Reflections on Practice

With Guest: Charlie Buck

Episode Qi090

When you come right down to it… the practice of Chinese medicine is a kind of applied natural science.

What makes for an effective natural scientist? Mostly an abiding sense of curiosity. A willingness to have yourself proven wrong. The capacity for a kind of encouraging delight that emerges from following a thread of inquiry. And the fortitude to spend years or decades on following something that may or may not pan out, but journey is worth the effort.

In this conversation we explore and reflect on the path of practice, and the unexpected places to which it will take us.
In this conversation we discuss:
  • Oddly enough a professor in the 70’s said the exciting frontier of neurophysiology would involve acupuncture
  • Drawn to Chinese medicine and Zen as they seemed to be guru-free traditions
  • Felix Mann and Yoshiro Manaka were early influences
  • Books from Oriental Arts Institute
  • Moxa and respiratory diseases
  • Chinese medicine is a dynamic of both the simple and complex
  • Clearing pathogens out of the body, especially deep seated lingering pathogens can express as sickness on the way out
  • How to tell if someone is dealing with a lingering pathogen
  • Persuasion and marketing skills are not just for selling your services, they help with selling patients on themselves
  • Why patients usually reject good advice (and why you do too)
“Starting out in practice in 1984 I vowed to learn at least one new thing from every clinical encounter. This could be anything from learning about their meds, or some aspect of diagnosis, textual research into their biomedical condition or learning the full TCM differentiation. In this way I maximised the benefit from my clinical experience.”
Charlie Buck
As a small boy I was just fascinated….. making things, taking things apart, fixing things, learning stuff, digging holes in the ground, messing with chemicals, electronics, playing boogie-woogie piano and wang-arm guitar. When I was 14, we had the Summer of Loveand so I then messed with the ideas of the time; peace, love, nature, music, art, mind and stuff from the East.
My science career continued until I finally came to my senses at 22 and stumbled onto the path that has captivated me for four decades. I’ve been fortunate to have been able to study with many legendary teachers in the west as well as some profoundly skilled doctors from China. Now a well-seasoned clinical detective– my feet are rooted in science but my mind extends to the heights of the beautiful and knowing gaze of China’s medical legacy. I love that sense of following a daothat has been trodden by millions before.

My style? That’s complicated but one question at the back of my mind at each new clinical encounter is “what is the absolute, most appropriatething, that can happen for this person?”. I believe that appropriatenessis the true measure of the practitioner’s shenand is something we should reflect on deeply.

I have seen the magic this medicine offers, seeing change and transformation in people every day, decade on decade. Never bored for even a moment, this is, for me, the basis of a truly satisfying life. In the end, I hope to look back, content that my relations with others were based only on kindness and the Summer of Lovevalues of my youth.
Links and Resources


Charlie's book Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine—roots of modern practice was written to provide a readable account of Chinese medicine history, ideas and key thinkers.

There is also a plethora of material over at www.learnwith.charles-buck.com 



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I’ve heard it said that for something to be heard — it takes someone to speak and another to listen.

Michael Max

Acupuncturist, Podcast Host
About me
I've always been more drawn to questions than answers. And the practice of medicine seems to more lively when infused with a sense of curiosity and inquiry. It's been delight and honor to be able to discuss our medicine with so many thoughtful and skilled practitioners.

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