“Between Heaven and Earth”
“A Guide to Chinese Medicine”
By Harriet Beinfield and Efrem Korn
When I first mentioned to my yoga teacher several years ago that I was considering a major career change and wanted to go back to school to study Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), (I had been a computer programmer/systems analyst for 20 years) – she suggested that I read “Between Heaven and Earth”. I bought the book that day and have been fascinated with the theories that are the foundation of TCM ever since.
“Between Heaven and Earth” compares the philosophies of Eastern and Western medicine in language that is easy for the layperson to understand; The authors explain basic concepts of Qi (pronounced “chee”), Yin-Yang theory and Five-Element relationships – all fundamental concepts of Chinese medicine. The book explains how organs in the human body are defined as either a yin organ or a yang organ and how they are paired to form an organ network. Each network has functions that parallel our Western view of anatomy and physiology, but in TCM each organ network has an expanded function. For example, both Eastern and Western medicine understand that the heart has the function of circulating blood thru the body. But TCM also believes that the Heart network “houses the mind” and is responsible for our capacity to think clearly, sleep peacefully and to speak and communicate.
Chinese medicine recognizes that climate, emotions and lifestyle have a profound effect on the health of the human body.”Between Heaven and Earth” explains how Chinese medicine views that specific emotions effect specific organs in the body and gives examples of pathologies that may result from extreme or chronic emotional experiences.
The book has excellent discussions on tongue and pulse diagnosis and how they play a part in diagnosing imbalance in the body. Chapters on acupuncture and herbal therapy then discuss how the imbalances are corrected with two of the oldest medical modalities in the world.
Overall, I feel that “Between Heaven and Earth” is an excellent resource for both the patient and practitioner of Chinese medicine.