Chinese Medicine Revisited A Western View of Chinese Medicine

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Where the Chinese tradition meets with Western thinking. Hamid Montakabs book Chinese Medicine Revisited explores the fundamental theories of Chinese Medicine as seen by at MD, trained in Western and Oriental Both Medicines. The principals of the Chinese Medical Thought and the various dialectical systems are de-mystified and Explained. The physical and Especially the energetic structure of the body, the channel system, the notions of health and disease, The Very Original Chinese diagnostic system, are all explored and developed in a practical manner, with emphasis on constitutional and temperamental evaluation.
The last chapter in collaboration with various experts in Their Fields, offers to overview of not only the Four Pillars of Chinese therapy, acupuncture, herbs and diet, Tuina massage and qigong, so but other Chinese practices thathave, over the years, been associated with health , seeking as Cultivation of the Mind, Astrology, Feng Shui and even the Yi Jing.
The book is very well referenced and Documented and even additionally contains at extensive section on "Evidence based Acupuncture". Many well-known top authors like Simon Becker, Bartosz Chmielnicki, Stefan Englert, Solange Montakab and others helped to complete this book.
By its thoroughness and simplicity, this book offers an excellent tool for the beginner as well as the advanced practitioner, and Could even be recommended as at in-depth introduction for the lay-person.


Remember revising for those crucial exams, where you were determined you were going to shoot for all those A-grades? Perhaps you worked out that one tactic was to write the clearest, most concise and comprehensive ‘crib notes’ you possibly could. That is essentially what Montakab, with a little help from some friends, has done here. A large chunk of the basic (and sometimes not so basic) material that underpins the theory and diagnostics of Chinese medicine practice is here. This material is organised into six parts each with a number of chapters that include the work of nine other prominent contributors.

Having witnessed his presentation and communications skills in action I had already clocked Montakab as an engaging and insightful communicator. From this book we see that these skills transfer well to the written word; the style is concise and clear. The layout is attractive and information is presented in a satisfyingly compact format with high production values evident. The tongue diagnosis chapter, for instance, includes dozens of good quality photographs that are effective in conveying the basic tongue types. It is difficult to fault the clear and attractive way Montakab and his coauthors summarise the core ideas using a combination of tables, text, photographs and diagrams. Also appealing is the way that the scope of this book extends beyond the boundaries most authors set, including topics such as the cultivation of mind and yijing thinking. Whilst I do not think that this could serve as a comprehensive course text - it is a touch light on explanation - it would function well as a revision aid.

Montakab’s wide field of view is shown by the inclusion of chapters on often neglected subjects - an extensive section on facial diagnosis for example. The text also gives a clear summary of the basic ideas of Chinese medical chronobiology - so-called ‘Stems and Branches’ theory - provided by leading Polish expert Dr Bartosz Chmielnicki. Understandably, this section glosses over the complexities of this subject and does not provide sufficient detail to use this methodology in practice; nevertheless it represents a very handy resource for those who wonder what stems and branches is all about. Bartoscz is diligent enough to include mention of the history of the origins of this system as well as a mention of its prime proponent in the West – the late Dr J. D. van Buren.

The authors’ wide-angle view means that there is some variation in the depth to which the topics are covered. Some chapters seem a touch perfunctory, the dietics section for instance runs to six pages, whilst other subjects, such as observation diagnosis gets seventy pages.

It is the reviewers’ sad remit to find things to gripe about and perhaps the easiest thing to criticise in this text is the lack of critical appraisal applied to the information that is presented. Sure, there is a 36-page acupuncture research section but this simply a list of useful references relating to acupuncture effectiveness with little or no discussion of the problematic nature of the research or indeed the many of evidence questions that might arise from reading this text. Does analysis of lines on the face have a place in the clinic today? Maybe, maybe not, but in the professional practice of medicine in the modern world we probably need to be working towards something more substantial than mere opinion on this. Fair enough, Montakab has only set out to précis the basic ideas of this medicine and not to critique them – although given the subtitle ‘A Western View’ one might expect some degree of critical appraisal. Most of the book is firmly rooted in the received traditional Chinese view. If our profession wishes to be taken seriously we might at the very least nod briefly in the evidence-based medicine direction and reflect whether some of the material we teach stands up to modern day scrutiny. I see Montakab as a significant figure in our field and know that in his other writings he has indeed given much more attention to this issue. So I make this point apologetically and in the knowledge that this book would need to be at least five times the size if it were even to begin to tackle this issue properly. I also make the point in the hope of encouraging suitable research and greater critical reflection on the beliefs espoused by our profession.

So, who is this book for? I see it as a good student text. It is also of interest for those of us who periodically feel the need to review our overall grasp of the foundational ideas of Chinese medicine. It may also be suitable for those who are returning to practice after a year or so of doing other things and need a resource to re-awaken dormant memory banks. If you are a student revising for you final exams you may indeed be more likely to get those straight A’s with Montakab’s help. In sum, this is an interesting and engaging compendium of many of the things a true physician of Chinese medicine is supposed to know. Due to its clarity and its diverse content, in many respects it is a good contribution.

Charles Buck  

More Information
Author Montakab, H.
Publication Date 1 Dec 2015
Publisher Homaya Publications
Number of Pages 568
Book Format Softcover
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