Traditional Chinese Medicine Introductory

This article serves as a basic traditional Chinese medicine introductory.

As this website is based on traditional Chinese medical principles, this article will be of interest if you want to know some of the theory behind the exercises, self-help techniques and programs on the site.

For more detailed information on the theory and practice of traditional Chinese medicine there are some recommended books below.

Chinese Medicine Introductory - Qi

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) evolved in China over a period of at least 2500 years of consistent use on literally millions of people. The underlying principle of TCM is that all living things contain a life-force or energy that circulates continuously throughout them until they die. In humans, this life-force - called qi (chee) - circulates throughout channels or meridians, the main ones of which connect with our internal organs.

Basically, in TCM, "perfect" health is regarded as the smooth and unobstructed flow of qi (and blood) throughout the body. When qi and blood flow is obstructed ill health results. Many factors contribute to obstructed qi and blood flow - hereditary, dietary and environmental factors and lifestyle factors such as overwork and stress can all obstruct circulation. A fundamental aim of the programs on this site is to circulate your qi and blood, while at the same time strengthening, toning and relaxing your body and mind.

Chinese Medicine Introductory - TCM v WM

One of the major differences between TCM and Western medicine (WM) is that TCM views the body holistically. Mind, body and spirit are inseparable, interconnecting with and continuously influencing one another. WM in comparison looks at the body from a scientific, microscopic point of view, isolating and treating each part as a separate entity with little recognition of its relationship to the whole. Also, TCM regards each of us as unique individuals.

TCM doctors look for "patterns of disharmony" - groups of symptoms and signs that are unique to you. Treatment is specifically tailored to suit your particular condition at that time. In contrast, WM doctors give all patients with the same condition the same treatment with little recognition of the fact that each patient is totally different from the next in virtually every regard and therefore may need a totally different treatment.

Chinese Medicine Introductory - TCM Treatment

TCM incorporates acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, massage, dietary therapy and exercise forms such as taiqi and qigong. Treatment for any complaint whether by acupuncture, herbs or massage aims to restore inner-harmony to the body by balancing energy and blood flow. TCM doctors ask you questions not only about your main complaint but also about other seemingly unrelated aspects of your health and lifestyle. What you eat, your sleeping patterns, bowel movements, type of work, emotions, menstrual cycle and many other details are noted during the initial consultation.

Inspection of your tongue and palpation of the radial pulse on each of your wrists also provides important information with which to make a diagnosis. Your initial visit can last up to an hour and may include acupuncture or massage therapy depending on your complaint. You may be prescribed a herbal formula and advised on appropriate dietary and lifestyle changes.

Chinese Medicine Introductory - TCM & WM Combined

TCM is increasingly being used by people in Western countries looking for alternatives to invasive and in some cases unnecessary surgical procedures and also for alternatives to modern pharmaceuticals which often produce unwanted side effects. Both TCM and WM have advantages and limitations and in fact the best results are often obtained from combining the two. For example, in hospitals in China cancer patients are routinely treated with chemotherapy and radiation, and also Chinese herbal medicine to combat the debilitating side effects of the WM treatment. This means that higher doses of chemotherapy and radiation can be tolerated by the patient, making the overall treatment more effective.

TCM works by stimulating the self-healing powers of the body and eliminating the root cause of a disease or ailment. Natural methods take time though and while they lack the dramatic impact of modern medicines, they work in harmony with the body, therefore the benefits are long lasting and side effects are rare.

Chinese Medicine Introductory - Acupuncture Benefits

In Western countries acupuncture is probably the most widely recognized of the TCM modalities. The following is a list of conditions that generally respond best to acupuncture: acute strains and sprains of muscles and joints; chronic neck and back pain; headache; constipation; diarrhea; indigestion; high blood pressure; menstrual irregularities; impotence; post-stroke paralysis and addictions such as overeating, smoking and drug dependence.

This is not a definitive list though - you should consult an acupuncturist for specific information and advice.

While this chinese medicine introductory article offers a basic outline only, it should still also be of interest to anyone receiving or comtemplating receiving acupuncture or other TCM treatments. For a more in-depth chinese medicine guide for laypersons, the following two books are recommended:

  • The Web That Has No Weaver (Ted Kaptchuck)
  • Shambhala Guide to Traditional Chinese Medicine (Daniel Reid)

    Both of these Chinese medicine guides are available at

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