TCM Kongress Rothenburg o.d.T.

TCM Kongress Rothenburg o.d.T.

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Die Schule der Mitte, Gastro- und Neurogastroenterologie, Li Gao: Pi Wei Lun

2002-1 Kongressbericht

33. TCM-Kongress in Rothenburg o.d. Tauber 2002

Once again I was glad not to have missed this event, held annually by the ‘Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Klassische Akupunktur und Traditionelle Chinesische Medizin eV. in the most remarkable medieval town of Rothenburg in the south of Germany. The congress was dedicated to Father Claude Larre who died on December 14th 2001 after several months of illness. This year’s themes were ‘Pain Therapy’ and Lin Syndrome’. The line-up of international keynote speakers lecturing in English was impressive and I had the feeling of being part of an important occasion. The cutting edge of the western TCM community which is going places, taking on issues, trying to expand boundaries and wrestling with the challenge of how to integrate a traditional system into modern western healthcare. Having attended the congress now for three years running I had a greater sense of an ongoing debate which for me, a practitioner working in relative isolation, was reassuring and exciting. 630 participants took part, which confirmed once again that the Rothenburg Congress is the biggest conference of its kind in the western world. The majority of participants were Germans with the members of the ‘Arbeitsgemeinschaft’ forming the largest contingent (over 50% this year). The main participation from abroad came from Switzerland, Austria, the Netherlands and Scandinavia. During 3 days of congress (Thursday to Saturday), 2 days of pre-congress workshops (Vorkurse) and 1 day of post-congress workshops (Nachkurse) 60 courses and 18 lectures were delivered. The congress traditionally kicks off with a plenary session on Thursday morning in Rothenburg’s town hall with a welcome address by the organisers and introductory half hour lectures by the keynote speakers. A second plenary morning session is held on Saturday with further lectures by keynote speakers, podium discussion and presentations on interesting topics. This year the presentations covered acupuncture in a desert setting, acupuncture in obstetrics, NADA acupuncture (drug dependency) and the role of Qi Gong in rehabilitation and preventive medicine, while the podium discussion dealt with the question ‘Can Chinese herbs be substituted by Western herbs in the practice of TCM?’ The lectures given by the keynote speakers will be mentioned further on with the discussion of the courses they taught. The remainder of the congress consists of half or full day workshops held simultaneously at different locations which makes it necessary to plan the timetable and choose from the spread of workshops available. Of the 60 courses offered this year, 27 were given in English which made it possible to opt for an all English congress, especially since the majority of keynote speakers were lecturing in English. Early risers had the opportunity to take part in one of 4 classes (Qigong, Taiji, Push Hands and Gongfu) which were held on the lawn next to the river before the start of lectures as well as afterwards in the evening. I could watch them every morning from my hotel window. It was a very joyous picture indeed. Felice Dunas, USA, was this year’s most popular keynote speaker. She lectured for two and a half days on ‘sex as a form of healing’ and ‘ancient sexual medical practices’. Her radiant presentation and rapport with the audience were mesmerising and drew the loudest applause during the plenary session. Lilian Garnier, USA, also proved very popular with the audience. She lectured for two and a half days on ‘foundations of Chinese face diagnosis’ and ‘diagnostic signs for pain and illness in the face’. Arya Nielsen, USA, by now a regular in Rothenburg and a specialist in Guasha who again is very popular, lectured for three days on ‘acute and chronic musculo-skeletal problems, somatic automaticity and psycho-spiritual aspects of illness’ as well as giving an introduction to Guasha. Those three and Barbara Kirschbaum who lectured in German drew the largest audiences which seemed to coincide with the intention of the organisers to redress the male – female balance of keynote speakers. Ken Rose, USA, gave many fascinating insights from the perspective of the Taijijuan and Tuina practitioner, who has practised for decades, lived in China for 10 years and has an in depth knowledge of the language, terminology and philosophy of Chinese medicine. His lecture was built around the congress theme ‘pain therapy’ and covered ‘differentiation and treatment of headache, joint rehabilitation and meridian therapy, harmonising and vitalising the Qi, traumatology, first aid, acute pain, resuscitation and herbal formulas, external use in soft tissue injuries caused by trauma’. He lectured for four days. Stephen Birch, NL, lectured for two and a half days on ‘Japanese acupuncture strategies for chronic and acute pain’ and gave an ‘introduction to Toyohari, an East-Asian needle therapy’. Julian Scott, UK, one of the most popular male speakers, gave lectures (one and a half days) on ‘Shen disturbances in adults’ and ‘Western herbs in the treatment of childhood allergies and asthma. Prof. Sun Peilin, Belgium, whose plenary lecture impressed me with its didactic clarity, lectured for one and a half days on ’constructive conception of TCM for pain therapy’ and ‘treatment for Phlegm-Dampness’. Finally, the following speakers gave one day lectures each: Francois Ramakers, Belgium, ‘diagnosis and treatment of Lin syndrome’, Sibyll Huessen, NL, ‘Dr Shen’s method of pulse diagnosis’, Annette Koppang, Norway, ‘chronic prostatitis and male infertility’, Michael McCarthy, Ireland, ‘palpatory literacy, difficult problems of head, neck, shoulders and arms’, Rinaldo Rinaldi, Italy, ‘treatment of lumbar intervertebral disk herniation with TCM’, Peter Firebrace, UK, ‘alchemy and Chinese medicine’, Joan Duveen, NL, ‘stems and branches, life cycles and acupuncture cycles’. My apologies go to the many excellent German speakers whose lectures by and large followed the theme ‘pain therapy’. Because of my focus on presentations given in English I have not mentioned their talks in this article. Like every year the Friday night buffet-dinner-dance party should not be missed and didn’t disappoint this time. The moment the music started the dance floor filled with literally hundreds of TCM practitioners bopping the night away. A heart warming sight. Rothenburg is an excellent location for such a conference even though it is a slight headache to get there from abroad. Places to fly to are Frankfurt, Munich or Nuremberg, which is nearest. From there you have to undertake a somewhat complicated train journey. Once there you will not be disappointed. The medieval wine cellars and beer gardens make a splendid backdrop for an enjoyable time when the lectures have finished. Lilian Garnier, lecturing for the first time this year in Rothenburg, called it “my favourite conference in the world”. I am happy to agree. I find the combination of cutting edge lectures, ongoing debates about the place and possibilities of TCM in the west and the opportunity to meet many old and new friends from far apart very appealing. If you are interested to participate next year I recommend that you book your accommodation early, perhaps by December, as the B+B’s and Pensions in the vicinity fill up quickly. One way to do this is via the congress web site or via which has an English page that leads you to the various categories of accommodation. You can also write to or to Rothenburg Tourismus Service, Marktplatz, 91541 Rothenburg, Germany. For the congress you should book by February 15th, 2003. The congress chairman Gerd Ohmstede can be reached on If you want to chat with me about it write to

Friedrich Staebler, past vice chair of cC

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