Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) PDF Print E-mail
"For thousands of years the Chinese have observed life processes and relationships between man and his environment. From this observation, the art of Chinese medicine has developed vocabulary to describe myriad subtle body patterns, a method of description not available to Western medicine because of its emphasis on disease states. The Chinese approach is a more holistic consideration of health and disease and of the delicate interplay between these opposing forces."
-Margaret A. Caudill, M.D, Ph.D., Research Fellow in
Medicine, Harvard Medical School

Modern practioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine use both eastern and western (or bio-medical) knowledge to assist their clients in achieving greater health. Depending on the source taken as starting point, Chinese medicine can be said to have begun between two and five thousand years ago, with written medical texts describing use and preparation of medicinal formulas dating before 221 B.C. and evidence of acupuncture and Chinese medicine in use far before that. Today, practioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine are trained to combine modern understandings of pathological states (diseases) and diagnostic techniques (for example, blood parameter results) with traditional knowledge and practices for diagnosing the body's state of health.

Chinese medicine, focuses on "patterns of disharmony" to describe and treat disease. These patterns describe situations of imbalance in a patient's body and/or life. Some of these relationships are also acknowledged with greater and greater frequency in the western medicine, such as the relationship between obesity and diabetes, depression and insomnia, or life style and diet affecting mood, or mood affecting general health and immunity. In Eastern, or Traditional Chinese Medicine, connections or patterns of health and illness, have been discussed, explored, clinically charted and researched for thousands of years. Traditional Chinese Medicine uses an integrative medical system of treatment. In integrative medicine the patient is considered as a whole, including mental, emotional and physical health. Life-style, diet, social and physical environment are included as part of the 'pattern' that influences the client's health and wellbeing. In treatment, many modalities are interwoven to create a treatment program to fit that patient's unique needs.

Some terms you may hear your Acupuncturist use

Yin and Yang: Yin and Yang are theoretical building blocks to Traditional Chinese Medicine. Yin-Yang Theory states that a part can only be understood in relationship to its whole. The character of yin was originally designed to describe the shady side of a slope. It is therefore associated with dark, rest, cold and physical matter. The character of Yang was originally designed to depict the sunny side of a slope. It is associated with light, activity, heat and function. These terms can also be used quite specifically in Chinese medicine. For example, the heart itself is considered a yin organ. The heart also has a yang aspect, and that is its function of actively pumping blood throughout the body. Therefore, using what sounded like a very poetic language to begin with, actually lets us speak about the heart both as a bodily organ and acknowledge it as the driving force behind a larger circulatory system.

Qi: There are numerous types of 'qi' in the Chinese system. One type of qi refers to the body's metabolic state, endocrine and hormonal function. Another type of qi corresponds with circulation of blood and fluids through our vessels and lymph system. Qi also corresponds to our nerve system and the electrical impulses that it transmits. As you can see, Qi is often used to describe the communication network in our bodies. Your acupuncturist will often refer to the "qi flow" as Chinese Medicine teaches that qi and blood must flow smoothly through the body and it's channels or imbalance and disease will follow.

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