Friday, June 21, 2019

Traditional Chinese Medicine

Background and Principles

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a healing system of Eastern medicine developed in China around 2000 BC, which incorporates therapies that are in some cases millennia older. It is guided by several principles, one of which is to “dispel evil and support the good.” It is used to treat illness and it focuses on strengthening the body’s defenses as well as enhancing its capacity for healing and maintaining good health. In the United States, people use TCM primarily as a complementary health approach, meaning that it is often used in conjunction with other therapies including traditional biomedicine.

TCM is based upon a number of certain beliefs. The human body is seen as a microcosm of the vast universe which surrounds us. There are two opposing yet complementary forces called yin and yang. Balance between the two forces is essential for wellness, and all disease stems from an imbalance between the two.

In TCM there are five cosmic elements: fire, earth, wood, metal, and water. These elements or phases symbolically represent all phenomena, including the stages of human life, and explain the functioning of the body and how it changes during disease.

Qi, 其, is symbolized as vapor or steam rising over rice. It has the dynamic qualities of "flow" and "balance" and is the vital energy that flows throughout the body. It has no fixed concept from one patient to the next or from one day to the other. Qi maintains all life activities.

Treatment Methods

Acupuncture - a therapy which regulates qi through the use of strategically placed needles to unblock congested energy pathways.

Moxibustion - a therapy which involves the burning of dried herbs directly on the skin or indirectly above the skin over certain acupuncture points. It is used to treat yang deficiency, feelings of cold, and to nourish the blood.

Cupping - an ancient treatment used by folk healers and modern therapists. Used to treat headaches, dizziness, coughs, rheumatic pain, and pain from digestive issues. It is often used in conjunction with acupuncture.

Acupressure - a therapy based on the same principles a acupuncture, but this method utilizes massage instead of needles to regulate qi.

Herbalism - an essential part of TCM which utilizes more than 1000 different herbs for medicinal purposes. These herbal remedies can be made from plants, animal parts, and mineral parts. The use of herbal preparations to heal individuals dates back to 2000 BC.

Qigong - is similar to yoga and has been referred to as acupuncture without needles. Qigong works with the mind, body, and spirit to achieve harmony and in doing so, a healthy life filled with vitality.

Tai Chi Chuan - is a type of exercise used to promote the unfettered, peaceful flow of energy throughout the body as a way of maintaining wellness. It originated as a fighting art in 14th century China by Taoist Master, Chang San Feng.

Lifestle Modifications - consist of proper exercise, healthy eating, relaxation techniques like meditation, and having a supportive network of friends and family. Doing so supports the flow and balance of qi. 

TCM Chronology 


Koopsen, C., & Young, C., (2009). Integrative health: A holistic approach for health professionals. Sudbury,  MA: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.

Micozzi, M. S. (2001). Fundamentals of complementary and alternative medicine. New York: Churchill Livingstone

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