Founder’s Note : This is the first article in a series by up and coming Chinese medicine scholar, Michelle Yan. Enjoy!
Have you ever wondered; will Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine work in Space?
Yes, I mean Outer Space, NASA, astronauts, packing-for-Mars kind of Space. Will acupuncture and chinese herbs still be beneficial or will they become obsolete as earth-based medicine? Too many times, people consider the issue of Space exploration as a far-off topic, something which usually only involves Space scientists, and not relevant to daily life. But looking at the recent reports, this is not the case.
For example, in October 2015, NASA announced that it plans to “have humans living and working on Mars in colonies, entirely independently by the 2030s”.
The non-profit organization, Mars One Foundation, based in the Netherlands, have already completed their selection of the first 4 astronauts who will be sent to Mars, on a one-way ticket, to colonize Mars in 2028.
The goals of such missions will no longer be to collect samples and data, but to build thriving, bustling colonies of new human settlements in Mars and beyond. Space exploration is quickly changing from the few elite scientist-astronauts to being about communities, people like you and me.
With approximately 10 years in the time horizon before the first launch, now is the time to get in on the conversation and make investigations into such questions.
As future Space colonists, what kind of medicine will we want to take with us?
What models of health and well-being would we want to pass on to further generations who may never get a chance to know Earth? What models of medicine do we want to rely on to guide us in our development of Space technologies such as the creation of spacesuits and spacebeds? Allopathic medicine, though very useful and life-giving for certain scenarios, is not the only model of medicine we have. Our human legacy of health is much more, and as practitioners of Chinese Medicine, we know and practice this other form of medicine daily.
Where humans go, medicine follows.
Medicine is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as the science and art dealing with the maintenance of health and the prevention, alleviation, or cure of disease. Human beings are living, breathing, ecosystems unto themselves. Chinese medicine excels at the study of the science and art of living processes with our models of the Five Phases and Six Conformations. I therefore posit to say that as long as human beings are alive in Space, Chinese Medicine is and can work. The question will therefore be how is it working. How is it similar and different? How can we transpose our current knowledge, change our maps, to make it relevant for living in Space?
Exploring the concept of Chinese Medicine in Space is also relevant for our profession today. As we put our understanding of the medicine to the test, we can observe and learn how physiology changes in extreme environments. For example, how will Qi flow differently in microgravity environments? How will the relationship of the 5-phase elements change, or not change? What will the phase-element Earth mean when we are no longer on Earth? How will the six-conformations interact differently? And will the Ying-Wei Qi cycle circulate differently in Space, with a change in our circadian rhythm?
Examining and testing out these concepts in Space, will help us understand our medicine better, and become better practitioners today.
The following series of blog posts are my investigations into the field of Chinese Medicine and its application to Space Medicine. They will generate more questions than answers. But questions are good places to start. My interest and exploration into this topic started with simple questions fueled by curiosity.
I hope that this series of posts will do the same for you, and spark interest and discussion on the topic. I believe that if we put our brilliant minds and hearts into solving these challenges for the next phase of human evolution, the benefits can be far-reaching.
Like Huangdi, The Yellow Emperor, who saw from 2000 years ago, the relevancy of Chinese Medicine today, if we chart our course for the future carefully, rooted in the wisdom and foresight of the ancients, we will have a good chance of ensuring the relevancy of Chinese Medicine for the next 2000 years, on Earth and beyond.