Modern Scientific View of Matter on Traditional Chinese Medicine-- Comments on Basic Theory of TCM
Abstract: In the traditional Chinese culture, Yin-Yang is the philosophical abstract of matter motion state or constituent related to positive and negative deviation from optimum orderly state of self-organizing system. Slight quickness or increase in constituent is an attribute of Yang while the reverse is of Yin. This explanation has been clearly demonstrated in several thousand years' practice of the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and decades' investigation of TCM Syndrome whether viewed macrocosmically or microcosmically. According to the basic theory of TCM, essence is the mother of Vital energy (Qi), and there would be no Vital energy without it. Since essence is a kind of matter, Vital energy is dependant on matter, too. It is vitality of matter. This vitality refers to matter motion state or constituent contributory to reaching self-steady state (orderly) of self-organizing system. Yin-Yang is positive and negation deviation from matter motion state or constituent of the system optimum orderly state. Such deviation, however, should not be beyond the threshold value destructive to orderly state of the system.
Key words: Yin-Yang; essence of TCM Syndrome; optimum orderly state; self-steady state
Yin-Yang is not only a very important philosophical concept but also a very important medical concept in the Chinese traditional culture and especially it holds an outstanding core position in the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) science. Yin-Yang not only refers to the concrete things but also to the attribute of matter. When Yin-Yang is associated with "Qi" of Chinese philosophy, it will constitute Yin-Yang Double Vital energy (Yin-Yang Double Qi) .
Researches about the internal connection between Yin-Yang concept and matter view of modern science are actually one of the significant conundrums. Today, there are many approaches to explore it and there are many views about it. To be concluded, generally there are the following views: 1. In philosophy, it is considered the theory of Yin-Yang contains plain materialism and dialectical thought and it gives a full affirmation about the scientific nature of Yin-Yang theory. Yin-Yang theory is similar to the theory of Contradiction but is quite different from it in that the theory of Contradiction has much higher abstract nature. 2. In medicine, combined with modern medicine, the extension of the Yin-Yang concept is further developed. For example, it attributes the matter produced by assimilation to Yin and the power produced by dissimilation to Yang. It attributes the restoring and growing of cell and tissue to Yang and the denaturation atrophy to Yin, etc . 3. Scientific researchers apply the principle and method of Information theory, Cybernetics, System theory to the research of Yin-Yang theory and think that Yin-Yang theory just reflects the adjusting principle of the above three theory . 4. What's more, Kangling Tong in US applies the Yin-Yang concept to the microcosmic field to explain the substantiality of microcosmic particle , and so on.
Although people have done many researches on the connection of Yin-Yang concept and the matter view of modern science, it is still unsatisfactory. Most of them were stagnated to the developing of the extension of the concept, and were lack of internal consistent logical explanation. So the author puts forward the new view that Yin-Yang Balance is equivalent to the matter motion steady balance state. That is to say self-organizing system (the optimum orderly state) is the optimum self-steady state.
In the book of "Marvelous Thought-Thought Process Substance Basis Exploration" (Hubei People's Press. 2000, 4, referring to "Exploration" in the following), the author explicitly illustrates the theory that the balance of Yin-Yang is equivalent to the optimum self-steady state. The author thinks that if the optimum health state of human body corresponds to the Yin-Yang balance state of TCM, then Yin-Yang of TCM is the matter of motion state or constituent related to positive and negative deviation from optimum self-steady state. Yang Syndrome of TCM is the matter of motion state or constituent super-threshold's fast rhythm or the increase of matter constituent, when deviating from the optimum self-steady state. Yin Syndrome of TCM is the super-threshold's slow rhythm or the decrease of matter constituent, when deviating from the optimum self-steady state. The reason why we claim the deviation of super-threshold is that human being can, to a certain degree, adjust to the matter motion state's deviation from the optimum self-steady state. Only beyond certain range can we say that he defined the disease. Thousands of years of TCM practice demonstrated it macrocosmically and tens of years of TCM Syndrome's essence research demonstrated microcosmically. Table 1 is the observation of the symptom of Yin disease and Yang disease macrocosmically.
Table 1. The comparison between Yin Syndrome, Yang Syndrome and rhythm of life matter motion
Yang SyndromeRhythmYin SyndromeRhythmPeriod of illnessSudden attacked by a serious illnessQuickLong-term illnessSlowBody constitutionStrong bodyQuickWeak bodySlowPulse conditionStrongQuickWeakSlowTemperatureRiseQuickNot rise but fallSlowComplexionRedQuickDarkSlowVisionBrightQuickGloomySlowVoiceSonorousQuickHoarseSlowActionAgileQuickDullSlowTongueDryQuickMoistSlowLookHeadacheQuickComaSlowExtremityHotQuickColdSlowStoolCoprostasissQuickDiarrheaSlowPissRedQuickWhiteSlow
Table 1 indicates the achievements of thousands of years of TCM practice. The column of quick rhythm and slow rhythm is added by the author. From Table 1, judging from macrocosmic point of view, the conclusion proves convincingly that Yang Syndrome of TCM corresponds to the quick rhythm of the matter motion of life, while Yin Syndrome corresponds to the slow one.
Quickness and slowness of the matter motion of life contains the excess or less of the matter constituent of life. That the excess indicates quick rhythm and the less indicates slow rhythm can be proved scientifically when we refer to the chemical proof of microcosmic index of physics and chemistry of the life organism .
In recent decades researchers in China have conducted some fruitful study of the TCM Syndrome essence but some radical problem is rising . Researches of TCM Syndrome essence indicate that it is impossible to judge the TCM specific symptom by employing one or two distinctive physiochemical index of human body. However, the author in the book "Exploration", employing abundant achievement of TCM Syndrome essence, from the microcosmic point of view, contrasts the Yin-Yang balance concept with the normal state of the matter motion of life and finds that although the physiochemical index of TCM research can't definitely judge a specific symptom such as spleen weakness, kidney weakness, liver irascibility, heart irascibility, abundant statistics of Syndrome physical and chemical index explicitly show that index of physics and chemistry which Yang Syndrome corresponds to is generally higher while index of physics and chemistry which Yin Syndrome corresponds to is generally lower. Yin weakness is like this, so is the Yang weakness, coldness Syndrome, hotness Syndrome, liver irascibility, heart irascibility, spleen weakness, kidney weakness.
The TCM believes weak Syndrome belongs to Yin, so Yang weakness belongs to Yin Syndrome, and Yin weakness belongs to Yang Syndrome. 1. The analysis between microcosmic physiochemical index of Yin weakness Syndrome and Yang weakness Syndrome indicates: A. "Cyclic adenosine monophosphate"(C-AMP) index test: Yang weakness-Yin Syndrome-C-AMP is obviously low; Yin weakness-Yang Syndrome-C-AMP is generally high. B. Immunity function test: IgA, IgG, Yang weakness-Yin Syndrome is obviously lower than Yin weakness-Yang Syndrome. C. Microelement zinc- copper test: Yang weakness-Yin Syndrome-blood serum zinc content is lower than that of normal people; Yin weakness-Yang Syndrome-blood serum copper content is higher than that of normal people. D. Blood developing and changing property test: Yang weakness-Yin Syndrome-blood plasma component and blood plasma viscosity is falling. Yin weakness-Yang Syndrome blood plasma component and blood plasma viscosity is increasing. E. Body metabolism level test: Yang weakness-Yin Syndrome is lower than normal people; Yin weakness-Yang Syndrome is obviously higher than normal. 2. The analysis between microcosmic physiochemical index of Cold Syndrome and Hot Syndrome indicates: A. Adrenal gland medulla enginery: Cold Syndrome: lower than that of normal people. Hot Syndrome: higher than normal. B. Emiction 17-OHCS discharging quantity: Cold Syndrome: a little lower than that of normal people, Hot Syndrome: higher than normal. C. C-AMP content: Cold Syndrome: a little lower than that of normal people, Hot Syndrome: higher than normal. D. Emiction discharging quantity: Cold Syndrome: a little lower than that of normal people, Hot Syndrome: a litter higher than normal. 3. Analysis of microcosmic physiochemical index of the five internal organs Syndrome indicates: A. Lung energy weakness, kidney Yang weakness, spleen Yin weakness, etc. Yin syndrome: emiction-OHCS is lower than that of normal people. B. Blood serum zinc contents of Yin Syndrome, such as lung energy weakness, spleen energy weakness, spleen Yang weakness, etc. are all lower. C. Yang Syndrome, like liver stagnant Syndrome, heart Yin weakness Syndrome, liver Yang sthenic Syndrome, etc. all have slightly exciting sympathetic nerve function.
Compared with Yin weakness Syndrome, Yang weakness Syndrome are much more complicated, and in some cases, the rule is not obvious, but the general rule is very clear. Cold hot Syndrome, the five internal organs Syndrome essence research has very ideally demonstrated the steady balance of matter motion in life (the correctness of the optimum self-steady theory). Yin-Yang of TCM refers to the matter motion state relating to positive and negative deviation from optimum orderly state, and Yin Syndrome, Yang Syndrome are the two threshold of it, which has been demonstrated by the microcosmic point of view.
In recent years the author concerned the relevant report about animal experiment of syndrome essence research and found that identical to the human being corresponding symptom, animal experiment shows Yang Syndrome corresponds to general rise of some physiochemical index, Yin Syndrome corresponds to general fall of some physiochemical index and both animal and human being have the same orientation of Yin-Yang pattern .
In a word, in the thought of Westerners, Yin-Yang corresponds to the matter motion state of modern science. Yin-Yang is abstract but matter motion state is concrete. Every motion state has its corresponding matter support, so Yin-Yang theory for Westerners is not illusory. It is a kind of philosophical extract of matter motion state related to positive or negative deviation from the best self-steady state. Obviously it is similar to but not equivalent to contradiction. The two sides of contradiction are interchangeable: A, related to B, is one aspect of the contradiction. B, related to A, is also one aspect of the contradiction. So A and B are both aspects of the contradiction. But Yin and Yang relating to positive and negative deviation from optimum self-steady state in the concrete circumstance are not interchangeable, unless the optimum self-steady state has new regulation. We therefore build a communication bridge between the thought model of Easterners and Westerners through the correspondence of Yin-Yang and matter motion state and the formation of the concept of related optimum self-state (optimum orderly state).
With the help of the above views, "Qi" in traditional Chinese culture can be explained scientifically by the modern science matter view. "Qi" in the traditional Chinese culture has obviously ontological meaning because the ancient people considered "Qi" as the essence of everything constituting on earth, that is, the matter we call now. But it is quite different from the substances known by the Westerners such as atom, electronics, quark, etc. "Qi" is divided into Yin and Yang, and it is the inter-fighting, inter-corresponding, inter-transforming of Yin-Yang "double Qi" which decide the happening, developing and evolving of everything on earth, while atom, electronics and quark don't seem to possess this property. In the western theory of ontology, the definition of matter is quite different form Yin-Yang double "Qi", because matter only bears the responsibility for constituting the substantiality of matter. So the matter our ancestor called "Qi" is different from the concrete substance such as atom, electronic, quark and also different from the abstract substantiality of matter in western theory of ontology. Then, what is "Qi" called by the ancient Chinese?
In the book "Exploration", according to the basic theory of TCM, essence is the mother of vital energy. When "vital energy (Qi)" runs smoothly, human body is healthy and everything is harmonious. "Vital energy (Qi)" is regarded as the vitality of matter and related to life organism. My explanation for "Vital energy" being the vitality of life matter is that "vital energy" is matter and "vital energy" depends on essence, apparently, "vital energy" is only the "substance" of the substance-some component or attribute. What in substance can make people healthy and make everything harmonious? It's only the vitality of substance, and when it comes to life it is the vitality of life substance. But in the book, no concrete definition is given to vitality. After having made abundant research we find that everything of human body's health or harmony is related to a system. That is the entirety of Chinese traditional thoughts. Related to the system, what's the vitality of substance? I think it refers to motion state or component of substance contributed to the balance of system. Concretely, it refers to the quick and slow rhythm of motion state of substance or more and less of component. Among the motion state or component of substance, some are contributed to the balance of system and some are destructive. The research of cell membrane's permeation can prove this standpoint from the view of modern science . So if "Qi" is defined as the vitality of energy, then "Qi" has "positive Qi" or "negative Qi". The former is contributed to the steadiness, harmony of system and health of human body while the latter is destructive to the steadiness, harmony of system and health human body.
According to the degree of orderly state, the state system can be divided into optimum orderly state, orderly state, sub-orderly state, and destructive orderly state. Optimum orderly state is the optimum self-steady state and both of the quick and slow rhythm of matter motion or constituent is in their optimum state. Relating to life, it is the optimum state of vitality. According to our understanding of the concept of Yin-Yang, it is the optimum state of Yin-Yang balance. If motion state or constituent deviates from its optimum self-steady state, a little faster or more slowly but not yet beyond the threshold range of keeping the orderly system, the system will shake from the optimum state and orderly state, so the motion state or constituent of substance is the vitality of substance. When it comes to optimum balance state, vitality is "too vital" (slight quickness or rise in constituent), self-control capacity of system force the system to the optimum balance state. That is to say, "yinqi" (slow rhythm of matter motion) dominates "yangqi", drawing the system to the optimum state. When "yinqi" is too much (slight slowness or fall in constituent), "yangqi" (quick rhythm of matter motion) dominates "yinqi", drawing the system back to its optimum state. System is in the organism of relatively steady self-adjustment (system itself has the function). Therefore, Yin-Yang at this time is the "healthy Qi" of keeping systematic balance. But if the deviation of matter motion state or constituent related to the system, optimum balance state is beyond the range of keeping system steadiness. Then the system is in a sub-steady state; it is in a disease state related to the human body. Disease state is the sub-steady state of life body. The Yin-Yang that is beyond threshold is "evil Qi", that is, "evil Qi" which can destroy the steadiness of the system and transform the system from order to disorder. Once "evil Qi" is too much, the matter motion state or constituent amount to "quick pole" or "slow pole" (that is, single Yin or single Yang). The balance of the system is destroyed completely, and then the original system is disintegrated (related to life body it is the end of life). As we know from above, Yin-Yang is the motion state or constituent related to positive or negative deviation from optimum self-steady state. If the deviation is not beyond the threshold value, it composes Yin-Yang and it is "healthy Qi", otherwise, it is "evil Qi". "Evil Qi" is destructive to the system. Single Yin and single Yang means the entire destruction of the system. Yin-Yang and Yin-Yang "double Qi" are related and different but both of them can be scientifically explained by the modern scientific view of matter. This is the scientific explanation of mutual fighting, mutual coordination, and mutual transformation deciding the existence, development and evolution of everything on earth. The influence of external environment on the system should be analyzed in terms of the standard of the steady of system. The above thought can be illustrated by the following figure [9, 10].
Fig 1. Left / Right oscillation of system in Yin-Yang balance state
Sub-orderly orderly optimum orderly state orderly sub-orderly
Yin syndrome Yin-Yang balance
Yang syndrome Isolate YangYin
diminishes and Yang
enlarges Yin YangYin
enlarges and Yang diminishes As is illustrated in the Fig. 1, in a relative steady system, the vitality of matter in the system makes the system oscillate in the range of A to B to achieve optimum order state: Yin-Yang balance state. That Yin diminishes and Yang enlarges and Yang diminishes and Yin enlarges are the vivid description of Chinese. It is an extract of philosophy. If the matter motion state or constituent in the system surpasses the limitation of A and B, slight quickness (tending to the right), it will be Yang Syndrome, and slight slowness (tending to the left) will be Yin Syndrome. That is to say the system is in the sub-orderly state, and that is "disease" state. At this time by changing the external condition (medical treatment) or strengthening the internal adjustment of organism mechanism, the system could come back to the range of orderly state, even back to the "optimum state", and gain the balance of Yin-Yang, but if it can't work then at last the system may be destroyed. The Nourishing "Qi" in TCM means nourishing the vitality of life matter. Adjusting the "Qi" means to adjust the vitality of life matter. Directing the "Qi" (directing one's strength through concentration to a part of body) means through the matter action of thoughts (at least electromagnetism action), it makes the vitality of life matter transmit and makes the life matter in the optimum motion state which does good to the steadiness of the system and makes the vitality of life in its best. We should pay attention to that. The vitality of life matter and the vitality of life are two distinct concepts. The vitality of life is the external display of the orderly state of the system. When the most vigorous time corresponds to the optimum orderly state of the system, the vitality of life matter does best contribution to the system.
After giving the above definition of "Qi", we can easily conclude that "Qi" in ancient China is matter and is scientific but not accurate. To be exact, "Qi" should be defined as the vitality of matter, but it is not the same as the westerners' understanding. Westerners emphasize the matter element that constitute the system and study it by separating the element from the system. The motion state or constituent, which is separated from the system, has no concept of the vitality of matter. Vitality is a concept related to the steadiness of the system. On the other hand, we Chinese learn the matter element within the system. The matter motion state or constituent makes the vitality of the orderly state of the system. "Qi" is the vitality of matter, which includes not only the matter motion state but also the matter constituent itself. "Qi" in TCM is the farrago of those things. So "Qi" in the understanding of Easterners is vital matter. Vitality is the standard when the matter is classified, for example, "yangqi", "yinqi", "positive Qi", "evil Qi", and so on. Westerners and Easterners look it in different views and use different approaches to study the matter. The westerners use the approach of analyzing and experiment and get the component such as atom, electronic, quark etc., while Chinese use macrocosmic comprehensive analyzing approach and notice that individual has effect on the whole and get the "yinqi", "yangqi", "positive Qi", "evil Qi". Westerners and easterners express it in different ways but the research object is the same. Because of the radical difference in the way of the westerners and easterners' thoughts, the theory system of knowing the world is enormously different, but it can be commensurate.
From Table 1, we can get scientific explanation of the fighting, transformation, coordination of Yin-Yang in the process of four seasons, day and night, the growth of human and predict it correspondingly.
The initiative role of thinking is specially favored in the Traditional Chinese Culture. A case in point is Qigong. The material function of its treatment and illusion is deified, and some cheaters just take its advantage for advocating feudal superstition. Therefore it is a sacred task for scientific workers to uncover the nature of mater motion of human thinking process. The author of the paper has made a thorough investigation of the findings in forward science such as brain science, nerve network theory, artificial intelligence, system theory, philosophy, etc. He then presents his viewpoint that the word including thinking will eventually be uniformed to matter. He also believes spirit (consciousness) is the finding produce of thinking process embodies a structure form in field matter or at least in electromagnetic field matter. And propagation of thinking (consciousness) as a structure form of field matter (nerve current as its main form) in human body is regarded as matter basis of psychological action and TCM Qigong treatment . As a matter of fact, the illusion of "guarding acupuncture points" is a matter action of illusion about the acupuncture points, which is of the same principle as that by means of machine or electromagnet. As a structure form of electromagnetic field matter, thinking can be carried out in the air through brain waves. One of its applications is control of intelligent computer with helmet. Extract of thinking intelligence can certainly make it possible for human being to talk with our ancestors on the screen of computer by emulating human talk some day in the future.
In the book "Exploration", we make an introduction of the conception of meridian (main and collateral channels): the sinus dimension of human body which matters to the tissue fluid of life organism". If we combine the modern scientific explanation of meridian mentioned by Mr. Zhang and the study of cell membrane's permeation [12, 13] with the modern scientific explanation of "Qi", Yin-Yang and "the corporality of thought" mentioned by us, we will find that the Traditional Chinese Theory will entirely fall into the frame of modern scientific view and the "Qi" and Yin-Yang in traditional Chinese Culture will play the same significant role as the modern science. If the combination of Yin-Yang and Wu Xing (five elements of metal, wood, water, fire and earth) is the first milestone of Chinese Traditional Thought mode, then the combination of Yin-Yang, "Qi" and modern scientific view of matter will be the second milestone of Chinese Traditional Thought mode. It signifies the unification of occidental and oriental thought on an upper level. And on this basis, with the help of systematic theory and cybernetics, a new science, system medicine is expected to emerge, which would be a sound mixture of Western medicine and the TCM.
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(Edited by Xiaoman Ling, Lian Hu, Yangling Xiao and Yingqi Zhao)
* Guoqiu Zhao (1944.10- ), male, graduated from Huazhong University of Science and Technology. He is now a researcher of the Institute of Basic Physics in Iron and Steel Company of Wuhan and has been involved in researching physical philosophy, thought science and modern science basic research for TCM basic theory for years. He wrote monographs of more than 2,000,000 words such as Motion and Field, New Castalia of Physics, Marvelous Thought, Electron Exploration. He published more than 60 papers dealing with physical philosophy, thought science and TCM basic theory research. In the research of thought science and modern science basic research for TCM basic theory, he tries to combine the Yin-Yang, Qi, Jing Luo, dialectic, Qi Gong etc. in the TCM basic theory with western modern nature science and biological medicine (especially cell membrane's permeation) and he tries to erect a bridge for the exchange and mutual complementarity of western and eastern science culture; Address: Institute of Basic Physics, Iron and Steel Company of Wuhan, Wuhan, China, Postcode: 430080; Tel: 027-86853680(H), 62518965/13098806260,13027196625; E-mail: email@example.com