What is Traditional Chinese Medicine?
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a medical system which is proven effective in treating a vast array of diseases naturally. Thanks to a combination of herbal medicine and acupuncture among other therapies, TCM treats the person as a whole by restoring balance physically and emotionally. TCM can naturally provide relief for the following conditions:
- Internal medicine diseases
- Digestive disorders
- Respiratory disorders
- Menstrual disorders and infertility
- Skin diseases
- Western therapies’ side effects (for virus and cancer treatments)
- Gynecological disorders
- Kids health
- Physical imbalances
- Psychological turmoil
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a medical system which has been practiced for more than 2000 years. The Chinese have a unique understanding of the human body. Thus TCM differs drastically from the Western medical approach. The TCM philosophy lies in three key concepts: the “Whole Body Approach”, “Yin and Yang” and the “5 Elements”.
Whole body approach
For the Chinese, the body, spirit and soul build a oneness. This micro-unit is part of the universe and is influenced by its environment, including living conditions, stress levels, work environment, etc. In TCM, the harmony of the body and soul is the fundamental basis for health. TCM doctors will not treat a localized disorder specifically but will consider the body and soul as a whole to diagnose the disorders and come up with a treatment plan based on TCM philosophy in order to restore balance and well being.
Yin and Yang
In order to understand Chinese medicine, one must grasp the concept of Yin and Yang. Yin and Yang describe opposite forces which rely on each other and complement each other. Yin is associated with black. It stands for the night, coldness, silence, passivity, darkness, internality, chronic diseases and female. Yang is associated with white. It stands for the day, warmness, activity, brightness, externality, acute diseases and male. Yin and Yang exist in each body but the respective proportion of Yin and Yang in each individual varies every day.
The Five Elements
The theory of The Five Elements can be traced back to the observation of various dynamic elements in nature – Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. Chinese Medicine has adapted these five phenomena and reflected them into the body, in five major organs of the human body: Wood-Liver, Fire-Heart, Earth-Spleen, Metal-Lung and Water-Kidney. The Five Elements interact with each other in the nature as well as in the body. The theory of the Five Elements indicates that TCM is based on balance, development and harmony in nature. The Five elements follow a productive cycle where each of them produces another element: Wood produces Fire; Fire produced Earth; Earth produces Metal; Metal produces Water and Water produces Wood. In a balanced environment, they also follow the control cycle: Wood controls Earth, Earth controls Water; Water controls Fire; Fire controls Metal and Metal controls Wood. If one Element over-controls or under-controls another Element, imbalances and disharmony occur in the body, which eventually lead to the occurrence of diseases.
The two vital substances: Qi and Blood
TCM understands there are two major vital substances in the body: Qi – energy – and blood. The flow of these two substances must be smooth in order to maintain a balanced body and mind. Qi is the source of life: it maintains the body’s activity and the body’s temperature and protects it from external evil pathogens. It is also the source of transformation in the body. Qi flows through the whole body as well as through the meridians. Blood moisturized and nourished the body but it also supports the spirit. Qi and blood are closely related in TCM as blood needs Qi to move along the body. Besides Qi and blood, TCM also understands other substances such as phlegm and fluids play a role in the functioning of the body.
The Traditional Chinese Medicine diagnosis
In order to fully diagnose a patient’s condition, TCM physicians must identify meaningful connections from a large amount of processes occurring throughout the human body. TCM diagnostic methods consist of four examinations:
- Inspection (Wang)
- Questioning (Wen)
- Auscultation and olfaction (Wen)
- Palpation (Qie)
When observing an imbalance or illness, TCM doctors have to pinpoint how exactly the body is not balanced according to the 8 principles “Ba Gang Bian Zheng” (八纲辩证). It is a TCM diagnosis system that defines eight different patterns and allows the therapist to formulate the character of a disharmony and to localize it. Firstly mentioned under the Qing Dynasty by Dr Zhong-Ling Cheng, it aims at classifying the imbalanced following eight factors:
Exterior and interior: Whether the disease manifests itself on the superficial layers of the body (skin, muscles or meridian) or is deeply lying in the organs
Cold and hot: Describes the basic nature of the imbalance
Deficiency and excess: States if Qi and blood are sufficient, deficient or excessive
Yin and Yang: Yin being related to cold and deep organs and Yang being associated with heat and superficial elements
Following these patterns, a TCM doctor can determine whether a disease is light or severe; they can decide on the treatment method, the combination of the herbal decoction and estimate the length of the therapy. Depending on the individual diagnosis, TCM doctors prescribe the required treatment to heal and rebalance the body. Treatment therapies include herbal medicine, acupuncture, nutrition advice, cupping and Tuina massage. TCM is an excellent option for people seeking an efficient way to heal their symptoms naturally, on the long term and with fewer side effects.