Chinese Medicine

“The superior doctor prevents sickness; The mediocre doctor attends to impending sickness; The inferior doctor treats actual sickness.” – Chinese Proverb

Overview

Yin Yang

The symbol for Yin & Yang

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been practiced since its origination in the East over 5000 years ago. It is a complex and complete system based on the concept that optimal health is a state of harmony. This harmony is dependent on a balance of yin and yang (pronounced “YONG”) and the proper flow of qi (or energy)(pronounced “chee”) in the body. In order to maintain a balance of qi, along with yin and yang, a variety of treatments are incorporated in TCM including acupuncture, diet, Chinese herbs, and mind/body practices such as Tai Chi and Qigong.

The concepts of TCM are very different from those of Conventional Western Medicine. The main tenets of yin and yang, opposing forces acting together to create a healthy individual and world, do not have an equivalent in Western Medicine. However, as a means of simplification, with regards to health these forces can be equated to the ideas of temperature (yin is cold and yang is hot), and moisture (yin is wet and yang is dry). The concept of qi also doesn’t have an equivalent in Western Medicine, as the notion of an energy field isn’t readily accepted in Western culture. TCM believes that qi moves through the body via a system of channels, called meridians. If energy is blocked it can be rebalanced using points on these channels (acupuncture points) via small needles in the treatment known as acupuncture. Even the organ systems in Chinese Medicine are different than those used in Conventional Medicine. In TCM there are only five “organ networks”; liver, heart, spleen, lung, and kidney.

General Principles of Chinese Medicine

  • There is no “good” or “bad”. Health is a fluid state in which change is constant and embraced with the ultimate goal of achieving a balance in all systems.
  • The general hierarchy for healing methods is considered to be Meditation, Movement, Acupuncture, and Herbs. (from Chinese Medicine Sampler)
  • The West assesses health through biochemistry; the East measures it through ability for flow. – Ingrid Bacci, Ph.D.
  • Western medicine focuses on all the things that are the same in people, whereas Eastern medicine looks all of the things that are different and treats each patient individually. – David Forbes, M.D.
  • In Chinese medicine autoimmune diseases are considered internal and treated according to symptoms. The focus in not on decreasing the immune system, but rather on treating the symptoms to get the body out of the symptomatic state.

Concepts of Yin & Yang

Yin

Yang

Yin

Yang

dark

light

cold

hot

non-being

being

wet

dry

0

1

slow

fast

mystery

manifestations

chaos

order

below

above

water

fire

feminine

masculine

ice

steam

passive

active

old

young

soft

hard

heavy

light

 

Most Yang Yang Yin Most Yin
Time Noon 6 am 6 pm Midnight
Season Summer Spring Fall Winter
Direction South East West North
Element Fire Wood Earth Metal Water
Organ Heart Liver Spleen Lungs Kidney

 

Organ Systems in Chinese Medicine

Organ Function Pathogen Emotion Taste
Heart (opens into the tongue) Houses the Shen Heat (also too much joy) Joy Bitter
Kidney Stores the Jing Cold Fear/Shock Salty
Liver (opens into the eyes) Stores and cleans the blood. Moves Qi. Wind (excess movement) Anger Sour
Lung(continuous with the skin) Governs Qi and respiration Dryness Grief Spicy
Spleen Digestion. Extracting Qi from food. Dampness Over-study, Worry, Anxiety Sweet

 


 

Chinese Medicine Resources

Qi Awarenesswww.qiawareness.com – a site from Andrew Rader, LAc, MS providing articles and information on Chinese medicine.

Chinese Medicine – Healthy.netwww.healthy.net/Alternative_Therapy/Chinese_Medicine/28 – articles and information. *Note the site sells numerous products, so the information could be biased. One particularly helpful article is Chinese Medicine: How It Works

IChing Onlinewww.ichingonline.net  – A tool based on the I Ching that offers daily insights to personal questions. *This site is filled with advertisements and it only meant for fun.

A variety of additional references can be viewed on the Acupuncture page.

References:

Beinfield, H. & Korngold, E. Chinese Medicine: How It Works. Retrieved from http://www.healthy.net/Health/Article/Chinese_Medicine_How_It_Works/428/4

NCCAM Publication No. D428, Created March 2009, Updated June 2010 Traditional Chinese Medicine: An Introduction. Retrieved from http://nccam.nih.gov/health/whatiscam/chinesemed.htm

Lilly Marie Blecher, ND, DOM, Lecture at The Graduate Institute, July 22 & 23, 2011. Traditional / Classical Chinese Medicine.

Ingrid Bacci, Ph.D., Lecture at The Graduate Institute, May 11, 2012. Effortless Healing

David Forbes, MD, Lecture at The Graduate Institute, December 4, 2011. Holism and Healing: Shifts in Thinking

[Last Updated: 8/22/12]