The Web That Has No Weaver: Understanding Chinese Medicine

3-5 Mandarin, Books, Sports/Fitness

March 10, 2013

Author  Ted K. Kaptchuk, O.M.D.
Publisher  McGraw-Hill
Publication Date  2000
Price  $21.95

The Web That Has No Weaver: Understanding Chinese Medicine by Ted Kaptchuk will not teach you Chinese, but it has Chinese words in it! I read it as part of my foray into Chinese culture. I am very interested in health, and well, to be frank, I had some aches and pains that I thought maybe Chinese medicine could help me cure.

The Chinese words came up as translations of concepts in Chinese medicine. I was given Chinese equivalents, for example, for “blood,” “liver,” “gall bladder meridian,” “way of life,” etc.

If your medical experiences to date have been grounded entirely in Western medicine, I recommend you approach a book like The Web That Has No Weaver with an open mind, because some of it sounds just plain wacky if you are not used to it. You will encounter ideas such as, “The Liver is most closely connected with the Blood and at the same time tempers and ‘softens’ the Qi. The Liver is exquisitely sensitive to boundaries and demarcations and maintains the smoothness and harmony of movement throughout the body.”

I often read the book at night before I went to bed. Simply reading it would make me feel healthy, which was kind of relaxing, and then that in combination with the writing would put me to sleep.

A book’s soporific qualities are not exactly an indication of riveting narrative style, and I confess, I found this one tedious at times. A section on pulse, for instance, offered impossible-to-process detail on 18 different types of pulses and what they meant. You have your floating pulse, your thin pulse, your slippery pulse, your knotted pulse, your flooding pulse, your soggy pulse, and so on. With little pulse graphs, like in an algebra book! Too much pulse information for me to process in one sitting. (Or rather, one lying-down.)

Also, each chapter ends with pages and pages of notes in minute print, which just didn’t seem to be very audience-friendly. I don’t like notes interfering with my book reading. Stick them at the end of the book, I say, or skip them altogether.

If I’d wanted to read endnotes, I’d have picked an academic career!

But really, the goal of The Web That Has No Weaver is to introduce the uninitiated—such as me—to concepts that don’t translate easily into our English vocabulary and Western medical culture, and I definitely left the book better-educated about the concepts. However you feel about Eastern medicine, I can’t help observing that we Westerners are not exactly model purveyors of health, and I don’t mind looking elsewhere for some new ideas.

The Web That Has No Weaver: Good Bedtime Reading
The Web That Has No Weaver: Good Bedtime Reading

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