Let me begin by saying that I think there’s one thing
everyone on both sides of the FPD debate can agree about: Dae Jang Geum is a
totally awesome show.

If you’ve never seen it, allow me to wholeheartedly
recommend it.It has
something for everyone: stalwart heroines, poetry-writing soldiers,
comic relief, food-prep porn, fabulous period headgear, suspense, and moral lessons, not to mention acupuncture and herbs…

I just watched Episode 16* last night, in which our heroine,
Jang Geum, is once again banned from the royal kitchen; in this case, for being
too clever by half in her desire to win a competition (see Episode 15).She is sent to help care for the king’s mother’s old wetnurse, and
after a series of minor adventures has an opportunity to taste the food prepared by one of the local caretakers.This fellow’s main activity seems to be preserving foods by drying them: all episode he takes things out to dry in
the sun, and takes them in again at night and when the weather isn’t sunny.Jang Geum, who is a supertaster, is amazed
by the flavors of his food, the likes of which she has never had in the
Palace.She follows him around and begs
him to teach her his “tricks” – he insists that there is no trick.  “How do you
dry them?” she persists, to which he replies with good-humored alacrity, “I
don’t dry them, the sun does!”Eventually, in the conclusion of the heartbreaking subplot about the
nurse, Jang Geum realizes that the simple, slow, sincere way can be more appropriate than the
clever, quick way.

It seems to me that much of the genius of acupuncture is
that it is relatively simple.Indeed, it is
also quick and clever, but even when acupuncture is employed, sustained healing is almost
always slow, simple, quiet.It’s like
going outside in the sun and inside at night, like using the sun when it’s out
and doing something else when it’s rainy.This morning, I read the latest on the FPD debate on the AIMC forum, about whether or not
it’s within California acupuncturists’ scope of practice to order lab tests.My feeling is, regardless: WHY?Since lab tests in no way contribute to an
acupuncture (or even herbal) diagnosis, why would we use them?Why would we make patients spend money on
them?How is learning someone else’s
job the way to get better at OUR job?The
push for the FPD, and the whole move towards more and more western med
“competencies” feels like an effort to prove how much more clever we can
be, when we already have a very clever technology to hand.MDs are already doing the things they do
(labs, imaging, etc.), and at fairly high expense; why in heaven’s name would we
want to duplicate that—especially when we have something wonderful, if simple,
to offer?What about the Taoist virtues
of modesty, simplicity, enoughness – those values that are so lacking in the
US, and for which there is so much hunger?

Please, let’s learn from our ancestor Dae Jang Geum: know the limits of cleverness and speed, and start to recognize and appreciate the deep
wisdom that our medicine already contains.

*start watching at about 2:50 (note: this YouTuber divides the episodes up differently than the DVD set I got from Netflix).

Author: noraneedles

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  1. Nora, I can’t wait to check

    Nora, I can’t wait to check out this show!  Sounds amazing.  It is a sunny day and I am out of the sun reading about FPD and getting angry and depressed.  We are all asking a lot of good questions.  What is really shaking me up is WHY WE ARE GETTING NO ANSWERS. 

    Who is this small cluster of people who call the shots on our profession and request that we NEVER CALL THEM? fax and e-mail only. 

    Will there be meetings and debates that practioners can choose to attend or are we going to petition our hearts out BEGGGING for this to not happen.  I am tired of all of us preaching to each other and I love what each and everyone of you has to say.  But we believe in each other and we support each other.  How do we getting bigger and louder and more forceful about just how much we do not want to be served up as Physicians Assistants with a side of complimentary medicine. 


    Someone, please.  I need treatment. 


  2. Everybody!

    As always, Nora does a great job reporting.  When she says this series is awesome, she is not exaggerating.  This is FOOD for our soul, fellow CANners.  It’s about 50 episodes, and ran for a year in Korea, then spread to all the neighboring countries and even played on American TV.  In 2006 amazon was selling it for $300.  My husband and I would come home from work every day licking our chops over the next episode to come that evening.

    She’s right about the food porn.  I kept pausing it to write down notes.  Herbs too.

  3. It’s easy for me to

    It’s easy for me to romanticize life in fifteenth century Korea, and I am sure I will spend many Winter hours doing just that.  Thanks for the introduction, Nora.

    Ancient technologies of both food and healing were the same for so long, with periodic leaps (like the tractor, or the microscope) that would revolutionize these practices.  Technological, and complex bureaucratic solutions like the “Green Revolution” or our American Health-Insurance Care system don’t give much credence to more “primitive”  and simple ways because it’s harder to derive big profits.

    The promise that acupuncture will become more accessible by entering into the w. medical system, or integrative practices I think is erroneous.  For as long as humans have grown food there have been people who’s relationship with their land has been based on an understanding of our ultimate dependence on, not dominance over, the land.  Modern farming largely ignores this idea, and is why I think in part these “solutions” that attempt to overlay a huge amount of technology and science, fail.  Greed is another reason these big systems fail, or at least fail for the people who are supposed to be  “helped.”  Do we have an actual lack of resources on the planet, or an un-equal distribution?  Is technology being used for the highest good or the highest profits?

    Western medicine similarly, offers technological solutions, and scientific evidence that helps humans believe that the ultimate demise of our bodies and minds is avoidable, whereas Chinese medicine is founded on the idea that manifest in our fallible and degenerating human bodies is and eternal and perfect state of being, in one picture health is never dying and in the other death is already and ever present.  

    The overlay of modern medical techniques on what it means to have health or be healthy has turned into a huge system to provide “care” but with little health resulting.  As a nation we spend an extraordinary amount of healthcare dollars on the last 30 days of life, very little on primary care, and tons of money on administrative costs.  As a profession we seem to be trying desperately to find a leg up into a delivery system that is already quite dysfunctional.  Whether or not an FPD would even get us into that system is actually beside the point, when I start to think about the implications of working within that system would be, e.g. having “science and data” be the things that dictate treatment protocols, etc.

    How our medical/AOM care delivery system will evolve is a mystery, but I suspect that until the singularity arrives, humans will continue to be “hard wired” for the type of contact and relationship that simpler, time-tested technologies bring.

  4. lol

    My parents made me watch this while I was trying to study my boards. I fought them every step of the way. 😉 “But I am studying for my BOARDS I don’t have time to watch TV” (Sorry to say I skipped over all the food part and just started on the medical part, maybe I’ll borrow the DVDs from them once day and watch everything I’ve missed)

    It’s really good stuff and really inspiring. How she overcomes her status in society as a low born woman to practice medicine. And she does have a lot of those lessons because she is very “clever” or “intellectual” and a lot of times medicine is about intuition and experience.

    Simplicity is one of the virtues of Acupuncture and OM. Great post! 


    Jade Community Acupuncture, Winona, MN

  5. Two worlds

    I was at a holiday party last night where most of the people there were people who manage and run biopharm businesses (from one of my past lives).  A friend was talking about the start-up company he was running and they were just about to launch an amazing new drug for migraine sufferers whereby the patient “injects” this crazy pharmaceutical compound into their bodies with a needle-less air pump that forces it into the tissue. They just had a few side effect issues to deal with and then it was good to go, he said.  I said, wow, that seems like an intense way to get rid of a migraine, and he said, oh, it’s only for really bad cases, like for people who get 6 migraines a month, can you imagine how horrible that would be?  And I said, yeah, I have a few patients in my clinic who used to get them that often and they said it was incredibly debilitating.  And he said, well, when my drug comes out, they would be good candidates, and I said, well, they don’t get them anymore bc getting acupuncture regularly has totally cured them.  And he said, good thing you acupuncturists don’t have millions of dollars in startup funds like we do or we wouldn’t make any money. 


    Now isn’t that the truth???


    Julia in Berkeley