Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM,中国传统医学) is also well-known as Chinese Medicine(中医，zhōng yī). Based on the theory of yin-yang(阴阳)and five elements(五行), it also absorbs experience that how ancient Chinese people fight with disease and then develops into a broad range of medical care ways, including various forms of Chinese Herbal Medicine(草药cǎo yào), Cupping(拔火罐bá huǒ guàn), Gua Sha(刮痧guā shā), Acupuncture(针灸zhēn jiǔ), Moxibustion(艾灸ài jiǔ), Massage(推拿tuī ná 按摩àn mó), pediluvium (足浴), Qigong(气功qì gōng)and Dietary therapy(食疗shí liáo).
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has a huge influence throughout East Asia since ancient time and now also in the western world. Generally speaking, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can be divided into two main parts: Han medicine and ethnomedicine. The former one refers to a medicinal science which is created by the Han People; The latter one includes Zang Medicine(藏医Tibetan Medicine), Meng Medicine(蒙医Mongolian Medicine), Miao Medicine(苗医) and other ethnic medicine. However, when we mention Traditional Chinese Medicine or Chinese Medicine, most of the time, we just mean Han medicine.
Traditional Chinese Medicine treats human body as an entity of qi(气), shape(形) and spirit(神). Then through four diagnostic methods to search for the cause of disease and analyze the change of the zang-fu, jingluo,qi,blood(血) and jinye, after that, a disease name will come out and suitable medical care way will be adopted.
Important Terms and Concepts in Traditional Chinese Medicine
yin-yang: 阴阳,yīn yáng, the concepts of yin and yang came from ancient Chinese people’s views of nature. In old times, they found many nature phenomenon in an against or conjoint relationship, for instance, heaven and earth, the sun and the moon, day and night, male and female,inside and outside, downward and upward, etc, so they drew a conclusion in a philosophy way----yin and yang, which was mentioned in Yi Zhuan and Dao De Jing of Laozi in the spring and autumn period and infiltrated nearly every aspect of Chinese traditional culture. Hence, yin and yang also extends to the various body functions: exterior and interior, cold and heat, vacuity and excess. The balance of yin and yang is a symbol of health.
five phases or five elements: 五行, wǔ xíng, is a view of matter in ancient China and used very often in Chinese philosophy ,Chinese medicine and divination. In old times, Chinese people thought nature was formed by five elements: metal, wood, water, fire and earth. With ups and downs of five elements, nature changed and people’s fates also were influenced. Talking about Chinese medicine, five elements indicates different organs. Because of the mutual generation and restriction relation between five elements, Chinese doctors believed one organ’s pathology would have great effect on other organs.
Four Diagnostic Methods(四诊)----four must steps in Chinese Medicine
Wang: 望,wàng, to observe a patient’s growth, complexion, coating on the tongue, expression and so on;
Wen: 闻,wén, to listen to a patient’s voice, cough, breath and smell his halitosis and body odor;
Wen: 问,wèn, to ask a patient about his symptom and medical history;
Qie: 切,qiē, to feel a patient’s pulse and touch his abdomen to see whether there is a lump or not.
the fourth step Qie in traditional style of diagnosis
the modern style of diagnosis
zang-fu: 脏腑,zàngfǔ, a generic term for the vital organs of a human body in Chinese Medicine, they are different from anatomical organs. Ancient Chinese people divide internal organs into Fivezang(五脏)和Sixfu(六腑). Fivezang includes Heart, liver, Spleen, Lung and Kidney which have a function to store qi and jinye. While Sixfu refers to Gallbladder, Stomach, Large Intestine, Small Intestine, Urinary Bladder and Sanjiao which have essential functions consisting of transmitting and digesting substances like waste, food, etc.
jingluo: 经络, jīng-luò, jīng are the meridians and luò are subsidiary channels. In Chinese Medicine, jīng-luò is not only to connect the interior of the body to the surface but also the channels for transporting qi and xue. The study of jīng-luò is a significant foundation for acupuncture and massage. According to the difference of size and shade, TCM identifies twelve “regular"(十二经脉), eight "extraordinary" meridians(奇经八脉) and fifteen collaterals(十五络脉).
qi: 气,Qì, is a very common concept in Chinese philosophy, Chinese Fengshui, Taoism and Chinese Medicine. It is believed to be the basic substance to form a body and the most elementary energy for maintaining vital movement.TCM uses different names for identifying qi that runs inside of the blood vessels or circulates in the meridians. And the most important qi is “principal qi”(元气yuán qì )or “true qi”(真气，zhēn qì) that held by zangfu.
jinye: 津液,jīn yè, bodily fluids, have functions of nurturing and moisturizing the different structures of the body, producing blood and harmonizing Yin and Yang. According to the character, distribution and function of bodily fluids, TCM divides them into Jin and Ye.
If you are a fan of Chinese Kungfu, you will be familiar with these words, such as “principal qi”(元气yuán qì )or “true qi”(真气，zhēn qì), and Rendu Ermai(任督二脉,rèn dū èr mài )---- two major channels of eight"extraordinary" meridians(奇经八脉).
History of Traditional Chinese Medicine
Traditional Chinese Medicine is a treasure that many Chinese people devote themselves into the development of TCM. As a resulit, many classics of China Medicine and famous doctors appeared in history.
Tracing the source of Traditional Chinese Medicine, we found that it emerged in primitive society and the theories of Traditional Chinese Medicine were formed basically in the spring and autumn and warring states periods. At that time, anatomy arose; four diagnostic methods, cure ways like stone needles, acupuncture and moxibustion were adopted.In the Western Han Dynasty, medical professionals appeared;In the Eastern Han Dynasty, famous medical scientist Zhang Zhongjing summed up eight therapeutic methods; Hua Tuo got high reputation because of powder for anesthesia and created body building exercise---- five-animal boxing. In the Tang Dynasty, Sun Simiao summarized forefathers’ theories and collected 5000 prescriptions. After Tang Dynasty, works about Traditional Chinese Medicine were spread to Koryo, Japan, Central Asia, Western Asia, etc. In the Song Dynasty, the central government set Hanlin medical school and the branches of medicine is almost completed. And the most important thing is, tú jīng, as the first unified acupuncture point book was published. In the late Ming Dynasty, Li Shizhen wrote the book Compendium of Materia Medica. Meanwhile, Meng Medicine and Zang Medicine were influenced by Han medicine. From the end of Qing Dynasty, modern medicine (Western medicine) were spread to China and impacted the development of Chinese Medicine.
|The Traditional Chinese Medicine Shop || The Modern Chinese Medicine Shop |
In the modern time, Traditional Chinese Medicine has returned. When Sars swept China in 2003, Traditional Chinese Medicine was proved to be effective in precaution. And when H1N1 Flu came out in 2009, Chinese doctors used Chinese Remedy of Herbal Medicine to treat H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu).Clinical cases even stated clearly that Traditional Chinese Medicine had good function on the treatment of cancer. Of course, some times, patients need TCM and Western medicine work together.