Rx: Blend Eastern with Western

Durango acupuncturist says the two approaches are compatible

Konikowski Enlarge photo


A combination of ancient Chinese medicine and the Western approach to healing will produce optimal health results, a licensed acupuncturist practicing in Durango says.

David Konikowski from Wellspring Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine is set to explain his position Thursday in a Life-Long Learning Series lecture at Fort Lewis College.

Konikowski intends to discuss the history, development and modern practices of traditional Chinese medicine and explain the difference between Eastern and Western approaches to health care.

Through millennia, misinterpretation has twisted the understanding of traditional Chinese medicine in the Western mind, Konikowski said.

Between 500 B.C. and 100 B.C., Chinese tenets of anatomy, physiology, diagnosis and treatment were consolidated in a published text – Huang Di Nei Jing (Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon).

The thrust of traditional Chinese medicine is to increase the functioning of the body through a healthy vascular system, Konikowski said. The aim of Western medicine is to isolate, and treat symptoms and diseases.

As concepts of traditional Chinese medicine spread, it became popularly believed in the West that needles (acupuncture) and herbs moved chi (energy) mysteriously through channels called meridians.

“There’s no historical basis for this,” Konikowski said. “Chi really means vital air or oxygen, and the jing mai are not magical channels, but vessels – like in blood vessels.”

In other words, the basis for good health is a healthy vascular system, Konikowski said.

Ancient Chinese medical practitioners strived to improve the physical condition of the body by enhancing the vascular system that distributes oxygen and nutrients and improves the immune system.

“A strong health-care system will combine Chinese and Western medicine,” Konikowski said. “In China, today, they practice Western medicine although they train in both.”

Nicola St. Mary, a naturopathic practitioner in Durango, said there can be a blend of medical approaches.

In traditional Chinese medicine and the naturopathic approach, the focus is about looking for the underlying cause of health problems, St. Mary said.

“I work with natural methods, but there are skill sets in allopathic medicine that I don’t have,” St. Mary said. “I recently used a pharmaceutical remedy to knock out a nighttime cough.”

The blend of Eastern and Western medicine can be seen in the use of acupuncture instead of anesthesia as a pain suppressor in certain surgery, she said.

Konikowski studied oriental medicine at Rainstar University in Scottsdale, Ariz., and has taken workshops with visiting oriental medicine scholars. He has practiced for 10 years.

“By the time traditional Chinese medical concepts reached Europe, there was a lot lost in the translation,” Konikowski said. “It’s understandable because it’s a difficult task to translate from ancient to modern Chinese.”

Chinese medicine with its emphasis on vascular performance and the circulatory system meshes snugly with efforts to combat the nation’s leading killer, heart disease, Konikowski said.

“If we’re to use traditional Chinese medicine properly, it needs to be understood and accepted,” he said.