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Expound Maya Medicine and Make a Comparison with Traditional Chinese Medicine

Author: ZhengZuoXin
Tutor: ZhuJianPing
School: China Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine
Course: Chinese Medical History and Literature
Keywords: Maya Medicine Native American Medicine Traditional Chinese Medicine Comparative Medical History
CLC: R79;R2-03
Type: PhD thesis
Year: 2006
Downloads: 308
Quote: 1
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The Reason and purpose of the dissertationThe Spanish colonialism has conquered the Maya since 1521. The Spanish missionaries who arrived in May after the conquest were responsible for burning many of the locals’ bark-paper books or codices. They nearly burned all the Maya books because they mistakenly thought that Maya held nothing that was not falsehood but the work of evil one. We ought to remember, however, that the culture of Maya was blooming in Mesoamerica during the classic period of 250-900 A.D., its builders erected temples, pyramids, ceremonial buildings at city of Tikal and many other cities. The architecture design, mathematics, hieroglyph, arts, Long Count and Tzolkin calendars were the top civilizations in central America, second to none to other races in the tropical rainforest. After prudent scrutiny, you would found that Maya has accumulated ample experiences and wisdom on disease diagnosis, differentiation of disease syndromes, acupuncture practice with cupping, herbal medicine with spiritual bathing for the healing of mental related diseases. In my clinical practice, I often collaborate with Maya shaman to tackle the most-difficult-to-treat disease. The patients always receive phenomenal results that encourage me to further study of the Maya Medicine. There are something profound in Maya Medicine that I am not aware of worthy of my research.For nearly 20 years, a group of western medicine researchers who were curious about the mystery of the Maya Medicine were trying its best to find the ways to interpret and assimilate the Maya Medicine into the western framework. They finally abandoned their study because they cannot understand why the fetus position may be corrected with garlic moxibustion on the acupuncture point of Zhiying(Urine Bladder meridian), located at the external side of the 5th toe. They have found that there is no scientific evidence from the anatomy and physiology viewpoint to support the working mechanism of Zhiying point. They can not help but thought that it is due to Maya’s voodoo magic that makes the fetus correct its position. They did not know that Traditional Chinese Medicine(TCM) for centuries has used Zhiyin acupuncture point to facilitate the uterus contraction for delivery and correcting the fetus position. I have found that nothing but TCM framework is able to adequately broach the efficacy of the Maya Medicine clinical theory and its practice. I feel there is indispensable need to expound the depth of Maya Medicine and in comparison with TCM so that TCM practitioners in oriental world is able to receive Maya medicine as an integral part of TCM.The paper is purposed to expound the clinical theory and its practice of Maya Medicine coupled with twenty-nine charts and seven tables, which can be subdivided into the following seven sections:(1) Ancient Maya territory, culture and its brief history(2) Life philosophy and its cosmology(3) Maya hieroglyph and Tzolkin calendar(4) Causality and disease(5) Diagnostics(6) Therapeutics(7) In comparison of Maya with TCMIn addition, I offer some of thoughts on reviving the Maya Medicine as an integral part of TCM.Ancient Maya territory, culture and its brief historyLittle is known of the earliest history of the Maya. Approximately, by the second millennium BC, Maya way of life had been established on the pacific coast of Guatemala close to the Mexican border. Village farmers established in the southern Mexico, tropical rainforest of northern Guatemala, Belize, Honduras and El Salvador. The Maya culture has lose its glamour and begun to decline after 1500 AD. for unknown reasons. However, Maya race still keeps their traditional culture and medicinal practice. Prior to the Spanish Colonial Age, Mayan inscribed the essential national affairs, ceremonies, emperors name, birth date and his achievements with glyphs into the stone stele, andstone walls. Today, from some of pyramid ruins and remains, we are still able to appreciate and marvel at the splendor of the Maya culture.Life philosophy and its cosmologyThe quiche Maya give a detailed account of the creation of the world based on Maya genesis mythology, and also of the gods efforts to make the first humans, in their sacred book of the Popol Vuh (’Book of Advice’). The book tells us how the earth was born from the conversation of the gods, Hunan Ku and Pluned Serpent god. It took them 7 days and 6 nights to complete the creation of the world. 7 plus 6 equals 13. Mayan, therefore use number 13 with 20 day gods to develop the well-known Tzolkin calendar, each of calendar day is a sacred day because one of 20 day god would dominate a certain part of human body, impacts Maya weather, farming, planting, and healing. Every Thursday and Friday, Maya gods would come down the world to help healing the sick. This is why Mayan people do not do much work but pray on Thursday and Friday so that they can receive the healing and blessing from the gods.According to the creation story of Maya, man is created from the World Tree(ceiba), located in the center of the cosmos, its branches continually dispense the life-giving qi {%, Chulel) to bring forth the life supply, rain, and the ’wind’ to the world. The World Tree is located in the center of the cosmos to communicate and balance the four cardinal directions, its top reaches to the thirteen heavens and its roots deepen down to the nine underworld;the thirteen heavens are able tocommunicate the nine underworld through the trunk of the World Tree. The world tree has dual polarity, similar to the yin-yang of TCM, which is able to bring the life and bring the heaven to the earth and make it into one. Mayan people trust the branches of World Tree would bring forth the powerful ’spiritual wind’ to supply the breath of Mayan and bring the dawning sun to the Maya sky every morning, bring the Mayan out of the darkness into the light. Light is the beginning of time, speed, space, farming, religion rituals.The creation myth and the World Tree are the axis and blueprint of every aspect of Maya culture and healing philosophy, whether the farming, building up the pyramids, ceremonial rituals, blood offering to gods, prayer, all Maya social, political, religion activities are dominated by the World Tree.Since man is reborn by the World Tree and the highest god, Hunan Ku, man has the holy breath of god and of the World Tree, therefore, man is able to communicate with god and one with god. Man is the top cream and glory of god’s creation, representing the god to rule the Universe.Maya MedicineThe causality of the disease can be classified three categories: natural factor(natural wind, fatigue, unclean food, snake bite, injury), emotion factor(anger, fright, envy), and supernatural factor(supernatural wind, gods). Mayan believes that the pernicious ’wind’ is primary factor of the pathology. ’Wind’ has dual nature: cold and hot pathogens, through which all disease may be developed due to the disharmony of the cold and the hot. Anything in the Maya world, whether the food, herb, wind, blood, emotion, god, it has dual nature. For instance, the emotion of anger, envy is classified as hot nature whereas the fright, sadness, depression, soul loss is classified as cold nature;herb is also able to be classified as hot or cold herb. Hot herb is able to treat the disease due to the cold wind, the deficiency of the blood, fright, sensitive to the cold while the cold herb is considered to balance the excessive heat, anger emotion, bilis (Maya domestic disease due to excessive bile secretion of the liver), infection and eliminate the toxins from the system.Mayan is sensitive to the attack of ’wind’ pathogen, attributable to the cold food, cold drink, night wind, Maya gods, shaman healer, individual with excessive heat, the wind from the ceremonial temple, farming land, forest, and animals such as cat, bird. Mayan believes that pernicious wind can be resulted from anything and any factor. Therefore, to treat a disease, the Maya doctors place primary emphasis on expelling the wind pathogens.DiagnosticsMaya doctors are proficient in the pulse diagnosis, observation diagnosis, and listening diagnosis. While practicing the pulse diagnosis, the Maya doctors are able to detect the root cause of the physical problems by resonating his heart with the messages spoken from the patient’s blood.TherapeuticsMaya Medicine is effective to treat the disease resulting from the natural pathogens such as the diarrhea, cold wind, fever, fatigue, dirty food, and the disease resulting from the supernatural pathogens such as offense of god, fright, sadness, wind from the temple). Maya doctors specialize in treating the mental and emotion diseases with three unique modalities, prayer, spiritual bathing, and burning the incense. They are effective to treat the soul loss, the negative emotions such as fright, depression, envy, anger, and supernatural wind from the temple, and breaking the promises.Maya doctors are skillful in dispensing the herbal remedies to the patients. Maya doctor prefers fresh herbs instead of dried, processed herb. The fresh herbs may be used for juicing, bathing, and moxibustion (applying the herb poultice, cream onto the affected area). Herbal remedies may be a single fresh herb for juicing, decocting or a combination of herbs as a formula.The indications for which the herbal formulas are effective are similar to the Chinese herbs.Maya shaman are equipped with a number of treatment modalities such as crystal, sastun stone (the stone is able to speak), eight charkas with which the healing energy is able to absorbed into the stone or crystal. Then, shaman doctors transfer such healing energy to the patients.In comparison of Maya with TCMMaya, the only race in meso-ammerica, is able to treat the disease with acupuncture, cupping, moxibustion, and massage. Maya has used up to 80 TCM acupuncture points for pain symptoms, asthma, skin disease, and blood/qistagnancy.Discussion and SummaryThe paper provides medical professionals in China with in-depth knowledge of Maya medicine, paving the way for integration of Maya medicine into TCM. Since the philosophy framework and clinical practices of Maya Medicine and TCM are compatible, it is beneficial to further the study of the Maya herbs, herbal formulas, and how the herbs are processed. Further research on comparison of the Maya disease with that of TCM, and their treatment modality from the perspective of causality are recommended.

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