COLORADO SERENITY – June 2004  (What is Being Treated?)


Tracy Saraduke, RN, M.Ac. L.Ac.

3082 Evergreen Parkway, Suite 2

Evergreen, CO 80439

(303) 670-9181



Don’t tell me what type of disease the patient has, tell me what type of patient has the disease.” –Sir William Osler

In the West, the concept of reductionism rules: reduce everything to its smallest possible form.  Organism to organs, organs to tissue, tissue to cells, cells to molecules, molecules to atoms, and atoms to subatomic particles.  This brings the focus away from the patient and onto the intruder, the external pathogen, the microscopic disease that is to be exterminated by intervention.  It is the symptom that receives the attention.  Medicate to mask or remove the symptom, and hopefully, the offending pathogen is wiped out.  What if there is no offending pathogen, or the pathogen is out of control due to a lack of the patient’s vital energy?

In the East, the concept of restoring harmony and balance rules: we look at the whole person within their situation.  We never treat only to remove the symptoms.  We diagnose and treat the imbalance of the patient, then, step back to let their vital energy flow.  If I treat someone for a serious or chronic condition by removing or masking the symptom, they will still have the problem with their vital energy that created the symptom in the first place.  Instead, I fix their vital energy, so that the vital energy can go to work on the problem.  It is the patient’s vital energy that pushes out the illness.

      We call this vital energy chi.  Chi flows along meridians- the twelve primary energy pathways that correspond to the functions of the organs.  When chi is out of balance, there are numerous signs, patterns, and sometimes symptoms that point to which meridian is most affected.

We determine the dysfunctional meridian(s) by applying Chinese medicine theories to observations we make of the patient.  This includes listening to the patients’ complaints, as well as checking the Chinese pulses, abdomen and meridians.  It is a bit of detective work, using several indicators to create a specific picture of the patient.  The resulting diagnosis represents the inner state of the individual’s energy imbalance.

In Japanese meridian therapy, we use a root treatment and a branch treatment.  The root treatment is used on dysfunctional meridians to bring balance, promoting vital energy.  Each patient is treated for his own individual imbalance, not simply of their symptoms.  The branch treatment is done after the root treatment to lighten the symptoms. 

It is through this approach of vital energy diagnosis and treatment that we restore health, and maintain it.  This prompts many patients to come not only to get rid of what ails them, but for the occasional “tune-up.”  For chronic conditions, it may take repeated adjustment to the chi in order to keep it flowing correctly, and the symptoms will go away in time.