The physiology of Eastern Organic Medicine: an interpretation of 9 words of Bonshin, the 8th chapter of Youngchu, Hwangje Naegyong (黃帝 內經 靈樞: 本神 第八)

image(c)shutterstock_Nikki Zalewski

By Simon Kim, Professor, South Baylo University

Now we can talk about the theory of authentic Eastern Organic Medicine in the Hwangti Neijing. Things in “Jingqi” in I-Ching is life-laden entities. It is not material substances interpreted by the philosophers in China. Even Xie Zhufan, a director of Institute for the Integration of Chinese and Western Medicine, said that the theory of qi is a kind of materialism which explains mental activities in terms of objective matter. This kind of qi conception is contradictory to the theory of Jingqi in the Eastern Medicine.


<figure1: etymology of qi>

Primordial qi 元氣à qi in general 氣à refined qi 精氣à things in nature萬物: matter, life, spirit


Most scientists agreed that the concept of the matter mechanism, the unilinear causal logic, and the materialist worldview, on which the whole physics is based, became the standard model of sciences. But nature is not made of matter alone, and life is not explained solely by causal logic. In order for science to give a proper explanation to life phenomena and to be applied to real natural phenomena, the basic premise and method logic of science must be changed.

So far, the basic theorization of Eastern medicine has been dealt with in philosophical clarification in previous chapter. I will try now to apply this fruit of the philosophical argument to the Hwangti Neijing. Nine words of Bonshin show the body-mind view and the physiology of Eastern medicine. The careful attention to the hypothetical contents of the Eastern medicine coupled with the perspectives of modern philosophy enable to form a persuasive and adaptive Eastern medicine formula.


<figure2: Physiological Qi>

Qi 氣 à Life生 à Essence 精 à Shen 神 à Hun 魂 à Po 魄 à Intent 意 à Will 志 à Heart 心


When it comes to the physiology of human body, the limitation of materialism can be solved only by adding the concepts of life qi (生氣), or Jing qi (精氣) to physical interpretation of nature. There is the point of singularity between matter and life which can hardly explain in the theory of materialism. There is also some ontological segmentation that is difficult to explain through body and mind as a unified theory.

This is the reason why we need to have a new version of natural philosophy according to the Eastern Medicine. New physiology based on the concept of Jingqi must be prevailed in the arena of medicine in the 21st century. Newly emerging Integrative Medicine would be characterized as a bio-socio-psycho-environmental model. New Integrative Medicine can combine the Eastern and Western medicine, integrate mind and body, and harmonize human life and natural environment. Ultimately, it will be the Medicine of Heaven and Earth that aims for environmental ecology working both inside human body and outside nature concurrently.