcupuncture & Chinese Medicine in Boise - Great Wall of Chinacupuncture points and herbs are best for a particular patient depending upon what the patient is experiencing.

This is summarized in the Chinese saying, “One disease, different treatments; different diseases, one treatment”. This proverb expresses the idea that a single disease may be treated in many different ways depending upon a patient’s pattern of disharmony, while patients with different diseases may be treated in a similar way if they have the same pattern of disharmony. In this way, a treatment plan is based upon a patient’s individual constitution. For some, this may seem like a very sensible approach to categorizing illness. For others, it may seem rather unusual. Either way, it has been used for thousands of years to help patients with all types of disorders feel better and live healthier lives.


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