There are four main categories of Chinese medicine: "Chinese herbalism, Chinese food cures, Chinese acupuncture, and Chinese manipulative therapies" (Lu 1991). They all rest on the assumption that "all things in the animate and inanimate world are ... dynamic interactions" (Porkert and Ullmann 1988:73). In terms of health, Chinese medicine sees the individual as "a constellation of energy rather than a physical body which is inhabited by a soul or spirit" (Porkert and Ullmann 1988:84). Disease is conceptualized as a disturbance in the harmonious balance of energy that constitutes the human being (Porkert and Ullmann 1988). Among the causes of disease are: "external factors (wind, cold, summer heat, dampness, dryness, and fire), internal factors (joy, anger, worry, thought, sadness, fear, and shock), and two other causes which are neither internal nor external, fatigue and foods" (Lu 1991:31). Herbal decoctions2 in conjunction with other modalities within Chinese medicine, serve to restore harmony or health to the individual (Porkert and Ullmann 1988).
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